Burlington Design Smarts

Every place offers new twists and variations on urban design. My fall visit to Burlington revealed some interesting ones that were not on Church Street Marketplace. (see the previous series a week or so ago on Burlington, this completes that series)

One of the streets dead-ended at the lake. It terminated in a traffic circle. A mini-traffic circle. Can you imagine Ottawa’s engineers designing something so tight you couldn’t drive a 53′ tractor trailer around it at 50kmh??

At the lakefront park, they had park benches mounted as swings. They looked glorious. They looked fun. But I dunno how well they worked, because while we hung around for a half hour, no one vacated their swing.



Also at the park, we saw people actually having fun. You know, enjoying themselves. Actively. And not just doing tonsil inspections. This young lady has installed a tight rope between trees and practiced stunts on it.

Can you imagine the reaction of a Ottawa by-law officer or NCC conservation officer: Do you have a permit? Where is your safety mat? Where is your helmet? You know, you could get hurt if you fall down (and might sue us). Where is your crowd control persons to keep bystanders safe?



Ma’m, Ma’m, you have a dog there ! It’s NOT on a leash! It might run around! You should take him to the official off-leash dog park zone 26 blocks away! Ma’m, get off that rope and talk to me! Pay attention ! This is a park for christ-sakes !


With much rumbling and roaring, a freight train passed by on the edge of the park. Everyone stopped to watch it. Children (and some adults, the self-confident ones) waved. The engineer tooted and revved his engine. Dogs barked. No need for a multi-million dollar railway relocation scheme putting the tracks into a deep ditch. Spend your (our)  money on something more immediately useful.



2 thoughts on “Burlington Design Smarts

  1. Having been to Burlington last March and visited all of the places you have blogged about, I must say it is quite nice. The pedestrian mall seemed to be a simple, inexpensive setup and crossing streets it really did feel as if the pedestrians had right of way. There was also a noticeable police presence, their cars were parked across the mall where it crossed 2 of the side streets. They didn’t block the way since they were parked in front of the vehicle access gate anyways but it was good to see them out and active.

    As for that traffic circle, I did find it a bit odd, in that the street does not actually terminate at the one in the picture and a parking lot accesses the road at that exact spot. It seems like a provision simply to allow cars to turn around if there is a train at the crossing for an extended period of time. I’m not a huge fan, although the traffic volume is quite low the purpose of the bulb is a bit confusing.

    The tight ropes are actually “slack lines”. There is often one or two setup somewhere on the Carleton Campus with a group of people gathered around in the warmer months, they were out quite a bit in the fall.

    Overall, yes Burlington is quite nice and I think we could learn something from them.

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