Advisory Bike Lanes
The City of Ottawa will be piloting a new type of cycling facility on low volume, low speed streets called advisory bike lanes. It's a new way for motorists and cyclists to share the road. While similar to regular bicycle lanes (which are marked on pavement by solid white lines), advisory bicycle lanes are used on narrow, low-volume streets and are marked with dashed lines. These markings give cyclists riding space, but are also available to motorists if needed to pass oncoming traffic. For more information on advisory bicycle lanes, please view the video, image and Frequently Asked Questions below.
A new way for drivers and cyclists to share the road
How they work :
- Advisory cycling lanes – a new way for drivers and cyclists to share the road.
- Motorists share a wide lane with oncoming vehicles.
- Each side of the road has an advisory cycling lane.
- Drivers move into the right-hand cycling lane when passing oncoming vehicles.
- Motorists must yield to cyclists already in that space.
- Motorists travel behind cyclists until it is safe to move back into their lane.
Popular in Europe and in the US, this system is great for adding cycling lanes to streets where they wouldn’t otherwise fit - narrow roads with low-volume traffic and low speeds.
Here’s how they work:
Traffic from both sides share one centre lane.
Cycling lanes are placed on each side of the road.
When there are two drivers travelling in opposite directions,
the vehicles move into the cycling lane to pass each other safely.
What happens if there’s a bike in the cycling lane?
Whoever is in front has the right of way.
Vehicles travel behind the bike but can then move back into the centre lane when it is safe to do so.
It is a whole new way for drivers and cyclists to share the road.
Find out more at Ottawa.ca
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the City installing advisory bicycle lanes?
As a pilot (trial) exercise, the City has installed advisory bike lanes on Somerset Street East (between Chapel Avenue and Range Road) and will install advisory lanes on Byron Avenue between Sherbourne Road and Broadview Avenue. While additional locations could be added as part of the pilot, these are the only two locations being considered at this time.
Are advisory bicycle lanes going to be used as a traffic-calming measure?
No. We will not be considering the use of advisory bicycle lanes exclusively to help slow traffic.
To implement advisory lanes, do you simply add painted dashed lines on the side of the road or are there other features?
There are two important considerations. First, advisory lanes are only appropriate on low-volume, low-speed street segments. As such, should volumes and speeds be higher than appropriate, changes (such as traffic calming) would be required to get speeds and volumes down to levels that would allow for proper operation of advisory lanes. Second, to mark the presence of advisory lanes, both painted dashed lines and supporting signage would be used.
What happens if advisory bicycle lanes don't work as envisioned?
Staff will monitor operations to help complete a before and after evaluation. Where the design is not operating as it should, adjustments will be made to correct the issue. Should those adjustments fail to address the issues they were intended to correct, the advisory lanes would be removed.
Doesn't the City already have advisory bicycle lanes on Fifth Avenue between O'Connor Street and Queen Elizabeth Drive?
Yes and no. Advisory style markings have been used on Fifth Avenue between O'Connor Street and Queen Elizabeth Drive, however these are not considered true advisory bicycle lanes. The Fifth Avenue treatment provides two separate vehicular lanes divided by a yellow centreline. The advisory bicycle lane concept for the pilot does not use a yellow centreline and the width of the two-way centre lane would be less than what is traditionally used for two full vehicular lanes.
Should you have any questions or would like more information about this pilot project, please contact:
Justin Swan, P.Eng
City of Ottawa - Transportation Planning Branch
613-580-2424, ext. 21636
Cross-rides and cycle tracks
What are cross-rides?
Similar to crosswalks, they allow cyclists to remain on their bikes and safely cross through intersections. They are generally connected to dedicated cycling facilities such as segregated bike lanes, cycle tracks and other cycling infrastructure.
Cross-rides will allow cyclists to travel in one direction or both directions.
How do cross-rides work?
Cross-rides are essentially crosswalks for bikes. At these intersections, the cross-ride may be identified with thick painted blocks on either side, sometimes enhanced with arrowed bicycle stencils and/or green paint.
