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Ottawa to change Harmer Bridge cycling detour on Holland Avenue following pushback

Seen here is a concept image of what the new Harmer Avenue pedestrian bridge will look like after construction is completed.
Seen here is a concept image of what the new Harmer Avenue pedestrian bridge will look like after construction is completed. City of Ottawa

After pushback from cyclists and drivers, the City of Ottawa says it will re-design what quickly became a controversial cycling detour on Holland Avenue, east of the downtown core.

The detour between Tyndall Street and Kenilworth Street is in place while the city replaces the Harmer Avenue pedestrian bridge, which crosses over Highway 417 – a project that’s expected to take about two years.

The temporary route forces cyclists to either bike on the west sidewalk or follow green and white markings on the road called “super sharrows,” which lead them in the middle of the lane amidst vehicle traffic. With the change, city council also reduced the speed limit for that stretch of Holland Avenue to 30 kilometres per hour, down from 50 kilometres.

Despite this, road users complained the bike detour is too dangerous the way it’s designed now, particularly for children.

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READ MORE: Ottawa’s Highway 417 to close overnight this weekend for bridge demolition

In a memo made public Thursday by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, the city’s director of infrastructure services said the municipality will make changes “prior to the start of school in September,” in response to the public’s feedback.

The new changes will implement dedicated, painted 1.5-metre wide cycling lanes on each side of Holland Avenue, from Tyndall to Kenilworth, Alain Gonthier wrote. The city is removing a dedicated northbound bus lane on Holland to accommodate these separate lanes for cyclists, which will also include painted 0.5-metre buffer zones.

In addition, the flexible posts currently in the middle of the road will be moved to the buffer zones.

This re-designed route involves temporarily removing 14 on-street parking spots on the west side of Holland Avenue and six on the east side – but this approach actually saves more parking spots than the city’s original plan, Gonthier said.

The current detour on Holland Avenue will remain in place until September, according to the memo addressed to Watson and city council. Commuters can still cycle on the west sidewalk after the changes are implemented, the memo confirmed.

The Harmer Bridge is being demolished this weekend.

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In a tweet Thursday, Kitchissippi Ward Councillor Jeff Leiper called the announced changes “a very good compromise.”

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