Approximately 150 people gathered on the hot Sunday afternoon of July 10th, 2011 to witness the opening of the Laurier Bike Lane, which runs through downtown Ottawa. This bike lane is the first one of its kind in downtown Ottawa, to accomodate cylists who are not yet comfortable sharing the road with the hectic downtown traffic.
City staff and cycling advocates have been successfully joining forces over the last two years to establish the long awaited down town cycling improvement. The lane came out under budget and ahead of schedule so that it could be enjoyed in the summer. The City’s bike lane ‘architect’ Colin Simpson, Mayor Watson, councillor Fleury, councillor Wilkinson, councillor Hobbs, former councillor Legendre, the City’s Nancy Schepers (deputy city manager) and Ottawa’s Fire Chief John deHooge, to name but a few, were all there. Also spotted were members of Citizens for Safe Cycling, Members of Cycling Vision Ottawa, Mike Buckthought, Eric Darwin, Charles Akben-Marchand, Elise McCann (EnviroCentre), Richard Guy Biggs, long time cycling activists Alayne McGregor and tOM Trottier, Capital Velo Fest’s Dick Louch, Dutch Canadian Association president Anouk Hoedeman (in a skirt for the occasion), Francois Levesque (Apartment 613), the Kanata Bicycle Club (in full spandex) and many other citizens who enjoy cycling.
In his speech, the mayor reitererated the council’s commitment to a long term improvement of access for cyclists and pedestrians in the downtown core, but that the bike lane is a pilot, to learn what works and what could be improved.
After the opening, the mayor and city councillors -with the cyclists in tow- cycled the bike lane. After the ride, a number of bike ambassadors (in yellow vests) stayed behind at intersections to provide information.
An estimated 4-5 anti bike lane activists asked city council to ‘give the front door back’ but in good Canadian tradition, all went very harmonious and one activist even joked they weren’t behind the brief sound ‘outage’ that plagued MC Fleury for a minute.
Yours truly observed the bike lane users for about an hour on Lyon and Laurier and noticed very few traffic infringements: One cyclist (out of about 50-70) cycled the wrong direction, one through a red light. A car cut off a wheelchair on a cross walk (ugly) and one driver stopped on the bike lane half way a block to (illegally) jay walk an older lady to her apartment.
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