By Graham Lanktree, Metro Ottawa
An accident that saw a 56-year-old cyclist struck and killed by a cement truck at one of Ottawa's most dangerous intersections Tuesday, has city councillor David Chernushenko calling for a fix.
"An advance green light could help pedestrians and cyclists clear the intersection safely," said Chernushenko the day after the deadly evening rush-hour collision near Billings Bridge at the corner of Bank Street and Riverside Drive.
"We've been hearing for years, if not decades, that pedestrians and cyclists feel very cramped there, it's even a tough place to run a business," said Chernushenko, adding that it's difficult to access some stores because of the high volume of traffic.
"A lot of design changes can be made that could accommodate cyclists and pedestrians without restricting the flow for vehicles," he urged.
The intersection is one of the city's most accident prone when it comes to motorist-cyclist collisions.
"The area with most collisions is in the space between Billings and the transit way," said Alex deVries, vice president of Ottawa's Citizens for Safe Cycling. Between 2009 and 2010, deVries said, Ottawa Police Service numbers show nine motorist-cyclist collisions there.
"There are so many drivers that are turning and cyclists going through that it winds up as a perfect storm for collisions," he said.
But while deVries stopped short of advocating for the advanced green, he said there are other things the city can do, such as creating a cross ride which extends bike lanes through the intersection.
Chernushenko also recommended repairs to the road surface leading up to the Billings Bridge mall, extending repaving on the bridge that saw cycling lanes clearly marked with chevrons on the road.
"The idea of a more complete street, a safer street is something we need to put into all of our streets," said Chernushenko, who released the documentary Bike City, Great City advocating cycling infrastructure this spring.
After cyclist Krysa Johnson was struck and killed on Bronson Avenue in October, he pushed for better cycling infrastructure on the road with a lane marked off by vertical polls. After it was installed this spring, he said he received positive feedback and noted that this is only the first of a three phase change to the road.
Rebuilding Bank St. using the "complete street" philosophy that mixes pedestrian, cycling and automobile infrastructure is the best solution, Chernushenko said proposing a cantilevered lane on the outside of Billings Bridge, which would be at least five to 10 years away
"There's no space in that block to create a proper bike lane," he said. "Right now your eyes need to be looking in 17 directions at once."