In the wake of a recent death of a 34-year-old cyclist downtown, a city councillor said Ottawa needs more segregated bike lanes and other cycling infrastructure found in cities like Montreal, Vancouver and Amsterdam.
“Her name was Melanie Harris,” said Coun. Clive Doucet Tuesday. “She was 34, a graduate of Nepean High School and Carleton University. She was just starting out in life.”
The city has shown reluctance in investing in cycling infrastructure, he said. Although things can change, it takes money and political will, he said.
“This is where students come in,” he said.
Recently, students successfully lobbied city council to remove the age restriction on student bus passes, he said.
“I would love to see students apply the same pressure on city council… and demand that more money be invested in implementing the Ottawa Bicycle Plan.”
To mark International Car-Free Day, a group of Carleton students have offered their peers, university staff and faculty a more environmentally friendly way to get around the city.
Rideau River Residence Association, the Carleton University Students' Association and the Graduate Students' Association have partnered to start a bike share program, which launched Tuesday.
The program was set in motion last year when campus security donated 10 abandoned bikes, which were fixed up by volunteers, said RRRA president Christopher Infantry.
Any member of the Carleton community can to borrow a bike for a maximum of one business day.
Bikes can play an important role in reducing emissions and improving the health of citizens, said Netherlands Ambassador Wim Geerts.
“The Netherlands is a cyclist’s paradise,” said Geerts.
In addition to cycling infrastructure – which includes an extensive system of bike lanes with their own traffic lights and traffic signs – in the Netherlands, cycling is widely considered a mode of transportation to go to work and school, he said.
“We’re a country that has more bikes than people,” he said. In addition, “every person behind the wheel is also a cyclist, so they are aware,” he said.