Popular bike and ped route “locked shut”

Several years ago a gate was installed at the north end of Preston, where it crosses NCC land. There is a paved path (actually a derelict bit of the transitway from pre-1980’s) that leads to a legal marked crossing of the current transitway and then out the Ottawa River bike paths. The gate was installed by contractors during water main construction a few years ago. On Monday, it was locked shut. I went out Monday evening to view the scene. I met cyclists coming up from the River, having crossed the transitway, and were then forced to return and recross the transitway to search … Continue reading Popular bike and ped route “locked shut”

Ontario Bike Summit, Day 1

The Ontario Bike Summit started Monday at the Museum of Nature, and continues on Tuesday. Bug Me, says Watson: What’s a public meeting without politicians to speak? This meeting opened with an abundance of them. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson spoke of the increased volume of cyclists (155,000 in May) and their increased visibility. Speaking of the Laurier Separated Bike Lane (SBL) he made it clear that he understood some cyclists did not like the project, but “they don’t have to use it”. It is designed to offer a safer route for cyclists, to encourage more cycling, and to facilitate tourists who cycle … Continue reading Ontario Bike Summit, Day 1

Champlain (de-)forest realities

I went on a walking tour Sunday morning in the Champlain Park neighborhood. This west side group of streets runs north of the transitway, from the Mosque at Northwestern to Island Park Drive. The neighborhood began as a cottage area on the floodplain of the River (the railway tracks, now transitway trench, marked the high water mark of the floodplain). Later, small houses were built in the 1940’s followed by some 2-storey homes. My grandparents lived in one on Cowley. The neighborhood had its quirks, including a lack of storm sewers and inconsistent rear yard grading, which led to frequent basement … Continue reading Champlain (de-)forest realities

Get Lost

This post was originally written for Spacing Ottawa, www.spacingottawa.ca, and is reprinted here in case you are so negligent you do not subscribe to that site. You should have read it there! Spacing deals with geography across Canada; Spacing Ottawa deals with geography in Ottawa. WSA, of course, is a smaller focus on the neighborhoods on the  west side of the downtown. But it’s all geography! There is some new content at the bottom of the post. ________________________ As an urban society, we have to shift our focus away from exclusively serving motor vehicles as the norm, and towards serving people, regardless … Continue reading Get Lost

Indistinguishable crosswalk lures peds to danger

The picture is taken from the McKenzie-King Bridge, between the canal and Rideau Centre. The unique spiral staircase on the left is now closed, and will be removed. It is, apparently, not fully accessible. It is being sort-of replaced by the straight staircase on the right, adjacent the new Convention Centre. It has an elevator hidden inside a nifty turned-over ice-cream cone metal shroud, so Everyone can go up or down. But look closely at Colonel By Drive. Notice that peds arriving at the bottom of the staircase on the right appear to have a crosswalk. And on the left side, partially obscured by the … Continue reading Indistinguishable crosswalk lures peds to danger

Ottawa needs a T-pass

In the old model, the City (ie, taxpayer at the Fed, Prov, or municipal level) provided roads at no charge to motorists. The Fed and Prov level recovered some of the money through taxes on gasoline in excess of the general sales tax rate. For non-motorists, there are sidewalks, and Ottawa is very good at having sidewalks  along most major roads, including some rather isolated ones where pedestrians are rare. For transit users, the cost is shared between the user, who pays a per ride or monthly fee, and the taxpayer. A number of municipalities have experimented with no-fare transit, and find … Continue reading Ottawa needs a T-pass

ODSB: recognize reality; deal with it

There was an earlier post* on the botched attempt by the Ottawa public school board to convert playground space into parking spaces at Devonshire School. Their asphalt blitzkrieg plans were discovered in time to retard the pave-over. There is a meeting this evening at the school at 6pm to discuss new plans. The Board has come up with this plan: The key features shown above include an expanded teacher parking lot achieved by paving over some of the play yard, on the lower right. The spaces are accessed from the public laneway behind the school. [are these spaces legal and conforming to parking standards … Continue reading ODSB: recognize reality; deal with it

Cafe culture does not need a sidewalk

The scene is disconcerting. Shouldn’t a sidewalk café at least have a sidewalk? But Art-is-in bakery proves otherwise. First, their gritty industrial bay at City Centre becomes a trendy popular breakfast and coffee spot. Tables sprout, light fixtures appear… And now, a minimalist patio appears on the apron to the loading docks. These patrons seemed delighted to sit out, encircled by a row of cars and trucks. If this was a Disney movie, those animated vehicles would be plotting how to steal the baking… The front of the City Centre building is a total heat trap, the curvilinear two-story warehouse bays … Continue reading Cafe culture does not need a sidewalk

