St. Laurent Boulevard to become ‘complete street’ by summer’s end (Alex Robinson, Ottawa East News)

Bike lanes could be coming to St. Laurent Boulevard as early as this summer.

City staff unveiled its preferred roadway configuration for the project at a community open house on June 18. The plan promises to make the boulevard safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

It will provide a bike lane along the roadway from Hemlock Street to Montreal Road, providing a link to the east-west bikeway.

The city expects the bike lane will provide a buffer between car traffic and pedestrians and will give cyclists a space so that they do not go on the sidewalk. City staff also said the plan will also reduce speeding along the boulevard as it would reduce the four existing lanes for cars to two lanes along most of the corridor.

“The whole experience on St. Laurent is going to be a lot more pleasant,” said Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Tobi Nussbaum.

“When you think about someone walking along the sidewalk, instead of having four lanes of cars whizzing by them, they’re going to have a buffer.”

Some residents expressed concerns over how vehicular traffic may be affected by the plan, but a city study shows travelling the length of the corridor will only take an additional 10 seconds during morning rush hour and 15 seconds during afternoon rush hour.

Zlatko Krstulic, the lead city planner on the project, said city staff was able to avoid the possibility of adversely affecting traffic by preserving four lanes for cars around intersections. The left turning lanes will also be preserved at intersections.

“If you leave the intersection capacity to be the same or very similar as to what it was before, you do not make a big impact on throughput or delay times and that’s what our results have shown,” Krstulic said.

“The impact at the peak hours will be modest.

The bike lane plan has seen some minor changes from when it was first presented to the community in September 2014. Proposed bike sharrows close to Hemlock Avenue have been swapped out for bike lanes designated by painted lines. City staff has also added a couple left turn lanes near major buildings located along the street.

The next step to improve the street for pedestrians would be to install a special pedestrian crosswalk at a point in between Montreal Road and Britanny Drive, Nussbaum said.

The city is waiting for a recently passed provincial law –Bill 31 – to come into effect before it can start implementing the idea. The bill clarifies that cities can have pedestrian crossways that give walkers the right of way.

“People with physical disabilities getting off OC Transpo who need to get across the street to their buildings, right now have to go all the down to Britanny (Drive) or up to Montreal Road,” Nussbaum said.

“Having a safe crossing will be a huge addition to the quality of life for the people living on St. Laurent.”

Nussbaum said he is hopeful the crosswalk could be installed at the location as early as the spring of 2016.

Residents can submit comments on the bike lane plan by emailing andrew.evraire@ottawa.ca

Source: Ottawa East News