Cyclist collisions re-kindle safety concerns

By Wes Smiderle

Two recent accidents involving cyclists have renewed simmering concerns about the safety of an important east-west route for Manor Park cyclists.

In late August, a cyclist was struck while riding westbound on Hemlock Rd. approaching St. Laurent Blvd. Police and ambulance were among first responders to the scene.

Eugenie Waters says she had just turned onto Hemlock from St. Laurent when she saw the cyclist standing on the sidewalk and a bike lying on the ground nearby. She saw the cyclist bleeding around the face and receiving assistance from a police officer. An ambulance was approaching.

(As of press time, Ottawa police had not responded to a request from the Chronicle for information about the incident.)

Days later, a cyclist was struck while crossing Beechwood Ave. at Marquette Ave. on her way home from school.

Anna Beedell, a student at De La Salle, was travelling eastbound through the intersection on a rainy afternoon when a car advanced part-way across the stop line and knocked her down. She suffered minor injuries.

Anna has been biking to school, and a summer job, on a regular basis but this was the first time she’d ever experienced a dangerous incident during her commutes.

The bad weather and some nearby garbage cans might have hampered visibility for the driver, who remained at the scene until Anna’s parents arrived and she visited CHEO.

She says the incident won’t deter her from cycling, though she notes she’ll make an effort to be more visible.

Key east-west corridor

The Hemlock-Beechwood Ave. corridor is part of the City of Ottawa’s designated east-west bikeway, although the cycling safety features and winter maintenance there have come under criticism from local cyclists and advocacy groups such as Bike Ottawa.

The Hemlock and St. Laurent intersection has been of particular concern. Although there’s a westbound cycling lane with flex-posts on Hemlock, the lane doesn’t appear until about half a block from St. Laurent.

According to John Forsey, chair of the Manor Park Community Association (MPCA) Transportation and Safety Committee, when the MPCA asked for the lane to be extended, city staff refused as it would have require removing the eastbound left-turning lane onto St. Laurent.

Both John and Eugenie say they intend to raise the issue of cycling safety with Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King.

[Editor’s note: For more articles on road safety, see Safety Council desperately seeking crossing guards and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson’s column Improving Road Safety in Ottawa.]