Are pedestrians really terrorists?

Are pedestrians really terrorists in cunning disguise, wandering around our city planning to attack transit and transportation facilities?

The City seems to think so, as it is fortifying sidewalks and overpasses near the transitway / OTrain corridor to prevent pedestrians from … what? peeing onto the OTrain? dropping ice onto the train? Certainly it is physically possible to drop debris, or even people, over the bridge, but I do wonder if there is such an epidemic of suicides and attacks on trains and buses?

Are we engaged in evidence-based spending or exaggerated fear-motivated spending?

Consider how the City currently “hardens” pedestrian facilities:

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The curved wire fence shown above is typical for a number of overpasses. It isn’t exactly pleasant or an enhancement to the walking environment. It may even suggest those crime-ridden decayed urban core porn shots are media love to flash about. You feel safe walking about your neighbourhood? — Oh Oh, better start worrying.

There are worse designs: this one treats pedestrians rather like zoo animals… it is claustrophobic.

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Do these wire contraptions actually have any benefit for pedestrians? Do they enhance subjective safety for the walker or cyclist? I think they do the opposite, loudly branding this location as dangerous. Approaching this bridge, my apprehension grows.

It doesn’t exactly save pedestrians from danger either, since the “roof” portion of the cage is all sagged down, presumably from agile thrill-seekers crossing the OTrain cut by climbing over the structure.

Has anyone seen a study identifying all the overpasses in Ottawa, and prioritizing them as to risk? Why don’t we have similar structures on the Bank Street or Bronson bridges to prevent terrorism-inclined pedestrians from bombing the glass-topped tour boats on the canal? Are tourists expendable? Is the “problem” worse in some areas of the city than others, so that pedestrians in more affluent areas are less inclined to attack transit infrastructure? And why transit … isn’t it just as bad to drop stuff onto a bike path or road?

I’m not just asking out of the blue, of course. The City is proposing some new cage structures. More on that in the next post.


7 thoughts on “Are pedestrians really terrorists?

  1. Or perhaps to prevent suicides. Given that you won’t find those reported in the news, difficult to determine if these are problem areas.

    1. Can’t one commit self-murder by jumping into the canal at Bank or Bronson? Or off the Alexandra bridge? Or off the Somerset viaduct and get run over by a cyclist on the path 22′ below? The inconsistency of where these barricades go is puzzling.

  2. They are to prevent suicides, which obviously we can’t have, because if it only half works, then someone could sue the city!
    The thing I don’t understand is how random they seem to be. The big bridges over the tracks at Albert, and Somerset don’t have them (yet).
    Give the city solicitor some time to scare the bureaucrats and they will be everywhere 🙁

  3. Jumping in the canal would have been fatal in the past, but I thought they cleaned it up a few years ago 😉

  4. True story: Three years ago I walked by a film crew on Harmer Ave, setting up to shoot a hip hop video. I asked them about their shoot.They said that they wanted a location that was “Urban” and “Gritty”. I responded, so you picked Harmer!?

    They pointed to the chain link ensconced pedestrian overpass over the Queensway, and said, “No, THAT’S where we’re shooting this.”

    Suddenly, it all made sense.

  5. In all seriousness though, some people are dropping things on the trains. Last year one chap thought it would be very funny (HAHAHAHA!) to drop a brick right on the windshield of our beloved O-Train. Sad but true.

  6. I was enjoying a cab ride on the O-Train, from a driver who will remain nameless,
    when an egg launched from the Heron Road overpass hit the windshield.

    I guess Heron Road is the next spot to require a cage.

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