- At signalized intersections, the cyclist may remain on their bike and cross the road when the signal display indicates that the cyclist has the right-of-way
- At stop controlled intersections, cyclists may only cross when they have the right-of-way
- At roundabouts, the cyclists may remain on their bike and cross when there is a gap in vehicle traffic
- In some locations, there may be a mixed use cross-ride which allows for cyclists and pedestrians to cross in the same space
Key Messages for Road users:
- At intersections, proceed cautiously along the marked cross-ride and watch for left- and right-turning vehicles (both ahead, behind, and to the right of you) to be sure that they are yielding. When crossing a stop-controlled side street, cross cautiously along the marked cross-ride and watch for vehicles turning off the main street, as well as vehicles approaching from the side street, to be sure that they are yielding.
- Always travel at a reasonable speed that allows for you to stop if needed
- Do not pass other cyclists within a cross-ride. Within the multi-use cross-ride, ring you bell and pass pedestrians with caution
- Do not travel the wrong way down a one-way cross-ride
- Always obey all traffic signs and signals
- When making a turn, be hyper vigilant for cyclists and pedestrians who are crossing the intersection
- Check left, straight, right and your blind spots prior to making your turn
- Signal your intention to turn early in order to provide the opportunity for other road users to react
- Drivers must yield to cyclists and pedestrians who enter into the intersection
- Always obey all traffic signs and signals
- At intersections, proceed cautiously along the marked crosswalk and watch for left- and right-turning vehicles (both ahead, behind, and to the right of you) to be sure that they are yielding
- When crossing a stop-controlled side street, cross cautiously along the marked crosswalk and watch for vehicles turning off the main street, as well as vehicles approaching from the side street, to be sure that they are yielding
- Avoid texting or using electronic devices while crossing any roadway
- Always obey all traffic signs and signals
What are cycle tracks?
Cycle tracks are dedicated cycling facilities that are located alongside the road but are physically separated from vehicular traffic by either a curb or buffer space. Depending on the style of cycle track, they may be at the same or different level as the sidewalk.
Cycle tracks are for cycling only and are generally distinct from sidewalks as they are made of asphalt, whereas sidewalks are made of concrete.
Cycle tracks are predominantly one-way and follow the direction of traffic. There may be some locations within the City of Ottawa where a two-way cycle track is implemented.
At intersections, cycle tracks may:
- “bend in”, so that the cycle track is discontinued and becomes a painted bike lane, requiring cyclists to re-enter the roadway before crossing the intersection,
- “bend out”, so that the cycle track is continued through the intersection, and cyclists cross the intersection along a designated “cross-ride” beside the pedestrian crosswalk
What are the advantages of cycle tracks?
- They offer a safer and more attractive option for cycling than do shared lanes or painted bike lanes
- They can greatly reduce cycling collisions involving parked cars and the opportunity of “dooring” collisions
- The design of the cycle track reduces obstructions caused by parked / stopped motor vehicles
****Despite these advantages, cycle tracks do have disadvantages: they need more space than shared bicycle / car lanes, and generally do not support high speed bicycle movement.
Key messages for road users:
Never travel the wrong way down a one-way cycle track.
Always enter an intersection cautiously along the marked cross-ride and watch for turning vehicles to ensure that they are yielding.
Be aware of other road users who may enter the cycle track; watch particularly for:
- Vehicles entering / exiting driveways (drivers who are reversing out of a driveway may have limited sight distance);
- Pedestrians moving between the sidewalk and the road (to / from parked cars, boarding / exiting buses, or crossing the street)
- Yield to pedestrians crossing the cycle track at marked crosswalks, and at bus stops and school drop-off / pick-up zones
- Travel at a reasonable speed that allows you to stop if necessary
- Ring your bell when passing other cyclists and pedestrians
- Always obey all traffic signs and signals
- When entering an intersection, watch and yield to cyclists in the cycle track
- When making a turn, be hyper vigilant for cyclists and pedestrians who are crossing the intersection.
