Building a better underpass

I snapped this pic while in Toronto a few months ago.

It illustrates several bits of better transportation engineering than we are likely to find in Ottawa.

First, notice the dark line down the centre of the lane. It is a painted-out white line that used to divide the road into four lanes, two in each direction. These would have been narrow lanes, especially narrow-feeling at the underpass structure itself. There was no accomodation for cyclists.

The road has been dieted, and changed to one wider lane in each direction. Sailing through the underpass in a car was easy and comfy.

On each curbside there appears to be a cycling lane. Safe and convenient, especially when peddling uphill.

Ottawa engineers traditionally over-estimate the height of pedestrians, giving them 16′ clearance overhead. Of course this means they have walk further downhill and then uphill than strictly necessary to go under the structure, but hey, there won’t be many pedestrians with Ottawa designs¬†anyway.

But in the Toronto design, the pedestrian sidewalk has a minimal dip as it approaches the structure. The pedestrian remains several feet higher than the cars, free of spray, slush, and slipstream-borne debris. No doubt it also feels more comfortable to walk on this sidewalk.

As for the artwork on the sides, it’s better than graffiti. It may even make some people happy.

So what’s to complain about? Well, it’s in Toronto, not Ottawa.


Maybe we can do better when we build those  structures required for the OLRT.

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