Alex Bikes

Ottawa bike politics.

The routes to and from Lansdowne by bike

I’ve written about how success is going to depend on getting a lot of people out to Lansdowne, how getting the bike modal share is difficult, and how bike parking should be built to attract people there. But it doesn’t help if you can’t get to Lansdowne. Now, let’s talk about how to get there.

Unannounced changes in the plan

The city removed quite a bit of infrastructure since the original plans in June 2010.

I try to explain this in Figure 1; the original diagram from Transportation Impact and Assessment Study and Transportation Demand Management Plan Technical Report from June 2010 has been overlaid with changes in the Lansdowne Partnership Plan Implementation Status Report, from August 2011.

The changes I could find are:

  • entrances and exits: from 14 down to 7 (8 removed and 1 added)
  • paths/routes: various connectors removed, some added (although all the new ones are in areas just not filled in before)
  • intersections for potential improvements to pedestrian and cyclist crossings: all 5 removed
  • connections to the NCC Rideau Canal pathway: There appears to be no more plan to connect the park with the path on the east side of Queen Elizabeth Drive, just the one on the east side that goes nowhere.
Figure 1: Changes between June 2010 to August 2011 in on-site bicycle facilities

There’s things that are totally missing, and it isn’t clear if that’s because they aren’t part of the plan, or they’re just an oversight:

  • whether the routes are bike lanes, multi-purpose paths, etc.
  • how the intersections will be built, or if there’s any consideration at all at those intersections
  • directional signage

Where people come from

The current plans don’t say much about what can change outside the park. This is because the area of study really is just the park; any changes to infrastructure to support increased transportation demands is secondary. I know this is cause for concern for the Glebe residence; squeezing more traffic into the same amount of space is going to be problematic. Biking can help squeeze more people into the same space.

Here’s a diagram that shows the actual state of the local bicycle routes. This ignores whatever bicycle maps or the plans say, but is based on actual bicycle experience. These are drawn with the expectations of novice cyclists.

Figure 2: Overview map and actual bike infrastructure

I tried to figure out a reasonable diameter to use to figure out where cyclists were likely to come from. I can’t understand their numbers, but I’d say within 8km you could get 50% of the people.

But you need to make sure that these people have a safe route to get to the park by bike, or they won’t bike. Or they won’t come at all.

Bold assumptions

These things aren’t all new, but they are worth highlighting as they represent change in the neighbourhood. For this article, I’ll just consider them final and constructed.

Clegg/Fifth Ave. Bridge

This is a story unto itself. Go read about it here and here.

I’m going to be so bold as to say that this is a bridge that will be built. It is going to make Old Ottawa East now a parking lot when there’s events on. This is no different than the expectation of the Glebe. But the city will see this as a minor inconvenience compared to the benefits it will provide. Undoubtedly, it will be important to the TDM of Lansdowne. I just count on this now, but my guess is this won’t be built until 2014.

Bike lane in front of Lansdowne

Did you know there’s a crappy bike lane in front of Lansdowne? It runs from the edge of the Bank St. Bridge to Holmwood. With others at CfSC, I did a lot of lobbying as part of the Bank St. Reconstruction Advisory Committee.  Although I’m happy it is there, some complain that there’s no point in a lane that starts and ends. But it does line you up properly for what’s next here.

This lane seems to get way too much attention in the 2011 plans.

Bike lane on Bank St. northbound in front of Lansdowne

Left turn lane on Holmwood

This is not yet built, but will be in the summer of 2012 when the Bank St. reconstruction continues. It is helpful for when going northbound on Bank St, and wanting to westbound through the Glebe. It helps address some of the problems in needing to take a left turn on Wilton.

Figure 3: Expectation for the Holmwood//Bank bike infrastructure

Sharrows on the Bank St. Bridge

Cyclists are generally irritated with biking over the Canal. Over the last few years, I’m a bit soft on the city with things like this, and I believe them when they say there’s not much they can do to make cyclists happier here. The bridge just isn’t wide enough to add a lane, and widening the bridge is unlikely to happen, as the political and economic clout of cyclists just isn’t enough to spend millions on widening it.

But… Councillor Chernushenko has this idea of painting sharrows, which would help with some of the expectations of drivers and cyclists. I’ve heard mumblings of having a ‘do not pass cyclists’ sign over the bridge too (which is more valuable on the Billings Bridge). That’s probably all they can do. Biking southbound on Bank St. will continue to be difficult, particularly in heavy traffic.

Specific problems

Queen Elizabeth Drive crossing

This is the most important project to facilitate cycling to Lansdowne, and what’s more concerning is how the plan has changed. More on this tomorrow.

Entrance from Holmwood

We started off with six entrances onto Holmwood, now we’re down to one new one, at the foot of O’Connor. It isn’t clear what traffic on the site will be like, but by eliminating all the entrances west of O’Connor, we’re forcing cyclists to either use a Bank St. entrance or have them go

The situation is unclear; is there access for motor vehicles between the buildings along Holmwood? If not, does that mean that bicycles cannot?

Bike lanes on Holmwood

There is to be a special launchpad to get from Holmwood east onto Holmwood west. It is originally intended for use for northbound cyclists wanting to get into the western part of the Glebe.

However, a contraflow lane on Holmwood would also allow exiting bicycle traffic from Lansdowne to skip having to exit and bicycle on Bank St. It would increase the chances that a Lansdowne cyclist would never have to bike on Bank St.

Entrances from Bank St.

Of all the bounding routes, Bank St. is the worst one to bike on. Sure, it might be the best one for passenger vehicles, but cyclists have different routes.

There’s no indication how exiting cyclists are supposed to go southbound on Bank St. Is there a bicycle box? Are there bicycle lanes within the park that will merge in with motor vehicles? How will southbound bicycles get into the park? And why do there need to be four exits for bicycles?

North/south route through the Glebe

Two good bicycle routes going through the Glebe are O’Connor and Percy St. These both go along relatively calm residential streets.

However, these are not ideal. The large number of stop signs makes these paths difficult for cyclists. Stopping and starting in a car is easy, it is inefficient on a bicycle.

Figure 4: Stop sign locations in the Glebe

Routes through the park

There is not enough explanation of the types of surfaces that will be used within the park.

Some conclusions

The plan affecting bike infrastructure seems to have been lead by the plan for motor vehicles.

In order to make Lansdowne easy to get to and get from by bicycle, the city should:

  • make smooth connections to get from the park to the NCC Rideau Canal pathway
  • create a contraflow bike lane on Holmwood
  • properly plan the exits and entrances to Bank St.
  • create more effective north/south routes with fewer stop signs
  • be clearer about the bicycle routes within the park
Next, I’ll talk specifically about the problem with eliminating the connection with the NCC Rideau River pathway.

One response to “The routes to and from Lansdowne by bike

  1. Pingback: Life in Lansdowne Land « Urban Commuter – Ottawa's Bike Blog

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