Support for the Bronson changes: position statement for the Transportation Committee

The following statement, sent for the Transportation Committee meeting on April 3, 2013, outlines C.U. Cycling’s position on the proposed changes to Bronson Avenue. There are a lot of great aspects in the plan, so we’re looking forward to see how they will be implemented to make Bronson Avenue safer for all road users.

C.U. Cycling expresses it’s enthusiastic support for the proposed changes to Bronson Avenue between Brewer and Holmwood. It is encouraging to see the City pursuing such an aggressive approach to the safety concerns raised by many citizens regarding Bronson Ave in its current form. The changes proposed are unique and sensitive to the area’s specific needs.

This stretch of Bronson Ave. not only carries traffic though from areas south of the Rideau River to the west end of downtown, but it is also the entrance to Carleton University. The roadway is wide, four to six lanes through the area of study, but functions as a transition between a high speed two lane freeway: Airport Parkway, and a tighter four lane road configuration north of the Rideau Canal. Spanning two waterways a short distance apart, it is one of a limited number of routes to cross the Rideau Canal and River in the area.

The solutions presented in the report by the City of Ottawa are effective at addressing the needs of all road users. Bronson Avenue carries a large volume of through traffic in cars, but a large population of Carleton University students and staff choose to walk, cycle or bus to and from campus. Bronson avenue currently exists as a barrier to these movements. For students, including the over 3500 who live in residence and are likely living in Ottawa for the first time and without cars, having safe and easy access to and from campus is just as important as the many commuters who travel to and from work and the suburbs. We believe this report works to effectively balance the needs of drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

As Airport Parkway opens up into the six wide lanes of Bronson Avenue crossing the Rideau River, speed limits have proven ineffective at reducing the overall speed of traffic. C.U. Cycling is pleased that the report acknowledges that speeds on this stretch are far above the speed limit and measures other than an unenforceable reduction to the speed limit will be taken to reduce vehicle speeds. Instead, the proposals to reduce motor vehicle lane widths and add flexible delineators, which will provide physical separation from moving traffic and hopefully inspire motorists to slow, without negatively affecting the overall quantity of traffic moving through the corridor.

Additional short term improvements, such as signage, crosswalks, signal timing, and road striping will also have major benefits to people travelling to and from Carleton University and around the area, however the long term plans will bring the most widespread improvements. C.U. Cycling is most impressed with the plan to add a contra-flow cycle lane and crosswalk, allowing cyclists and pedestrians to avoid Bronson entirely. This is a major change and will be beneficial to all road users, making travel safer through the corridor and at intersections.

Missing links are a major issue for cyclists and pedestrians and although this plan is proactive in addressing some of them, such as improved N/S cycle route signage, many issues remain. Approaching Findlay headed north, the bicycle lane ends to permit motor vehicle traffic to cross into the left turn lane. C.U. Cycling believes this is a major flaw that will result in further high speed collisions between vehicles and cyclists. The area also lacks good connections to and from the NCC pathways, especially in the winter with Winterlude. Correcting these minor deficiencies going forward would greatly improve the cycling facilities in the area at a low cost.

C.U. Cycling is in strong support of the current changes and looks forward to upcoming plans, proposals, and detailed designs of the changes to be made. We also believe that exclusive funding is a requirement for this project. Funding should not be drawn from the existing allocation for cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. The proposed changes will have benefits to all traffic moving through and across this major highway, and will not be limited cyclists and pedestrians. To fund these improvements through the existing and small cycling budget would greatly affect the ability to improve cycling across the city.

Please consider our support, and the needs of the tens of thousands of Carleton students, staff and visitors when you make your decision.

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