One hour to travel less than 10 km
New year, same problem: traffic
Aylmer traffic is getting the best of some residents. One commuter wants the city to open the carpool lane to all traffic on upper Aylmer road, a perennial suggestion. “The traffic is insane,” said Stacey Gibbs.
Gibbs believes the city must re-evaluate the carpool lanes for the morning and afternoon crushes. Murray Pam agrees; “there’s a lack of common sense in road infrastructure,” he said. On January 7, he claims to have left the Aylmer Road & de la Colline intersection at 7:45 am and only crossed the Champlain Bridge at 9 am. That’s 8.4 km in one hour and 15 minutes.
Matthew Larventz, Western Québec School Board Commissioner, agrees refinements to the carpool lanes are due. “At least drop the carpool lane minimum from three occupants to two, so rules for Champlain Bridge and Aylmer Road are the same,” he said. The 9.6 km of reserved and carpool lanes on Aylmer Road are reserved between 6 and 9 am, eastbound, and 3 to 6 pm, westbound, for buses and vehicles with three or more passengers. The carpool lane on Champlain Bridge is reserved for vehicles with two or more occupants.
Benjamin Cool-Fergus, a student of urban planning, warns against allowing solo drivers to use carpool and bus lanes. “Watch it get twice as bad when bus riders take their vehicles because there's no bus lane,” he noted. “Remember that bus lanes carry significantly more people than car lanes over rush hour. The fundamental law of traffic is that there's a 1-1 relationship between more lanes and more traffic.”
Duggan ready to review options
Ward 2 Councillor Mike Duggan is determined to look at all options and their impact. “In my 2013 campaign, I said I’d like to study the impacts of reducing the Aylmer Road reserved-lane from three to two occupants, and make other changes that might improve the morning and evening commutes,” added Duggan, in office for about 12 months.
The councillor wants a pilot study, unlikely to happen during winter, that would study carpool lanes with two occupants within specified times. “We should be able to do this without a large price tag, but that remains to be seen, as there appears to be a vibrant market for expensive government-paid studies in this region. “Eventually, a time-defined reduction to two occupants could seem reasonable, but there will likely be core periods when the three passenger limit would remain, such as in the morning between 7:30 am and 8:30 am. We cannot risk clogging all lanes with vehicles and making passenger-filled buses wait.”
Duggan wants to test the two occupants rule for a two-week period in March and have the results analyzed and then make appropriate changes. However, it’s not that easy. “This requires the cooperation of several offices, namely the city’s Traffic and Special Events Division and the Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO). The Aylmer caucus -- the three Aylmer councillors (Josée Lacasse, Mike Duggan and Richard Bégin) plus the councillor for Plateau (Maxime Tremblay) (depending on the subject) should request action from the Territorial Director’s team. Aylmer’s STO representative is Councillor Lacasse, so it would fall on her to discuss this with the STO board and management, at the urging of her fellow councillors and sector residents.” Councillor Josée Lacasse did not reply to the Bulletin’s calls.