Hoping for cycling 'culture shift' for football games

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City pushing resident to ride bikes

By Megan Gillis, Ottawa Sun

Don't drive to Lansdowne.

Got it yet?

As the city counts down to the first home game for the CFL's RedBlacks, the city and Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group have been warning fans to take the bus or use park and ride shuttles — free with a ticket — to avoid traffic snarls, virtually no on-site parking and little on Glebe streets.

Now they're saying ride your bike, with Coun. David Chernushenko leading a cycling convoy to the new stadium Sunday, touting a host of new safety features nearby and demonstrating free, gated bike parking for major events, like the RedBlacks' sold-out home opener before 24,000 fans.

Though OSEG says 750 ticketholders have already told them they'll bike and 1,000 are expected to do so, Chernushenko admitted it may take a bit of a "culture shift" to get football fans to trade tailgating for two wheels and perhaps some annoyance July 18.

"My best guess is there will still be a lot of people trying to drive despite our best efforts and maybe that's a necessary step for us to go through — oh, I shouldn't have done that, next time I'm going to walk, cycle, take the bus," he said, though he hastened to add he thinks planning will avert the outright "traffic chaos" on streets many residents fear will become parking lots.

The avid cyclist pointed to a traffic signals crossing Queen Elizabeth Dr. at Fifth Ave. that are decades in the works but soon complete, reduced speed limits on Bank St. and "super sharrows" on the Bank St. Bridge.

They signal drivers to stay behind cyclists and slow to 20 km/hr or change lanes to pass on the bridge.

But Alex deVries of Citizens for Safe Cycling is skeptical after visiting the bridge and finding cyclists still walking their bikes on the sidewalk, pushed off the bridge where the city has nixed bike lanes.

Meanwhile, the city has quietly distributed maps on how to get to Lansdowne suggesting that the bridge is part of a "walk your bike" zone.

"It's quite contradictory," deVries said.

 

"The city of Ottawa does not seem to have a plan on how people are supposed to bicycle across the Bank St. Bridge."

It's coming up with better routes to get to the game that will make cycling appealing, he said, though he hailed the bike parking as a boon once cyclists make it there.

David Ashton came up with his company Wheel-Up, which has offered a gated bike check to events for eight years, after tackling the problem of vanishing bikes as an Ottawa cop, and is convinced they lure cyclists.

"I haven't had a bike stolen yet," he said.

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Twitter: @ottawasun_megan

If you don’t find the information you need on these pages, please visit ottawa.ca/newlansdowne, or to contact the City directly by email at newlansdowne@ottawa.caor by calling 3-1-1 (press 1 for English, then 5 for the Lansdowne line). If necessary, you may also contact the project manager, Marco Manconi, at 613-580-2424 ext. 43229, or by email.