Hoarding Sidewalk Space

From time to time we all come across ideas that just seem so right, we wonder why no one came up with it before. Consider the ugly plywood and 2×4 fences or construction sheds put over sidewalks while a building is being constructed or renovated. Can you picture the ones recently used in downtown Ottawa? Minto Place? The new Export Canada building? Now consider these: This incredibly elegant and yes, beautiful sidewalk covering supports scaffolding and keeps the sidewalk open and accessible. Merchants in the adjacent building have full visibility. How much more do you think a city would be willing … Continue reading Hoarding Sidewalk Space

One two three … Redlight !

New red light cameras have been installed on Albert a few metres west of Booth Street, presumably to catch east bound (downtown bound) traffic on Albert that runs the red light at Booth. Another camera has been installed at Albert and Commissioner (the going uphill part of Bronson, so as to speak) between Albert and Slater. I guess it will catch cars running the red light as they accelerate to go up the steep part of Bronson Hill south of Slater … or turning left across Bronson to get onto Slater. Continue reading One two three … Redlight !

Green Bin tale

My neighbors are observant. Someone has noticed my green wheelie bin was not out at the curb yet. I felt obliged to divert the implied criticism by noting that my backyard composter bin is not yet full. Once it is, or we get more snowfalls than I wish to shovel, I will use the green bin. One of the lesser heralded features of the new city composting system is the smart beige carrying bin for the kitchen counter. I used to use a little blue pail that once held the kid’s sidewalk chalk. But this new bin is larger, has a … Continue reading Green Bin tale

S’no banking fun

One of the less joyous parts of winter is climbing through icy snowbanks on tiny rutted paths. Would you believe this is the main pedestrian entrance from the street to a bank? At this squeeze point, the snow-bound bike rack forms a minor handhold function. And I thought banks were holding my hand, offering me an easy chair … This is the front of the CIBC at Preston & Carling. Their snow plow service plows the front door walk by pushing the snow from the parking lot across the front into pedestrian-blocking heaps at the Preston and Carling public sidewalks. … Continue reading S’no banking fun

Laying the foundations for Z6 Condo on Booth St

Foundation forming boards still in racks as delivered into the hole by crane. Note the footings are in place around the perimeter, and part of the back concrete wall forms and re-bars have been put in place. west side The building will have a round corner facing the Balsam/Booth intersection. The square elevator base has been poured, with rebar in place to support the elevator shaft walls. Continue reading Laying the foundations for Z6 Condo on Booth St

Where cyclists cross …

Multipurpose path, aka a bike path, crosses a parking lot entrance. This is a crossing, not an intersection. Notice no painted crosswalk for the pedestrian users, as the crossing is not at an intersection. If at an intersection, there would be a painted crosswalk for peds, and cyclists are supposed to dismount and walk their bike across the road… I like off-road cycling facilities like the NCC bike paths. I like painted bike lanes too. I think I would like physically segregated bike lanes along roads, too, but Ottawa has too few to experience. One of the things I like about the … Continue reading Where cyclists cross …

Bixi Bike 2010

Readers may recall an earlier post about Ottawa-Gatineau having 50 bixi-bike stations in 2010. Recall that 4 stations were set up with a joint program of the City of Ottawa and Gatineau, coordinated and operated (and paid for?) by the NCC. BixiBike are self-service bike rental racks that are installed around the city for people to grab a bike and go (and hopefully return the bikes). They are all the fad in major cities worldwide. In 2009, the four stations generated 5361 trips; averaging 50-60 trips per day during the short operating season. The 2010 plan is for a capital expenditure … Continue reading Bixi Bike 2010

Boxing Day

Familiar pale green utility boxes like this occupy many city boulevards. This one belongs to Rogers. Note the clever use of all-canadian duct tape to hold the box together. Inside the box appear to car-like batteries. Lead? Acid? Looks perfectly safe to me. The box in question is on the left, in the snow. The sidewalk squeezes between the post and the box because … the city widened the road in the early 1980s but declined to relocate the utility pole. The sidewalk used to run unobstructed on the right side of the pole. The resultant squeeze play pinches the … Continue reading Boxing Day

