• My remarks at the Bike Ottawa AGM, October 2, 2017

    Check against delivery

    Good evening ladies and gentlemen.

    Bonsoir Mesdames et Messieurs.

    It is a pleasure to join all of you this evening for the Bike Ottawa Annual General Meeting.

    I would like to thank Bike Ottawa, your President, Gareth Davies, and your Board, for welcoming me tonight.

    I don’t have to tell any of you that Gareth is a tireless cycling advocate here in Ottawa, who was recently named the recipient of this year’s Bruce Timmermans Award for the individual category.

    Gareth, thank you for your hard work bringing people together to collaborate and make cycling safer in Ottawa.

    We have a lot of experience in the area of cycling here with us tonight, and I want to thank all of you for being here and for sharing your insights with us.

    For more than three decades, Bike Ottawa has been promoting cycling as a safe, fun and environmentally-friendly form of active transportation.

    We are fortunate to have a tremendous, diverse and active cycling advocacy community within our city.

    Rarely a day goes by without an individual or advocacy group contacting their Councillors Office, my office or staff to ask for improvements or to address issues.

    It is this type of ongoing collaboration that leads to tangible improvements on the ground.

    In fact, the initial deployment of automated bike counters in 2009 was thanks to one of your volunteer-led initiatives.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank Bike Ottawa for their continued advocacy of cycling in Ottawa, and for their partnership to make cycling even better in our city.

    As a growing city, we have many competing interests that I hear about from residents, stakeholders and Councillors every day.

    And I am proud of the progress we have made as a cycling-friendly city.

    Being a cycling-friendly city includes not only the healthy benefits of an active lifestyle, but also the reduction of congestion for all commuters, by getting people out of their cars and onto the bike lanes and pathways.

    We are investing more than ever in active mobility and we are increasing our emphasis on awareness campaigns around issues impacting cyclists, pedestrians and motorists.

    Just last year in Budget 2017, we included more than $8 million of investments in cycling infrastructure through the Community Connectivity Program, the Cycling TMP Cycling Strategic Initiatives and through investments in paved shoulders.

    This investment will help us reach our goal of adding another 72km of cycling facilities to the City’s growing network by 2018.

    Budget 2017 also included:

    • $1.5 million to implement projects in the Pedestrian Plan;
    • $5 million for various sidewalk improvement projects across the city.

    When combined with funding from other levels of government – the total investment directly attributed to cycling and major bike/pedestrian structures within this Term of Council will hit $80 million.

    This is a historic, record investment in cycling and active transportation.

    To put that in perspective, this is compared to $27 million spent in the last Term of Council – which represents a 270 per cent increase.

    While there is more work to do, this is something we can be very proud of.

    This is in addition to the cycling facilities that are constructed as part of road renewal and new road construction programs.

    One such example of this is the new Main Street cycle tracks, part of our complete streets plan.

    These cycling tracks, as one neighbour told me, humanized our streets.

    The commitment to active mobility is a true partnership, with the Federal and Provincial governments.

    Their support has helped us leverage local resources, which has translated into tangible improvements citywide.

    The NCC is also a partner as they work to expand their network through the greenbelt, as well as make ongoing investment to fill-in missing links.

    These relationships are important, as we need their collective help in creating a fully connected network.

    We are actively working with our partners to eliminate ‘missing links’ in the cycling network and some major cycling/pedestrian infrastructure projects that are making a significant difference in our city include:

    • The Adàwe Crossing, connecting Overbrook and Vanier with Sandy Hill and the downtown core;
    • The O’Connor Street Bikeway;
    • The Main Street Bike Tracks that I mentioned earlier and;
    • The Mackenzie Avenue cycle track, a unique partnership between the City, the NCC,

    In addition, construction just started on a new $21 million dollar pedestrian/cycling bridge over the Rideau Canal, from Fifth Avenue to Clegg Street.

    My thanks to Yasir Naqvi, MPP for Ottawa Centre and to Catherine McKenna, MP for Ottawa Centre, for their tireless efforts on this exciting project.

    The Clegg Street Bridge will not only provide pedestrian and cycling connections to Lansdowne Park, but it will also improve access to Hurdman and Lees LRT stations.