- Watch for cyclists in the cycle track when entering / exiting driveways
- Be cautious if you need to reverse out of a driveway along the cycle track, particularly if your line of sight is limited
- Always travel at a reasonable speed that allows you to stop if necessary
- Always obey all traffic signs and signals
- When crossing a cycle track, watch for cyclists in both directions
- Avoid loitering or queuing onto the cycle track
- Always obey all traffic signs and signals
You can learn more about cycle tracks by watching this video:
Cycle tracks are for bicycles only and can be distinguished from the sidewalk’s grey concrete by its black asphalt. They’re part of the City’s efforts to increase connectivity in Ottawa’s cycling network.
When biking in a cycle track, make sure to yield to pedestrians at intersections, and
to follow the directional arrows in the track.
Cyclists should also shoulder check when crossing side streets to ensure that right turning vehicles are yielding, eye contact, if possible, is the best.
When driving in a car, make sure to look for and yield to cyclists when turning or backing
out across the cycle track. Whether you’re walking on a sidewalk or crossing the street, stay clear of cycle tracks. If you need to walk across the cycle track, make sure to watch out for cyclists around you.
And no matter how you’re travelling, be sure to obey traffic signs and signals for
the safety of yourself and everyone around you.
Visit ottawa.ca to learn more about cycle tracks and road safety.
Parking Protected Bike Lanes
Through the McArthur Avenue Improvement Plan, McArthur Avenue has been reconfigured with new lane markings to separate the bike lane from traffic with a painted buffer, and in some areas, concrete curbs, bicycle-friendly bulb outs, planters, flex posts and a row of parked cars.
For more information on parking protected bike lanes, please view the video
The wide painted buffer on both sides of McArthur offers additional protection for cyclists. However, there is still a risk of “dooring.” Cyclists should always be on the lookout for car doors opening, whether it’s on the driver’s side or the passenger’s side. Motorists should check for cyclists before opening their doors. When there is a bike lane on the right, like on the McArthur Avenue Parking Protected Bike Lanes, they should also remind their passengers to check for cyclists before opening their doors.
People stepping off the sidewalk to get in their cars should always look for cyclists before crossing the bike lane.
To safely use the new lanes, when heading west on McArthur Avenue approaching Vanier Parkway, cyclists and motorists should travel single file. That way, drivers turning right from McArthur onto Vanier can merge into the bike lane to make their turn.
The City is expanding the cycling network by adding bike lanes along the entire length of McArthur Avenue between St. Laurent Boulevard and North River Road. The lanes offer a convenient link over the Rideau River using the Adawe Crossing and connect to downtown, uOttawa, the Rideau Canal and many other cycling routes. In the east, this route also connects cyclists to the Aviation Parkway, la Cité and the communities east of St. Laurent.
Protected Bike Lanes and Bike Boxes
Opened: October 2016 / Cost: budget $2.8M / Length: 2 km
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 update. 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. A north-south bikeway would provide increased accessibility for residents travelling from the south, as well as improving overall connectivity by intersecting with the east-west crosstown bikeway along Laurier Avenue.
The O’Connor Street Crosstown bikeway consists of different segments depending on the context of the street as it changes from the downtown core to the Glebe. Consisting predominantly of a protected bi-directional cycle track through the downtown core, the facility changes to painted bike lanes and segments of shared use lanes south of Highway 417. Upgrades to the traffic signal equipment and pedestrian infrastructure at intersections to meet current accessibility requirements was a significant additional component of this project. Future extensions to this bikeway will be provided through the Fifth Avenue – Clegg Street bridge over the Rideau Canal, and a connection north to Wellington Street.
Benefits to the community from this north-south bikeway include:
- Higher levels of cycling safety and comfort for all ages and abilities
- Integrated traffic calming measures to provide a safer pedestrian and cycling environment
- Increased separation between pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicle traffic
- Creating an important north-south link to existing cycling network and future extensions
- Balancing the need to provide access, as well as an appropriate amount of on-street parking and loading space
O'Connor now has two-directional bike lanes on the east side of the road from Laurier to Isabella. This means it is now one-way for drivers and two-ways for cyclists.
Cyclists and motorists are asked be respectful and courteous to each other.
