O'Connor bike lanes a breeze at committee

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Jon Willing, Ottawa Sun

The city is one vote away from building another segregated bikeway downtown.

Council's transportation committee Wednesday approved the bike infrastructure on O'Connor St. The lanes will run on the east side of the road and will connect with the east-west bikeway on Laurier Ave.

The project costs $4 million and work will begin in 2016 when the street is resurfaced. The section between Wellington St. and Laurier Ave. will be done after 2017.

Times have changed since the downtown's first segregated bike lane on Laurier was in front of the transportation committee. That February 2011 committee meeting saw more than 40 delegates and ran into the evening hours.

On Wednesday, only a handful of people signed up to speak to the committee about the proposed O'Connor St. bikeway and they largely supported it. There was one concern about drop-off access to a health centre in Centretown but staff don't think it will be a big issue.

There was hardly any controversy this time.

"It's almost anti-climatic today," Capital Coun. David Chernushenko said.

The bikeway would run as far south as Glebe Ave., connecting the Glebe neighbourhood with the downtown core. Much of the on-street parking will be relocated or removed. There will be a portion of the bikeway without the separating curbs in the Glebe to accommodate a doctors' office.

The committee vote was unanimous and the discussion gave some councillors an opportunity to voice their support for cyclists.

"They are our cheapest commuters and we need to start spending money on them," Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney said.

Orléans Coun. Bob Monette said he's disappointed the segregated lanes won't stretch to Lansdowne Park right away, although staff said they're working on it. The infrastructure could be extended next year, at the latest, staff said.

Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury said he wants to see "speedy delivery" of bike connections across the city.

Chernushenko received the committee's support to ask staff to consider dropping the speed limit to 30 km/h on O'Connor St. through the Glebe. Monette worried about setting a precedent by dropping speed limits, but staff said they would need council's approval if they want to make a recommendation at the end of a review.

Chernushenko, on the other hand, said, "I hope it's a precedent."

Council has the final vote on the proposed bikeway next Wednesday.

Twitter: @JonathanWilling