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Can cars and bikes fit on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway and Colonel By Drive?

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There are questions about how the National Capital Commission might fit bike lanes on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway and Colonel By Drive.

According to a statement by the National Capital Commission, they will be "initiating the feasibility of installing bike lanes along the length of the Canal parkways – Queen Elizabeth Driveway and Colonel By Drive. The objective will be to explore how best to offer permanent safe segregated cycling space to ease the pressure on the canal pathways and enhance pedestrian safety by segregating faster-moving cyclists from the limited pathway space."

Cyclist Rebecca Tobin uses her bike all of the time, and says, "It's not the place I would put it, considering there's a bike lane on the canal. Yeah, I'd much prefer down Bank Street, or Elgin Street."

But Tobin does support active transportation programs like the one down the Queen Elizabeth Driveway. "It's lovely to see all the people, like. Especially kids learning to ride their bikes. They need more space."

The NCC announced this week it will close a section of Queen Elizabeth Driveway to vehicles seven days a week this summer, but only a shorter section of the road will be open for active transportation in July and August.

In July and August, Queen Elizabeth Driveway will be open for active transportation 24 hours a day, seven days a week between Somerset Street and Pretoria Avenue, instead of all the way to Fifth Avenue.

The National Capital Commission is considering putting bike lanes on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway and Colonel By Drive. (Leah Larocque/CTV News Ottawa)

Dave Roberston with Bike Ottawa says putting bike lanes on the driveways is possible but it would require a lot of work on the road, and the surrounding infrastructure. "If we are talking about cycleways on the parkway, it'd be really nice if they're wide enough so that people can ride side by side."

Roberston says what we could see would be similar to other permanent bike lanes in the city.

"I think using quick build materials would be good. You know, that's something that we've had on Laurier Avenue for the past 14 years and it's not perfect, but it's worked reasonably well for us. The Kichi Ziban Mikan Parkway also now has these yellow curbs that they've put in, and those are the types of things that we would we think would be most obvious to install."

But Roberston references pot holes and old roads that would need improvement.

"I hope that there might be a little improvement to the surface quality. There might be some areas that have some potholes and puddles and things like that. So those might be concerns for people that might be using mobility devices."

Robertson says the minimum width for a bike lane in Ontario is at least 1.5 meters.

Also citing the city's official plan that has a goal of including active transportation, Robertson says, "Ideally, we want to see this turned into an urban park and I think that adds the most value to this space."

Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe says he is glad to see a more "balanced approach" when it comes to the QED. But he says decision on bike lanes will be up to the NCC. "I think it's worth looking at. It's the NCC's road. It's their decision. I'll say that I used to ride my bike often along Queen Elizabeth Drive and I would more often use the road itself and ride along the side of the road than use the path where there are pedestrians and walkers who are moving at a slower pace than a bicycle."

Sutcliffe says, "I always said I supported the active transportation program by the NCC."

But many Centretown residents are upset that a section of the road will be closed to cars at all this summer. Judy Snider says, "Anybody who lives in the Golden Triangle, we won't be able to get (anywhere) from here. Getting to groceries is a challenge. The traffic getting downtown will be a challenge for anybody who still works in the downtown core, and it certainly impedes tourists from driving up and being able to see the sights downtown on Parliament Hill because there's no easy way to get there."

Snider says she would support bike lanes on the road, if the road can remain open always for cars. She says the road is "normal width for cars" and adding a bike lane will squeeze it.

"If they can do it, brilliant. Leave the roadway open to allow residents to get in and out of the neighborhood, I think that's terrific. But we also have three paths that run between Somerset and Pretoria that are available for walking and for biking."

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