On July 17, 2013, following a two-year pilot project, Council approved the permanent installation of separated bike lanes on Laurier Avenue West.
The bike lanes will largely remain in their current configuration (separated from motor vehicles using temporary concrete curbs) until the street is due for reconstruction, expected sometime after 2018. When Laurier Avenue West is reconstructed, the separated bike lanes will be converted to raised cycle tracks.
Pilot Project Background and Permanent Approval
The project was initiated in 2008 when Council approved the Ottawa Cycling Plan (OCP). Council directed staff to pilot a downtown east-west on-street dedicated cycling lane separated by a median from regular traffic. This direction was given in the context of the vision and goals of the OCP, which include the following:
- To triple the number of person-trips made by bicycle
- To make cycling safer for cyclists of all skill and age levels
- To link, connect and expand existing cycling facilities.
In February 2011, after a technical evaluation of all potential east-west downtown routes, Council directed staff to implement the pilot project on Laurier Avenue West. Following this, staff engaged in a period of consultation and engagement with local businesses and residents to address any concerns with the design.
The segregated bicycle lanes were opened on July 10, 2011. Throughout the two-year pilot project staff undertook monitoring over a wide range of indicators to assess the bike lane's usage and the impact on other travellers as well as residents and businesses. In response to public feedback several minor design improvements were made throughout the project.
In November 2011, Council approved funding for the East-West Bikeway as part of the Ottawa on the Move initiative. The East-West Bikeway is a 12 kilometres bicycle route between Westboro and Vanier which utilizes the segregated bicycle lanes along Laurier Avenue West. The East-West bikeway route provides improved connections to Laurier Avenue West, improving the utility of the segregated bike lane section.
In fall 2012, staff provided an update report to Transportation Committee and Council that highlighted the first year of the performance monitoring results for the pilot project. Key indicators confirmed significant increases in cycling activity along Laurier Avenue with more than triple the amount of cycling trips compared to before the bicycle lanes were implemented. The update also provided encouraging results for other indicators as well, including collision data, emergency response times, and maintenance efforts.
In summer 2013, staff reported to Transportation Committee and Council following the conclusion of the two-year pilot period. The report documented the results of the monitoring program and the impacts of bike lanes across a range of indicators. In summary, the results of the monitoring program indicate that the bicycle lanes have achieved their main objectives of significantly increasing bicycle traffic and cycling mode shares within the downtown area. Other key indicators include: improved road safety with fewer reported collisions and fewer near-collisions; minimal impact to motor vehicle operations; parking and loading mitigation opportunities; no impacts to emergency response times; and feedback from cyclists, residents, businesses and other road users.
The Report also identified both short- and long-term improvements to Laurier Avenue West to address some of the issues identified through the pilot project. Short term improvements focused on providing additional street parking and a new section of raised cycle track at the western end to better connect with the Albert Street multi-use pathway. The longer term recommendation is to convert the separated bicycle lanes to raised cycle tracks when the street is reconstructed sometime post-2018.
On July 17, 2013, Council approved the permanent installation of the bike lanes on Laurier Avenue and directed staff to consult with the public as part of the design process to reconstruct Laurier Avenue West to include raised cycle tracks. Following Council's decision to make the lanes permanent, the project won the 2015 Sustainable Communities Award in Transportation from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.