Ottawa’s LRT: Sifting Commercials for Info

  The City has decided some time ago not to engage transit users for feedback on the design and use of its new LRT vehicles and stations.   Instead, users are stuck until they can “try out” a PR model of the new trains, or watch PR Videos cheerleading the project. At Lansdowne Park, a mock-up LRT vehicle reveals numerous shortcomings, from entanglement points, very hard seats, to the lack of footroom at some seats that will make winter riding uncomfortable  and exiting the window seats acrobatic enough to challenge cirque de soleil performers. It’s a shame these details are coming … Continue reading Ottawa’s LRT: Sifting Commercials for Info

Westward Ho ! (part iv) in which Fantasies come to the fore …

  In the previous three stories I’ve tried to review what is planned, what some of the tradeoffs were, what the consequences area, and slip in just a teensey tiny wee bit of my opinion. So what would Eric do if faced with the same starting situation,  of the City insisting its Western LRT had to go down the parkway space; and the NCC insisting that people using transit is incompatible with their revised greenspace plan? (note I am not considering other completely different route options). The physical plan My goal going into the conflict would be to keep rail on … Continue reading Westward Ho ! (part iv) in which Fantasies come to the fore …

Westward ho ! (part ii) Western LRT along the parkway

  Rochester Field, now to be a condo development site with a green corridor to the parkway along its western (left) edge, is shown on the above map just above the word Richmond [Road]. The new LRT line, in a shallow cut-and-cover tunnel, with the eastbound traffic lanes of the Ottawa River parkway piggybacking on top, is shown as a thick orangey line extending straight along the parkland. This kilometer-long straight section I find very alarming. The “Parkway” is already derisively known as the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway because of its current high volumes and speeds that rarely descend to the posted … Continue reading Westward ho ! (part ii) Western LRT along the parkway

Building LeBetter Flats, part 7, the view from Portland

Portland, Oregon, is often referred to as a city that has gone further with “Smart Growth” than other cities. It promotes transit by train, streetcar, bike, and aerial tram. It has numerous award winning downtown parks and redevelopment sites. IMO, its planning reputation and branding sometimes exceeds its delivery. One site in particular is comparable to LeBreton Flats in terms of location (just outside the downtown core, on former industrial lands), although Portland’s South Waterfront is twice the area (402 acres vs NCC’s <200 acres). Portland’s has room to expand as it takes over adjacent industrial users; the NCC’s site … Continue reading Building LeBetter Flats, part 7, the view from Portland

Building LeBetter Flats, part 5, The Isles

The projected build out of Albert and Chaudiere Islands * starts with the material already at hand, ie the existing buildings. The former brick and stone mill buildings will be converted to commercial uses, starting in 2015. These offer the quickest revenue opportunity for the developer, Windmill, and I imagine it is much easier to attract firms rather than condo residents. Particularly hi-tech-y firms which show a propensity to edgy industrial sites in other cities in part due to their often young employee age group and non-conventional self-image. The first buildings to be converted will most likely be on Albert … Continue reading Building LeBetter Flats, part 5, The Isles

Hickory Bridge off to a late start

  The OTrain multi-user path north of Carling OTrain Station isn’t plowed this year (the picture above is of a prior winter). Maybe that is due to the recent start of the Hickory Street bridge. The bridge crosses the OTrain cut, connecting Hickory Street and the Civic Hospital Neighbourhood with Adeline Street and the Carling OTrain Station and the Preston Street commercial strip. The bridge is partially funded by Domicile and Starwood Mastercraft, builders of the condos on the Champagne side. Subsequent developers will also be dinged for contribution. Ironically, the unplowed section is the most popular with walkers. To get … Continue reading Hickory Bridge off to a late start

Winter plowing on Otrain (Trillium?) path

It is very nice to see the OTrain multi-user pathway being plowed this winter.  The part that is paved, from Young to the Ottawa River, warms up nicely in the full south sun which yields a nice walking and cycling surface. Odds bits of grit and dog poo provide traction. On the south side of Gladstone there is a large steel billboard. The platform used by the paperhangers extends out over the pathway.  While intimidating, it seems to be above everyone’s head even when cycling. There used to be a bit of reflective material on the protruding end, but this … Continue reading Winter plowing on Otrain (Trillium?) path

Bike Path, Walkway, Bus Stop: all together now

The City of Ottawa claims it cannot possibly design the new section of Booth Street running north from Albert, serving Pimisi Station and the LeBreton Flats area, to include motorists, buses, transit, and bikes. The cyclists just don’t fit. So they are being thrown under the bus. As for their partner in crime, the NCC’s vision for their new urban downtown showpiece doesn’t seem to include complete streets or cyclists. Dusk a few weeks ago, I noticed this lovely bike path – walkway – bus stop combo in Montreal, on the side of Park Lafontaine. Everyone approaching the place gets ample visual … Continue reading Bike Path, Walkway, Bus Stop: all together now

