Alex Bikes

Ottawa bike politics.

Ideas on how to allocate space on Bronson to protect cyclists

On October 18th, a cyclist died in a collision with a car on Bronson Ave in Ottawa. The police said she was going the wrong way on Bronson, which is probably true. David Reevely described some of the problems better than I could have. Really, it’s a shitty place to have to bike.

I have some suggestions to make it better:

  • Move the pinchpoint south by 375m, so that the transition from 2×3 lanes to 2×2 lanes is where the Carleton path meets Bronson
  • Use the available space to put a multi-direction mutli-use path on the west side Bronson from the Carleton path to Holmwood
  • Make the Holmwood crossing navigable by bike
  • Get Carleton University to pave the crushed gravel path they have now

Here’s a diagram of the current lane arrangement:

This diagram shows the number of lanes on Bronson between Campus Ave. and Holmwood. The current situation, the pinchpoint is at Bronson and Findlay.

Here’s a diagram that shows how I’d reconfigure the existing space:

This is the new lane arrangement I’d suggest. It still requires a transition from 2×3 down to 2×2 lanes, it just happens further south. This leaves room for a new ped/cycle path.

The sacrifice here is that the on- and offramps to Colonel By Dr. would be shorter. That might mean that traffic would back up during the congestion. But I wonder how often that really happens.

Another downside is that in some parts (particularly between Findlay and Holmwood), the median might have to be moved to make room for a new path. A median is intended to reduce the chance of head-on collisions. But I’d argue that allocating all the space to motor vehicles puts vulnerable road users at risk. And why should drivers be protected, but cyclists not?

These stories normally get a lot of media attention. What’s different is that city appears to be having an immediate reaction to it. I’ve never seen that before. Citizens for Safe Cycling will be at the Carleton Graduate Student Association (GSA) town hall on Nov. 6. Councillor David Chernushenko’s also putting a committee together to talk about this?

It is good that the city’s looking at this. But does this mean there’ll be a change to address this? Not soon, anyway. And then it’ll inconvenience drivers, which is very rare for the city.



8 responses to “Ideas on how to allocate space on Bronson to protect cyclists

  1. Bernie Geiger November 5, 2012 at 12:32 am

    When the bridge was built in 1960 it actually has separated, raised bike lanes, between tge road and sidewalks. They still are on the SW inside ramp and north side of Col By under the bridge. Unfortunately they were partially lost about 15 years ago when the expansion joints were repaired and completely lost a couple of years ago during deck rehabilitation. Why did the safety engineers let this happen? Your excellent plan takes us back to 1960!

  2. Diane D November 5, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I also suggest that Carleton cyclists (students, faculty and staff) receive some cycling skills education.

    I also mentioned to the Councillor that I would participate and/or lead a community bike ride from Carleton over the Bronson bridge.

    • Lana November 5, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      I think a community bike ride is a good idea. I wish I could have the buddy system every time I rode over the bridge.

      If I recall – D.Chernushenko did a cycling session for new Carleton students in the fall to acquaint them with their new neighbourhood.

  3. Brad November 7, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Hi Alex,

    I was thinking about this as well and I agree that there is room for a new 2-way path on the west side of Bronson if the turning lanes were shortened.

    But do you really think there is room enough for this path to continue all the way up to Holmwood? Even in your diagram the path seems to stop short of Holmwood.

    It seems to me that the only way to connect a path like this to the east side of Bronson is to install signals at Bronson & Findlay, and make that a cycling route to connect to Craig/Percy.

    • alexthepuffin November 7, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      My first reaction is that then it’d require adding an intersection or signals at Bronson and Findlay, on top of the one at Holmwood. But maybe that’s feasible. It’s certainly a good idea. Findlay’s probably nicer to bike on given that it isn’t the through street that Holmwood is.

      As for the last part of Bronson between Findlay and Holmwood, I was thinking there could be more room if the painted median were removed. That might be possible if the speed limit was less.

      – A

      • Brad November 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm

        It certainly wouldn’t be the only place on Ottawa with closely spaced traffic signals:

        Also, just to be clear, are you suggesting that the existing bike lanes on the bridge would stay or go? Personally I think they’re needed as well in order to provide continuity for the bike lanes that run south and over the Dunbar Bridge.

      • David November 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm

        Just move the signalized intersection from Holmwood to Findlay. Traffic that is now heavily-weighted towards Holmwood would instead be distributed between the two. The signals at Holmwood are really mainly useful for those making a left turn from Holmwood to Bronson anyway, since all other common movements (right in, right out) would still be possible.

        For what it’s worth, there’s probably enough room north of the end of the bridge and west of the bridge (i.e. opposite Findlay) to build a U-turn-like bike path to head down to the Queen Elizabeth Driveway (requiring some additional work to deal with the crossing there), so those heading to the Little Italy area would also have a useful option.

  4. David November 8, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    I’d narrow Bronson all the way to Sunnyside on both sides. Bronson needs pacifying at least as far as that.

    Colonel By needs neither a turn-off lane nor a merge lane along Bronson southbound – just convert it to a near-regular intersection like Findlay *was* during the recent reconstruction* (when Bronson Bridge was only two lanes per direction) so cars have to slow right down to turn off. Cars coming onto Bronson would have to make a proper turn onto Bronson rather than a high-speed merge. Similarly on the other side the access to Bronson Place should have its diverge and merge lanes removed.


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