Yesterday, I got an e-newsletter from the city, with an announcement that a new bike lane's been opened on Lyon Street - another step toward developing an official, workable cycling system downtown. It runs down Lyon, from Wellington (which is pretty much the northernmost edge of the downtown map) to Arlington, with sharrows marking off where the bikes are suggested to be from Wellington to Queen, and then a full painted bike lane from there on.
I haven't given it a try yet, but I'll have to go down and have a look. It looks from the pictures as though the lane is only on the southbound side: so it's only good for getting you south. But I seem to remember Lyon being one-way anyway, and I have a problem with contra-flow bike lanes, so that's okay.
And kudos to the city for moving forward on this bike infrastructure project. There's a presentation planned for tomorrow night, 6:30-8:30, in the City Hall Rotunda, to present what's happened so far, since the East-West Segregated Lane Pilot Project was announced earlier this year. They've chosen Laurier Ave W. for the lane, and this meeting will involve consultation with the community about things like design and construction (i.e., will the lane be separated by parked cars, a concrete barrier, posts, flowerpots, what?)
My question, which I would pose if I could be there (I can't: prior commitments) would be: is any thought going to go into making it more comfortable for bikes to get over the bridge and across Elgin? All I'm asking for, I think, is a marked, painted bike lane that continues past the ramp from Queen Elizabeth and gives a cyclist some breathing room at the lights, where we have to stand between the traffic coming through and the right-turn lane. In fact, what I want there is a bike box, so if we are turning left we can get over to the left. As it is, there is no way to turn left down Elgin without feeling like you're taking your life in your hands. Not to mention it's one of those intersections where you're only allowed to turn left between certain hours, which information is posted on a sign that's too small to read. Gah.
Oh, yeah, and my other question would be - how much does it cost to add a bike lane, versus how much it costs to keep the bike paths clear through the winter? And are there any plans to do so? The Canal path gets plowed (which is the major reason I can bike year-round) but if the others were cleared too it would help get cyclists out of the way - and out of harm's way - in winter, when real estate at the edge of the streets is at a serious premium due to snow buildup.
But, again - thanks to the city for taking cycling seriously. Seriously enough that Ottawa just hosted the announcement that Canadian cities will now be getting Google's Bike Directions, and is one of the first seven pilot cities. Awesome! The feature will be launched later this week, apparently, and will allow cities to include designated bike lanes, bike paths, and roads that are safer for cycling, as well as allowing you to plot for things like shortcuts and topography (you can pick the least hilly route, if that's the sort of thing that excites you: it's not so much for me.) It's user-contributed, too: so cyclists will be able to flag and suggest routes. Can't wait to give it a spin once it's live! Nice to know Ottawa will be among the first cities to get this service.
Slowly but surely, it's getting easier to get around.