Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lyon Bike Lane: Sharrows on Arlington

As speculated in the post Lyon Street Repaved: Cyclists get their sharrows in September and in Cycling Updates in October, sharrows have been added to Arlington to connect the end of the Lyon Street southbound bike lane to the pathway at Percy.

Someone e-mailed me the day they were applied and I went over to check them out. Here's the view along Lyon Street, with the sharrows on Arlington going West (to the right side of the screen):

Unfortunately, and as I mentioned in a post to Citizens for Safe Cycling's public e-mail discussion list, they're not exactly the most ambitious application of sharrows. For example, you can't even see them from Lyon, which defeats the purpose of having them out there to show cyclists where to go next when the lane ends.

Once you do make it onto Arlington, you see two problems. First, the sharrows are very close to the curb, which is an area always full of debris and which promotes the idea of "cyclists move out of motorists' way, even on quiet side streets". A Google Images search for Sharrows turns up lots of examples of proper sharrow positioning.

Second, there are only three per block, one at each end and one in the middle. Not exactly rolling out the red carpet. It makes you wonder if they'll do a similarly half-hearted implementation of the Segregated Bike Lane on Laurier, causing that pilot project to fail.

Here's what they should have done at Lyon and Arlington: sharrows going around the corner so that cyclists can see well in advance where the cycling route goes.

Once you get along Arlington to Percy Street, there also isn't much indication that you're supposed to turn left here. (Of course, in my cycling route plan for Percy, you'd also be able to continue straight on Arlington).

In Montreal, where I fell in love with Sharrows, they use them properly: to indicate (a) that cyclists have a right to use the road, and (b) where the otherwise invisible cycling route goes when you get to an intersection. When the cycling route takes a turn, the sharrows make it painless to follow the route, as in this Google Street View of Stuart and Saint-Viateur (click the image to go to the location in Google Street View):

As with Ottawa's ever-cautious bureaucracy, a small step in the right direction is still a step in the right direction. Let's hope these sharrow show them the way to implementing them more boldly to connect cycling routes.

Check out the public open house on Thursday at City Hall for the Segregated Bike Lane pilot project. The latest proposal is for Laurier Avenue, which actually isn't all that bad.

Visit for more details, including the draft drawings of how the street would be configured and Vélo Québec's review of the proposals. The public meeting on Thursday is from 6:30pm to 8:30pm with a presentation at 7pm.


  1. They're putting up signs on Arlington right now but I'm not sure it will really help.

  2. I do not get the impression from the drawings that the Laurier segregated lanes would be a half-hearted. There's a lot more than sharrows on the drawings.

    Mind you, we're still early in the planning. Maybe the whole project will turn into a row of sharrows next to some parked cars.

    - A