Non-cyclists using bike lane, group says


Downtown residents who want to see the Laurier Ave. segregated bike lanes removed are crying foul over the city’s lack of enforcement.

“You have no idea how many people practise their skateboarding between Bronson and Bay,” said Janine Hutt, chairwoman of the Bay/Bronson Residents’ Action Group for Fair Access to the Road (BBRAGFAR).

“It’s the perfect, perfect opportunity, ’cause it’s got a hill.”

Non-cyclists were spotted by the dozens — as first reported in the Sun on July 10, 2011 — when the bike lanes opened.

Since then, three people have been charged under the Highway Traffic Act, said Ottawa police spokesman Const. Henri Lanctot, noting the penalty is a $65 fine.

Information found on the city’s website states pedestrians and anyone operating a motorized vehicle that isn’t classified as a bicycle under the HTA aren’t allowed to use the segregated lanes.

The Sun spotted several Monday afternoon.

More than 275,000 cyclists have used the segregated lanes since opening day, according to numbers provided by the city last week.

“This spring, up to 2,400 cyclists a day are using the Laurier lanes and the numbers continue to increase,” reads the statement.

“Last week saw the most trips counted in a single week –over 12,000.”

Hutt maintains those figures are skewed.

“We have wheelchairs, we have rollerbladers, we have skateboards, and we have the electric bicycles and motorbikes that keep going up and down,” said Hutt.

Citizens for Safe Cycling president Hans Moor acknowledges non-cyclists are being tallied in the official numbers.

“But they’re actually insignificant numbers, so five out of the (thousands) that we had last week is obviously, statistically, not really important,” said Moor.

He also said he hasn’t heard many complaints about people, other than cyclists, who are using the bike lanes.

“I don’t think it’s a big problem because the cyclists do have their space here, and if they have to share it once in a while with somebody in a wheelchair, I don’t think anybody cares,” said Moor.

Last week, Hutt led a team of residents — who are angry about the lack of parking resulting from the bike lanes — and presented a petition with 2,064 signatures.

The Centretown community group is pressuring Mayor Jim Watson and city council to get rid of the lanes once the pilot project is over in 2013.

The dedicated bike lanes span eight city blocks — from Bronson to Elgin — through the business district.


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