Every so often, the incremental work approach to city building provides an opportunity to build something greater than the sum of its parts. The City of Ottawa has provided a high quality multi-user path (MUP), the Trillium MUP, along the east side of the O-Train between the Ottawa River and Carling Avenue. Also to its credit, the City has proposed a series of measures that include bike infrastructure and priority measures along Byron Avenue between Island Park and Sherbourne Road in the old west end. However, these are still somewhat isolated efforts that as useful as they are, are largely focused on improving local conditions, with little focus on a fully connected cycling network.
With a small investment, the City can build an leverage its investments, to create an important east-west cycling route that will connect Dow’s Lake, Little Italy, the Civic Hospital, Hintonburg, Westboro and ultimately as far west as Lincoln Fields, with an easy connection to downtown.
The CycleWest Proposal
CycleWest is founded on two simple premises. The first is that the infrastructure required for CycleWest will be an incremental addition to investments the City has already planned, and would be relatively inexpensive to leverage for a full cycling route. The second is that ridership is steadily growing along the proposed route, and will inevitably make this type of infrastructure necessary if cycling is to be treated as a serious part of the urban transportation mix inside the greenbelt.
CycleWest will build on the investments being made by the City to implement a Byron Avenue cycling route that will run between Sherbourne Road and Island Park Drive. To make this a truly regional biking link, CycleWest will extend the Byron bike lanes east approximately 2.5km to the Trillium MUP and Carling Avenue. In order to do this, an eastbound bike lane between Island Park Drive and Holland Avenue will be added to complement the existing westbound lane that runs most of the length of this route. From here, the route would turn south to run along Holland Avenue, then east along the entire length of Sherwood Drive, to Carling Avenue where connections can be made through Queen Juliana Park to bike lanes on Prince of Wales Drive. A connection to the Trillium MUP would be established by adding bike lanes north on Bayswater Avenue for one block, then east along Hickory Street, where a bridge connects crosses the O-Train cut, to access the Trillium MUP.
As part of Phase II of the City’s LRT plan, CycleWest could easily be extended west along the Richmond/Byron Corridor to Lincoln Fields Station. The City is currently consulting various stakeholders about a Complete Street vision for Richmond as part of the LRT project. This would extend connectivity to new stations at Cleary and New Orchard, and the existing station at Lincoln Fields, as well as the NCC pathway system.
Rarely in the city building realm are we presented with the opportunity to turn a good project into a great project. The Trillium MUP has extended safe cycling infrastructure as far south as Dow’s Lake. With a safe, convenient connection to downtown, it is observably driving an increase in cycling ridership, which only increases the demand for more of the same – ie, low stress, convenient cycling infrastructure that connects neighbourhoods, employment and schools. With incremental investments, CycleWest can be a showcase for the type of cycling network our neighbourhoods need to connect to high quality segregated cycling facilities like the Trillium and Albert MUPs and the Laurier Avenue West segregated bike lanes.
In in coming posts, I will add more detail about how the infrastructure could look along the different segments of the route, and the ridership driving this project.