Cycling Issues

Statistics on Daily Cycling Counts at a number of locations across the City are published on the City of Ottawa website at the following link:

Cycling Count next-day graphs:

Ottawa Cycling Advocacy Group - Citizen for Safe Cycling - website

NCC Vision for Parkway/Driveway Network

The NCC has published a vision document outlining their vision, proposed direction for their Parkway and Driveways Network.  The CCC discussed this proposal and put together some Parkways Policies comments which were sent to the NCC.

In general the CCC is supportive of the NCC's recognition of the greater role the Parkways and Driveways should play for active transportation users both recreationally and for commuting.  Focus needs to be on slowing down car traffic and making the parkways/driveways into corridors that are safer and more enjoyable for all users.

Cycling Infrastructure Project Plans

The City has implemented a mapping tool which displays the full list of planned cycling infrastructure investments as outlined in the most recent Cycling Plan.  To access take the link below and once there look at the drop down box to the right called "More Layers".    Once you manoeuvre the mouse over this box, a menu will appear allowing you to click on the "+" sign for cycling and then check off the boxes of this items you wish to have displayed on the map.

The list of cycling projects are described as P1-xx (2014-2018), P2-xx (2019-2023), P3-xx (2023-2031).  A more detailed description of each of these projects can be found in the Cycling Master Plan (see below).

Ottawa Cycling Master Plan

This document is part of the Transportation Master Plan which is updated every 5 years.  The Cycling plan provides an overview of the City of Ottawa's strategy to promote greater levels of cycling looking forward over a 20 year time horizon.  It describes measures such as new bike infrastructure, bike parking, integration of cycling with transit, and cycling promotion/education/safety programs.  

In the 2013 Transportation Master Plan, 70m$ was allocated for investment in cycling over the 2014-2031 timeframe (approx 3.5m$ per year or 1.8% of the City's total capital investment in transportation infrastructure).  In addition, a further 40m$ was set aside specifically for bridges for pedestrians and cyclists.

The 2013 TMP provides the following chart, indicating the goal is to grow the number of cycling trips made during the 2.5 hour morning peak period from 12,300 trips in 2011 (2.7% of all trips)  to 30,100 trips by 2031 (5.0%) of all trips.

Click on this link to access the 2013 Cycling Plan (3.8MB)

Click on this link to access the  2008 Cycling Plan (11.5MB)

The City of Ottawa web pages related to cycling:  City of Ottawa Cycling Master Plan.

2011 to 2015 Cycling Projects

In the 2011 budget City Council agreed to allocate 2m$ per year for the following 4 years (8m$ total) for implementing improved cycling infrastructure.  

In the 2012 budget City Council passed a special additional program of 340m$ for accelerated expenditures on transportation related initiatives.  Part of this 340m$ includes an additional 12.1m$ over the 2012-2015 timeframe for expanded investment in cycling infrastructure.   In addition to this 12.1m$, approximately 6m$ will also be spent to widen roads and/or pave shoulders in order to provide additional cycling lanes.

In total approximately 26m$ is anticipated to be invested in cycling facilities over the 2011-2015 timeframe.

In total, the 2012-2015 funding plan identifies approximately:
  • 6 kilometres of new multi-use pathway connections 
  • 12 kilometres of new on-road cycling facilities. 
  • 70 kilometres of additional on-road bike lanes and paved shoulders that will result from the roadway resurfacing program.
The following are specific examples of the new pathway and on-road cycling facilities that are contemplated as part of this plan.

  • A new multi-use pathway along the O-Train corridor between the Ottawa River and Somerset Street that will link the Ottawa River Pathway, Bayview O-Train/Transitway Station, and the new pedestrian/cycling underpass under Somerset Street (opened in May 2013)
  • Hampton Park Pathway to provide a cycling-friendly east-west route as an alternative to busy Carling Avenue.
  • A new multi-use pathway connecting Scott Street pathway to the Ottawa River Pathway.
  • The Sawmill Creek/LRT Corridor Pathway (from Walkley Road to Brookfield Pathway).
  • Aviation Pathway (Southern Segment from Prescott-Russell Pathway to Innes Road).
  • The implementation of a 12-kilometre east-west bikeway from Vanier to Westboro, via the new Laurier Ave segregated bike lane. This should include improvements to the multi-use pathway along Scott St, and the implementations of improved infrastructure for cyclists on Laurier east of Elgin, Cobourg, as well as Churchill and O’Connor streets
  • A multi-use path along the western shore of the Rideau R. between Lees Ave and Belmont st
  • Over $1 million in new funding to improve the existing pedestrian connectivity and multi-use pathways.
  • Implementation of a pedestrian/cycling bridge across the O-Train tracks at Hickory St
  • Implementation of a pedestrian/cycling bridge across the Airport Parkway at South Keys
  • Detailed design of the pedestrian and bike crossing over the Rideau River at Somerset and Donald.
  • Detailed design of the pedestrian and bike crossing over the Rideau Canal from Clegg to Fifth Ave.
More details on the above pathway/crossings

