Fording the Rideau at the site of the new ped – cyclist bridge

The City is working towards a new ped cyclist bridge over the Rideau River. It would connect Donald Street east of the Rideau with Somerset (East) on the west side of the Rideau (thru Strathcona Park). In addition to the numerous logical elements of connecting the road network, and the less obvious, like being able to avoid the Cummings Bridge and Rideau Street, there is also the convenience of a very shallow zone on the river. It is, in fact, a traditional spot for fording the river. Here’s a view from just a few days ago: The gent in the foreground, … Continue reading Fording the Rideau at the site of the new ped – cyclist bridge

Bike lanes in China

We get pretty wrapped up here in Ottawa about the life and death of the universe, also known as the Laurier separated bike lanes (SBL). Really, it’s worthwhile sometimes to go back and look at other cities, a bit further away, and see what other cultures are up to. Of course, our biggest models have been NYC and The Netherlands/Denmark, with guest appearances from Portland and few other places. A reader has returned from China, and sent me these pic on SBL’s there. [Many thanks to R for the pictures and some descriptions in the accompanying email]. They surprised me a … Continue reading Bike lanes in China

The City is monitoring much more than cycle traffic on Laurier

The Citizen reports today * that the City and Carleton U are monitoring cyclist and motorist behaviour along the Laurier separated bike lane (SBL). They are using video equipment to record behaviour of individual users and interactions amongst users. The citizen story doesn’t tell us HOW they are doing this, or give us the larger picture. Here is a photo overview of one video camera installation. The camera set up was used to record 100 hours of the intersection, then moved to the next, til all 8 Laurier intersections were monitored. (above): the recording device consists of some equipment boxes at the base, a … Continue reading The City is monitoring much more than cycle traffic on Laurier

Chinatown gets new street furniture

Ottawa’s Chinatown runs along Somerset from Bay Street to Bronson to Booth to Preston. The Chinatown Royal Arch, of course, is immediately west of Bronson. Do you recall that its primary colours are red, turquoise, and gold? Most people remember only the red: The bit of Somerset from Booth to Rochester to Preston has been reconstructed over the last year. Out of the big mess has come some nice textured red pavers, a significant number of locust and other trees. And now, benches. The new benches are in turquoise and red. They are laser cut steel with a pattern of wind-blown lanterns. … Continue reading Chinatown gets new street furniture

When little things mattered …

Back some years ago, the city was considerably more decorative. Take the base of this lamppost … shell-like covers for the bolts. Honestly, you’d think that Botticelli’s Birth of Venus was immanent. And in some ways, municipal lighting was the birth of civilization, driving away the animals and thieves that prowl by night. Securing property seems a rather old-fashioned municipal concept today, a ready object for scorn, but I think that is because we have so much of it (stuff, that is). Thus we can afford to be dismissive of property rights. But they are a hallmark of western civilization, and … Continue reading When little things mattered …

What condo dwellers will view

A few days ago, a post showed the view from the roof of the Adobe/Xerox towers at 333 Preston. Thanks to Debbie, a reader, here are some really fresh views from the CMPA buildings on Carling at Sherwood. This will give you some idea of what people on the mid- to lower-floors of the plethora of condo towers along Champagne and Carling might have for their view. The views also go a way to explaining why there is a demand for condo apartments. Ironically, the clustering of towers (a direct result of city policy strongly backed by neighborhood demands) often blocks … Continue reading What condo dwellers will view

High rises: Gladstone southwards

Yesterday’s post covered high rise intensification — on an east-west axis — along the north edge — the Carling Avenue line — of our  community. Today’s post covers a north-south line drawn roughly along the OTrain cut from Gladstone to Carling. It is not clear if the drawing (second pic, below) puts the line along the OTrain cut or Preston Street itself. This post is somewhat speculative. Here is the area in Google Maps: Recall that there is a proposed LRT station on the OTrain corridor near Gladstone. Generally, the station is drawn running from Gladstone to the Queensway, with its north exit … Continue reading High rises: Gladstone southwards

Future shape of high rises in Carling and Preston areas

Preston Street is an odd mainstreet, in that it has minimal hinterland of dense residential development. Hintonburg’s and Westboro’s main street areas are more densely built up and have large catchment areas on all sides with a mix of low-rise and high-rise built form. Preston lost its eastern residential areas when 50’s urban renewal wiped out existing urban fabric to replace it with commuter office towers (NRCan), a commuter high school (Commerce, now Adult HS), and a commercial strip predicated on a city-wide market (the ethnic Italian community) rather than an indigenous market. Thus merchants champion converting housing to parking lots, and since the merchants rarely live in the neighborhood, might be more easily convinced of … Continue reading Future shape of high rises in Carling and Preston areas

When bike parking becomes trendy

For years, many merchants thought cyclists were a nusience, or just plain forgot about them. A few still think that way. But not TD Bank, which is installing TD-themed bike racks at its Fairlawn branch. These welcome customers, discretely advertise their brand, and make me feel welcome. They even have a useful decal to remind people that it is a bike rack (recall the Bank Street ones that are not readily identifiable as bike racks). Indeed, the whole Fairlawn redevelopment project has quite a few very sturdy bike racks (same style as the city parking meter ones, but with their own logo on them) … Continue reading When bike parking becomes trendy

