Winter Cycling Path Maintenance

Alright, I admit that the multipurpose path on the north side of Albert between Bronson and Bayview is not really an official cycling path. If it were, it wouldn’t be plowed in the winter, because the City and NCC do not maintain cycle paths in the winter. But since this is officially a sidewalk  … it just happens to look like and function like and get used like a bike path … it gets plowed and winter maintained. I thought this path provided some insight into the feasibility of winter cycling in Ottawa. Continue reading Winter Cycling Path Maintenance

The Pattern Under Foot

Picture 1 shows sidewalk pavers laid on West Wellington in 2009. The pattern repeats often, with the joint lines lining up in long straight lines. The manufacturer’s instructions caution against this pattern, as the eye sees the long lines. Almost the same pattern, laid along West Wellington in 2008 contracts. The pattern is very similar to the top picture, but there are no long lines. Every few meters, the blocks jog a bit to break up the distracting line pattern. I find this a much more pleasing pattern. Does anyone think this matters? Continue reading The Pattern Under Foot

Boring Job

Whilst walking along Somerset Street just west of the OTrain track, at Breezehill, I came across these gents taking bore-hole samples from the street. Little painted notations every few meters along the street indicate that they will be doing this for weeks. I will nag the Somerset street planners for one bore hole result in particular. It will be the hole bored just a few meters east of the OTrain underpass. Eventually, a segregated bike route (CycloPiste de Preston?)  will be finished along the OTrain corridor, and to be useful it will likely have to pass under Somerset Street. Will it be … Continue reading Boring Job

Transit Tunnel is no Turkey

The usual suspects are carping about the transit tunnel, again. Did the province provide funding? Apparently no good news is good enough — they didn’t provide 15-25% more than was asked for … so it’s disaster time. Ring-a-ling. Ding-a-ling. It’s disaster time in the city … So what might happen if the tunnel portion was cancelled? Critics are quick to attach huge price tags to the tunnel portion. But these won’t disappear if the tunnel is cancelled. After all the tunnel includes tracks (won’t these be needed for the surface rail?); it includes stations and platforms (which will be needed … Continue reading Transit Tunnel is no Turkey

CBC Interview on BikeWest

Last Monday, CBC afternoon show interviewed Eric Darwin about progress BikeWest apparently made at transit committee. You can hear the short interview by clicking here: The text of the BikeWest proposal (downloadable) can be found at this coordinate: However, note that I do intend to update this document in the next two weeks to reflect newer information. The report is rather fat, because it has a lot of pictures in it. Continue reading CBC Interview on BikeWest

New Scott Street Condo

Shown above is the first elevations of a six storey condo proposed for Scott Street. Small buildings like this are called boutique buildings. It will have about 30 units, with one commercial space on the ground floor. Since the lot has access only on the Scott frontage, the building face has the storefront, main entrance, then parking garage ramp, all in a row. Exterior is brick and stucco with glass balcony railings. The building is proposed for the vacant lot immediately west of West Village Private, which joins Scott at the same intersection as does Lanark Avenue, near the Metropole … Continue reading New Scott Street Condo

Future of No 3 bus route

The City is busy paring back bus services. Residents in the Preston area are probably glad to get back to having the No 3 on Preston again. And in the spring, the bus stops will again have shelters, benches, and trees for shade. Once the bus transitway is converted to LRT service (sheduled for 2017 or so) then the no 3 bus route will follow Preston to Albert to Booth Street and the LeBreton LRT station, then over to Gatineau. It will no longer go to downtown Ottawa. Riders on the north-south routes will be taken to rapid transit stations … Continue reading Future of No 3 bus route

Let it snow

I have a number of neighbors that manage to avoid shovelling snow as much as possible. Options include just driving over the snow bank and packing the snow down with your four wheel drive SUV, hiring neighbors or plowing services, etc. This house on Rochester always has its porch plastic wrapped to break the wind and keep the snow off. Last year, and this, it has its steps covered too, in a dropsheet version of those canopied entrances to elegant hotels and really ritzy apartments we see in the movies set in NYC. I am not tall. I walked up … Continue reading Let it snow

A tale of two houses …

Both houses are on Primrose Street. The top one had its second floor stucco exterior wrapped in “house wrap”, which prevents air infiltration but allows the passage of vapour (usually out of the walls). I am disappointed they did not put any additional insulation between the wooden strapping that has been applied for the new exterior cladding. I am a strong believer in insulation, but probably like for the City Living houses “renovated” along Albert, the person doing the renovation doesn’t pay the utility bill, the tennant does, so additional insulation is not installed. Next door is the green house … Continue reading A tale of two houses …

No Toys for Us

One of the biggest toy hits of Christmas 2009 is the Zhu Zhu Hamster. It’s cheap ($8-$12), small, has zillions of reactions to human stimulus. Zhu Zhu is Chinese for Pig. So it’s a PigPig Pet or PigPig Hamster. So I went looking for it. Not at Zellers. They said it was only at ToysR-us. So onto the 95 to St Laurent. Nope, they don’t have them. The staff cheerily told me the toys are all being reserved for the Toronto market. If you live in Ottawa, you can’t get the top selling Christmas toy because the retailer has decided … Continue reading No Toys for Us

Transit woes worse than Ottawa ?

