This week, I was at an open house for new bike infrastructure on Heron, between Bank and Data Centre Road. At that stretch, Heron is a wide arterial with 60 kph speed limits but where it is easy to roll at least 70 kph.
It is a spaghetti of roads and railway tracks in that area, and after 19 years in Ottawa I still have a hard time to orient myself if I don’t drive on Heron Rd. There is LRT, VIARail, the Transitway, Heron Rd and the Airport Parkway/Bronson and its on and off ramps. Data centre road winds through the area towards Billings bridge. The web of roads starts already with the on and off ramps at Brookfield and it continues all the way to the Rideau river.
Four Dutch style intersections
The reconfiguration -if the budget is approved- will add four Dutch style intersections at the existing traffic signals, as well as MUP’s and new raised bike tracks to this short stretch of Heron Rd. The purpose is to make it safer for residents to cycle to a variety of destinations, such as the LRT stop on Heron and the bus stops on Data centre Rd.
Connections to Brookfield and Baseline
What makes this project interesting is that ultimately this infrastructure will connect to (gasp!) the Baseline Rd separate raised bike tracks and a MUP (south end of the Farm) as well as to Brookfield Rd when (second gasp!) a path can be built underneath the O-Train. The O-train is now crossing at level with tracks used by VIARail but that can’t continue as level crossings are not desirable with the increasing frequency of both VIA and the O-train.
From what I learned is that the O-train in LRT Phase 2 will get an overpass over the rail tracks which VIA is using. Heron Road and Baseline will become a more southerly east-west spine route for cycling and will carry number 7 in the network. Few people will ride the entire route I suspect, but as it is so straight it will likely often be used for parts of a ride. O, and Baseline’s revamp -if it happens- will not be finished before 2031. The plan is to start at Prince of Wales and work westbound.
Good news story
The tracks on Heron is a good news story. My wife and I drove it often in the winter to family in AltaVista and always wondered why there wasn’t better bike infra at that part of Heron. There is tons of space. Well, that space is going to be used now.
There were few people at the open house last Tuesday, and I don’t expect a lot of push back. There are probably about 30 houses on Heron Rd there, which are set back and all have serious driveways. So no issues with parking. The bus bays will disappear. Don’t tell anyone.
The bike track will run immediately along the road. While it is raised, there is not always a buffer zone. That is too bad, but the alternative is to cut all the trees, which we don’t want either.
A mix of applications on Heron Rd
Starting on Heron on the south side at Data centre road, Heron will have a bidirectional pathway eastbound, but stops at Junction (the first street on your right hand) and continues as a unidirectional lane. The next intersection (with traffic signals) is Clover. This will become a Dutch style intersection. After Junction, it will be uni-directional all the way to Kaladar. The Canadian Tire will lose the slip lane eastbound, which I applaud. And it looks like Data centre road is losing the slip lanes too. The other three of a total of four Dutch style intersections will be at the exit at Canadian Tire, at Kaladar and at Clementine.
The north side tracks are more or less a mirror image of the ones on the south side.
Heron and Clementine
Clementine needs a bit of extra attention as it is a good connection between Brookfield and the neighbourhood north of Heron in that area and further to Kilborn in Alta Vista. Clover is one way on the north side only, so Clementine is the only option north south vv and therefore a bike route for a long time already.
I have never really liked the approach on Clementine from the south towards Heron. The radius is quite wide and allowing for fairly high speed approaches towards the intersection. Clementine northbound towards Heron is about 11 meters wide, which is not necessary. I’d like to see that narrower.
It is good to see that bike lanes behind bus stops appear not an issue anymore and slip lanes disappear like snow for the sun on a warm spring day lately. Note also that the bike lanes veer away from the intersection just before the lights. This is done so that drivers can see the cyclists in the bike track better, when they start their turn.
Paul Clarke is the project manager. You can reach him at email@example.com
The city’s link to the project and maps is here