What condo buyers see

There’s a big flurry of condos going in around the Preston – OTrain corridor. There are obvious attractions, such as shopping and dining on the traditional main streets (Preston and Somerset/West Wellington). And easy access to the numbers one and two employment centres (downtown, Tunney’s Pasture) and minor ones such as NRCan, Agriculture, or Gatineau. And being on one or both of the  two major passenger rail transit lines, and Carling Avenue/Queensway for motorists. But what will the residents see? Alas, I am unable to hold my camera up 23 stories, let alone 42, but here are some pictures from the top of … Continue reading What condo buyers see

Commercial renovations

Commercial renovations are very different from residential renovations. They are often done for different purposes. Sometimes a quick and dirty reno is all that is justified by an elderly building or underused site where something much better is around the corner. Many commercial modernizations do not maintain the historic style of the old building. And too often those that try to open up the façade (the modern need to see inside) while maintaining a look and feel and materials similar to the old,  are derided as “faux historic”. Some commercial renovations in our west side community go awry: consider the strip on West Wellington, which whilst … Continue reading Commercial renovations

Doing something about the lack of trees downtown

and and stepping back a few feet, here is a view of the whole installation, on top of one of the select few parking meters posts that got turned into a bike rack. Hey, it could be worse. Mayor Watson might have added a pole with tin leaves to make fake plastic trees, as were proposed for Bronson Avenue.      Continue reading Doing something about the lack of trees downtown

Intensification not without its drawbacks

On Pamilla Street an infill developer severed the side yard of a small single — the blue one to the right in the pic — and greatly intensified the site. The neighbours objected, took it to the OMB, lost, and the building went ahead. Why was it controversial? Well, the usual developer sins. They took the front and back yard set back minimums as the permissible maximum building size. So the infill house is huge — so huge, it is in fact 3 houses on one 23′ lot with shared driveway. The neighbours objected to the height, the car traffic, and … Continue reading Intensification not without its drawbacks

Transformed from the ordinary

West side neighborhoods can have lots of fairly small and simple houses. Mechanicsville and Hintonburg have lots of boxy small homes, and many are found on the stub streets off Preston. Here, from Google Street View, is 34 Merton “before”: It was a typical small house. Basic old-style aluminium siding. Mismatched windows. Odd, two level front porch (note location of the posts). Useful side door. One mailbox, so its likely a single home. And after the facelift, voila: I like the restrained use of modern materials. There is the ever-popular and trendy corrugated siding, used with some restraint. Ditto for … Continue reading Transformed from the ordinary

Civic Gateways (absence of)

Ottawa is nicer than many other cities. Despite the criticisms of the NCC, they do engage in long term planning and city building that generates a sense of grandeur or pride. Without them, Ottawa would be vastly impoverished, just another short-sighted mid-sized city planned with short term expediency the governing rule. Ottawa is engaged in a worthwhile planning exercise for the downtown core, called Downtown Moves (DOMO). The removal of the bus lanes by 2017-18 creates the opportunity to remake the surface streets in a more livable and pleasant way. And not just replace the bus lanes with parking lanes. For this strategic thinking … Continue reading Civic Gateways (absence of)

Right sizing condos

I  hear the same complaints whenever a new condo building is proposed. They include the whine “there are no three bedroom units”, “too small” and “too expensive”. Just maybe the developers are right, that the market needs small homes, especially starter homes. And maybe neighborhoods should realize they need a diversity of housing types, including purpose-built smaller units for smaller family sizes, rather than old houses cut up into a warren of cheap rooms. Consider that most “marriages” (formal or informal) break up and its rather silly to expect both parties to then occupy two large homes, so divorcee’s are a market too. And young … Continue reading Right sizing condos

Shocking photo of air fault detector

You probably have a ground fault detector plug in your bathroom. It’s an ordinary plug but with a little button in the centre. It prevents you from electrocuting yourself when you drop your electric eyebrow pencil into the water-filled sink. Strolling along Preston, trying to escape the ever-present thumps of Noisefest, I spotted this unique electrical installation. Judging by the position of the wires, the device must diffuse electricity into the air, to prevent one from being electrocuted when touching the steel tree guard. Pretty clever. Personally though, I prefer my plugs installed the other way around, so the two slots form eyes and the roundish-one … Continue reading Shocking photo of air fault detector

Life’s a Beach, even downtown

The NCC is responsible for most of what is good and attractive in Ottawa. In the process of delivering the nice stuff, the NCC relies on government ownership of the property. Alas, the Law of Unintended Consequences comes into play. Measures intended to promote access to the waterfronts end up cutting them off, “public” space is too often “dead” space. The introduction of a new urban beach in downtown Ottawa might go a long way to rectifying this. The beach, between Ottawa U and the canal, on the east side of the Corktown Bridge (not to be confused with Corkstown Road, which is … Continue reading Life’s a Beach, even downtown

First, Champlain came on the Mayflower ….

Canada Day. Time for some history. First, Champlain came over on the Mayflower. Well, actually Champlain didn’t. Come on the Mayflower. They were someone elses. Protestants. But they all struck first landfall at the same place, now called Chatham, on Cape Cod. The Mayflower folks we know a lot about. After sticking around Provincetown harbour for a few months, they found the atmosphere a bit g(r)ay, and moved on to Plymouth Rock. The rest is history. And very well documented history that is prominently displayed to any and all tourists to the area. Meanwhile, Samuel de just gets an obscure plaque, which … Continue reading First, Champlain came on the Mayflower ….