Slow in Ottawa

Whilst cycling along the Britannia bike path near mud lake, I was lucky to overtake this Ottawa resident. She took a moment to rest. I like to think she was comfortable with me guarding her. She was returning to Mud Lake having just laid her eggs in the soft grass-seeded dirt on the south side of the path. Ample scuff marks showed where the nest is. Back to the lake … I wonder just how safe her precious cargo of eggs are. She laid them in the top soil covering a recent City excavation. The soil has been sprinkled with grass … Continue reading Slow in Ottawa

Hollywood, WSA

Yes folks, the scene is the commodious parking lot in front of the much-maligned City Centre office building on City Centre Drive, which, despite the name, is not exactly downtown. It is, however, home to rare cheap industrial space in oh-so-tidy Ottawa where bureaucrats prefer to view cubicle farms rather than people actually working with their hands. Dateline Hollywood, WSA: time: Saturday morning Action: film crews busy at work around the doors of the building. Did they just need a door shot, or were they relating to the building that houses so many lost causes?   The Trailers of the … Continue reading Hollywood, WSA


Scanning the Citizen online today, I came across a story about a young man debarking a bus and getting hit by a sidewalk cyclist. It is not clear if the problem is the cyclist on the sidewalk or the speed of the cyclist. http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Video+Struck+down+sidewalk+cyclist/4966618/story.html What’s also offensive is opening of the video with a commercial inserted by the Citizen. It’s of a speeding car, the joy of the zooming, and comes complete with a floating text that boasts “hands free”. Now, where was I, oh yeah, the offence was related to driving … Continue reading Irony

Noddy builds a condo

As a kid, I had a few of the original “Noddy” books. I dug them out again when my kiddies were young, and was … surprised … by certain things in them that do not meet parental approval today. The tackiest was the portrayal of “Golliwogs” (black people, black dolls) who were usually the bad guys of the piece. If I recall correctly, my bro got a Golliwog doll action figure for Christmas one year, I got the bendable Popeye figure. In the first book, Noddy Goes to Toyland (or some such similar title) he attempts to build a house out of … Continue reading Noddy builds a condo

Cyclist doored by a toilet

She-who-must-be-obeyed once won the ‘door prize’ whilst cycling on Bank Street some years ago. (She is fully recovered now, and back in control, thank you for your condolences.) Macabre* humour is one of the ways we deal with difficult situations. Our teen son and his school chums referred to her as being “hit by a parked car”, along the lines of those “your mom is so dumb…” jokes. The memories of those times, or at least memories of the joke, came to us while cycling through Moonies Bay yesterday. We discovered all the port-a-potties lined up along the bike path. … Continue reading Cyclist doored by a toilet

Parking trouble

Motorists are endlessly optimistic they will find free parking right at the front door of where they want to go. Who do they think they are, Hollywood actors in a movie? Consider these optimists at Tunney’s Pasture: Those cars are parked on the bridge that goes over the transitway. They probably feel themselves pretty lucky and clever, having found on-street parking, sans meters, sans time restrictions, right close to the office. Of course, once someone finds the space, copy cat parkers arrive. Alas, the reason there aren’t any “no parking” signs is because the city doesn’t need to post them, because … Continue reading Parking trouble

O-Train fast track

After years of ignoring the O-Train (as Chiarelli’s baby it was “thrown out” with the Mayor who drew the bath water); it is finally back on Council’s agenda. Council is looking at some significant service improvements: 8 minute frequency (starting in 2014) rather than 15-minute headway now. This comes with a significant cost: buying six new train sets and selling off the existing Talent train sets in 2014 that would be nearly half-way through their lifespan. The City can make a business case for doing the upgrade, based on several factors: the  current O-train is at- or over-capacity and apparently cannot be made to run faster; … Continue reading O-Train fast track

Know where you are

The Preston BIA has installed these cast metal signs on many of the decorative lampposts along Preston. Presumably they remind you that the Italian restaurants, card clubs, and delis are in Little Italy. I expect they will appear around the corner on Somerset running west from Preston, which is also being done over in the Preston Street style; and up the hill on Gladstone to St Anthony Church and soon-to-be-redone Piazza Dante in front of it.  I also think they would make a great top half of a wall plaque with street address numbers on them, and maybe the name of the business too. … Continue reading Know where you are