Rideau Canal footbridge at Lansdowne (Plan: ~2019)

The second proposed footbridge would be across the Rideau Canal to link Old Ottawa East to the Glebe. 

During 2011 preliminary studies and public consultations were conducted to identify the preferred location for such a bridge. The results of that study pointing towards a recommendation to build the crossing between Clegg St. and Fifth Ave in the Glebe. Details of the various locations and bridge types being evaluated can be found at the web page for the Public Open House #2.

The study continued throughout 2012 with the intention of coming to a final recommendation on location and bridge structure before the end of the year.

The project kickoff is documented in this Rideau Canal footbridge report to Transportation committee.

The latest status of public consultations on these projects can be found on the City of Ottawa's website public consultations page: City of Ottawa Footbridges Public Consulations.

The 2013 Transportation Master Plan allocated 15m$ of funding for the construction of this bridge sometime in the 2020-2023 timeframe.

2016 Update:
  • project cost is forecast as 21m$
  • design has been simplified to reduce costs (straight vs curved)
  • means ramps up to bridge level along side of canal
  • unclear whether space permits stairs as well, communities are asking for stairs
  • some concerns about how peds, cars, bikes, will operate smoothly together at Clegg on the east side
  • desire to add 'lookout' area at middle of the bridge
  • efforts underway to find funding sources from upper levels of gov't to facilitate earlier implementation (prior to current plan of ~2021)
  • in 2016 the Federal Government committed 10.5m$ in funding for this project via the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund. (In total 1.5B$ of this fund is committed to projects in Ontario)
  • this has moved the planned completion date for this project forward to the 2018-2019 timeframe.

Mckenzie Ave Cycle Tracks (Plan: 2017)

Along the east-side of Mackenzie Avenue, a project to implement a 450-metre two-way bike track between Murray Street and Rideau Street is planned. This project is part of the City of Ottawa, the National Capital Commission (NCC) and the City of Gatineau's long-term goal to complete a cycling facility around Confederation Boulevard. The completion of the cycle track, including line painting and pavement markings, is expected in the spring of 2017. You can find out more about this project on the City's website;  Mackenzie Avenue bike tracks.

This new cycling facility along Mackenzie Avenue will consist of a two-way bike track, paved primarily using asphalt, and will be buffered from road traffic by a combination of curbs and bollards in front of the United States Embassy, and curbs and road-flush segments between the United States Embassy and Rideau Street. Twelve off-peak parking spots currently located along the south-east side of Mackenzie Avenue will be removed, along with a tour bus parking location.

The functional design for the Mackenzie Avenue bikeway includes a new cross-ride, at Mackenzie Avenue and Murray Street, connecting to the existing Alexandra Bridge bike track, and a protected signal phase at Mackenzie Avenue and Rideau Street to allow for a conflict-free southbound connection from the Mackenzie Bike Track to the existing bike lane on the south-west side of the Colonel By Drive on-ramp. The Mackenzie Project will be coordinated with proposed pavement markings (sharrows) along Colonel By Drive from Rideau Street to a location where cyclists can access the NCC Eastern Rideau Canal Pathway.

O-Connor Street Bikeway (Plan: 2015-2016)

During 2014, the City held consultations and began to develop plans for adding segregated cycling lanes on O-Connor St from the Glebe neighbourhood north to Wellington St.  This segregated cycling link is identified as a top priority in the 2013 Cycling Plan.

O-Connor St is intended to receive a re-surfacing in the near future and the intent is to add the cycling lanes at that time.  The design constraints require the cycling lane to be implemented without requiring any expensive changes related to shifting the curb edges (ie. width of the overall roadway) as this would require moving sewer connections and catch basins which adds dramatically to the cost of a project.

