On April 1, Councillor Jeff Leiper and representatives from the Safer Roads Ottawa program hosted an information session at the Hintonburg Community Centre to lay out plans for a pilot project aimed at improving cycling safety in Wellington West.
The two main aspects of the plan presented by Safer Roads Ottawa are new signage placed in the area between Holland and Parkdale Avenue, and increased police enforcement towards infractions caused by car and cycle interactions.
The signage design presented is a yellow rectangle that reads, “watch for bikes” with a graphic of passing closely by a car door. The issue of “dooring” along Wellington Street West was a major concern by a majority of the meeting’s attendees and has been a fear raised by many cyclists in the area for several years.
The police enforcement strategy that was presented involves using undercover officers that are targeting instances of vehicles following or passing too close to cyclists and other aggressive driving behaviour. The current Ontario traffic laws state that a driver travelling at 50 km/hr or less must leave a travelling distance of at least three feet between vehicle and cyclist, at greater than 50 km/hr that distance expands to four feet.
During the question and answer portion of the session, talk moved heavily to the concept of a segregated bicycle lane for Wellington Street West, similar to Laurier Avenue of the O’Conner Street proposal. Randy Kemp from the Wellington West BIA was on hand to field that concern, stating that at this time, the BIA does not believe that a cycling lane project is viable for Wellington West. Kemp sighted a study conducted last June that looked at how people get to the area, they found 35 per cent arrive by car, 10 per cent by bicycle, 45 per cent by walking and 10 per cent by bus.