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Ottawa city officials hope thumbtacks in O’Connor bike lane aren’t an intentional act: reports

Cyclist describes encountering 20 to 30 thumbtacks scattered across the new bike lane


The O’Connor Street bike lane in Ottawa, connecting key points in the nation’s capital, has been the focal point of some controversy. Recently, however, some of what that controversy involves, if certain suspicions prove true, might be straining the limits of civil discourse.

As the CBC reports, the issue this time isn’t that drivers are annoyed by the presence of bike lanes. It’s that someone seems determined to disrupt the Ottawa cycling experience, using thumbtacks littered in the lane.

The troubling matter became known after a local rider, Catherine Laska, had to hike-a-bike home after hitting a pair of thumbtacks in the road, flatting her tire mid-ride. “I don’t know who did this,” Laska said, “but I think it’s unfortunate. I think a lot of people would benefit from taking good care of the cycling infrastructure we do have in the city.” The tacks landed on the evening of Sunday, Oct. 30, only 10 days after the bike lane’s official unveiling. Riding home from a Halloween party early that morning, Laska first realized that something was amiss when she heard what the CBC described as “a clicking sound.” Then came the visual evidence.

Looking down, the CBC reported, Laska saw a veritable cycling minefield: 20 to 30 thumbtacks, scattered across the width of the bike lane—minus the three suddenly lodged in her tire.

Though the lane was first opened on Oct. 20 to, in some cases, a less-than-welcoming reception, city officials—namely Coun. Catherine McKenney—are holding out hope that the incident wasn’t intentional. “If in fact it was put out deliberately,” McKenney told reporters, “it’s dangerous. People are using this bikeway the same way we use sidewalks and roadways. It’s part of all of our public space; it’s a way of us getting around, so we need to make sure we’re all respecting that space.”

Despite the incident, road services staff say no tacks were discovered in the O’Connor bike lane as of Monday morning.