City’s change of heart: New multi-use path to be built along St. Patrick

After no less than 11 community associations (mostly) in the near east end of the city wrote to the City to express their concerns about the lack of cycling connections into and out of the down town core, today, the Mayor wrote the communities with a new proposal.

The new plan includes a new 3 meter wide Multi Use Path, a green floating lane and Mega Super Ninja Sharrows. Plus: side walk cycling for those who are nervous to share the road with 3000 pound vehicles.

The communities’ main concern was the lack of safe infratructure and the long wait (about ten years) for a total St Patrick ‘make over’ that would include safer walking and cycling infra.

Read the Mayor’s letter:

I want to thank you for your correspondence regarding the resurfacing work that will occur this summer on St. Patrick Street. I apologise for the delay in responding, however, I had asked City staff to work with Councillors Mathieu Fleury, Peter Clark and my own staff to review the comments and suggestions provided. Staff has now concluded that review and I believe they have come up with an excellent solution that will serve cyclists and the communities very well.

Staff has reported that current best practices from a safety point of view argue against the narrowing of the travel lanes on St. Patrick to the degree required to free up enough space to accommodate a bike lane of acceptable minimum width (nominally 1.5m). We have provided additional background information in support of this position within Attachment B. In light of this, staff believes that sound engineering practice requires that we deploy sharrows, as opposed to sub-standard width bike lanes along the stretch of St. Patrick Street between Cobourg Street and King Edward Avenue. We have provided additional background information regarding this issue in Attachment A.

In addition, and perhaps of even greater interest to you, Councillors Fleury and Clark will be bringing forward a Motion to the Transportation Committee meeting of July 2, 2014 to give staff the authority to design and implement a multi-use pathway along the north side of St. Patrick from Cobourg Street to Beausoleil Drive. The goal is to provide a 3 metre wide segregated asphalt pathway, to be shared by pedestrians and cyclists, providing a better link for cyclists between the Vanier Parkway and King Edward Avenue.

This new multi-use pathway will fill what many see as a missing link to the enhanced cycling facilities between the Vanier Parkway and Cobourg Street (that carry on as part of the East-West Bikeway) and the existing bike lanes west of Beausoleil Drive. Work on the design would commence immediately, and the City will move to implement the pathway once the resurfacing work is complete, either by locating existing funding or through the 2015 budget process. As a former resident of Beausoleil Drive, I know this solution will be well used and appreciated by the local communities.

In the meantime, as mentioned above, to improve cycling conditions along this section of roadway upon re-paving, staff will deploy high-visibility sharrows or “super sharrows” at a high-density spacing within a shared-curb lane of 4.0+m. This deployment will be the first in Ottawa for these pavement markings deployed in a ‘curb-edge’ vs. ‘take the lane’ configuration. The impact on road user behavior, both cyclists and drivers, will be monitored and the results shared with the Beechwood Village Alliance, the Vanier Community Association, the Lowertown Community Association, the Quartier Vanier BIA and other interested groups.

It is also worth noting that Legal Counsel from the City Clerk and Solicitor Department has reviewed the recommendations made by staff with respect to this proposal from a cyclist safety perspective and they concur.

Through our Cycling Safety Improvement program the City will also be adding green high-visibility thermoplastic to the floating west-bound bike lane on St. Patrick, as it approaches King Edward Avenue. Finally, the City will also permit sidewalk cycling along this stretch of St. Patrick Street, to accommodate cyclists who find the shared road environment too intimidating.

Everyone is in agreement that the St. Patrick corridor is an important one from a cycling connectivity perspective. This has been recognized by the Ottawa Cycling Plan, which identifies this corridor as a ‘Spine Route’ and incorporates the section east of Cobourg Street as part of Cross-Town Bikeway No.2- now nearing completion. This Cycling Plan also requires protected cycle tracks to be incorporated when the roadway is next fully re-constructed. Hence, the estimated $1M/km cost for protected cycle tracks will be built into a future full reconstruction. The Cycling plan also targets St. Patrick and Murray Streets between King Edward and Sussex for cycling improvements in Phase 1 of the plan (project P1-35). This project will be prioritized within the 2015 staff work plan.

It is my hope that this fresh approach to the questions you have raised will meet the needs of all involved. Along with Councillors Clark and Fleury, who have worked very hard to help develop these recommendations that I also hope will be supported by the Transportation Committee, I wish to thank you and the many residents that have so strongly championed improvements for cycling within Lowertown and Vanier. Your input and suggestions are welcomed, and have resulted in numerous adjustments and improvements to City cycling plans in this part of our growing City.


Jim Watson
City of Ottawa