● Will cyclists be able to bring their bicycles on Ottawa’s new light rail trains?

As it now stands, it seems that people will be able to bring their bikes on light rail trains when Ottawa opens its new LRT system later this year. However, like many cycling initiatives, the current recommendation to allow bicycles on the Confederation Line and Trillium Line has generated some opposition.

The issue started to unfolded a little over a week ago when a staff report to the city’s transit commission suggested that bikes could be brought on the trains, but not during rush hours (between 6 and 9 am in the morning, and 3 and 6 pm in afternoon). Apparently, this would be in keeping with the rules currently in place in Calgary, Montreal, and Washington, D.C.

A few days later the Transit Commission met and discussed the issue. They rejected the staff suggestion and decided to recommend that cyclists be allowed to bring bikes on the trains during all hours of operation. According to a CBC report, Councillor Jeff Leiper played a major role in convincing the Transit Commission to adopt this recommendation . Only the commission chair, Councillor Stephen Blais, voted against the idea. It also came out that 9 out of 17 transit operations in North America, contacted by OC Transpo allow bikes on trains during all hours.

But there is opposition to this proposal. Ottawa Citizen columnist Kelly Egan was quick to come out swinging against the idea of letting bikes on the trains during rush hour periods. Although he all but admits that he is not a big transit user, Mr. Kelly suggests that this would ruin the “transit experience” and would result in passengers being “sour-faced sardines”.

Mr. Egan even goes so far as to equate bicycles with crime, violence, and abusive behaviour when he states “Has history not taught us the transit system is the place where people get swarmed, robbed, stabbed, spat upon, punched or verbally abused? Now throw in a bunch of bikes?” It seems that he is trying to make his case by whipping up as much anti-bike sentiment as possible.

More recently, two board members of Bike Ottawa (formally Citizens for Safe Cycling) have made the case that cycling and mass transit go together hand-in-hand. They say that combined, these two forms of transportation provide a fast and efficient way to get around, and will make it easier for people to leave their cars at home.

Update: Despite some opposition to the idea, Ottawa City Council finally voted 15 to 9 to allow bicycles on the LRT system during rush hours. Apparently a good number of the councillors were swayed by the fact that people have been allowed to take their bikes on the current O-Train for years without any issues.

However, there will be rules on how people can bring bicycles on the LRT. Councillor David Chernushenko says there will be a limit of 2 bicycles per train, and only in the foremost wagon. This will be much more restrictive than is currently the case with the O-Train.


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1 Comment on ● Will cyclists be able to bring their bicycles on Ottawa’s new light rail trains?

  1. we’re quickly going to become a 3rd world dressed up nation of fools like others have fallen victim to… a decent city will have transportation for all, a decent city will look after the less fortunate like the disabled and the aged, a decent city would have reasonable laws/rules with balance not too much (canada – lots of money to be made off of all the burdening laws etc..) and not too little (go to a 3rd world country where laws are non existent).
    I suspect we will fall victim to making money off of real estate to drive our show, that’s already happening… which means more infrastructure for the good ol automobile as we are a push button lazy society now… many new comers love their toys and the availability of easy to get at credit and debt… thus, more cars on them roads. Who pays for all that infrastructure anyhow? taxes and more debt – burden to the next generation and as we age, we will face the payments…
    So, all this backlash really has an underlying element – laziness. The good old automobile will sooner or later bankrupt us in our push button ways.
    I think the LRT should accommodate those in wheel chairs, those with baby strollers and bikes… if not, its not built correctly then – poor design just like that new booth street bridge… cyclists pushed out of that design like many others. We are quickly becoming just another big city without much thought for alternative modes of transportation or energy, pretty typical – lack of thought and innovation etc..

    I just returned from central america – volunteering etc… Try biking in panama – impossible. Its a nicely dressed sht hole with trump tower laying its shadow over the city. Antigua in the carribean is another one. Then comes Guatemala, our fruit basket (lots of fruits and veggies imported from there) where many bike for a typical farmer makes around 70usd a month, but they are tough tough people…

    We need a good ol recession in this country to bring us back down to reality and a credit check (too much easy to get at debt, most canadians owe 1.68 dollars for every dollar earned and we’re 1 trillion dollars in debt.. USA is 20 trillion in debt – they no longer own themselves anymore). With this recession/correction will hopefully come a realization that we can’t all own 3000lbs of metal to haul our lazy asses around… nor do we really need greater than a 2000 sq ft home to house our garbage/stuff… gluttony at its best. That’s essentially what we are becoming… other countries have been through hyper inflation etc… it might be our turn soon (look at housing prices, food prices, utilities etc…). Then a correction will take place and our thought process may change – realize that we can’t all drive etc… in our lazy ways.

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