The work during 2014 involved an analysis of the available street width (which varies by block), the modeling of the impact of adding cycling lanes on car traffic & on-street parking, and determining the best overall design for the bike lanes (ie. unidrectional on each side of the street vs bi-directional on the east or west side).

Some of the main challenges in the design include:
  • determining the least uncomfortable manner for bikes to cross Catherine St and under the 417
  • determining the best solution for working around the World Exchange Plaza underground exit ramp at Slater (where the O-Connor St width is reduced by 1 lane)
  • evaluating the degree to which car travel times on O'Connor will be increased due to loss of a travel lane
  • evaluation how many of the 130 on-street parking spaces on O'Connor will be lost (there are currently 409 on-street parking spaces on the side streets for 1 block on either side of O'Connor)
  • determining a design layout that minimizes the safety challenges associated with cycling traffic moving in the opposite direction with cars on an existing 1-way street.
A description and analysis of the various design alternatives was summarized in this O-Connor Street Options Analysis document and a memo forecasting the expected impact on car traffic was also produced.

Analysis work was completed as of Dec 2014 and the final recommendation was summarized in this O'Connor Street Bikeway presentation.

The final recommendation was for the creation of a bi-directional segregated cycle track on the left (east) side of the road.  This would allow for most of the on-street parking to be retained on the west side of the road (which would not have been possible if a cycle lane was implemented in each direction on either side of the road).

The final design proposal was approved by City council in 2015 and the proposed implementation is summarized in this O-Connor St City Staff Report.

The overall project will be completed in 2 stages with the 1st stage extending from Laurier Ave south to the Glebe and the 2nd stage being from Laurier north to Wellington St. (post 2017).
Construction of stage 1 of this facility occurred during the summer of 2016 and it opened for use in October 2016.

Booth St. Bridge Cycling Plans (2016,2018)

As part of the LRT Stage 1 project (opening planned for summer 2018) Booth St was reconstructed where it passes over the LRT tracks and the associated Pimisi LRT station.  The newly widened bridge did not include measures to accommodate cyclists, a strange omission considering the City's stated priority to improve cycling and walking access to transit.  Upon opening of the bridge a strong reaction ensued from the cycling community and painted cycling lanes were hastily added as a temporary measure.  A more permanent solution involving cycle tracks is envisioned for 2018 and 1m$ of funding was provided in 2016 by the federal government as part of the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.  

The situation, including a detailed description of the interim solution is ably documented on this post about Booth St on the West Side Action blog.

Maintained Winter Cycling Network (2014+)

Starting in 2014, the City of Ottawa committed to the maintenance of a winter cycling network of approximately 40km.  On this network, cycling facilities will be maintained to the same standard as the neighbouring sidewalk or vehicle travel lanes.

On-street cycling lanes will be plowed following 2.5 to 5.0 cm of accumulation within the timelines identified in the Maintenance Quality Standards (within 24 hours following the completion of snow accumulation). Raised cycle tracks and multi-use pathways will be also be plowed following 2.5 to 5.0 cm of snow accumulation, however they are maintained to a snow packed standard with the exception of those adjacent to arterial roadways. Snow removal will be scheduled when snow banks are encroaching on to 50% of the existing width of the bike lane.

Map of the Maintained Winter Cycling Network.

Main Street Segregated Cycling Lanes (Plan: 2015-16)

The 2013 Transportation Master Plan identified a policy priority of implementing "Complete Streets" where the allocation of the right of way on the street is more fairly balanced among all of the modes of transportation and that this policy should be considered particularly when streets are being 'renewed' as a result of sewer/water infrastructure replacement.

During 2013-2014 Main Street was identified as one such potential street and an environmental assessment was conducted for a street re-design which would see segregated bike lanes added and the roadway reduced from a 4-lane profile to a 3-lane profile.  (One traffic lane in each direction plus a third lane whose use alternates between on-street parking and left turn lanes at intersections).

This street design was approved by City Council in June 2013 and the implementation began in 2015.  This will add an important segregated cycling link from the Alta Vista area towards the downtown.

The new segregated cycling facility opened in fall 2016 for the section of the street north of Clegg and the section south of Clegg is expected to be operational in early 2017.

