Friday, July 19, 2013

Councillors clash over Main Street but quicky OK permanent Laurier bike lanes

By Jon Willing ,Ottawa Sun

Councillors on Friday breezed through a debate on making the Laurier Avenue segregated bike lanes permanent after taking a bumpy road to approve a reconstruction plan for Main Street.

At the heart of both issues is how cars and bikes share roads in central Ottawa.

But on Main Street it’s also about how motorists can access the core if a major arterial road loses lanes when other routes are pinched by years of LRT construction.

The transportation committee spent more than four hours talking about recommended changes to Main Street, between Smyth Road and Colonel By Drive.

City staff want a “complete streets” approach to Main Street, which is a fancy way to say the road should be easily used by motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders.

The pipes under the road need replacing, hydro infrastructure requires upgrading and the city wants to improve the surface at the same time. This is the city’s only shot to redesign Main St.

Construction is expected in 2014-2015 but while there is an approved $26.5-million budget, there is not yet a cost estimate for the “complete streets” design.

The recommended approach would reduce the number of vehicle lanes in some sections, add raised cycling lanes and widen sidewalks.

Deputy city manager Nancy Schepers called the proposed approach a “game-changer” for the city.

Delegates from the community gave the plan a big thumbs up.

Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans put up the strongest opposition to the staff recommended approach, seeing that residents from her ward use Main Street to access downtown.

She wanted staff to consider other options that didn’t reduce the number of car lanes.

The report carried with a vote of 6-4.

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