Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Even more flex posts on Kilborn. Joy.

 As I was heading to the office yesterday, I spotted a bunch of new mounting points for flex posts on Kilborn west of Alta Vista. (There are already a bunch of these things east of Alta Vista, occasionally getting whacked by delivery vans and lying across the bike lane.)

Look, I get it. People speed and the cheapest thing the city can do about it (because they won't do the math on speed camera revenue) is put up hundreds and hundreds of these flexible wickets, so that the drivers will slow up a bit: not because they're afraid they'll hit a person, but because they're afraid something will hit their car. 

But as a bike rider I really dislike these things. This latest set, I discovered as I almost hit one of the mount points while going upwards of 40 km/h down the hill at the bottom of the road. Those bolts aren't really noticeable to a car tire: I definitely don't want to hit one at speed on a bike though.

And once the posts go up, they'll be one more thing I have to navigate and calculate for. Do I have room to pass that post on the right? Or do I have to take the lane for a second to pass it on the left, so that a driver doesn't try to go through the (usually about 3.5-m) space alongside me? Are there also parked cars to weave around and work into the equation? (There aren't any bike lanes on this part of Kilborn: the painted lines delineate a parking zone.) And in the winter, when they take them down, I'll need to watch for the little plates, which are permanent.

At least here, they don't appear to be putting in centre posts. The centre posts just create artificial pinch points where drivers unconsciously squeeze further over toward me because they don't want to hit the poles - all the while having their attention pulled to the pole they're passing, not the person on a bike. And on Pleasant Park, another street near me, there are centre posts flanked by side posts, where the side posts aren't far enough from the curb for a bike to get through. So about twice a block I have to shoulder check and move out to take the lane through the gap, or slam on the brakes to let cars past me because there's no room. 

Is speeding a problem? Sure. Are these things more hazardous than speeding? I don't know. Do these things slow people down? Sure - by, apparently, as much as 5 km/h! (Wow! Such much?) But it sure feels like trading one set of cycling hazards for another, without much of an upside for the cyclists.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Oh what a difference a little link makes

Last weekend they finally opened the new ped/bike bridge over the Rideau River at Carleton University, linking the campus to Vincent Massey Park. It's about time: this bridge has been in place for two freaking years. It opened for a single solitary day this spring, apparently by accident when the contractor took down a barricade, and was then thoroughly barricaded and bolted shut for months. Apparently some smoothbrain thought we should all wait to use the bridge until the LRT line next to it was complete, which is infuriatingly on brand for this city. 

Whatever: it's open now. Sound the trumpets! 

I'd been watching for it to open because, ever since last summer, I'd wanted to use it to get to Carleton on Saturdays for a martial arts class. It would allow me to skip having to cross Billings Bridge, ever the bane of my existence (see many, many posts on here for why) and ride through Old Ottawa South (another bane) to get to campus. Now, I can take my usual quiet neighbourhood streets to the Rideau River Path, ride along that to the park, cut across the bridge, and know that it's likely that the only violence I have to deal with that morning will be consensual.

But I hadn't realized, until yesterday, that it has also cut the amount of on-road riding I have to do to get to work down to practically nothing. I headed out of the office yesterday evening  and decided to see how little on-road riding I could manage. If I stay on the Rideau River path till I get to the connection to the Hospital ring road, which has a separated path, I can literally travel 13 km and spend only 1 km total on a shared road or street. (Assuming you don't consider the Experimental Farm roads "roads," which I don't: they have virtually no cars, are slowed to 30km, have no lane lines, and are pedestrian- and farm-equipment priority.) And even then, none of the "streets" I'm on are in any way busy. They're the sorts of streets people walk and play road hockey in.

Even if I get off the river path at Pleasant Park, which shortens my trip by 3 km, I only spend 2.25 km more on streets. And again, really quiet and pleasant streets. 

Contrast with how things were before this bridge existed. I had three main (non-winter) routes: the first two took either the Rideau River path through Vincent Massey Park or the Brookfield underpass, both of which link up to Hog's Back Falls, where I crossed the river and connected with Prince of Wales Drive. I would then have to merge onto this thing. 

I would also have to cut through the Worst Parking Lot In Nepean as the last step of my trip to work: a grim and lawless hellscape with a wide area where there are no lanes, no rules, and drivers crisscrossing from one side to the next to get to the right or left turn lanes. It sucks. 

I need to get from, more or less, lower right to upper left here.
It's . . . an adventure.

OR: I could cut onto Bank Street at Riverside, go over Billings Bridge and through Old Ottawa South to Cameron, then through Brewer Park and Carleton campus to the Experimental Farm roads, and through the farm to the office. This, however, involves the part of the city (the bridge and OOS) where I have probably had the greatest number of adverse interactions with drivers, from punishment passing to tailgating to bullying, shouting, honking, and, at least once, me crying on the sidewalk for a minute. 

Now, though, I don't have to decide of a morning whether I'd rather face Prince of Wales or Billings Bridge. They've both been cleared off my list of problems: at least until there's too much snow down to use the river path, which isn't winter maintained. 

This tiny little link - one 60m long bridge! - is an absolute game changer.