Metropolis Magazine has a short article about how badly Las Vegas botched its monorail system. Burried in the article the careful listener might hear some warning sounds about the joys of un-amalgamated cities or urban planning districts that fail to include major sectors (who knew the Las Vegas strip is not part of Las Vegas City and is in fact unincorporated?). The double-decker buses on the strip are a success though. I last rode them a few years ago, and there were crowds of people at every stop. Most of them had never ridden a bus in their adult lives, and … Continue reading Transit woes worse than Ottawa ?

Elevator added

For many months work has been under way to install an exterior elevator shaft and new entry porch on the north (Lisgar St) side of McPhail Baptist church. I rather expected a ultra-mod addition — you know, glass box, exposed steel frame — and am pleasantly surprised to see how well the contractor blended the old brick and new, kept the same foundation materials, etc. Continue reading Elevator added

BikeWest motion passes Transit Committee

Faithful readers of this blog will recall I promote a cycling project called BikeWest. It calls for a off-road bi-directional cycle route parallel to Scott and Albert Street between Westboro and the downtown. The city owns the land all along the streets, on the north side. I am concerned that the DOTT  LRT project could block BikeWest at two key points, Bayview Station and Tunney’s Station. Since transit committee was considering the LRT project, I spoke at the meeting, and asked friendly councillors to present a motion. But I got more than my minimal goal. Transit Committee passed a motion instructed … Continue reading BikeWest motion passes Transit Committee

Sewer lids, access hatches, etc

It probably reflects some deep psychological disturbance in my early childhood potty training … but I find I notice sewer lids, (wo)manhole lids, catch basins, access hatches, etc on our streets and sidewalks. They do add interest to our quotidian walkabouts … at least to those who notice them. The photo above is of a new fancy sidewalk made of interlocks. The stones are cut in an even square around the access hatch, and the perimeter filled in with cement. There may well be practical reasons for this, but it does somewhat spoil the look. I notice that on Wellington … Continue reading Sewer lids, access hatches, etc

Sidewalks by Design

Our fair city continues to insist that it is pedestrian friendly. Of course, this friendliness comes second to being very friendly to motorists. At first glance the above photo is so typical of Ottawa surely it is nothing worthwhile noting? But consider the engineering and design effort that goes into designing a road and sidewalk system that consistently delivers a slushy puddle at hundreds of thousands of sidewalk dips all across our city for four or five months of the year. Consider the thought and effort that goes into ensuring pedestrians are directed onto steeply sloping sidewalks at exactly the same geographical … Continue reading Sidewalks by Design

“Elegant, Romantic” and Christmasy

These photos on Preston Street south of the Qway overpass were taken by Rachel Pereira. They highlight what a huge change has come over this street as it has been renovated by the City and the BIA and individual merchants. In case you missed the pun, the Elegant Romatic terms come from Sunday’s Citizen story by Maria Cook on the rejuvenation of Preston. Here’s the photo link:; and here’s the story link:; which is to Maria Cook’s on-line edition. Continue reading “Elegant, Romantic” and Christmasy

Casulties of the reno

When reconstructing Preston, some of the dead-end side streets (and there are many) were temporarily opened up to resident access by removing street closures or temporary easements over private properties. The above posts are on the street closure on Elm Street. All the posts were damaged removing them from the ground in the spring. Crews reinserted the posts this fall. Neighbors will be watching to ensure they are replaced with unbroken ones in spring 2010. Continue reading Casulties of the reno

Corso Italia

One of the delights of the Preston Street rehabilitation has been the Preston BIA’s remaking of the Queensway underpass into an interesting highlight of the street. Instead of the former dark and dreary underpass, the framed murals and background murals are great eye candy. The west side is Preston Street yesterday and today; the east side is the immigration story. In the spring, the east side sidewalk will be further developed into a place to linger, with special sidewalk light fixtures and paving. The north end of this zone opens onto the parking lot at 301 Preston, which is converted into … Continue reading Corso Italia