The detailed analysis of the options considered and a modelling of the impact of these changes on the road network are detailed in this Main Street Environmental Study Report.

The anticipated impact of these changes on auto traffic is provided in this Main Street Traffic Impact Summary Memo.

Rideau River Adawe Crossing (Somerset-Donald St: 2014-2015)

Following on from the greater than anticipated success of the Corktown footbridge over the Rideau canal at Somerset street, the City of Ottawa  conducted (2010-2012) environmental assessments for 2 additional footbridges over water.  The CCC is a supporter of these projects which will form important links in the cycling and pedestrian network.

The proposed Rideau River footbridge would link Donald Street (Overbrook) and Somerset Street East (Sandy Hill).  In 2011 the location and preliminary design of this crossing was finalized and the 2012 budget includes 1m$ for detailed design of this bridge. Details of the preferred design can be viewed at this Dec 7, 2012 report to Transportation Committee.  The 2014 budget allocated 7m$ in funding to construct this bridge during 2014 with an anticipated in-service operational date in 2015.  This bridge opened for use in Dec 2015.

More details about this proposed project can be found at the project launch on this Apr 7, 2010 Report to Transportation committee.

During the summer of 2016 usage of this bridge was averaging about 4000 users per day with approximately 55% of those being cyclists and 45% pedestrians.

The bridge was named the "Adawe" crossing in 2016.  Adawe is an Algonquin term meaning "to trade".

Somerset St. E. Advisory Bike Lanes (2016)

With the completion of the Rideau River footbridge (named the Adawe Crossing), Somerset St E. between the Rideau R. and the Corktown crossing of the Rideau Canal became much more heavily used as a cycling link.  In recognition of this fact, changes were implemented along this section of the street to better accommodate cyclists.  These changes included the addition of sections of bike lanes, sharrows, and 'advisory bike' lanes as indicated in this Somerset St. E. Cycling changes drawing.

The biggest change is the addition of what is referred to as 'advisory bike lanes' on the section east of Chapel St.  This is a new way to configure a narrow roadway and requires a change in the way drivers share the road to give priority to cyclists.

These advisory cycle lanes have been added on both sides of the road and are different from 'traditional' cycle lanes in that they are delineated by painted dotted lines.  Addition of these lanes On Somerset results in the remaining width of the road being insufficient to allow cars travelling in opposite directions to pass eachother simultaneously between the bike lanes.  In this situation where cars will be meeting from opposite directions and if there is a cyclist(s) in the bike lane, the drivers must slow down and wait behind the cyclist(s) until the cars pass.  After that the cars may overtake the cyclist by moving to the centre of the road.    If there happens to be no cyclists in the bike lanes when cars meet then the cars are allowed to pass eachother simultaneously by driving in the space taken up by the bike lane.  This is why the bike lane delineation paint is dashed and not solid.

This is a first trial implementation of this configuration in Ottawa and is considered in cases where the speed on the road is slower (Somerset has been reduced to 40 km/hr) and where the car volumes are lower (such that the frequency of cars meeting in opposite directions is expected to be low).

Further west on Somerset the street becomes slightly narrower and supports a bus route in  both directions (streets with buses are required to allow wider space allowances in the travel lanes).  As a result there was insufficient width on the street to support the advisory bike lane concept and it was not implemented in this section.  Bike sharrow markings were added to the street instead.

Finally in the last few blocks towards King Edward, parking was removed from the street which then allowed sufficient width to add full bike lanes (solid painted lines) in combination with 2-way car lanes.

East-West Bikeway Project (2013-2016)

The Laurier Ave. Bike Lane forms the central spine of what is to become an east-west bikeway stretching from Hemlock/St. Laurent in the east to Churchill St in the west.

During 2012 public consultations were held for the eastern portion of this project stretching from Laurier at Waller through Sandy Hill and Lowertown to the Vanier Parkway at Beechwood Ave.  This section is planned to be implemented during 2013.  This plan involves adding cycling lanes along Laurier Ave (from Waller St to Cumberland) and along Cumberland (from Laurier to Wilbrod) via the removal of some on-street parking.  The plan also involves the addition of cycle tracks along a section of St. Patrick St. between Coburg Ave and the bridge over the Rideau R.  Details can be found in this East-West Bikeway Project Description.

