As you read in the previous post earlier today, the Mackenzie bike lane was opened today. The stretch in front of the embassy was an eye sore after a lane was blocked off by concrete barriers. Mayor Watson called it something else, but I forgot what he called the barriers. (Update, Mathieu Fleury wrote they are called Jersey barriers) The mayor mentioned former ambassador Bruce Heyman and thanked him for his initiative. Dr. Kristmanson said a few words, mentioning the closing of the ceremonial boulevard this Sunday morning for Bike Sunday (“The first time ever that the boulevard is closed in its entirely”) There were more speakers, but I must admit I forgot who they were and what they said (a case for short speeches). Than there were the photo opps and the press who asked us to bike on the lane for cutesy pics. I can’t wait for the comments in the newspaper ….Get you bike bingo cards out: www.bikebingo.com
But back to the bike lane. A little nugget I didn’t know is that the bollards have LED lights built in, powered by solar panels in the bollards. I thought that is a very neat gesture. You don’t have to go there at night to see the lights though. Simply put a sweater or a spare pair of spandex shorts on the solar panels, wait for a few seconds and the lights come on (they will be faint during the day).
North end of the bike lane
The north end is interesting and not fully developed. Of course there is (soon was) that pole in the middle of the bike lane, but you will also notice that people (neither cyclists nor pedestrians) stick to their dedicated lines and boxes.
I think it would have been much easier to build a larger shared space there instead of trying to herd everyone in a dedicated, but largely ignored, space.
I don’t think there will be too many people cycling northbound as getting on the lane from Rideau doesn’t make much sense and it is complicated: you’d probably take Sussex and turn into the Market soon. We observed lots of cyclists taking the sidewalk on the north side (the short end of the embassy near the peacekeepers monument) of the embassy towards the market. That could perhaps be turned into a MUP. This was suggested a few years ago and should be followed up soon. There was some fear expressed about the downhill slope, but we noticed people aren’t going very fast here generally.
Southbound Bike Lane
Southbound is more attractive: you cycle in a protected lane and at the end you get a green light for bikes towards the Rideau Canal. The nice thing here is that it is not an advanced 8 second green. Only when the bike light is red again, cars get their green light. The right turning lanes have their own light cycle.
There are half a dozen sharrows stamped in the intersection. Heading west towards the Chateau Laurier and Parliament Hill is very confusing. You are expected to line up in the green box on Rideau and wait for the east bound light towards Wellington. It is doable, but very counter intuitive. Something that I think the city should put serious effort in in explaining. I foresee most cyclists will bike in the east west cross walk instead. I would too. Sorry Zlatko.
In future designs this connection will be better (remember that the NCC will build a bike lane on Wellington and the O’Connor bike lane will eventually extend all the way to Parliament Hill connecting to the Wellington bikeway).
I was caught on camera (once I put my helmet on):
And the opening even made me trending on Twitter in Ottawa (likely because it is a PD day and no one else follows Twitter).
Read how the lane was built with reinforced bollards in the previous post.