Improved …

Until last year, this house dripped water all winter onto the centre of the pedestrian sidewalk. By mid January, a six to ten inch mound of ice, like a long glacier tongue, stretched the length of the building on the centre of the sidewalk. The city sidewalk plows were unable to stay on the walk, so the situation got worse and worse through the winter. In 2009, as part of a streetscaping project, the sidewalk was widened and moved out further into the city right of way. Now this house, and its neighbours up and down the street, drips largely … Continue reading Improved …

When Fire Strikes

There was a fire last week at the Little Italy Florist. The front facade was not badly damaged. Most of the fire seemed to have been in the rear part of the building. The “baloon frame” construction popular around 1910, when many of the houses of the area were built, is readily visible. Long studs — 16′ — stretched from the foundation up two floors, without any fire stops or sills at the second floor. Today a two storey house is more likely to built with 8-10′ studs on a platform (floor level) then a sill and platform built for … Continue reading When Fire Strikes

Somerset Streetscaping – can it get back on the road?

The first meeting of stakeholders got together on Tuesday evening to discuss the streetscaping project on Somerset Street. The 2010 portion is from Preston to West Wellie. The portion shown above is in the Preston BIA catchment area. The portion beyond the bridge is in Hintonburg (Kitchissipi ward) and the Hintonburg BIA. In 2011 the section from Preston to Booth will be done. That is the area behind the viewer in the above picture. It falls in the Chinatown BIA. Yup, in a territory walkable in barely five minutes, there are two wards, 3 BIAs, 2 community associations, and other stakeholders. A nice streetscaping project might be do-able … Continue reading Somerset Streetscaping – can it get back on the road?

Corso Italia meets Via Marconi

As part of the Preston streetscaping project, major changes will be coming to the intersection of Preston/Gladstone. The pavement pattern has been approved. It will be installed and maintained by the Preston BIA. The planned use of brick pavers has run into technical snags, however, and alternative paving materials are being examined. The BIA is also planning a celebratory sculpture arrangement at the corner. The draft concept sketch shown above is of 24′ high soccer players  made of concrete, metal,  and stained glass.  There would be benches along their feet. Continue reading Corso Italia meets Via Marconi

On streetscaping (vi) Trees

The urban tree problem … Trees in the built-up city face difficult conditions. Among these are tiny porous surfaces around the bases (the city minimum porous surface was 4’x4’ and this became the maximum space, even when room was available); packed earth or paving base as “growing media”; pollution; car damage; snow removal damage from city crews or contractors; hostile property owners who remove street trees; cultural hostility from groups that feel trees are invasive or unlucky; sidewalk repairs that reduce tree wells; overhead wiring and over-zealous “pruning” and trimming by utilities, etc. City standards are sometimes unhelpful. The city may require … Continue reading On streetscaping (vi) Trees

On streetscaping (v) a question of style

Streetscaping usually involves the reconstruction of sidewalks and adjacent spaces with new concrete and other paving materials. Decorative lighting and other elements may be employed. If a single style of paving and lighting is employed along the entire street a sense of cohesiveness and integration results. If overdone, this can become boring. On very long streets, or streets where there are several distinct “zones” (such as a high rise zone, a residential zone, and a commercial zone) it might be appropriate to vary the streetscaping style from zone to zone to best achieve the desired effect. Generally, in Dalhousie ward, … Continue reading On streetscaping (v) a question of style

On Streetscaping (iv) Drainage

The drainage problem … The current geometry of streets has the highest point along the centre line of the street. Water drains to the curb, adjacent the sidewalk. Catch basins are located along the curb. Where vehicles drive adjacent the curb, they trail a cloud of dirty airborne water and splash water and slush onto the sidewalk. Where parking is permitted along the curb, vehicles block the snow from melting and pack it down into ice. Salt creates puddles of slush and ice at every driveway dip in the sidewalk, creating a hazardous and unpleasant pedestrian environment. When bulb outs … Continue reading On Streetscaping (iv) Drainage

On Streetscaping (iii) Street Lighting

The street lighting problem … Currently streets are uniformly lit for the benefit of vehicles in the centre of the road. Lighting intensity may increase at certain intersections. Sidewalks and pedestrians may be in the shadow of vehicles and trees. They do not have lighting levels set to meet their needs or to establish a pleasant urban walking environment. Too much lighting is just as bad as too little lighting if it creates a harsh and unwelcoming environment. Street lights are usually located at a regular distance apart and uniformly set back behind the sidewalk or along the curb. For … Continue reading On Streetscaping (iii) Street Lighting

