FAQ: Do cycling facilities impact emergency response?

The short answer is that properly designed roads, including facilities for all users – motorists, cyclists and pedestrians – do not impede emergency response vehicles or responders’ efforts.


If cycling facilities are designed and implemented in accordance with the Ontario Traffic Manual – Book 18 “Cycling Facilities”, and assuming the rest of the road corridor’s features conform to relevant sections of the rest of the engineering guidelines and standards in the Ontario Traffic Manual books, then the roadway is compliant with emergency response needs. OTM18 can be downloaded from MTO’s website here (30MB).

Key to compliance is preservation of sightlines along the road corridor for those driving emergency response vehicles, and the road space for other vehicles to pull aside to make way for responders.

Laurier Blvd is a two lane road occupying a paved roadbed four lanes wide, currently accommodating two travel lanes and two parking lanes. After the installation of the protected bike lane, there will remain two travel lanes plus a parking lane, per the diagram below.


In event of emergency, motorists in the travel lane beside the flexi-bollards pull to the side against the bollard buffer (not into the bike lane). Motorists in the other lane pull to the side against the curb, between parked cars (if any), which might mean temporarily across one of the many driveways (across which there are never cars parked).

Brockville’s Fire Chief and Deputy Chief have stated they have no concerns with the planned protected bike lane.

If there is an incident on Laurier Blvd – on the road or in one of the residences – emergency responders will occupy or block whatever space they deem appropriate at the time, which includes the bike lane.

Note also that there are many narrow streets, with on-street parking, in many places in Brockville, and the entire city is well served by our first responders. This includes Perth St between Pearl and King, where the downtown fire station is located.

Author: Alan Medcalf

Alan is a post-corporate, volunteer, community builder living in Brockville, Ontario. He seeks to create sustainable lifestyle advantage for the community by creating opportunities for more people to choose to walk and to ride bikes. He promotes the health, social, environmental and economic benefits of active mobility.