Okay, so you know how in Ottawa cycling on sidewalks is banned under the Ottawa traffic bylaw? Very sensible, right?
Well, since they’ve closed off the Riverside pathway between Hog’s Back Road and Bank Street for O-Train upgrades, cyclists who normally take this path have been advised to:
…use the existing asphalt sidewalk on the east/south side of Riverside Drive
Sure enough, there are nice shiny new signs posted all along the sidewalk telling us that this is now a shared cyclist-pedestrian sidewalk.
Hey! That’s super-terrific in my books because I love sharing. And, it’s such a nice, cozy, narrow sidewalk, especially when it crosses over the O-Train bridge. And, it runs on a fairly significant incline so that cyclists can really move when they’re barreling down toward Bank Street.
But wait! There’s more! What makes this all extra zany fun is that pedestrians can’t hear cyclists behind them because of the noise of the heavy traffic on the road next to the sidewalk. Cyclists can be ringing bells and yelling all they want, but the pedestrians won’t be hear them until they have a front wheel up their ass-crack.
I’ve been clipped twice by cyclists since this fun new sharing program came into effect. Fortunately, it wasn’t by the speed demon cyclists, but only by wobbly old people who can’t keep their bikes upright over the bumpy sidewalk. Poor old, nature-loving folks. They came out for a nice ride along the Riverside trail with their big hats and baggy shorts and bike baskets full of goodies and suddenly find themselves detouring alongside a highway.
I called the City’s traffic people to ask them what the hell they were thinking. They told me they appreciated my concerns but that cyclists are supposed to be careful on the sidewalk.
The traffic guy also told me they had no choice. They decided the road was too narrow for cyclists share, so it had to be the sidewalk. The guy I talked to went on to assure me that he also has a temporary shared cyclist-pedestrian sidewalk situation outside his office and he and the other pedestrians just walk on the grass now.
By all means let’s not inconvenience the automobiles. And since cyclists have had the wit to organize and get some consideration in this car-centric, highway-mad town, we hapless pedestrians have one less place to walk and will just have to suck it up and trudge through the fields, I guess.