Ottawa bike lanes causing obstacle to people with disabilities
Americas, August 5 2011
Ottawa, Canada: The city of Ottawa says it is willing to alter the new segregated bike lanes on Laurier Avenue to make them more accessible to people with disabilities.
The problem is the cement curbs that line the bike lanes are proving to be a barrier for people with disabilities. With the barriers in place, Para Transpo vehicles aren’t able to drop off passengers along Laurier Avenue.
The city now plans to remove a 1.5-metre long slab to allow Para Transpo vehicles to drop off passengers near Metcalfe Street.
Wheelchair user Max Brault said the announcement will offer little help.
“It doesn’t sit well with me,” he told CBC News. “It doesn’t really address the actual problem, which is getting people to be able to enter into the front of the building.”
This isn’t the first complaint about the new bike lanes on Laurier.
Earlier this month, CBC.ca reported that the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters Association are worried the concrete barriers may impede emergency vehicles.
Last fall, the Laurier Street Business Improvement area also expressed concerns the lanes will lead to traffic problems.
Coun. Mathieu Fleury said the city is willing to make more changes to the bike lanes if necessary.
“The city will adapt,” he told CBC News. “I mean if there are some concerns happening, we will adjust. It’s a pilot project for us, obviously there are some challenges, we’re aware of it.”
Catherine Gardner, chair of the city’s accessibility committee, said the city is being reactive, instead of proactive.
“It’s unfortunate that we are not always consulted because we do have experts on our committee that have sat on provincial standards committees,” said Gardner.
“We do have the knowledge there and all we want is to be asked to be involved.”
It’s that type of consolation that Brault said would pave the way for a successful pilot project.
“It’s really simple — I have an idea of what the problem is, able-bodied people don’t. Get us involved, we want to help. And I think that’s where the real solution is.”
The city said it is open to ongoing consultations. The bike lanes are slated to officially open on Sunday.