A Plan for Making Cycling Safer Without Removing Parking

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sinkholeHello everyone,

There are many people in Ottawa concerned with making cycling safer, including, to my surprise, someone that I had only known as the Twitter user Ottawa Driver. Unbeknownst to anyone, in his capacity as President of the local group Citizens for Cycling Safety Without Removing Parking, he has been working with city transportation officials to prepare a new Official Cycling Plan. He was eager to let me know of the work that they had been doing, and in response I offered him this space to share the news himself. The below is by him.

Thanks Mr. One Wheel Drive1!

There has been a lot of concern lately about the hazards that bikes face around Ottawa. I totally understand that, and as a concerned citizen I agree that something absolutely needed to be done. At the same time, implementing some of the ideas that you had been discussing on your web site as well as others that I saw bandied about by various cyclists in town would require changes to how things were being done, so therefore they really didn’t make and sense.

For example, yes it’s true that cities can be designed to be safer. But, we also need to park in front of the stores. In fact, I am surprised that the inability to park right in the store hasn’t brought the economy to a stagnant collapse, because I find that not being able to park in the produce aisles is a serious inconvenience. But whatever. You cyclists are a selfish lot. A clear example: You want drivers to give up on-street parking for “safety”, but then when we take your parking away for the winter to store snow, you go ahead and complain. SORRY, you can’t have it both ways, but you’re selfish and you just want to leave all the snow in the streets so that people spin out of control everywhere and die.

Regardless, I was still moved by my genuine concern to make things safer for you as well as not really changing anything, and by working with the city for the last few months we’ve come up with a New Plan for Cycling that I’m happy to announce. Of course, we were open for consultation by the cycling community the whole time, but nobody dropped by the storage office where we were working. Remember, if you can’t be bothered to inform yourself of what’s going on at city hall by wandering around and poking your head into every office to see if people want your input, you can’t be a contributing member to society, so don’t blame me if now it’s too late to participate.

Over the course of many evenings we have managed to synergize and be proactive, involving a paradigm shift in the way that we think about things. At the end of the day, we’ve produced a plan that both ensures a strong economy, invests in the future while make efficient use of the taxpayer dollars in a way that will both surprise and delight.

The details

The idea is to increase the safety of cyclists by removing them from danger, and then if they insist on coming into dangerous situations, to minimize it as much as possible.

We all know that the best way to remove cyclists from danger is simply to encourage them to stay home. To do this, we will be offering, free of charge, footage of previous tours de France, interspersed randomly with video clips of fatbikes rolling through forest glades, various Dutch roundabouts and tulip fields, and other video bound to captivate the cyclist audience. We will also prepare dynamic new content, with reality TV shows like “How much can that trailer hold?” and “You rode THAT?” directed specifically at cyclists. Available both on the internet as well as on cable 24 hours a day, we think that many cyclists would rather simply stay at home, maybe ordering online for their shopping and telecommuting, and safely off the streets. Failing that, hopefully that they can be enticed off their bikes and into cars somehow.

Now, some die hard cyclists will still want to go out, so some way has to be found to keep them off of the main streets where the shops and stuff are; you know, the places that people might want to go to. Cyclists don’t belong there. It’s too dangerous. Instead, it’s much safer to ride along on the quiet side streets.

Since these people don’t care about safety, some other way had to be found to convince them onto the side streets. What’s needed are clusters of stores catering especially to the bike-riding demographic, offering organic granola, coffee, yoga mats, Apple devices, live chickens and, for the fixie crowd, mustache wax. Toss in a few well-stocked bike shops and we think any self-respecting bike rider would much rather leave the cluttered and confused main streets for the site street paradise on offer.

In spite of all these incentives, some riders will still insist on going on the main streets. The problem all along is that people have talked about making streets safe for cyclists, and instead what needs to be done is to make the cyclists safe for the streets. A major problem is that cyclists just don’t go fast enough and get in the way of cars, causing a major safety problem for drivers. It takes particularly long to get up to speed at red lights.

In order to address this problem, we are proposing to build giant slingshots at intersections. While waiting at the light, the tension can be cranked up so that when the light turns green cyclists can be shot out at 60 kph, well faster than the cars behind them and allowing them to glide several blocks before being a nuisance once again. This makes streets far more rideable for 8-13 year olds. What kid doesn’t love slingshots and riding quickly?

It’s true that this might cause groceries to be scattered around but maybe some volunteers can help to pick up the odd lost tomato. A few mashed cakes are a small price to pay for safety for all.

In order to make things even safer, giant fans will be built above the lanes so that people will have a tail wind all the time, regardless of what direction they are biking in. This will also increase the speeds of cyclists, allowing them to stick to the middle of the road where they are visible to all and therefore much safer.

Even as great as this plan is, unfortunately we all have to realize that injuries and death are simply risks that we all face when we go out of the house in a modern city. Yes, there will still be doorings and collisions, but by having registered massage therapists strategically located in the most dangerous spots then at least victims can have a soothing, relaxing massage after any incident. Of course, we can’t have expensive therapists hanging around all the time, so by planning particularly well we hope that we can limit collisons to Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays between 3 and 6 pm.

Of course bike riders are famously complainypantsish and will say things like “We need to get people out of cars and onto bikes otherwise there’s just no way that the city can grow effectively” or “there will be more congestion”. The secret is to embrace the congestion! We have an innovative plan, in partnership with Tim Hortons and Swiss Chalet2, to build drive-thru windows at particularly slow intersections, so that drivers could place their order at one intersection and then pick up their food one or two blocks further down. This turns a negative into a positive.

That’s it! I’d like to thank Mr. One Wheel Drive for letting me use some space here and I hope that you all join with us for a brighter, safer future for us all (without removing parking).

Mr. One Wheel Drive: Ummm…. Thanks for the effort! Looking forwards to see how it works out (?)

1) if that is your real name
2) We tried to partner with local, Ottawa based food companies but in order to provide a consistent tasty product across all the congested intersections only a large national chain was practical.

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