It’s been two years now since roundabouts came to River Heights. That spurt of little bumps that spread along Grosvenor Avenue was part of a plan for a bicycle boulevard. It was one of many throughout the city that qualified for federal funding, but only if the work was done before a rapidly approaching deadline.
I don’t know if River Heights actually needed a bike boulevard. One of the joys of living here is that it is so cyclist friendly, especially when travelling east to west. Cyclists have a choice of not just Grosvenor, which is hardly high volume traffic, but also Kingsway just a block to the north which is quieter still; or the grand-daddy of them all — Wellington Crescent.
With Ottawa’s chequebook open for a limited time, it meant for a rapid completion of five traffic circles in my neighbourhood, complemented by a white line along Grosvenor Avenue for a designated bicycle path.
Now however, the City is not satisfied with them, claiming that they are not fulfilling their main purpose. Which was not to make commuting easier for cyclists, nor was it for good traffic management. Apparently the main function city hall wants to fulfill is to slow down traffic on Grosvenor Avenue. So, major renovations are currently underway for all the roundabouts along Grosvenor.
I live within a block of Grosvenor Avenue and I hadn’t thought that speeding was an issue here. Admittedly it is only a 50 kph zone but it’s seldom that motorists exceed that.
Traffic calming is coming to Grosvenor but not in the form of other neighbourhood streets that employ speed humps to “calm” traffic though. The City is to implement a new strategy here and modify the lanes leading out of the roundabouts to make them narrower and thereby force traffic to slow down. This narrowing will only be done along Grosvenor Avenue in an east to west direction. North to south streets that intersect at a roundabout will not have their exit lanes modified.
The curbs by the roundabouts will be made larger to jut out further into Grosvenor Avenue on the exit lanes at all five locations. These curb modifications are intended to prevent motorists from driving diagonally across the start of the bike lane when exiting from the traffic circles.
Local resident Joan McConnell wonders how that will be accomplished, especially considering how the bike lanes themselves narrow both at the entrance and exit of the roundabout. Then there are the buses which already struggle to get around these circles before any road narrowing.
Lines marking pedestrian crossing points are also to be added and this is probably a welcome point as many pedestrians and drivers alike seem confused about this.
Local councilor John Orlikow pointed out that this is part of a continuous process of assessment, enhancement and modification that the City employs to achieve their goal of making our streets safer. He also promised to work with the community to ensure those ends are met. I’m sure he’ll welcome your comments and input into this issue.