- Be aware of cyclists coming from both directions, especially at intersections
- Before turning, look in both directions and make eye contact with cyclists
- You cannot turn left off or onto O’Connor on a red light
- You must yield to cyclists and pedestrians when turning left
- Be aware of cars and trucks, particularly when they are turning and where green road markings indicate crossings.
- Be aware of pedestrians
- When turning, look in both directions and make eye contact with drivers
- Use bike boxes to make turns
- Southbound left turns can be made by yielding to oncoming cyclists
- Do not ride across vehicle traffic to turn right
A bike box is used at intersections to designate a space for cyclists to wait at a red light. Cyclists stop in front of motorists and can proceed through the intersection first when the light turns green. These areas increase cyclist visibility and reduce the risk of "right hook" collisions after a green signal.
Bike boxes are located at many signalized intersections to make turning onto and off of O'Connor simple for cyclists.
Benefits of bike boxes:
- Improve cyclists' ability to safely and comfortably make turns
- Provide formal queuing space
- Reduce turning conflicts between cyclists and motor vehicles
- Prevent conflicts arising from cyclists queuing in a bike lane or crosswalk
- Signal to indicate your intent to turn
- Wait for a gap to safely turn
- Move into the bike box
- Turn to face your new direction of travel
- Proceed through the intersection on the green signal of the cross street to complete the turn
South-bound cyclists turning right:
- Stop behind the white stop line, behind the green bike box, where indicated
- Yield to cyclists proceeding from the bike box
At the intersection of O'Connor and Isabella, signals are now phased so that motor vehicles proceed through the intersection separately from cyclists and pedestrians.
Sharrows are road markings showing a bicycle with two chevrons. The purpose of a sharrow is to remind all users to share the road when driving or cycling.
Who can use the protected bike lanes?
The Ontario Highway Traffic stipulates that all designated bike lanes, including protected bike lanes, are to be used by cyclists only. Motorcycles or e-bikes are not allowed to travel on the protected bicycle lanes.
Do I have to ride in the protected bike lanes?
As a cyclist, you have the same rights and responsibilities to obey all traffic laws as other road users. For southbound cycling, there is no law that obliges you to ride in the protected bike lane; however, it is recommended that you use the cycling facility. Northbound cyclists on O'Connor must ride within the protected bike lanes.
I am a defensive cyclist, where do I have to pay the most attention?
The cycling facility has been designed to be comfortable and safe for cyclists and others, however, cyclists should pay attention especially to turning vehicles at intersections. Although cyclists may have the right of way to travel straight through the intersection, they should be aware of turning vehicles and prepare to slow down and stop if required. Southbound cyclists should shoulder check for left turning vehicles from the adjacent lane on their right to avoid the "left hook" collision. Cyclists should note that trucks have large blind spots, so they should be extra careful when there is a truck in the adjacent lane.
Will the bike lanes be maintained in winter?
Yes the bike lanes will be maintained throughout the year in their current configuration. The pre-cast curbs, plastic poles and planter boxes will remain in place during the winter months and the bike lanes will be plowed to the same bare pavement standard as the motor vehicle travel lanes.
What is being done to help inform motorists, cyclists and pedestrians about the changes on O'Connor?
New signs, traffic signals and pavement markings have been included in the project to inform road users of new traffic patterns. In addition the City has implemented a public awareness campaign to educate motorists, cyclists and pedestrians about the new bikeway and the shared responsibilities of all road users. The campaign is supplemented by informational videos that address specific topics. Further, following the initial opening of the protected bike lanes, volunteers, City staff and police will be along the lanes to answer questions and help make all road users aware of the changes.
Why are sharrows instead of bike lanes provided on some parts of O'Connor within the Glebe?
The recommended cycling facility type for each block of O'Connor was determined through an extensive planning study. Based on input received during the study's public consultation process, competing needs for space in the right-of-way for on-street parking and curbside access coupled with the low-speed, low-traffic-volume residential nature of the two-way section of O'Connor, a shared use lane treatment was recommended for some parts of O'Connor as the most appropriate cycling facility. Sharrows have been added to remind all users to share the road when driving or cycling on O'Connor.