    The bridge will create an alternate crossing to the Bank Street Bridge, connect the downtown bike network to Old Ottawa East and Main Street, and will improve access to the Old Ottawa South via Riverdale Avenue.

    We also made a bold step towards a more cycling-friendly city in 2011 with the Laurier Bike Lanes pilot project.

    This 1-kilometre long cycling facility almost immediately became one of the top routes for cycling commuters, including students through the busy downtown core.

    Today, the Laurier Bikes Lanes are a key part of a 12-kilometre link from Vanier to Westboro, with only one remaining gap of less than 100 metres, which will be addressed after the LRT bus detour is removed.

    The Laurier Bikes Lanes are part of a longer continuous facility that has hit peaks of 4,000 cycling trips in a single day – which is wonderful news!

    For instance, since the Laurier Bike Lanes were installed, on average 34,632 monthly trips have been recorded on this important East-West route for cyclists, totaling 2.6 Million bike trips since their opening in 2011.

    I have also heard from many residents – and not just cyclists – about the major impact that the Adàwe Crossing is having on their lives.

    The crossing is being heavily used both by cyclists and pedestrians – in fact, as of last night, we have recorded 1.477 million crossing since its opening in December 2015.

    Just under half of those crossings were made on bicycle.

    With a new public sports centre soon to open at the former site of the Rideau Tennis Club, which will bring more sports to the 105-year-old facility, we are sure to see this number grow moving forward.

    Within the Greenbelt, we have already achieved a five per cent cycling modal share, and we are on track to meet our target of 8 per cent by 2031.

    By 2018, The Cross-Town Bikeway network will be 70 per cent completed within the wards depicted above once implemented.

     LRT / TRANSIT

    In addition to the investments and progress made specifically on cycling and pedestrian connectivity, our Light Rail Transit project will also have a significant positive impact on cycling across our city.

    Starting next year, we will see new cycling infrastructure coming on-line as part of the Confederation Line project.

    Integrating the Stage 2 LRT alignment and stations with local pedestrian and cyclist networks was one of the key principles of the project.

    Two excellent examples of leveraging the LRT corridor to extend the cycling network are:

    • The new pathway between the Rideau River at the University of Ottawa Lees Campus, which runs directly downtown; and
    • As part of the Stage 2 LRT extension – a major new pathway inter-connecting the Doug Thompson and Sawmill Creek pathways which together provide a connection to Osgoode Village.

    These are just two examples of how staff is working to integrate a multi-use pathway system into the planning of our future rapid transit system.

    Rural

    Although cycling commuting is typically concentrated where population density is the highest in the inner wards, the demand for improved cycling facilities is also being felt across the city and within suburban and rural communities.

    To meet this growing demand, this year you will see the construction of important new pathway linkages in the suburban areas, including:

    • The Shefford Road Pathway;
    • The Trans-Orleans Pathway;
    • A link between Harthill Way and Halley Street in Barrhaven;
    • As well as safety improvements for cyclists and pedestrians along sections of Campeau Drive.

    This opens up active mobility options for nearby residents – to get to work or to explore the areas in which they live.

    In addition, cycling can become an important first link for long-range commuters when they use our new LRT system.

    That is why we are working to ensure strong connectivity to public transit and improved bike storage and parking at transit hubs, such as new bike shelters and enclosed bike parking areas.

    As you would know, getting more residents in the habit of cycling to transit can free-up park and ride spots, reduce congestion and make the combined trip more attractive than taking your vehicle downtown.

    This year, we have also taken the first steps in promoting the rural areas as cycling destinations.

    As you can see behind me, we have developed three major pathway corridors across our rural areas – the Prescott-Russell Pathway; the Doug Thompson Pathway; and the Ottawa-Carleton Pathway – and we are expanding the network of roadways with paved shoulders to facilitate cycling.

    Cycling Safety

    I know that an issue on top of mind of many cyclists is also cycling safety.

    The good news is that the collision trends related to cycling are decreasing and moving in the right direction.

    But we know there is always more work to be done in this area.

    There are still too many bad motorists, and yes, bad cyclists.

    We need to continue to educate and to enforce all traffic rules for both.

    In high volume areas, new design standards and complete streets are providing more separation and protection for cyclists.

    Behind me is an image of a new protected intersection at Dynes Road and Fisher Avenue.

