Somerset dog-and-pony show — new priorities

The City held an open house last evening to explain to the public what is being done on Somerset Street this year. It was a mix of old news — the section west of Preston remains  unchanged from last year except for some details — and new news for the section east of Preston up to Booth. The new stuff comes in several formats. The consultants and city staff had all the public consultation team members on hand, with name badges, to explain what is proposed and to tell their neighbours about some of the tradeoffs that were made to get to these results. … Continue reading Somerset dog-and-pony show — new priorities

OC Transpo planner grills audience

I went to City Hall last night to learn some more about the proposed bus route changes. There was a huge, vocal, and annoyed turnout. The questioning for Mercier and Deans and Transpo staff was tough. But half way through something totally dramatic happened. Unfortunately the Main Stream Media reporters had all got enough “angry mob” clips and gone home; leaving only bloggers to cover what really transpired. Read closely now, this has been a closely guarded story until now, when I share it with you alone. Pull your chair up closer to the screen, you’re still too far away. … Continue reading OC Transpo planner grills audience

The effacing Bridge

  This story originally appeared as my WalkSpace column at Spacing Ottawa: The City is conducting studies for the placement of a ped-cyclist bridge over the Rideau River connecting Somerset E to Donald Street. I think this will be a very useful link. I am also delighted that we are constructing a link based on its own merits and appeal to cyclists and peds and not just as an appendage catering to motorist origin-destination desires. From the newsletter of the study team, I espy the following comment, which is pretty typical for Ottawa:   “the design should look to enhance the natural … Continue reading The effacing Bridge

What the melting snow reveals

Every spring the melting snow reveals all sorts of “treasures”, aka garbage. This spring will be worse, with election signs spring-ing up already. While walking on Sunday, I saw this blue one — surely the candidate should have chosen a wider sign shape: He kept his email simple, using his first name only: While there is some show through from the other side of the sign, the ones further west showed too much show through, which is concealed a bit by one side of some signs having a solid red and the other side white with red: I also saw … Continue reading What the melting snow reveals

Infill in training

Fairmont Avenue, just south of the Queensway; a house is gone, a vacant lot is born. And it shall be named Infill. This word from a reader: One home is gone but three will take it’s place.  The developer is Tom Gallivan and his company Gallivan construction has built several infill projects and custom homes throughout Wellington village and Westboro.  The lot is 70×85 in size which will accommodate a semi to the north and a single to the south side of the lot.  I believe the single will have a frontage of 30 feet with the remainder 40 feet … Continue reading Infill in training

My lights will be on !

I received a phone call earlier this week from a reporter doing a story on Earth Day, the sit-in-the-dark hour. She cheerfully wanted my contribution to how I was honouring or observing Earth Day. There followed a most awkward conversation, she could not decide if I was joshing her or was serious. I assure you I am serious. My Christmas lights in the front tree will be on tonight. Electricity is a marvellous blessing, a mark of our civilization. It represents enlightenment, learning, opportunity, advancement. I have no desire to sit freezing in the dark. It bothers me that the save-electricity … Continue reading My lights will be on !

Popular bus stop with no crossing

A fundamental tenet of a usable bus service is to have stops that are accessible. A glaring exception is the Carling Avenue bus stop near the O-Train. Inconveniently far from any signalized cross over, the traffic department has resisted for a decade putting in ped-activated crossing lights. They have relented now, and agreed to a ped and cyclist activated crossing signal can be installed during the reconstruction of Carling Avenue. Alas, that project has been rescheduled from 2011 to some unspecified future date, so bus users will have to continue to cross without signals. I was unaware of how popular this bus stop … Continue reading Popular bus stop with no crossing

Guerilla Parking Enforcement

  No, these people aren’t Algonquin College students being persecuted for driving to school. These are their parents, married to their autos, and too lazy to park in the merchant’s free parking lot behind the store. Much easier to just park on the sidewalk. Why don’t they stop on the road? Heavens! that would block traffic! That would be a sin! Much better to park on the sidewalk, the pedestrians won’t even know, and if one comes by, there’s lots of room to squeeze by. Mr Red Volvo the Duck Lover, parks 100% on the sidewalk. He does this regularly, while … Continue reading Guerilla Parking Enforcement

Changing the face of Carling Avenue

For decades — it seems like centuries — passersby have seen the dark brick façade of this building on the north side of Carling between the federal government office complex and the residential neighborhood that runs up to Bronson Avenue: Here’s a closer view (Look! pedestrians!!): The building hasn’t been used for some years, but the NCC took good care of the front yard (facing Carling) planting tulips and there was a green thicket of shrubs. While it the construction fence is a good indicator of impending demolition, the view from the street is largely unchanged. However, the view from … Continue reading Changing the face of Carling Avenue

303 LeBreton apartment infill

There are currently two fine houses at 301 and 303 LeBreton: Directly across the street is the government office complex for Natural Resources Canada: The owner of the two houses proposes to demolish the homes and replace them with a 29 unit rental apartment building. There will be 15 two-bedroom units; and 14 one-bedroom plus den. The building will be three floors high. The site plan shows that the rear lane truncated to allow for development of the lot (the large vehicle on an angle is the garbage truck picking up the dumpster): The elevation of the building shows as: I am not sure … Continue reading 303 LeBreton apartment infill

Sidewalk spacing

This is a post I wrote for Spacing Ottawa earlier this week. I repeat it in case you managed to miss it at that site. It was subsequently picked up on the national spacing network, as our problems with sidewalks are common throughout Canada: Sidewalks are installed by the City as an after thought. They are simply glued to the side of the curb on the assumption that if the road geometry is good for cars, it’s perfect for pedestrians. There is little consideration given to pedestrian origin or desires. And certainly no thought is wasted considering the pedestrian experience when actually using … Continue reading Sidewalk spacing