How has O'Connor Street changed?
With the construction of Stage 1 of the O'Connor Bikeway from Laurier Avenue to Fifth Avenue, there are several changes to O'Connor Street. The most significant changes are:
- Protected two-way bike lanes have been added to the east side of O'Connor between Laurier Avenue and Pretoria Avenue. South of Pretoria Avenue, a mix of bike lanes and shared use lanes are provided down to Fifth Avenue. Cyclists can now ride northbound and southbound along O'Connor all the way up to Laurier Avenue.
- The curb lane on the west side of O'Connor between Nepean Street and Argyle Avenue has been converted into a parking lane, with precast curbs and planter boxes bracketing the parking lane.
- In order to fit the new bike lanes and parking lane into the existing street, the number of full-time through lanes on O'Connor between Laurier Avenue and Catherine Street has been reduced:
- One traffic lane has been removed between Laurier and Nepean, and between Argyle and Catherine.
- Two traffic lanes have been removed between Nepean and Argyle.
Why was O'Connor chosen for the new Bikeway?
With the east-west bikeway established along Laurier Avenue through the downtown and extending east and west, the City has recognized the need to provide a comparable central bikeway to allow for safe and comfortable cycling access to and from the City's core along a north-south axis. As a result, Council has directed staff to develop and implement Cross-Town Bikeway #5 along O'Connor Street. The Bikeway is on O'Connor because:
- O'Connor was selected for the North-South Crosstown Bikeway as part of the update to the Ottawa Cycling Plan, approved by City Council in November 2013.
- O'Connor provides a centrally located cycling corridor that is simple, straight, and direct, and which has an existing crossing of Highway 417 that has dedicated space for cyclists.
- O'Connor was scheduled for road resurfacing in 2016 (between Somerset and the Queensway) so coordinating the bikeway project with resurfacing resulted in cost savings.
- During most of the day, O'Connor operates well below traffic capacity meaning that the limited space available is not being used efficiently throughout the full day and full week. Reallocating the available space provides safer and more attractive cycling and pedestrian environment during the entire day, and O'Connor still fulfills its function as an Arterial road.
How are pedestrians affected?
The addition of the bikeway has resulted in several indirect benefits for pedestrians:
- Improved comfort and safety for sidewalk users by increasing the separation from motor vehicle traffic and reducing pedestrians' exposure to the splash zone of passing vehicles (along the east side between Wellington Street and Strathcona Avenue)
- New pedestrian crosswalk on the east leg of the O'Connor Street / Isabella Street intersection so that pedestrians can cross on their own signal phase separate from the three south-bound left turn lanes, and also travel between the Glebe and Centretown without having to switch from east side to west side
- Reduced sidewalk cycling
- Some short segments of existing sidewalk on O'Connor have been reconstructed to the City's current standard
Can I walk in the protected bike lanes?
Just as cyclists are not to use sidewalks, pedestrians should not use bike lanes.
How much did this cost?
The total estimated cost for design and implementation of Stage 1 of the O'Connor Bikeway is approximately $2.8M.
Why does it only go as far Laurier Ave?
The O'Connor Bikeway is being implemented in 2 stages: Stage 1 between Fifth Avenue and Laurier Avenue; and Stage 2 between Laurier Avenue and Wellington Street. The section further north from Laurier will be implemented after the Light Rail Transit is in operation and the Transitway is removed from Albert and Slater Streets.
What plans are there to connect the bikeway in the future?
To the north, Stage 2 of the O'Connor Bikeway will extend north on O'Connor from Laurier Avenue to connect to the future Cross-Town Bikeway #1 along Confederation Boulevard. To the south, the Ottawa Cycling Plan identifies a future extension of Cross-Town Bikeway #5 east from the O'Connor Avenue/ Fifth Avenue intersection across a future bridge over the Rideau Canal.
As a motorist, how should I deal with protected bike lanes?
Motorists are asked to drive with care by being respectful and courteous. Having more people travelling by bicycles means less congestion and pollution.
As a cyclist, how should I use protected bike lanes?
