Bronson Engineers Going on a Diet !

Bronson near Somerset. Note the red house down the right sidewalk that had all of its front yard removed for road widening, and how the sidewalk narrows to squeeze by.

Perseverance does pay off in sand-box politics and planning. After relentlessly mocking the City for its proposals to widen Bronson, and to make the sidewalks narrower, and for its myopic focus on commuter-traffic-and-damn-all-the-rest, word percolates out of City Hall today that the scheduled Bronson stakeholder meeting for the fall — which promised to be a hot one — has been postponed to allow the engineers time to examine a road diet for Bronson.

Excuse me for a moment while I dance amongst the fake plastic trees.

There, I’m back.

Now this isn’t the City saying Bronson will be subject to a diet. Rather, it’s the engineers looking at the Road Diet Literature. They might decide it’s too much work. Or describe the patient in such a way that the Diet seems unwise (you know, lump the 14,000 vehicle/day section north of Somerset in with the 28,000 vehicle/day congestion pit right at the Queensway underpass). But I prefer to think that they know their numbers will be read, even if by excitable amateurs. So the next step will be to work with the City to learn what road configuration will handle the traffic AND make a better neighborhood.

 For that work to be credible, I trust the City will have both traffic engineers/transportation planners and urban planners working together on the team, since we are supposed to be looking at repairing the urban fabric so brutally rent asunder by the unwise over-expansion of roads in the 50’s and 60’s.

IF Bronson goes on a diet, then every other pre-50’s urban neighborhood stuck with over-widened urban streets (eg, Richmond Road, Merivale north of the Farm, Main Street, Dalhousie Street) that function so poorly will have hope too. Note that roads designed in the 80’s, where neighborhoods grew up in the 70’s and later, typically lack houses facing those arterials (eg, Greenbank, Woodroffe). Being designed as four lane arterials with commercial boxes hundreds of meters back behind parking lots, won’t be affected. It’s the disfunctional 50’s-60’s roads, which were widened from two lane mainstreets to four lane pretend arterials, that are the problem, and the opportunity. They don’t function well for motorists, residents, businesses … we can and must do better.

If you want to read previous posts on Bronson, search the word cloud at the right, or use the search button and enter Bronson. Here are three key articles for reading about Road Diets:

Dan Burden:

Thomas Welch:

Ian Lockwood: Ian actually worked for the City (RMOC) years ago, and now plans traffic in Florida. His article is a good review of how traffic calming has progressed from simple bumps and bulb outs into more sophisticated road configurations that improve the road for motorists whilst building up neighborhood vitality.

And there are the two CBC radio interviews that generated lots of interest: (with Dan Burden)

6 thoughts on “Bronson Engineers Going on a Diet !

  1. Congratulations on your perserverence, Eric. If we can convince these consultants to look at a road diet, the other, less stubborn, ones will surely follow in future projects!

  2. Way to go! You had to work awfully hard to get them even to consider the possibility, eh? I must admit that until I heard about this road diet idea, I had pretty much given up on Bronson myself, and I live two blocks away. Good for you for showing leadership and raising a ruckus.

  3. Sucess in getting the City to say it will examine Road Diets is due to the actions of many people, all working away at the grinding wheels of city planning. Cheerleading and publicity help get the message out. Councillor Holmes has been doing a lot “inside” the system; without her persistent work us outsiders would have been tilting at civic windmills. This whole incident confirms that we can change city hall if enough people make enough arguments. And City Hall is big enough to change — there are other places and parties that would simply tighten the hatches. Good for the city bureaucrats to let the dogs out!

  4. Thanks Eric, this city is very lucky to have a few “squeeky wheels” like yourself who are actually interested in making it a better place for all of us. Congratulations on this little win, and here’s hoping it leads to a bigger victory when the final plans for Bronson are drawn and approved!


  5. Can’t be a coincidence that you posted this the same day that I read the following in an Ottawa Citizen article on cycling:
    “As well, if the committee’s recommendations are approved by council, new rapid transit stations and trains will be designed to accommodate cyclists, bike routes will have better signage, biking shortcuts will be built into new subdivisions, and the city will truly implement its existing policy to favour cycling, walking and transit over cars.”

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