Over 1.25 million bike trips have been counted on Laurier Avenue West since the City of Ottawa, ON, implemented the province's first downtown segregated bicycle lanes in July 2011. Launched as a pilot project, the new bike lanes were declared a success in July 2013 and are now a permanent feature.
The 1.5-kilometre stretch along Laurier falls under a larger plan to create a 12-kilometre East-West Bikeway and increase Ottawa's cycling mode share from approximately two-and-a-half per cent to five per cent. The bike lanes along this busy street are separated from vehicle traffic by concrete curbs, plastic poles and decorative planter boxes. The project includes several elements that are new to Ontario, including durable green thermoplastic road paint to support a two-stage left-turn system and special yield signs for right-turning motor vehicles. Signal lights now include a green arrow to allow cyclists a head start through intersections. An extensive public communications initiative includes project monitoring via bicycle counters that upload cycling data to a public website on a daily basis. A state-of-the-art video monitoring system identifies near collisions and safety issues.
Cycle mode sharein the downtown area increased from 4% to 7%
Cycling tripsalong the street quadrupled from 700 to 2,800 per day
Fewer carson Laurier with no increase in traffic volume on adjacent streets
Reduced roadway operation and maintenance expenses
Fewer collisions, with reduced personal injury costs
Potential for increased economic activity with more people using the street
Easier and safer cycling in a busy mixed-traffic environment
More active and animated neighbourhood with more people using the street
High community interest in establishing permanent bike lanes
Initially the city chose slightly narrower lanes to accommodate roadway width constraints, but these were too narrow for cyclists to pass each other safely.
The city had to remove 122 parking spaces from Laurier Ave. Although 144 spaces were added on adjacent streets, businesses resisted the loss of direct parking on Laurier, and the city launched a publicity campaign to inform people of the new parking spots.
To keep the pilot project cost-efficient, the city used pre-cast curbs rather than temporary markers. The curb buffers were too high and resulted in some pedestrians tripping over them.
Engage all stakeholders early and often to develop consensus.
Provide lanes wide enough for cyclists to pass one another safely (a minimum of two metres).
If feasible, pour concrete to raise bike lanes to the same height as the sidewalk.
Consider the impacts to on-street parking, loading areas, taxi stands and accessibility; and develop a parking mitigation strategy with an associated communications plan.