Pedestrians clog up city’s bike lane


Pedestrians are creating traffic jams of all sorts along the Laurier Ave. segregated bike lanes and are getting away with it.

“They seem to be the biggest culprit,” said Ottawa police Const. Sean Ralph from the central district traffic section.

“They don’t respect the signs, so it sort of screws up the flow.”

The worst spot is at Metcalfe St.

Since Oct. 1, 2011, roughly 25 charges — not three, as previously stated by police media relations — have been laid against people along the Laurier Ave. bike lanes for ignoring signs or signals.

But it’s unlikely any of them were pedestrians, said Ralph.

Offence notices are issued by cops under the Highway Traffic Act or city bylaws.

Five charges were laid under the HTA for disobeying a sign, where the penalty is $110 and two demerit points.

The remaining offences were under various bylaws.

Ralph and Const. Paul Cahill meet up with the Sun, parking their motorcycles near the library on Metcalfe St.

It’s lunchtime, mid-week.

They observe the endless stream of traffic.

Cahill points to people crossing Laurier Ave. with one second left on the signal.

“If you were to take the pedestrians out of this equation, it would probably run a lot smoother, ’cause they’re the very first domino in the congestion,” said Cahill.

Ralph concurs.

“Nobody notices it unless you’re actually out there looking for it,” he said.

People run through the intersection, consistently disobeying the crosswalk signal with the flashing hand.

“But the car is trying to edge its way through, so now he’s in over the green line and he’s halfway through the pedestrian crosswalk, he’s still trying to go, trying to make his way, pedestrians are still going, and then a bike will come by,” Ralph said.

He describes the scene as “a little bit of controlled chaos.”

And pedestrians aren’t the only guilty party.

“The cyclists are being charged,” said Ralph.

“Some are disobeying the red lights themselves, they’re blowing through the red lights.”

So are drivers.

Other cyclists are being caught with equipment issues, such as no brakes or bells.

When doing enforcement during the week, “I would say, over the course of half a day, I would probably give out anywhere between 15 to 20 tickets on Laurier,” said Ralph.

“It could be cars, it could be bikes, it could be anything.”

Bank St. and Kent St. are also tricky intersections, he said.



City bylaw

Disobey official sign 12

Disobey traffic control signal 5

Disobey traffic control device 2

Drive vehicle on a sidewalk 1

Highway Traffic Act

Disobey sign 5

Source: Ottawa Police

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