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O’Connor Street Bikeway Phase 2 (Laurier Avenue West to Wellington Street)

Project Status: 
Underway

Overview

The City of Ottawa has updated the functional design for the next phase of the O’Connor Street Bikeway, from Laurier Avenue West to just south of Wellington Street. The detailed design phase began in fall 2019; once completed, the City will identify a timeline for implementation.

Background

As a major step towards creating a network of protected cycling facilities, O’Connor Street was identified as a Crosstown Bikeway in the 2013 Ottawa Cycling Plan. The City recognized the need for a central north-south bikeway that would allow cyclists safe and comfortable access to and from the downtown core. In 2015, Council approved the functional design for the entire length of the bikeway from Fifth Avenue to Wellington Street. The southern section of the bikeway, from Fifth Avenue to Laurier Avenue, was constructed in 2016. The northern section of the bikeway, from Laurier Avenue to Wellington Street, is now ready for implementation and the updated functional design drawings [ PDF 7.713 MB ]:   recent changes in the downtown context linked to the completion of the O-Train Confederation Line Stage 1; the City’s latest design guidance for cycle tracks and protected intersections; and recommendations from a safety review [ PDF 139 KB ].

Facility Overview

The Bikeway begins immediately north of Laurier Avenue and terminates south of Wellington Street, for a total distance of approximately 400 m. It is designed as a bidirectional cycle track on the east side of O’Connor Street, consistent with the existing bikeway south of Laurier Avenue. The cycle track replaces one general-purpose vehicle lane and associated on-street parking.

The Bikeway is proposed as a raised cycle track, at the same level of the sidewalk, with the curb as the barrier to vehicles. This is a change from the pre-cast curbing that provides separation from vehicles on the existing bikeway south of Laurier and is expected to facilitate maintenance. The cycle track is 3.0 metres wide in most locations, with localized narrowing where the corridor is constrained. A 0.5m buffer separates cyclists from the edge of the curb, and a 0.2m tactile delineator strip provides separation from pedestrians.

Online Consultation July 2019 – What We Heard

Comments from the public were invited throughout the consultation period, July 2 to July 30, 2019. Thank you to those residents who participated in the consultation. The bullet points below summarize the major themes of the feedback provided by residents; select responses from the project team are provided.

  • Comments supporting the project: Many respondents expressed support for the design and commented on the importance of the project for improving cycling connectivity downtown.
  • Comments identifying safety concerns related to a two-way bike lane on a one-way street: This design was selected in collaboration with our external safety consultants to provide consistency with the phase 1 bikeway segment of from Isabella Street to Laurier Avenue. At all intersections along this phase 2 facility, cyclists are separated from conflicting turning vehicle movements through signal phasing and/or turn restrictions.
  • Comments related to the termination of the facility south of the Wellington Street intersection: In response to comments received, a ‘Bike Lane Ends’ sign will be added to the design drawings in addition to the ‘Dismount and Walk’ sign. These signs would only be required temporarily until a cycling facility is constructed on Wellington Street and modifications to the intersection can be made. By connecting to the southside of the Wellington Street intersection, northbound cyclists may continue eastbound without dismounting when it is safe to do so, however under the temporary conditions there will not be a northbound signal phase for bikes to permit westbound movement. For cyclists connecting to westbound Wellington Street via the O’Connor Street phase 2 bikeway, the safest way will be to dismount and cross to the north side of the intersection using the available crosswalks. The Metcalfe Street to Wellington Street route will remain as a neighbouring alternative route for northbound cyclists within the downtown core. Connectivity with Wellington Street will be reexamined during the detailed design phase.
  • Comments related to the width of the O’Connor Street bikeway: The width of the cycling facilities has been maximized given the space constraints within this downtown corridor. The narrowing of the cycling facility at several intersections is required due to the lane geometry and space constraints. Facility widths will be reviewed and finalized during detailed design.
  • Comments related to the raised cycle tracks: Several respondents expressed support for the raised (sidewalk-level) cycle track, while others expressed concern about conflicts with pedestrians. The City is pursuing a raised cycle track design primarily to facilitate winter maintenance and permit year-round usage of the facility, subject to technical and financial feasibility.

Comments related to the O’Connor Street Bikeway south of Laurier Avenue: A number of respondents provided feedback and suggestions regarding the phase 1 segment of the project. These suggestions are being considered by the City but are separate to the scope of the phase 2 project.