Declines in Interprovincial traffic on bridges

This is a guest post by John Verbaas, continuing on the theme of declining traffic counts even while we build more roads: “Here’s  one that is dear to my heart.  The information is from a graph taken from the Dillon Consulting Study in 2009-2010 done for studying the impact of reducing King Edward from 6 lanes to 4 lanes.   It shows the 10 yr  trend analysis of daytime traffic volumes on all of the Ottawa River Crossing bridges.  The traffic is flat to declining on all of these bridges except the westernmost one (Champlain).   Amazingly somehow the NCC decided in their … Continue reading Declines in Interprovincial traffic on bridges

Traffic counts

 Here is a city data set on streets and traffic volumes. AADT means average annual daily traffic (ie, daily traffic averaged over a year to account for seasonal and daily fluctuations). If you find a four lane urban road with under 18,000-21,000 aadt then it is a candidate for a road diet. The diet might recover the outside lanes for landscaping and streetscaping, protected parking lanes, bike lanes, or some combination. But maybe it isn’t needed for through traffic. Get out your red pencils! Roadway Classifications & Volumes     Roadway Classification Street Location AADT Survey Date Ward   Local    … Continue reading Traffic counts

Traffic in decline? some examples

In response to the previous post, a reader JV sent me data showing that some traffic predictions for 2021 (predictions made in 2003 TMP) are wildly too high, and that in fact measured traffic is actually declining on the Main Street and Bank Street bridge screenlines. (Bridges make nice places to count traffic as they are funnels, with limited by-pass options). Nonetheless, these old predictions continue to carry weight in justifying more road expenditures. Hmm. Anecdotal evidence, or some sample points, does not yet make a trend. But I am reminded that when our neighborhood fought the Bronson widening (see, suggesting … Continue reading Traffic in decline? some examples

More Empty Parking lots and underused streets

There are turning moments in the urban paradigm whereby all that was “normal” before gets swept away and is replaced by a new version of “normal”. I think we are in the midst of a paradigm shift to a new normal with respect to parking and streets in central cities. We saw this once in the 70’s when the anti-freeway mobilizers successfully beat down the Spadina Expressway in Toronto. This inspired decades of courage to residents of Canadian cities coast to coast to object to road building. It was only a partial victory of course. Freeways were renamed parkways, or arterials. The Hunt … Continue reading More Empty Parking lots and underused streets

Sidewalk reflections

Any pedestrian in Ottawa recognizes the scene: melting snow puddles on the sidewalks, roads, and crosswalks. Such puddles are to be expected when the roads are old, breaking up, sagging, worn out.But the pic above is of a main street rebuilt … last year! Why can’t our engineers get it right? Surely it isn’t rocket science to build crosswalks that drain to catch basins? The answer lies in an equally predictable realm. The intersections are not designed for pedestrians, but for motorists. To build that concrete crosswalk one or two inches higher would ensure drainage, but then motorists would feel a … Continue reading Sidewalk reflections

Muammar Gaddafi reads WestSideAction !

Whilst checking through my spam filters I discovered an email from Muammar Gadaffi who is anxious to leave his African country due to turmoil there but needs my bank account number to transfer a sum out. I get to keep a share of it. Could this be true? Gadaffi reads me? He is interested in Dalhousie neighborhood and wants to maybe buy a condo here? I wonder if he will bring those unusually proportioned “nurses” with him. I wonder if he reads Ken Grey too? Continue reading Muammar Gaddafi reads WestSideAction !

Watson’s Turtle Bikes

I ran across this item in the blogsphere (Streetsblog NYC): Deco Bikes Arrives in Miami: Miami Beach will début South Florida’s first bike-share system — Deco Bikes — tomorrow. Transit Miami reports the system will be launched with 500 bikes at 50 stations and later expanded to 1,000 bikes at 100 stations. Each station will hold 12 bikes and occupy two parking spaces.    “With the implementation of sharrows  …, upcoming revised bicycle parking standards, and now the implementation of a city-wide bikeshare program, Miami Beach is making big strides to expand bicycle use around the city,” said Garcia. “If successful, other cities in … Continue reading Watson’s Turtle Bikes

Very small lot infill

I wrote previously about a very small lot infill proposed for Preston/Norman. The lot would be about 33′ x 33′, and the house pretty much the same size. It would be a three storey apartment building. Here is a small lot infill in Toronto. It appears to be about the size of a 2 car garage, about 20′ x 20′. It’s on a very small lot on the back end of a side yard, abutting a service laneway. Two-tone dark colours allows the eye to slip over it easily. The electrical mast on the right needs to be introduced to dark brown paint; I … Continue reading Very small lot infill

Sticker infill

This infill is from Toronto. At first glance, it is a normal looking mod infill: Gray and wood … pretty normal. Look closer and you can see a lot of basement windows … must be a rentable apartment or at least finished space down there. A bit closer up reveals some other details. The exterior is festooned with lights — each side of the dormers, beside the front windows … There is the curious metal strip over the front door breaking up the horizontal wood line … the curious pattern of wood around the windows, the curious butt joints in the wood … Continue reading Sticker infill

The Secret West Side

Everyone knows the traditional main streets: West Wellie, Preston, Chinatown, Bank Street … The very success of these streets ensure they attract popular businesses with enough clientele to afford the rents. But where are the retailers that cannot afford main street? Ottawa lacks many low-value retail spaces, where specialty niche businesses, startups, and some just-plain marginal businesses can locate. Gentrification and the revival of main streets are desirable, but have the effect of squeezing out these small firms. So they slip into little-noticed spots unattractive to mainstream, main street retailers. I previously mentioned the hotbed of nifty niche novelty firms on the west side*. … Continue reading The Secret West Side