Cyclists have been using the new O'Connor bikeway since last Thursday, but it officially opened Tuesday afternoon, just hours before a cyclist was struck by a car. EMMA JACKSON/METRO
Councillors and staff insist the O'Connor Bikeway is still safer than riding on O'Connor without bike infrastructure.
Emma Jackson, Metro
The O’Connor bikeway is still safer than no bike lanes at all, councillors and city staff insist after a cyclist was hit on the brand-new segregated lane Tuesday evening.
Ottawa police were called to O’Connor and Waverley streets around 5:20 p.m., where a 44-year-old cyclist had non-life threatening injuries.
A 71-year-old woman was charged with failure to yield to traffic.
Timing couldn’t have been worse, as politicians and cycling advocates had officially opened the new bi-directional bikeway with great fanfare just two hours before.
But Capital ward Coun. David Chernushenko said he believes the bikeway is still “much better than what we’ve had before.”
O’Connor is a one-way southbound street, so drivers are not used to checking both ways before they turn, he said. Cyclists and drivers just need time to learn how the new infrastructure works.
To that end, staff installed temporary digital signs reminding drivers to watch for cyclists when turning almost immediately after the collision.
“There are yield signs right there, but this is an added signage,” said Vivi Chi, manager of transportation planning at the city. “We felt we had to make it really visible for drivers.”
The signs will likely remain on site for another week, Chi said, and ambassadors from Citizens for Safe Cycling, EnviroCentre and police are out in full force to make sure drivers and cyclists understand the system.
Chernushenko said he wants staff to also consider more permanent tweaks to make it crystal clear cyclists are going both directions.
“I am sure there is something we can do to make that clearer to people,” he said.
Chi said her team is monitoring the bikeway and has the power to install more signs, road markings or other tweaks as necessary.