During 2015-2016 consultations were held on extending cycling facilities further east along the Bikeway along Beechwood Ave.   A final longer term design plan was produced along with a transition plan which could be implemented in the shorter term at lower cost. (The long term plan requires re-development of properties along the corridor to increase building setbacks thus allowing the street curbs to be moved to widen the street to better accommodate all modes of users of the street).  The "Transition Plan" includes:
  • Proposed dedicated cycling lanes in each direction for the entire corridor.
  • Reductions and modifications to vehicular lanes that would result in Beechwood becoming a two-lane roadway for most of its length, with the exception of a four-lane section between Vanier Parkway and Springfield Road.
  • A dedicated westbound left-turn lane at the Vanier Parkway intersection would be removed and one westbound lane would be converted into a straight-through/left-turn lane. This change is required in order to provide dedicated cycling lanes and will result in increased delays for motorists during peakperiods.
  • An eastbound straight-through/left-turn lane at the Springfield intersection would become a dedicated left-turn lane.
  • Some on-street parking spaces on Beechwood would be removed or moved to side streets.
  • Minor adjustments to the curb on the north side of Beechwood between Springfield and Crichton are proposed in order to accommodate the bike lane.
A diagram of this Beechwood Ave transition plan shows what was implemented during summer of 2016.

The remaining section of the east-west bikeway to be completed is the section between Waller St and Nicholas St.  Implementation of this section via on-street bike lanes cannot be completed until after the opening of the LRT Stage 1 project (planned summer 2018). Prior to that time dedicated bus lanes are required on Laurier (preventing the implementation of cycling lanes) to accommodate buses that have been detoured here as a consequence of closing the bus transitway for LRT construction.  During this interim period, sharrows have been painted in the vehicle lanes to alert cars to the presence of cyclists.

Laurier Ave. segregated bike lane (2011)

During 2010, the City of Ottawa is conducted a planning and feasibility study for a segregated bike lane pilot project in the downtown core. Three different cross-town routes were under consideration (Gladstone, Somerset, and Laurier).  Laurier Ave was selected as the best route and was operational by July 2011.  Automated bike counters are embedded in the lane and a bike count web page is available indicating daily, weekly, and monthly usage.  Throughout the summer and early fall usage varied between 9000 and 11000 cyclists per week.

The CCC is a supporter of this initiative and believes cycling infrastructure such as the Laurier segregated cycling lane will be instrumental in helping the City to achieve higher modal shares for cycling.  More information about this project is available on the City of Ottawa downtown segregrated bike lane project page.

An informative posting on some of the objections to this project as well as some responses to those objections can be found at this blog posting from Charles Akben-Marchand:

Ontario Cycling Strategy and Cycling Funding (Nov 2012)

In Nov 2012 the Ontario Ministry of Transportation released a draft for comments of their proposed strategy.  In their words: "This draft Strategy addresses a number of the recent Coroner’s recommendations directed at the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (see Appendix B). It outlines our plans for infrastructure, education and legislation, including a separate consultation on potential legislative amendments to the Highway Traffic Act aimed at improving cycling safety, such as those proposed by the Coroner (i.e. mandatory helmets for all riders regardless of age and a minimum one-metre passing rule for vehicles passing cyclists)".  

This link will bring you to a copy of the draft Ontario Cycling Strategy.

Ontario has also created a Municipal Cycling Infrastructure Program to which cities may apply for funding for up to 50% of the costs of potential projects.  In 2016 Ottawa received 325K$ from to contribute towards the funding of the Mackenzie Ave cycling tracks.  

In 2016 the Province also tabled their Climate Change Action Plan.  This plan describes how funds raised through the planned Cap and Trade program will be allocated.  One of the action areas is the improvement of active transportation and the document provides the following description of the action plan to take place over the 2017-2020 timeframe:

3.1Improve commuter cycling network: The government will accelerate and enhance implementation of Ontario’s Cycling Strategy and Action Plan and promote cycling.$150,000,000 to $225,000,000
John Verbaas,
Dec 10, 2012, 10:20 AM
John Verbaas,
Nov 23, 2016, 5:31 AM
John Verbaas,
Nov 23, 2016, 5:31 AM
John Verbaas,
Nov 23, 2016, 5:31 AM
John Verbaas,
Nov 23, 2016, 7:19 AM
John Verbaas,
Nov 23, 2016, 5:17 AM