Monday, September 6, 2010

Lyon Street Repaved - Cyclists get their sharrows?

Two years ago, in July 2008, I wrote a post on the terrible surface conditions on Lyon Street at the time.

Since then, a number of patches were put down on Lyon, which replaced a road covered in holes to a road covered in small bumps. This past March (2010), more patches were added. Most of them were about a foot in diameter.

More interestingly, they were numbered. In this photo at James (an intersection I hesitantly included in my commute) we see numbers 10, 11 and 12 in the foreground, with number 37 and others in the background. They went all the way up to the 50s.

It was evident that someone in the road department was making the same case I was: no more band-aids for Lyon, we need an overhaul!

At the start of June 2010, the long-awaited overhaul came. Here they're peeling off the first layer of asphalt along Lyon near Gladstone Avenue.

The entire stretch of Lyon North of the Queensway was re-done. Here's Lyon at Albert, and you can see the exposed surface goes beyond the Memorial buildings.

The road remained open, which was a mixed blessing. As we can see here at McLeod looking South, the speed humps were not there to slow traffic. On the other hand, the grooved surface may have had a natural traffic-calming effect. I tried to avoid riding down it myself.

During the resurfacing, the City did some other work. This sewer cover, dated 1987 (presumably when Lyon last saw major roadwork) has "out" written on it in orange spray paint.

This stormwater grate at Florence was dug up in the first days of work. You can also see the wavy brick pavers on the sidewalk near the intersection.

A few days later, they had finished with the grate and the sidewalk was already partway through repairs. They left a strip of asphalt along the bricked crosswalk, presumably to keep the bricks in place until they were ready to re-pave.

Next at this corner, they dug up the water main underneath Lyon (fenced off area at right) and removed an old section of pipe, which is sitting on the bulbout opposite (at left).

During this work, the workers created what I like to call the "Pedestrian's Paradox": the sidewalk on the North side has a sign saying "Sidewalk closed," but the other sidewalk has construction vehicles parked on it! Luckily for pedestrians, Florence is quiet enough that you can walk on the street.

Finally, after three weeks of work, the new layer of asphalt was laid down. Here we're at Florence again, looking South toward Gladstone and beyond.

Here's the view turning onto Lyon (southbound) from James (westbound). Because it's one-way to one-way, you can legally turn left on the red. It's much smoother than it was in the first photo of the post.

Next up is the reinstallation of the speed humps. As I mentioned in July 2008:
Whether the street was just recently built, or whether it's ten years old, speed humps are always installed afterwards: A key is cut out of the top layer of the flat asphalt, (specifically, "4 meters in length and 80 millimeters in height with a sinusoidal cross-section"), then paved over. A few signs are put up, and triangles are painted with white retroreflective paint as an indicator to drivers.
Near Florence at 9:30am, we see that key cut out of the street, and workers are cleaning it with a sidewalk sweeper and an air blower, so that the bump's asphalt will make good contact with the layer below. We also see in the photo that the concrete parts of the sidewalk at Florence have been rebuilt.

By that evening, this speed hump had a small splotch of asphalt installed inside it.

With the next layer, that splotch gives the hump its precise shape, as with this one at MacLaren. The speed hump can be hard to see in poor light conditions or at a distance.

That's why they paint the white triangles on them with retroreflective paint. The speed humps don't go all the way to the curb, otherwise water, snow and slush would be unable to drain. Some idiot drivers swerve out of their lane so that the wheels on one side of their car avoid the bump. You shouldn't need to do that if you're going slowly (30-40km/h).

You may have noticed that they've only painted the lines at the intersections, such as here at Albert. That's because they're still deciding exactly how to paint it.

The thrifty and clever cycling department has identified Lyon Street as a good corridor for bike lanes, and in the North end where the street is too narrow, sharrows. Here's the flyer that is being circulated to the residents of Lyon and the neighbouring streets. A sharrow is a pavement marking that reinforces cyclists' right to be on the road, and is helpful for indicating cyclists' positioning when riding through awkward intersections.

Click on the image to see it in full-size, to read the text:

While it's good that Ottawa will finally get sharrows, the Lyon street bike lane is an ad-hoc measure. Percy and Bay both have bike lanes, though the only Southbound connectivity with Wellington Street is this weird "shared sidewalk" on Bay.

Conversely, a bike lane/sharrows on Lyon helps with the North-end connectivity, but Lyon ends at the Queensway, so it isn't as good a southbound route as Percy, which continues through the Glebe.

The underlying problem is that the Ottawa Cycling Plan has a box around Centretown that says "Proposed Cycling Network in downtown core to be reviewed as part of Transportation Master Plan Update and future transit strategies" (p. 72, etc.). The Cycling Plan didn't really look at cycling routes downtown, so we have to chase after planners to get them to consider cycling issues.

Lanes or no, Lyon has a nice smooth surface now, which is great for cycling.

For other cycling problems, see Citizens for Safe Cycling's just-released top-ten list


  1. Hi,

    When the comment period was underway I told the city of the need to connect Lyon with the Percy St underpass. I received a slightly insulting answer (we don't want to disturb parking--which doesn't exist on the North side of Arlington, where the path ends) or no answer to my follow ups.

    Low and behold, this morning looking out my window there are sharrows on the North Side of Arlington! The City has decided not to abandon intrepid cyclists to the hazards of Catherine, and visibly link two pieces of cycle infrastructure.

  2. There are? That's excellent news!

    Thanks for letting me know; we had been pushing for those sharrows and I'm glad they have been installed!