    This will be the first fully protected four-way intersection in Ottawa, which should be fully operational by the summer of 2019.

    Improving safety requires the development of new habits and awareness by all road users – motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

    We need to work in partnership to ensure that our roads are safe for everyone

    I am encouraged at what we have achieved together – particularly since 2011.

    In 2013, Ottawa became the first city in Canada to receive the Gold Bicycle Friendly Community Award, and we continue to be a leader in cycling infrastructure.

    Looking ahead, our focus will continue to be on network connectivity, increasing quality and safety of facilities and intersections, and making cycling and active transportation effective options for accessing public transit.

    I am confident that we will continue to work together towards these common goals.

    Thank you. / Merci beaucoup.

     

     

  • Experience rural Ottawa by bike with the Enviro-Cycle Tour

    Tickets go on sale tomorrow at noon for Ottawa 2017’s newest Agri 150 event

    Ottawa –Ottawa 2017, in collaboration with lead partner CIBC, are pleased to announce the newest Agri 150 experience. Tickets for the Enviro-Cycle Tour go on sale tomorrow at noon.

    ENVIRO-CYCLE TOUR ($)                                                                                                       

    Sunday, September 24
    First tour group (72 km): 9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.
    Second tour group (21 km): 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    Tour shuttle for Group 2 will depart from OC Transpo’s Leitrim Park & Ride, at 4600 Gilligan Rd.

    Come experience the countryside by bicycle, and visit some of the eco-friendly businesses and public spaces in Ottawa’s rural area.

    There are two options: tackle the entire 72 km route with your own bike, or bus part way and cycle the 21 km route with a bike provided by RentABike. Whichever route you choose, all attendees will get the pleasure of visiting Castor River Farm, a sustainable off-grid farm, SunTech Greenhouses, where vegetables are grown year-round, and W.A. Taylor Conservation area for a rest between, as you sample Savour Ottawa treats. So, hop on and let your RentABike guides and local farmers bring you on a day full of fun, learning, and exercise!

    Tickets prices:

    $20 (plus tax and service charges) for Group 1 (72 km / bring-your-own-bike)
    $40 (plus tax and service charges) for Group 2 (21 km / bus and RentABike provided)

    A tour ticket enables free use of any OC Transpo bus route, to and from the Leitrim Park & Ride. Tickets are to be shown to the bus operator when boarding. Free service is available from three hours before the tour until three hours after the tour.

    Presented in collaboration with RentABike.ca, Savour Ottawa and Just Food.

    To purchase tickets, visit Ottawa2017.ca.

    Agri 150 is an Ottawa 2017 program stewarded by Just Food to boost rural tourism during the celebrations of Canada’s 150th birthday in the nation’s capital and for years to come. More than 20 unique events will take place over the course of the year to allow people to discover Ottawa’s rural communities in all four seasons, and enhance their knowledge and appreciation of rural resources, while enjoying rejuvenating adventures.

    Ottawa 2017 thanks its lead partner CIBC, premier partner Bell, the Government of Ontario (www.ontario.ca/150 #ontario150) and the Government of Canada (www.canada.ca/150 #canada150) for their contributions in helping to deliver twelve full months of bold events, immersive experiences and all-out celebrations.

    Stay informed on plans for Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations in the capital. Visit ottawa2017.ca, follow us on Twitter @2017ottawa (#Ottawa2017) and on Facebook.

  • Response to my letter to Canada Post on City of Ottawa parking regulations

  • My letter to Canada Post on City of Ottawa parking regulations

    Deepak Chopra,

    The purpose of this letter is to seek clarification from Canada Post following its public declaration of July 25th, 2017, that, due to “concerns regarding safety and bike lanes in Toronto” you have directed your employees “to not park in bike lanes in the City of Toronto.”

    It is the expectation of the City of Ottawa that Canada Post issue instructions to all of its employees to operate continuously in accordance with the Highway Traffic Act and all applicable federal and provincial laws as well as municipal by-laws while performing their duties.

    Vehicles stopping in, or otherwise obstructing, dedicated cycling lanes represents a serious public safety hazard for cyclists and motorists alike, and is contrary to the City’s Traffic and Parking By-law.  We would like to remind you that the City’s by-laws are enforceable on a crown corporation.  Additionally, when a Canada Post vehicle obstructs a cycling lane it further exacerbates traffic congestion, particularly in the downtown core, and is contrary to the City’s public policy goal of providing a safe city-wide cycling ecosystem, as detailed in the Ottawa Cycling Plan.

