Councillor pushes for high-occupancy vehicle lanes in London

Vehicles zoom along the nearly empty Pan Am Games HOV lanes as morning rush hour traffic crawls along in Toronto on Monday, June 29, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

One city councillor is making a push to add high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes as another transportation option for Londoners.

Ward 1 Coun. Michael Van Holst pitched the idea during Monday night’s council meeting as a way of encouraging carpooling because they’d allow vehicles with a certain number of passengers to travel in a dedicated lane.

“They are an interesting option that certainly provides priority to transit,” he said, suggesting an earlier discussion about HOV lanes may have helped achieve some kind of compromise during bus rapid transit conversations.

READ MORE: Ontario government launches high-occupancy toll lanes on QEW

Councillors voted 10-5 in favour of moving ahead with a review of city-wide HOV lanes as part of the next transportation master plan, with councillors raising concerns about whether any roads in London were fit for HOV lanes.

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“The typical scenario in the province is that HOV lanes occur on six-lane roads, and they’re typically in the curbside lane, the outside lane,” explained Doug McRae, London’s manager of transportation planning and design.

In London, only a few “short sections” of Wellington Road are six lanes. Adding HOV lanes to four-lane roads would typically mean widening the road to have more lanes, he said.

READ MORE: City committee’s decision to cut 40% of London BRT project draws negative reviews

Ward 13. Coun. Elizabeth Peloza pointed out that driveways couldn’t be backing into an HOV lane.

Ward 4 Coun. Jesse Helmer noted that the city has plans to widen parts of Fanshawe Park Road and Wonderland Road to six lanes, but that there likely wouldn’t be much support for turning those general traffic lanes into HOV lanes.

“I’m very interested in making sure the transportation master plan looks at all the options we’ve got for moving people around the city,” he said.

“This particular idea, I’m not really sure how it would work.”

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