Old Ottawa South Community Association

Safer Solution For Bank Street Bridge

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Lower speed limit and signage to make bridge crossings more comfortable for cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians

Bank Street Bridge 285The way cyclists and motorists have been expected to share the road over the Bank Street Bridge, with its constrained lane widths, is unacceptable.

During peak periods, cyclists feel squeezed; when traffic volume is less, they are unnerved by the excessive speed of many vehicles passing mere centimetres from their shoulders. With the temporary lane reduction during Lansdowne construction, northbound motorists are currently not supposed to pass cyclists on the bridge, yet many do. This situation is made worse by the fact that the northbound curbside lane over the Bank Street Bridge is currently closed due to construction on the east side of Bank Street.

These conditions undermine the City’s efforts to increase ridership, because many cyclists either avoid crossing the Rideau Canal between two otherwise attractive communities for cycling. Others choose to ride on the narrow sidewalk, creating new conflicts and risks to pedestrians and themselves.

This situation must change, especially with the growing popularity of walking and cycling within and between these communities. The reopening of a denser and busier Lansdowne Park will add a whole new level of pressures, including more competition for limited space on the sidewalks of the Bank Street Bridge. Bicycles have no place on those sidewalks, so there must be a place for cyclists on the roadway, a place that is safer and feels safer to riders of any level.

Reduced Speed Limit and Take the Lane

Dedicated cycling lanes over the bridge would give pedestrians, cyclists and motorists their own space. Unfortunately, for various reasons, City staff has concluded that this is not possible. Instead, in an effort to improve the safety and comfort of all, the City has lowered the speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h on Bank Street from the Queensway to Billings Bridge.

In addition, in a specific effort to improve the safety and comfort of cyclists of all ages and skill on Bank Street Bridge, the City will begin encouraging cyclists to take the entire curbside lane by cycling in the middle of it. Motorists are expected to either follow behind cyclists in single file, or change lanes to pass if they are unwilling to follow at the speed of the cyclist. Motorists are no longer to share these lanes side-by-side with cyclists.

Super Sharrows

To convey this message, all existing “Share the Road” signage on the Bank Street Bridge will be changed to “Single File” signage. Also, the new signage will have an advisory speed tab of 20km/h. "Super Sharrows" — sharrows on a green background — will be placed in the middle of the southbound curbside lane. The timeline for this work is the end of June of this year.

Once both northbound lanes reopen, when Lansdowne construction is completed in Fall 2015, Super Sharrows will be placed in that curbside lane as well. Meanwhile, the signage will be changed and motorists are expected to follow behind cyclists in single file until both lanes are available in the northbound direction.

The benefit to cyclists and pedestrians is obvious. Less so is the safety benefit to motorists from lowering the speed at which they interact with cyclists on this busy and constrained bridge between two increasingly busy and constrained stretches of Bank Street in Old Ottawa South and the Glebe.

See the Capital Ward website for more details, including proposed signage, and why the City said no to Bank Street bike lanes.

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