Un-hallowed eve

I really feel sorry for people in those American “key battleground states” inundated with advertising and spin, an onslaught rivalling Hurricane Sandy. Apparently some locals on Cape Cod also feel like mocking the election:   And here is what the whole display looked like: This wasn’t a pure mocking of the American election. In Chatham, MA,  New England, I came across a whole central park of Hallowe’en displays. Some would definitely make little ones nervous: This display featured Chatham Sea Dog who found, on his travels, lilli-pumpkins: The whole park had a stroll of displays: At first I thought this was a … Continue reading Un-hallowed eve

New-style traffic lights

In passing the city’s signals yard on Gladstone near the OTrain track, I noticed that an intersection’s worth of signals were up and running, but with signal heads I have previously not seen in Ottawa.   Cities with streetcars or surface rail use signals with different size heads or the ‘straight bar’ of light to signal transit drivers when to stop and go. Motorists continue to obey signal heads with the standard roundish light that we are familiar with. But Ottawa doesn’t have a surface rail system, and we junked our streetcars half a century ago. So I found myself … Continue reading New-style traffic lights

Pop up parks don’t pop here

Pop up parks have been an urban trend for some years now. Consider this tiny sidewalk cafe in New York (internet picture): Can’t you just imagine our bureaucrats worrying about safety from wildly careening cars? Where’s the crash barricade? The flashing lights? the bollards? After all, it’s an intrusion into the realm of the car. The focus groups at the recent Downtown Moves study brought up the idea of pop up parks and cafes, but the idea didn’t seem to make it to subsequent drafts of the report. Earlier this year, I thought I read about a pop up park … Continue reading Pop up parks don’t pop here

Taking pride in your work

The city likes signs. Sometimes we run out of sidewalk or curbside space to put signs on posts and so we paint them onto the roads. Or, in the case of sharrows, they are a sort of lane marking. But winter, plowing, and general wear and tear means we have to repaint most pavements annually. Why can’t the city use the same size stencil from year to year? And why can’t work crews align this year’s stencil directly over last year’s?   Continue reading Taking pride in your work

Priority parking

Taking transit for a trip isn’t usually the whole adventure. Somehow, one has to get to and from the transit stop. Transit boffins know how far people are willing to walk to a bus stop. They are willing to walk further to a train — or LRT — stop or station than to a bus stop/station. The catchment area of a BRT station or a LRT station is also extended if people find it convenient to ride their bikes to the station. That convenience requires some care and thoughtfulness in the provision of safe cycling routes. And at the station, the … Continue reading Priority parking

Chariots of Ire

Loblaws has an outlet in Westboro called the Real Canadian Superstore. And we all know Real Canadians don’t complain. But we apparently do steal shopping carts. They show up all over the neighborhood: The RCSS in Westboro recently got a fleet of new carts. The half-size carts in particular are a welcome alternative to the tractor-trailer sized ones the dominate the store and invite you to load ’em up with more stuff than you need and then clip the heels of the fatigued shopper ahead of you.. The new carts have wheel brakes on them. Once you leave the parking lot, the brakes … Continue reading Chariots of Ire

Meeting the Man with the Screwdriver

So, I was walking down the street the other day (not in Ottawa) lookin’ at the cycle track and bumped into Jeffrey Hoffmann. He is the five-time astronaut on the various space shuttles, including stint(s) as commander. He has logged over 21.5 million miles in the shuttle. Note that you get free upgrades for life on terrestrial airlines when you fly 1 million miles. He is also the guy who held the screwdriver that fixed the Hubble Space Telescope. While walking in space.  I did not ask if it was a Phillips head. He’s now a professor of engineering at … Continue reading Meeting the Man with the Screwdriver

The shadow knows …

  The city can talk all it wants about how walking, cycling and transit are high on its list of priorities, but the real test is where the feet hit the ground, the wheel hits the pavement, etc. An attractive, safe-feeling pedestrian environment welcomes walking, so that it becomes a desirable thing to do, rather than a “have to” or “should do”. Goodness knows, we have been very successful in making motor car travel the default choice. This bias in the public realm won’t be undone overnight. But sometimes there are very little measures that really help. The benches along … Continue reading The shadow knows …

Where east meets west

The fabled silk road ran from Europe to China, on the route blazed by Marco Polo. Charlene Lafontaine named the sculptural glass pieces of art on the recently reconstructed bit of Somerset after the silk road. Here is a nifty YouTube video that explains the title: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=VKAWVD5PkOg The Preston sculpture by cj fleury just south of the intersection of Preston / Somerset is called Marco Polo and shows his route. It celebrates the meeting of (Little)Italy and China(town), expressed by the Italian palazzo on the bottom and dragon on the column. The unfurled map at top shows his route. (There is an explanatory brochure for … Continue reading Where east meets west

