A New Bike Lane for the uOttawa Campus

Thursday, August 08, 2013

A road with the words "bikes only" stenciled on it signifying the new bike lane at the University of Ottawa

I know that there is a lot of controversy these days about bike lanes, especially of the segregated variety. Ottawans have been fiercely debating the infamous "Laurier segregated bike lanes", specifically as to whether the lanes should stay in place or be removed. But regardless of which side of the fence you fall on, bike lanes make cyclists safer. And not only that, bike lanes also make everyone safer.

So it is with great pleasure that we would like to announce that the Parking and Sustainable Transportation Office at the University of Ottawa is creating a new counter-flow bike lane that will span a majority of the campus. Although the completion date has not yet been determined, the plans have been approved and early construction has already begun. What this means is good times for everyone on campus; cyclists, pedestrians, and even individuals in cars. Allow me to explain.

But first, one small step backwards to explain what is a bike lane. Well d'uh, of course a bike lane is basically exactly what it sounds like (one part bike + one part lane = bike lane), but really it is so much more and it can come in a variety of styles. There are simple bike lanes, which is essentially just a painted line on a road with cars on one side and bikes on another; and there are segregated bike lanes, which means that the lane dedicated for cars is separated from the lane dedicated for bikes by a physical barrier. Some barriers include a change in elevation for the two lanes (exactly like how the sidewalk is elevated from the road) in order to create a safer environment. The new uOttawa bike lane will be a mix of both a simple and segregated bike lane.

Now where was I? Oh yes, why is this lane so good for everyone on campus? Well the easiest way to put this is draw on that old adage, "A place for everything and everything in it's place." With the creation of the bike lane, we can envisage a campus where we have less mixing of pedestrians, cyclists, and automobiles. You can't blame a cyclist for occasionally hoping up onto a curb to try to avoid vehicles, but with this lane on campus, there will be much less of that happening. Therefore pedestrians won't have to be clumped together with bicycles (and worry about cyclists torpedoing through a crowd of people), nor will bikes and cars have to dance a dangerous tango.

A diagram representing the trajectory of the new bike lane on the University of Ottawa campus.

Now for those of you who have taken a close look at the simple diagram above, you might be asking yourself how is this new lane going to work? Well, the lane is a counter-flow bike lane, which means that the lane only goes in one direction, counter to the flow of traffic. So cyclists moving with the flow of traffic can take the entire lane and those cycling against traffic will have their very own lane.

There are a couple of really nice things related to this bike lane. Firstly, it will strengthen the connection that already exists with the Corktown bridge and extend the safe cycling pathways in Ottawa. Secondly, it will address the awkwardness created every time a cyclist arrives at that corner near the gym and the shuttle bus stop with very clear signage. And finally,.. ah seriously, do I really need any other reasons why this lane is a good thing? 

So, kudos to Daniel Spence and the good people over at Parking and Sustainable Transportation for this awesome addition to the campus' cycling infrastructure. We are truly one step closer to realizing the campus as a sustainable transportation hub.

 ~ jON - campus sustainability manager
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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