Interim safety upgrades to a westbound floating bike lane on Laurier Avenue West will be made before the end of August, the City of Ottawa announced on Thursday, three months after a cyclist was struck and killed in a hit-and-run on the road in front of city hall.
Right now, nothing separates the cycling path from westbound vehicle traffic between the Laurier Bridge and Elgin Street; it’s sandwiched between a regular through lane and a right-turn lane onto Elgin. Cars that want to merge onto Laurier from the ramp off Queen Elizabeth Drive or switch into the right-turn line have to cross the bike lane.
Starting this week, city crews will install flex stakes along the cycling path and a bike signal at the city hall crosswalk, as well as build a new bike lane on the Queen Elizabeth ramp, the city said in a news release on Thursday afternoon.
In addition to that, a new stop sign will be planted where the Queen Elizabeth ramp meets Laurier. Crews will also install pin curbs that will force vehicles coming off Queen Elizabeth to first merge onto Laurier before crossing into the Elgin Street right-turn lane, according to the city.
These measures will “provide additional protection for cyclists” and help reduce speeds along the Laurier Avenue corridor, Coun. Stephen Blais, who chairs the city’s transportation committee, said in the news release.
“By modifying the area on Laurier between the bridge and Elgin Street and revising the lane configurations, we are reducing the length of the conflict area along the bike lane,” Blais said.
Green thermoplastic pavement markings also will be added in that section of Laurier “to identify conflict areas,” the city said.
Interim upgrades ‘better than what’s there’ but full redesign needed, councillor argues
The interim upgrades on Laurier Avenue are being installed as the city studies a more long-term fix.
Many local cycling advocates rallied for immediate changes to the infrastructure on Laurier in the wake of the fatal collision on May 16.
Catherine McKenney, councillor for the downtown core, was one of them. In a phone interview Thursday, she said “the interim measures certainly are better than what’s there now” but added she will continue to push for more extensive safety upgrades in that corridor.
“This interim measure will provide some further safety for cyclists but it is a Band-aid solution at this point.”
McKenney said she would like to see the floating bike lane removed and relocated up against the curb as part of the “full redesign” she’s calling for.
Funding for “the detailed design and engineering of a permanent solution” will be outlined in the 2020 draft municipal budget, the city’s statement on Thursday said.
Bike Ottawa, a citizens’ group that advocates for safe cycling and called for action from city hall following the fatal collision this spring, shares McKenney’s wishes for a more extensive reconstruction of that part of Laurier.
“Bike Ottawa is happy to see that the City of Ottawa is taking some interim steps to improve the cycling experience and safety along Laurier Avenue,” president Heather Shearer said in the city’s release.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the City on the longer-term goal of a full redesign of this section of Laurier Avenue and the implementation of a protected intersection at Laurier and Elgin.”
Work on the safety changes will begin this week and road users should expect delays along that section of Laurier near city hall, the municipality said.
The fatal hit-and-run on Laurier Avenue occurred on May 16. The van involved struck a 60-year-old cyclist, who later succumbed to his injuries in hospital, according to police.
At the time, Ottawa police claimed the driver of the van abandoned the vehicle and fled on foot.
More than two months later, on August 9, police announced they had charged 33-year-old Mukwoh Jordan Land with dangerous operation of a conveyance causing death and failure to stop at the scene of an accident causing death, in relation to the collision.
Land appeared in court that Friday morning, the police service said.