853 Carling, in the news

David Reevely writes in his Ottawa Citizen blog Greater Ottawa,  that a representative of Arnon was lobbying the City about LRT in Kitchissippi Ward, but that details were lacking. What a surprise. However, we can speculate on what might be going on. Arnon owns 853 Carling avenue, immediately west of the Carling Otrain station, now a large parking lot, former home to Campbell Iron and Steel. They propose to build two large high condo towers on the site, and two lower rise condo buildings on the back sides of the site, toward Hickory St, where the city proposes to built … Continue reading 853 Carling, in the news

Respecting Heritage … or Not

I’m certainly no purist on Heritage, and I can have a pretty utilitarian view of preserving heritage when convenient, by changing it up when I think it can be made more useful. I was puzzled a few years ago when the City decided the best place to run a giant water main was down the centre of the Heritage-designated aqueduct through LeBreton Flats. Historic stuff, that; Thomas Keefer and all. Still, the pipe isn’t exactly intrusive when the water is in the aqueduct. It’s just that it’s deceiving, since what you see (water, historic aqueduct) isn’t really what is there (its a convenient … Continue reading Respecting Heritage … or Not

Churchill reconstruction to include raised bike lane

For some time, the City has been planning the reconstruction of Churchill from Byron southwards. It will include a protected cycle track. It includes a number of the increasingly “typical’ Ottawa features of reconstructed streets: recessed parking bays (I don’t know if they’ll be brick or asphalt, I prefer the texture difference of brick since it helps make the travelled portion on the road seem narrower) occasional tree planting, where utilities haven’t already grabbed the prime space (in Ottawa, trees get leftover space, utilities get first dibs on all public space, and little or no effort is made to identify and protect … Continue reading Churchill reconstruction to include raised bike lane

WestSideAction is moving

West side action is moving to www.WestSideAction.com     (note the “.wordpress.com” has been removed). Some  October posts have disappeared for some browsers. I am working on restoring them. And the wordpress-hosted site has filled up all its capacity (too many posts ! too many pictures !) Some kind readers with techno knowledge met with me on friday and we will  move the site to another host, and make numerous improvements. Stay tuned, and thank you for reading. Continue reading WestSideAction is moving

Update on OTrain bike path (MUP)

A lot has happened on the new multi-user path (aka bike path) being constructed along the east side of the OTrain from the Ottawa River to Young Street, which then joins the existing path that runs further south to Carling Avenue. Someday, I might get to put up all the in-progress pictures, but here are some showing the state of the new path as of yesterday. We start at Young Street / the Queensway, and work north to end up at the Ottawa River near Bayview Station. Path is due for completion just when the snow flies. Continue reading Update on OTrain bike path (MUP)

Condonaught on Preston

Seen on Preston: large crane at site of future condo tower Soho Italia: And the reason for the crane? Here is condo-naught William McElligott, author of the best-selling photo book Ottawa. He’s going to be hoisted up 260′ on the end of the crane to take photos on a clear Ottawa today, so that condo buyers will know exactly what their October views will be like. The crane revs up its mighty motor, and the boom starts to extend higher, while the hook descends towards the ground. There is a safety rope hooked to Mr McElligott, so he could slide back … Continue reading Condonaught on Preston

Miracle on Booth Street

The previous post looked at some really tough plants. This post focusses on the more tender, biological ones. Recall that in the spring, volunteer gardeners from the neighborhood planted a few curbside openings along Booth Street. * The plants we used were tough ditch lilies. Native species like these are best for the awful conditions we subjected the plants to. First there is the foot and vehicular traffic along Booth. The pollution. The strange soil, 50% gravel, that we had to plant in. Followed by the driest summer on recent record, with no tap to water these plants. Given the dry … Continue reading Miracle on Booth Street

Bicycle tracks on the west side

A new sign has appeared on Albert Street near Empress (by the Good Companions, aka where Albert and Slater meet). It directs cyclists south along Empress, and up the stairs to get to Laurier. Now I recognize that this is a way to get to Laurier. And more specifically, the Laurier SBL. But after you hike your bike up hundreds of stairs (using the bike trough on the side of the steps), you arrive at the bottom of a steep hill. Walk up that, and you are at Primrose. Go east one block, north another block on Cambridge, then east … Continue reading Bicycle tracks on the west side

When your local resto has tattoos — on the outside

The former home of the Lindenhoff restaurant on Preston is a typical c 1902 brick house that has seen many conversions into businesses and restaurants. The Lederhosen is now gone for a hike, along with the Linden tree silhouette, the rabbit and boar on the menu, and taking Scamp from the signboard. While walking by the building at 268 Preston I noticed that the brickwork had been “patched” or “repaired” by the addition of a stucco coat of cement down the north side. The new stuff is just above the pink band of cement that coats the foundation, perhaps to “modernize” it from limestone blocks … Continue reading When your local resto has tattoos — on the outside