Gatineau cycling plan calls for major expansion

Gatineau cycling plan calls for major expansion

Gatineau, Que., is hoping to add nearly 150 kilometres to its existing 300-kilometre bike lane network by 2025.

Coun. Daniel Champagne unveiled the plan Wednesday, saying he wants to expand the city's existing network to the east and west, giving people in about a seven-kilometre radius better access to the city centre.

And in the longer term, the city hopes to more than double its existing network.

"You want to be able to connect all the time and if you can't connect you won't take your bike," he said.

The other important element is that people have to feel safe, Champagne added.

"Lots of citizens want to take their bike to work," he said. "But when it comes to security, they want to make sure they will be secure."

About 300,000 bike trips have been recorded on the Portage Bridge, increasing at a rate of about four per cent each year, and he said the city needs to invest more money on cycling to become a cycling capital.

Will boost commuter cycling

The plan is a noteworthy first step in getting more people onto two wheels, said Bernard Hurteau, vice-president of Action Velo Outaouais, a non-profit for cyclists in the region.

"It will encourage an awful lot of people to go out and cycle everyday, commute to work," Hurteau told CBC Radio's All in a Day.

"Especially those people who live close to the central core or who live close to one of the bridges that separate Ottawa from Gatineau."

Hurteau said it could also make Gatineau a regional cycling destination.

"I think it'll attract people. Because there's nice things to see everywhere in town — except it's all spread out. And with those links [it should improve things]."

Next steps 

Champagne was also asked about the current plan to redevelop Boulevard Saint-Joseph, which does not include a bike path along one section of the road.

He said he doesn't want to delay the redevelopment process but that it should be a complete street, and if that's not possible, an alternative safe route for cyclists needs to be found.

Hurteau told All in a Day that cyclists are clamouring for better bike infrastructure on Saint-Joseph.

"It's a commercial artery. Most local people — and people going back and forth commuting — would like to use this link and [visit the stores] on that artery," he said. "It will do lots of good if there's a bike path on the road itself."

If city council approves the plan next month, the next step will be to secure funding in next year's budget to start the work.

Champagne said it's going to be an important step forward.

"It is going to be a clear message to council on whether they want to invest or not."