Space for cycling on Booth

Bike Ottawa needs your help, today. Maybe by tomorrow at the very latest. We need you to add your voice to the call for space for cycling on the Booth street bridge.

Update: The time to comment has passed, at least for now. We’ll now have to wait and see what impact our efforts had. Thanks to everyone who spoke up. We know space for cycling matters, and hope that your messages were heard clearly. We’re continuing to meet with city staff and are staying in touch with elected representatives. Stay tuned for future updates as this situation evolves.

All you need to do: send a quick email to jim.watson@ottawa.ca . Do it right now. It doesn’t need to be detailed at all, but just a few words of support that people who bike need a way to safely travel in the area. This will benefit not only people who bike, but, by providing space for cycling, will make a more pleasant pedestrian environment, and will allow smoother traffic flow on the bridge. Share this with people in your life who don’t bike, too, because a separate space for cycling will make travel easier for everyone. We’re going to have this bridge for a long time. Read on for more background on this issue. 

Details about the Booth street bridge at Pimisi station can be found in one of our older blog posts on this topic. From recent media coverage, particularly David Reevely’s Ottawa Citizen articles, you can see that the designers have largely ignored the input we provided. That’s a shame, because this is a location that needs bike lanes. The site is surrounded by bike paths and destinations like LeBreton (with eventual arena) and the sustainable Zibi development. It’s an important cycling link between the downtowns of Ottawa and Gatineau. And it’s a transit station – riding to transit should be one of our goals as a transit-oriented city with a complete streets policy.

The obvious consequence of not providing bike facilities here is that a few cyclists will ride in the road. That’s not much fun even for those fit, fearless, and fast enough to give it a go. It’s certainly not great for the flow of traffic on the bridge. Quite a few more will choose the sidewalk. Again, not enjoyable for the person on the bike (who is risking a ticket), and even less fun for those trying to walk on the sidewalk. Perhaps saddest of all, many people simply won’t ride. If we’re serious about giving people transportation choices, we need to make cycling a comfortable choice for everyone, especially on major roads. Especially when they’re new.     

This is a new bridge, so why isn’t the city demanding better? Why should we settle for another dangerous pinch-point that sets cyclists up for conflict with other road users? It’s too late to change some things (such as the width of the bridge deck), but we really have reason to hope that it’s not too late to work within the constraints that are present, and come up with a solution that will work better for everyone. Community organizations like us, as well as some members of council, are pushing for a solution. The ball is in the court of the Mayor’s office to develop a proposal that will address the lack of dedicated cycling facilities over the Booth Street bridge.
The Mayor needs to hear that it’s not just a handful of people who would be affected by the current design, and he needs to hear from you (and all your friends and family, whether they bike or not) by today or tomorrow. So please, write him a quick email, right now. It doesn’t need to be anything more than a line or two, but if you’d like to write more, here are some points you may choose to include:

  • concern that no safe route for people cycling has been designed on Booth between the War Museum and Albert Street (which is part of the East-West Bikeway)
  • Booth Street is most direct north-south connection with the Chaudiere Crossing
  • logical connection to Gatineau
  • not efficient to detour from the Booth corridor to ride in a tunnel under the train station
  • not comfortable sharing the lanes with buses at a busy LRT station
  • point out conflicts with buses pulling into and away from Pimisi Station platforms
  • need segregated/dedicated bike route over bridge
  • speed of motor vehicles on this arterial  (also trucks?) as Chaudiere is one of only two interprovincial bridges to permit heavy trucks
  • member of Citizens for Safe Cycling, which has long pushed for this to be a complete street
  • if you would expect to use this route regularly if it’s made more cycle friendly, of course mention it.
    Be sure your message “Subject” mentions cycling and Pimisi and/or Booth Street.  If you send something to jim.watson@ottawa.ca, please bcc: info@bikeottawa.ca and advocacy@bikeottawa.ca

Thanks! Please share with anyone who cares about your safety! It’s 2016. We can do better than building another situation like this:

When space for cycling isn’t provided, many cyclists will get off the road. Not ideal at an LRT station. (Hans Moor)