Last Saturday, readers who also listen to the CBC awoke to a real nightmare. My dulcet tones were on the morning news, talking to Laurie Fagin about the lack of markings on the multi-user path (MUP) that runs along the north side of Scott Street and Albert Street.” Is it a bike path?” was the theme of the story. (It’s OK, you can listen to the radio today, it is Eric-free). Long time readers may recall that last May or June I reported that the City decided to paint a yellow line down the path to clearly indicate that it is … Continue reading BikeWest

Staircase to heaven

For the last two weeks, users of the O-Train or those accessing the Bayview bus-stations-in-a-field have had to circumvent the drill rigs that seem to populate so many corners of downtown Ottawa. They are drilling to determine sub-surface soil conditions for the construction of the LRT stations of the future. In this case, they are drilling at the locations of the stairways that will go from the upper platform to the O-Train platform and also access the N/S bike path and BikeWest paths. The outer edges of the OLRT station platforms at this location are quite tricky, as the station will be initially opened as a … Continue reading Staircase to heaven

Birth of a street

In neighbourhoods such as ours, in established urban areas, new streets seldom spring up. In Orleans, Kanata, or Barrhaven they sprout up like dandelions. Every time I go out to those suburbs… everything has changed, new streets, new big box plazas… I live on the edge of the LeBreton Flats, and have seen several new streets appear. First was Walnut Court, in the 1980’s. On LeBreton Flats another new public street is being gestated. It has no name on the stake. It is being surveyed and built to allow access to the next condo Claridge is building on the Flats, a bit south … Continue reading Birth of a street

Rat Hole

What is it? This little round opening is in the wall surrounding the doors to City Hall. My first thought was that it was for newspapers… but upon another instant’s reflection, all sorts of ideas came to mind. For the rats to escape … for snakes to enter since they cannot pull the door handle … for when they need to hose down the place because the BS is too deep … for injecting tear gas … for super high tides once in a blue moon … ceremonial entrance for Topo Gigio. Ah, those were fond thoughts for about 30 … Continue reading Rat Hole

Disappearing Corner Stores Captured

I met Colin White when he  was sketching the Preston Food Market. I put up a blog post with this picture of him at work:  He has  just hung the Confectionaries series at the Raw Sugar Café, where anyone can check it out. The show will be up for the month of June, and includes various stores from around West Centretown (though a few from Glebe as well). In the picture below, you can see what he was sketching, .   The series is also on his website: http://www.colinwhitestudio.com/confectionaries-2011 but you should go to the Raw Sugar and see it in person, as well as enjoy the funky … Continue reading Disappearing Corner Stores Captured

How Much is that LRT Really Costing?

Sometime later this month, the City will publish an update on the projected cost of the LRT system from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair Road. This will be the most expensive segment, as it includes the tunnel, the maintenance yards, and startup rolling stock. Future segments (eg, to Lincoln Fields or College Square) will be much cheaper, if the public isn’t scared off the whole idea of expanding the  LRT by rampant inflating costs for the first segment. How will Watson play it? He can either deliver years of rising costs and carping criticism, or a clean easy-to-grasp (and easy-to-sell) budget. Recall that … Continue reading How Much is that LRT Really Costing?

Gardening — a matter of scale

  Somewhat earlier this Spring I ended up at the Timmy’s on Merivale Road. We had an excellent view of a lady driving the tractor, planting … something. What other City lets us sit in a coffee shop on a busy arterial and watch tractors out the front windows? It’s a great day for gardening, whether your farm is a flower pot or a thousand acres. Now get out there and get your fingers dirty! Continue reading Gardening — a matter of scale

Pooley’s Bridge quietly re-opened

  Above: a pic of Polley’s Bridge as seen from Fleet Street, beside the new Claridge condos on leBreton Flats. The City closed the Bridge  for several years as Claridge used Fleet as a construction staging site for the new condos. Then in June last year, it became possible to cross the bridge going west provided you were willing to follow a narrow goat trail along the tailrace, skirting the construction site for the yellow-brick tower, to join the path built two years ago at the base of the first part of the building. Much more promptly this year, Claridge has … Continue reading Pooley’s Bridge quietly re-opened