    We were encouraged to read in the Metro that Canada Post spokesperson Jon Hamilton recently said that, “our employees are expected to follow the traffic laws when serving customers, which includes no-stopping zones like bike lanes.”  The City of Ottawa is formally requesting that an official statement be made similar to the one issued to your Toronto-based employees here in Ottawa to Canada Post employees.  The City further requests official assurance that your employees are aware that obstructing cycling lanes is always dangerous and not an acceptable practice.  Should Canada Post employees experience problematic areas for making deliveries, the City would be pleased to work with you to develop possible mitigation solutions to keep our city and economy moving. As good neighbours, the City of Ottawa is committed to working with Canada Post to find operational solutions to your specific delivery challenges.

    We look forward to your response. Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Mayor’s Office directly.

    Sincerely,

    Jim Watson                                                        Keith Egli
    Mayor                                                                 Chair, Transportation Committee
    City of Ottawa                                                   City of Ottawa

     

  • Mayor Jim Watson calls for increased protection measures for cyclists and pedestrians

    Ottawa – On September 22, Mayor Jim Watson wrote to the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, to request that further research be conducted on truck side guards and other safety measures that would reduce fatal collisions between cyclists, pedestrians, and heavy trucks.

    Mayor Watson’s letter was sent following a meeting with key local cycling and pedestrian groups earlier this month, organized with the Chair of the City’s Transportation Committee, Councillor Keith Egli.

    Today, following a meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts earlier this week, Minister Garneau announced the creation of a task force to look at measures to increase safety. He also announced the launch of a new Transport Canada study that will examine new technologies that could reduce collisions involving cyclists, pedestrians, and heavy trucks.

    “I am pleased that Minister Garneau has heard our call and is committed to enhancing safety measures; I look forward to seeing the results of their discussions and the proposed study,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “While it is impossible to completely eliminate incidents, the City of Ottawa will strive to reduce their likelihood and severity.”

    “I’m pleased to work with my provincial, territorial and municipal colleagues to explore options to reduce collisions and improve safety for everyone on Canada’s roadways. Whether it’s through technology, equipment, or an educational approach, we need to find out what works best in order to improve safety for Canadians.”  said Minister Garneau.

    For more information on the Transport Canada study, please visit this link.

  • Ottawa cyclists pedal through two million trips on Laurier lanes

    The Laurier Avenue cycling lanes, built to establish a safe bicycle corridor through Ottawa’s downtown, have reached a milestone with two million bike trips since its opening in 2011.

    “The Laurier cycling lanes are a proven success, attracting more and more residents who are appreciative of this route through our busy downtown. We frequently see more than 3,000 trips a day along Laurier and there are times when there are nearly as many bikes as there are cars,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “Our residents deserve credit for taking advantage of this important piece of our transportation system, using it as a way to improve personal health and reduce the number of automobiles on the road.”

    “The Laurier lanes are now a core part of our Cross-Town Bikeway network, which is being built in the eight central wards to provide safer, continuous cycling facilities,” said Councillor Keith Egli, Chair of the City’s Transportation Committee. “The network was just 25-per-cent complete when the Laurier bike lanes were opened in 2011 as a pilot project. Our plan is for that network to be 71-per-cent complete by the end of this Term of Council, in 2018, which shows the City of Ottawa is serious about making cycling a real transportation alternative for our residents.”

    The initial 1.3-kilometre segment of the Laurier cycling lanes has since been extended both eastward and westward and is part of a 12-kilometre-long bikeway connecting Vanier to Westboro. This east-west route is Bicycle Route #2 within the City’s Cross-Town Bikeway network.

    On Laurier Avenue West, more than 4,000 bike trips were recorded through the day on Wednesday, June 29. On that day, the bike traffic reached 80 per cent of peak vehicle traffic during the morning rush hour.

    The City made major investments in cycling infrastructure totalling $28 million between 2011 and 2014. Plans for further implementing the City’s Cycling Plan between now and 2031 include projects totalling more than $100 million.