Commentary on the Functional Design (July 2019)

The Bikeway begins immediately north of Laurier Avenue and terminates south of Wellington Street, for a total distance of approximately 400 m. It is designed as a bidirectional cycle track on the east side of O’Connor Street, consistent with the existing bikeway south of Laurier Avenue. The cycle track replaces one general-purpose vehicle lane and associated on-street parking.

The Bikeway is proposed as a raised cycle track, at the same level of the sidewalk, with the curb as the barrier to vehicles. This is a change from the pre-cast curbing that provides separation from vehicles on the existing bikeway south of Laurier and is expected to facilitate maintenance. The cycle track is 3.0 metres wide in most locations, with localized narrowing where the corridor is constrained. A 0.5m buffer separates cyclists from the edge of the curb, and a 0.2m tactile delineator strip provides separation from pedestrians.

Intersections and Driveways

All of the intersections between Laurier Avenue and Wellington Street are controlled with traffic signals. At each intersection, bicycle signal heads will be added for northbound and southbound cyclists. With the proposed design, there are no permissive vehicle movements across the Bikeway; whenever a cyclist has a green light at an intersection, vehicles are not permitted to turn across the Bikeway. This is achieved through the following key signal phases and turn restrictions:

  • No left turn from O’Connor Street onto Queen Street
  • Dedicated signal phase for the World Exchange Plaza garage exit at the Albert Street intersection
  • Dedicated turn lane and signal phase for left turn from O’Connor Street onto Slater Street
  • Dedicated turn lane and signal phase for left turn from O’Connor Street onto Laurier Avenue

The functional design also includes bicycle boxes to accommodate two-stage turns by cyclists at Queen and Albert. The bicycle boxes will feature green pavement markings for visibility and directional arrows to clarify expected movements.

For the three driveways that cross the cycle track between Laurier and Wellington, the functional design features green pavement markings and a change in elevation to increase driver and cyclist awareness.

Connections with Other Downtown Projects

The functional design was developed in coordination with upcoming City projects being planned for Wellington Street, Albert Street and Slater Street.

  • Wellington Street: The intersection of O’Connor and Wellington will be included within the scope of an upcoming project to develop a high-quality cycling connection between Mackenzie Avenue and O’Connor Street. Therefore, the functional design for the Bikeway does not include modifications to this intersection. Until the Wellington Street cycling facility has been designed, it would be premature to make changes to this intersection.
  • Albert Street and Slater Street: The Council-approved designs for Albert and Slater streets include dedicated cycling facilities on the right side of each roadway. The functional design for the Bikeway accounts for these planned cycling facilities at the Albert Street and Slater Street intersections.

The functional design also considers recent work linked to the O-Train Confederation Line: construction of a raised intersection at Queen Street; construction of a bus platform outside the east entrance of Parliament Station; and widening of the west sidewalk between Queen Street and Sparks Street.

Impacts on Traffic and Parking

Analysis indicates that O’Connor Street will continue to operate within acceptable levels of service for vehicles, though the southbound left movement at Slater Street is expected to approach capacity during the morning peak hour. Restricting left turns from O’Connor Street onto Queen Street is expected to have minimal impact on the downtown street network, since there are low volumes of vehicles that currently make this turn.

The implementation of the Bikeway requires the removal of at least seven additional parking spaces on the west side of O’Connor Street. Council approved the removal of 14 parking spaces on the east side of O’Connor Street and one space on the west side of O’Connor Street as part of the 2015 functional design. The functional design also includes removal of a taxi stand and police vehicle zone, and relocation of a hotel loading zone and food truck stand, consistent with the 2015 functional design.

Impacts on Pedestrians and Transit

The Bikeway will improve the pedestrian environment by increasing the boulevard width on the east sidewalk and increasing the distance between pedestrians and traveling vehicles. At intersections, pedestrians will benefit from shorter crossing distances; but there will be longer traffic signal cycle lengths.

O’Connor Street is not designated as a transit priority corridor, but there are several bus routes that use O’Connor. The dedicated left turn traffic signal phases, reduction in vehicle lanes and increase in traffic signal cycle length will result in additional delays of approximately 10 to 40 seconds at the intersections of Queen, Albert and Slater streets for transit riders.

For further information, please contact:

Sam Roberts
Transportation Planner - Cycling
Transportation Services Department
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1
613-580-2424, ext. 27910
Email: samuel.roberts@ottawa.ca