One of the advantages CycleWest can be built upon is the relatively low cost of the infrastructure that would be required. While the ultimate build out would obviously benefit from full segregation from auto traffic, a safe route can be built from end to end with small investments that will create a high quality cycling route.
The CycleWest route will start at the east end of the route at Carling Station on the O-Train Trillium Line. From here, the route moves westwards along Hickory Street, a two-way residential street with parking on one side that only sees a modest amount of traffic during rush hour. Under the proposal, bike lanes would be added on each side of the street, requiring the removal of a relatively small number of on-street parking spots. This should not be controversial, given that parking is not allowed on Hickory Street between 8:00am ad 5:00pm. A stop sign will need to be added on Champagne Street to allow cyclists to get through this increasingly busy intersection safely.
Hickory Street terminates at Bayswater Avenue, where the cycling route would turn south, and travel one block to Sherwood Drive. Once again, a small amount of street parking would need to be removed to accommodate bike lanes on each side of the street. In addition, a stop sign will be needed on Bayswater to allow safe turns from Hickory Street onto Bayswater Avenue.
At this point, CycleWest would meet Sherwood Drive. The Sherwood/Bayswater intersection is a busy one, with both of these streets being subjected to notable amounts of traffic, mainly at rush hour. To address this, a few measure could be taken to improve the safety of cyclists at this intersection, and improve the design of the intersection in general:
- The existing right-turn slip from Bayswater Avenue to Sherwood Drive could be closed to automotive traffic, narrowed, and turned into a turning slip for cyclists, that would connect directly to the bike lane;
- A painted bike box should be installed on Baswater Avenue so southbound cyclists turning left can take the lane and get through the intersection safely;
- Likewise, a painted bike box in the eastbound Sherwood Drive lane would allow north-turning cyclists the opportunity to take the lane and clear the intersection;
- The turning radius of the northeast curb of the Sherwood/Bayswater intersection tends to result in almost all drivers rolling through the intersection, as they turn right onto Bayswater Avenue. To discourage this, the city could start with installing bollards to reduce the turning radius, or even install an eyebrow to allow cyclists to make it through the intersection without getting pinned by cars.
Of all the segments of the proposed route that the city is not currently considering for bike infrastructure, Sherwood Drive offers the greatest opportunity for a high quality bike route. This is for a few reasons:
- Bulbouts at most intersections have created a narrow travel lane, which currently accommodates all users, with a very narrow – perhaps 2.5 meters – parking lane, that would be converted to bike lanes. Rebuilding the bulbouts – 17 of them along the length of Sherwood – with a ride through section, or converting them to ride-over bulbouts would create safe, segregated intersections that would reduce conflicts between cyclists and drivers. This could be augmented with flexposts, creating visual segregation from the roadway at low cost.
- Removing parking along Sherwood shouldn’t create too much of a challenge, given that parking is currently prohibited between 9:00-5:00. In other words, parking is vastly underutilized. Random evening walks and rides confirm that it is also lightly used during the evening, likely due to many houses along this street having parking for 2-4 cars.
- Sherwood Drive between Bayswater Avenue and Carling Avenue – perhaps the busiest portion of the road – has few driveways or openings to contend with, and is quite wide. On the eastbound side, there are two driveways, and a right-tirn slip onto Carling Avenue, that should be filled in. In the westbound lane, there are 3 driveways, and one minor intersection with Breezehill Avenue.
- Although Sherwood Drive is designated a collector, local residents worked hard and won a 40km/h speed limit. This, combined with relatively narrow lanes keeps traffic at a relatively reasonable speed.
- At the Sherwood-Parkdale intersection, a traffic signal would need to be added to allow cyclists to cross Parkdale Avenue on both sides of the intersection. Currently, there is a beg button for pedestrians on the south side of the intersection only.
Sherwood Drive terminates at Holland Avenue in the west. From here, the infrastructure required to link up with Bike lanes on Byron become slightly more complex, but are still possible to implement:
- Because there is no signal at Sherwood Drive and Holland Avenue, CycleWest would travel along the east side of Holland Avenue in a bi-directional bike lane. In order to avoid conflicts with passengers using the bus stop under the Queensway, the sidewalk would be relocated, with the bike path making use of the current sidewalk alignment.
- In order to maintain the bus-only lane and a bike path, parking would only be maintained on one side of Holland Avenue.
- The bike path would travel north to the intersection of Holland Avenue and Tyndall Street, where it would cross to the other side of the road, to connect with bike lanes on Byron Avenue.
While elements of CycleWest may be more costly than others, the ultimate outcome will be a bike route that makes good use of existing infrastructure and provides a low-stress riding environment. This is precisely the type of infrastructure we need in Ottawa if we want to increase the number of cyclists.