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O’Connor Street Bikeway

O’Connor Street Bikeway

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.

O’Connor Street Crosstown bikeway

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

Protected two-way bike lanes

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.

Reminder to drivers:

Watch video on how to cross the protected bike lanes as a driver.

Reminder to cyclists:

  • 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 

Bike boxes

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

Cyclist should:

  • 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

Watch video on how to correctly use bike boxes.

South-bound cyclists turning right:

Southbound cyclists turning right should first turn into the bike box on the left to wait for the light to continue westbound.

North-bound cyclists turning left:

Northbound cyclists turning left should first turn into the bike box on the right to wait for the light to continue westbound.

Cyclists turning left to go north-bound onto O’Connor from side street:

Eastbound cyclists turning left onto O’Connor should wait in the bike box in the northbound lane for the light to change.

Cyclists should not cross vehicular traffic lanes to turn right.

Cyclists should not cross vehicular traffic lanes to turn right.

Motorists should:

  • Stop behind the white stop line, behind the green bike box, where indicated
  • Yield to cyclists proceeding from the bike box

Signal phasing for cyclists and pedestrians

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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).