Ottawa Citizen columnist David Reevely has come down hard on Ottawa for preceding with a plan for the Booth Street Bridge which he says, in no uncertain terms, that the city knows will be dangerous, even deadly, for cyclists.
The Booth Street bridge is really being built as part of the light rail transit (LRT) system. The bridge will be a segment of Booth Street that rises up and passes over the LRT tracks. It will also form part of a transit station at LeBreton Flats (the Pimisi station) for people transferring from the light rail system to buses on Booth Street.
In addition to this, the northern portion of Booth Street is a major thoroughfare (and bottleneck) in the region. It intersects with the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, passes by the Canadian War museum, and connects with the Ottawa River Pathway. From here is leads to the Chaudière and Albert Islands and connects with Eddy Street, which provides a crossing over the Ottawa River to Gatineau. Despite all this, the Booth Street bridge will have no painted bike lane, much less a separated bike lane.
Ottawa’s Manager of Transport Planning, Vivi Chi, told the media that it was not possible to provide for bike lanes in the plans for the bridge. Apparently, the area will simply be too busy with cars, buses, trucks, and transit users. As a result, cyclists will be left to fend for themselves in this dangerous mix of traffic. In other words, more of the same-old, same-old: cycling infrastructure is fine as long as it doesn’t interfere with other transportation infrastructure.
It is interesting to note that Citizens for Safe Cycling expressed its concerns about the design for Booth Street two years ago, and it had high level talks about this issue with the city and the NCC. On their website, they equate the plans for Booth Street with the largely discredited 1971 Ford Pinto.
David Reevely did a follow up report on the issue which indicated that the people responsible for the billion-dollar redevelopment of the old Domtar industrial site on Chaudière Island are not happy about the lack of bicycle lanes on the bridge. They believe poor bicycle access to Chaudière Island is at odds with their efforts to build a sustainable community that will make substantial use of pedestrian and bike routes.
And finally, the lack of bike lanes for Booth Street is particularly frustrating given that the city recently postponed its plans to convert the nearby Prince of Wales railway bridge into a bicycle path across the Ottawa River. Although it would not be as convenient for many cyclists, the converted bridge would have at least provided an alternate route for crossing the river. It was supposed to be completed by 2019, but insufficient funding resulted in the project being postponed, perhaps indefinitely.
Update: Councillor Catherine McKenney, who represents LeBreton Flats, has succeeded in getting the city to reconsider its decision to exclude bike lanes on the Booth Street Bridge, but nothing is certain yet. City staff are supposed to be holding meetings to further discuss the matter.
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