On Streetscaping (ii) the Bulb Out solution

 The uniformly wide-street problem… Most city streets are of uniform width for blocks: there are vehicle movement lanes and curb side parking. Sometimes the curbside parking is restricted, catering to more moving vehicles. Streets are the same width even when there is no need, for example, parking is illegal at corners and in front of hydrants or wide driveways, but even where parking is prohibited the street remains the same width. Motorists perceive the street as wide and straight, encouraging faster movement. At its worst, this encourages aggressive drivers to “pass on the right” where there are no parked vehicles. For … Continue reading On Streetscaping (ii) the Bulb Out solution

On Streetscaping (i)

 The planning process for the reconstruction of Somerset Street is underway. It is an accelerated process, since the streetscaping component is getting underway now, for construction this year from West Wellington over the Otrain to Preston, and construction in 2010 from Preston to Booth. Presumably the style of streetscaping selected for these segments will be later extended from Booth further east through Chinatown. Purpose of streetscaping: an improved pedestrian and cyclist environment, minimized through traffic, with reasonable accommodation for parked vehicles. Somerset looking west from Preston; Plant Rec Ctr to the left Part (i): Wider Sidewalks The problem … Historically, … Continue reading On Streetscaping (i)

More Detroit can do it … can Ottawa?

http://www.metropolismag.com/ Shown is the Dequindre Cut, a former sunken rail line running through downtown Detroit. The St Clair River is in the background, with Windsor on the far (south!) side. Detroit is reserving some of the cut for a future LRT line, but first it has built a bi-directional bike route and accompanying pedestrian path, with landscaping. Because the path is grade-separated from the street grid it is fast, direct, intersection-free, and has freeway-style on and off ramps that take cyclists in and out of the cut. Detroit feels it is lucky to have a straight-line bike path going directly through … Continue reading More Detroit can do it … can Ottawa?

More Turkey Talk on Tunnel

In a previous post on the downtown Ottawa transit tunnel (DOTT) I mentioned a presentation I saw at Transit Committee on Dec 16th comparing the surface and tunnel options. The Committee has provided me with a copy of the powerpoint presentation by the Downtown Coalition. Here are the key slides, including the $100 million dollar saving figure. This figure might mean the tunnel saves $100m over a surface rail option, or that the tunnel saves $100m over the current BRT operation, its unclear to me. Their conclusion however remains that the tunnel has a reasonably quick payback period. Double click pictures … Continue reading More Turkey Talk on Tunnel

Transit Stations … What will we get? …

Detroit’s downtown city bus station This photo is of a new centre-island transit station in Detroit. Detroit is not the most viable city in the USA. We’re not Flint … nor Detroit. Will Ottawa’s LRT system get anything as nice? It has a tensile fabric outdoor shelter at the bus loading platforms and there is also a elevated people-mover station platform. The air conditioned and heated glass waiting room building is 25,000 sq ft, includes washrooms, ticketing, and shops. The whole thing cost $22 million dollars, and opened in June 09. And here’s the kicker: the entire terminal complex serves about 12,000 passengers … Continue reading Transit Stations … What will we get? …

On-Road Cycling Hazardous to cyclists?

click on table to enlarge – you should see 4 columns In 2008 there were 292 collisions involving cyclists. My wife almost became one of the fatalities when she was doored two years ago on Bank Street in the Glebe. I have some interest in cycling safety. The above table is from a city report to transportation committee this Wed. Jan 6th. Please notice that it covers a three year time period and only records the most hazardous zones, ie where there are repeat cycling collisions that result in injury or damages over $1000 (it covers 84 of an estimated 876 … Continue reading On-Road Cycling Hazardous to cyclists?

Good news for pedestrians

Oh my, I do rant and rave sometimes about sidewalks and the indignities the City inflicts on us pedestrians and cyclists. Yet modern society does have its benefits. Consider the horse souvenirs in the photo above. In my father’s day, the kids on Christie Street used these renewable recyclable resources for street hockey. Fortunately, modern city pedestrians seldom experience these equine memorabilia. The photo above was taken at Upper Canada Village. Readers with memories may recall the nice Xmas pictures posted on this blog on the 24th and 25th of December of the village Alight at Night. While my companions … Continue reading Good news for pedestrians