Biking, Bills, and Beautiful Weather

Friday, April 01, 2011

Photo credit: unknown

Spring weather has officially arrived, and as I pull out my bike from winter storage I realize that it may need a few tune-ups so I consult my dear colleague Marie-Pier’s blog on cycling tips. And after making some adjustments I decide to go for a nice ride downtown Ottawa, although fearful at first, it turns out alright.

I am fairly nervous biking downtown because the majority of my biking experience stems from growing up in the countryside where your biggest worry is the traffic around five o’clock when all the neighbours are coming home from work for the day. I’ve had a few close calls biking along highways that had no additional room on the side other than choppy gravel that pulls you into the ditch, but other than that my biking experience at home has been very enjoyable.

This year I decided to bring my bike to Ottawa with the promise to wear my helmet at all times to my mother and to be cautious when biking on busy roads. The first few weeks of school I planned out a slightly longer route that used mainly the side roads of Sandy Hill, only crossing Rideau, Laurier and King Edward as little as possible.

After a while, I began being less cautious and started biking at night and using these busy roads more often and was only clipped once by a car that was not patient enough to wait to pass when the sides of the road were blocked by cars. Thrown to the street as the car drove on, I was furious and walked by bike the few blocks home on the sidewalk. Needless to say, I’m a little more cautious once again.

I started working here at the start of this year and was ecstatic to learn that we were communicating with the city regarding the proposal of the Laurier segregated bike lane. This would make life so much easier and less worrisome for cyclists such as me that tend to take out of the way routes for safety. I can only imagine the glee of parents that would like to encourage healthy lifestyles in their children and now have the safe means to do so.

It has been confirmed, that the two year pilot project will begin this spring. The construction of the segregated bike lane will take place between Elgin and Bronson on Laurier Ave and will cost an approximate $1.17 million, an amount that pales in comparison to other traffic costs such as highway extensions. Furthermore, if all goes well it is expected that other bike lanes will be constructed downtown as a means to promote healthy living and sustainable transportation.

For those interested in biker’s rights, so to speak, Bill 74 of the Highway Traffic Amendment Act would require motorists to give cyclists between 3 and 5 feet depending on the vehicles speed when passing. This law has already been passed by many states and also by the province of Nova Scotia. If you are interested in sending an email of support to Kathleen Wayne, the Minister of Transportation, you can fill out a form. And if you wish to see more information regarding the proposal of this law, click here


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