8 Bike Infrastructure Improvements in Ottawa

After: 5th AVe and Queen Elizabeth Drive. Road narrowed, bike signals and (black) signal posts.
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Since 2011, when Laurier Ave got segregated bike lanes, many other infrastructure projects were built in Ottawa. You may have seen a few of my images in Janette Sadik-Khan’s presentation last night (I couldn’t be there myself, but I heard there were about over 1000 people). If she didn’t use them or if you weren’t able to go, here are a few examples of the improvements the city and the NCC have made. I thought I use a ‘before’ and ‘after’ image, so you can see the difference. There are more examples, but I want to keep the post to a reasonable length.

5th Ave and Queen Elizabeth Drive

Ottawa before after 02
Before: 5th Ave and Queen Elizabeth Drive (Google)
Ottawa before after 01
After: 5th Ave and Queen Elizabeth Drive. Road narrowed, bike signals and (black) signal posts (Photo @HansontheBike).

Albert Street

Ottawa before after 04
Before: Albert St just west of Bronson (the gravel preparation started already). (Photo: @HansontheBike)
Ottawa before after 03
After: Albert just west of Bronson. The pedestrian signals make no sense at all, but it is required because it is now a ‘signalised intersection’ The traffic design manuals have perhaps not foreseen bike path-road intersections (photo: HansontheBike)

Carling (west) – Trans Canada Trail

Ottawa before after 06
Before: unsignalised crossing of the TransCanada Trail on Carling (Google).
Ottawa before after 05
After: (seen from the pathway) crossing of the Trans Canada Trail on Carling. The centre of the crossing is designated for cycling, it now has bike symbol stencils. Again useless ped signals. Across the street, two bike and two ped traffic signal lights. I think that is overdone. (@photo: HansontheBike)

Churchill Ave

Ottawa before after 08
Before: Churchill Ave (Google)
Ottawa before after 07
After: Churchill Ave (Google)

Laurier Ave and Kent

Ottawa before after 13
Before: Laurier Ave and looking south on Kent (Google)
Ottawa before after 12
After: Laurier Ave and looking south on Kent. Despite its impact, Laurier’s changes are actually hard to capture on photo because of the many parked cars. In the summer months, between 2500-3000+ bike trips are counted per day (photo: @HansontheBike).

Island Park Drive at Merivale

The intersection itself saw minor changes, but there was a new path built leading towards the intersection. An improvement was made to get to the path from Island Park.

Ottawa before after 09
Before: Island Park looking south. There was no good connection to the new path in Hampton park (top left). There is an off ramp of the highway on the far right. The traffic manual doesn’t allow a crossing there as it is too close to the actual highway, traffic has too high a speed to expect a traffic signal I suspect.(Google)
Ottawa before after 10
After: the median was modified for cyclists so that they can turn left into the park. Not ideal as you have to move over to the left into traffic from the bike lane on the right. (Photo: @HansontheBike)
Ottawa before after 11
After: the same intersection as seen from the new path through the park, looking east. The bike signal is not obvious. Does it give you the green light to cross island Park or Merivale NB? (Or both?)The yellow dots trigger a bike signal. Note the cut in the median across from the path as seen in the previous photo and the off ramp in the back of the picture. (Photo: @HansontheBike)

Trillium (O-train) Pathway and Carling

Ottawa before after 15
Before: Facing northbound, here is a well worn desire line in the median on Carling, just 100 meters west of Preston. The O-train runs in a trough on your left. (photo: @HansontheBike)
Ottawa before after 14
After: Facing southbound, now an official intersection with the familiar unnecessary and largely ignored (actually not even registered by many pedestrians) ped signals, when crossing the path. The lights are slow to change so many people walk and bike across through red to the median, wait and then proceed to cross the second half. The signals are apparently synchronised with nearby intersections, which causes peds and cyclists to wait for no traffic for half a km in sight. Yet a very welcome addition to the bicycle network as it connects Dow’s Lake and Arboretum paths with the Ottawa river pathways. (photo:@HansontheBike)

Laurier at Nanny Goat Hill

Nanny Goat Hill before
Before: Laurier, steps east of Bronson. (Google).
Laurier - After with Nanny Goat
After: segregated bike lane on the right, raised bike lane on the left and entrance to Nanny Goat Hill MUP bypass on the right of the two trees. (photo: @HansontheBike)
after - Nanny goat hill connection
After: continuation of the Nanny Goat Hill MUP bypass along Slater towards Bronson. Note the bike repair station on the right. (photo: @HansontheBike)


  1. I noticed the new Albert w. of Bronson signals when I was in town this summer, and couldn’t believe the silliness of the pedestrian signals along the main street. There’s no reason anyone would ever cross there!
    I don’t think it’s a provincial policy thing because the nearly-identical bicycle signals we have in Toronto don’t have pedestrian signals across the bike path. Maybe there’s some Ottawa policy that requires pedestrian signals on all approaches.

  2. The intersection at Queen Elizabeth Drive and Queen Elizabeth Place is badly in need of infrastructure improvements. (Google street view: https://www.google.ca/maps/@45.3968354,-75.6853476,3a,66.8y,172.87h,89.2t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1stBgnxyZ34E2I-i-Of7gGvA!2e0.) It’s a key cycling node, so it’s surprising it hasn’t been fixed yet. It links the bike path on the Canal with the Bank Street Bridge to access the other side of the Canal, with Old Ottawa South, with Lansdowne Park, and with the Glebe. At rush hour, night, busy weekends, pretty much anytime, it’s very hard to navigate in any direction. For example, heading from Bank Street southbound onto the Canal path, a cyclist has to head down QE Place then jockey with vehicles on QE Place that want to turn right or left onto QE Drive, but because there are no signals, and because traffic on QE Drive tends to travel at 50km/h (the speed limit) or 60+ km/h (the reality), those drivers’ focus is on that break in traffic that gives them their one chance to merge, and not on the cyclist in front or beside them. Cyclists need to cross the entire QE Drive, so they need to wait for a break in both directions. Again, there are no signals, so cyclists have to move it when they get the chance and hope drivers behind or beside give them the room they need to get across safely (imagine that with kids?). As a result, the timing between cars and cyclists might not line up – cars may have to wait for a cyclist to move out of their way before they can turn (leading to frustrated rush-hour drivers which can lead to dangerous attempts to turn ahead of cyclists). The difficulty is similar exiting the Canal path, but with oncoming traffic coming from 3 directions. Suffice to say it’s very very bad.

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