Cyclists are asked to ride with care by being respectful and courteous. There are many people who cannot ride a bicycle and who need to travel by car.
As a cyclist, how do I turn left or right from the protected bike lanes?
For cyclists turning onto or off of O'Connor, bike boxes are provided at key intersections (Laurier, Gloucester, Lisgar, Somerset, Gladstone and Catherine).
To make intersections more safe and comfortable for people walking, cycling and driving or riding in motor vehicles, the City of Ottawa is implementing the ‘protected intersection’ concept where feasible. The concept is based on a tested Dutch design that has been implemented throughout the United States and Canada.
For more information on protected intersections, please view the video.
Visual: zoom in on protected intersection showing separation between drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
Protected intersections improve visibility and safety by separating drivers, cyclists and pedestrians with a physical barrier.
Visual: focus on corner safety island.
The corner safety island separates traffic from cyclists and pedestrians.
Visual: a pedestrian and cyclist wait at a traffic light.
Cyclists stop here. Drivers stop here. Pedestrians stop here.
Visual: a pedestrian and cyclist travel through an intersection.
This added distance gives cyclists and pedestrians a head-start when crossing and makes them much more visible to a turning driver.
Visual: cyclist turning.
Cyclists turn left with a two-stage left turn.
Visual: cyclist stopping for a pedestrian.
When turning right, cyclists are completely separated from traffic.
Visual: a green light appears.
For added safety, some intersections will also have advanced green lights for pedestrians and cyclists.
Visual: website text appears.
For more information on Protected Intersections visit ottawa.ca/cycling
Visual: Ottawa logo appears.
Protected intersections provide dedicated space and crossings for pedestrians, bicycles and motor vehicles at a signal-controlled intersection. The design improves safety and comfort while minimizing potential conflicts by incorporating the following key principles:
- Corner safety island – This is a raised area at the corner of the intersection that physically protects cyclists and pedestrians from turning vehicles. It provides a secure place for cyclists and pedestrians waiting at a red light and restricts the speed of right-turning vehicles.
- Forward stop bar – When facing a red light, motorists must stop before the crosswalk but cyclists yield to pedestrians as they approach the intersection and then stop at the curb. This advanced positioning makes cyclists and pedestrians more visible to motorists and allows cyclists and pedestrians a head start when the traffic light turns green. Finally, the forward stop bar decreases the distance across the road that cyclists and pedestrians need to cross.
- Setback crossride and crosswalk – The crossride and crosswalk is moved away from the vehicle travel lane to provide better visibility of cyclists and pedestrians for turning motorists. The design ensures that vehicles are at least partially turned before they cross the cyclists’ or pedestrians’ path. This positioning provides improved visibility, allows for eye-contact between motorists and cyclists or pedestrians, and provides time and space for turning motorists to yield to cyclists in the crossride or pedestrians in the crosswalk.
- Dedicated bicycle signals – There are a number of elements that can be built into traffic signal design, depending on the specific needs. Dedicated bicycle signal displays allow the display to be positioned for improved visibility by cyclists. Special bicycle signal phasing can be programmed to provide an advanced green for cyclists or to totally separate the movement of cyclists from that of motorists.
Depending on the context of a particular intersection and the space available, it is possible to implement all or some of the elements of the protected intersection concept.
The City of Ottawa has built protected intersections in numerous locations including:
- Clegg Avenue and Colonel By Drive
- Donald Street and St. Laurent Boulevard
- Fisher Avenue and Dynes Road
- Dynes Road and Prince of Wales Drive
- Chapman Mills Drive and Mancini Way/Leamington Way
- Chapman Mills Drive and Longfields Drive
- March Road and Herzberg Road
- Heron Road and Clementine Boulevard
- Bank Street and Miikana Road
- Booth Street and the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway/Wellington Street
- Bay Street and Albert Street
- Bay Street and Laurier Avenue
- Montreal Road and Bathgate Drive/Wanaki Road
Across the city additional protected intersections are in various stages of planning and design. The City of Ottawa Protected Intersection Design Guide provides guidance on the design of protected intersections.