Making pathways relevant to real life

Real life takes place on real streets. Bike paths, and walking paths, are secondary sorts of things, not for real living. So goes conventional thinking. And so goes Ottawa thinking. Our city skips the idea of having street signs where the path goes by intersections. Why on earth would a cyclist want to know what that adjoining street is? S/he wouldn’t be actually going somewhere purposeful, maybe looking for an address? The NCC does post some signage on their paths, expensively produced for quality graphic visuals, but alas, often lacking useful information or downright confusing, and subject to previous stories … Continue reading Making pathways relevant to real life

Churchill Cycle Track takes shape

  Churchill Avenue running north from Carling Avenue towards Westboro is being rebuilt today as a complete street. In addition to the regular car / truck traffic lanes on the street, there will be concrete walks and at the same level as the walkway, a cycle track. A cycle track differs from a bike lane, which is a painted zone on the street just off to the side of the car traffic. Road traffic can readily intrude into the bike lane (hello FedEx). The cycle track is separated from other vehicular traffic by a curb and buffer zone. The opening … Continue reading Churchill Cycle Track takes shape

No leaning on shovels at this city construction project

A short while ago I mocked a City transit project on the west side that I described as “lollygagging along”.  * So it’s only fair we look at one that is moving with the (relative) speed of light. Yes, it’s back to the (in)famous Albert Street bus detour. Construction only began last week:  The city originally just wanted to remove the multi-use path on the north side of Albert, never to replace it. Community input caused it to be (temporarily **) saved, relocated. Then the same pressure got the City to replace it first with the new path, before digging … Continue reading No leaning on shovels at this city construction project

Planning for something

While trotting out to Bayview Station recently I noticed these tread tracks in the snow, leading out toward the Macdonald Commuter Expressway. Barely visible in the distance is one of those soil sample hole drillers that we have seen so frequently in past years along the LRT route. These aren’t cheap engineering exercises, which lead me to wonder what someone might be planning out there beside the popular new OTrain bike path.   Continue reading Planning for something

Yet another Scott Street > transitway option

Recall that the current transitway, running in an open cut through the west side, will be replaced by rail tracks for the new Confederation Line LRT. There is a construction lead time to construct the tracks and the new stations at Tunney’s and Bayview and LeBreton, so the buses now on the transitway will have to be detoured during the construction period. Others are busy working on detours that do not involve Scott and Albert Streets. This is the second exploration  of how the detour could occur on Scott-Albert. (for the first option, see:       http:/ ; the comments … Continue reading Yet another Scott Street > transitway option

Counting cyclists — err, path users

  Regular users of Ottawa’s pathway network soon notice the tell-tale under-asphalt loops that connect to counters. We saw pictures of the newest ones under the new OTrain path just a few weeks ago. For the first time there will be counts on a pathway from day one. But only for cyclists. The counters don’t count pedestrians, dog walkers, strollers, and other users. Our counters are also buried flush with the ground, in a miniature traffic man-hole. So the one above intrigued me when |I came across it in London, On. There’s the tell-tale cut in the asphalt sure, but … Continue reading Counting cyclists — err, path users

One path opens, another closes

The new OTrain multi-user path runs from the Ottawa River thru Bayview Station to Young Street at the Queensway, in the heart of Little Italy. South of Young it resumes as the circa 1964 path constructed by the NCC, which is now pretty much a cow path (pictures were in post a few days ago). As we get nearer to the Carling OTrain Station, we pass Pamilla Street which is opposite to Hickory Street, site of the new Hickory Street pedestrian overpass, which is supposed to be constructed while the OTrain is down for the summer. Perhaps it is in … Continue reading One path opens, another closes

OTrain bike path nears completion

OK, it is multi-user path, not just a bike path, but it still feels silly calling it a MUP. I was walking down the path on Saturday doing my best impression of a sidewalk  MUP superintendent  I had to walk since the path is still officially closed. The ribbon cutting is Tuesday 7 May at 2pm. It will be held on Young Street by the Queensway, since that is closest point limos can drive very important people to track. And if it rains, they can cut the ribbon under the Queensway overpass, err, graffiti art installation site. Presumably the path will be open … Continue reading OTrain bike path nears completion

Eric Darwin commemorative gate CLOSES soon

Intrepid follows of this blog may recall the brou-ha-ha over the gate at the north end of Preston (aka the Preston Extension) where for decades residents have accessed the Ottawa River parklands. We even had a legal crossing of the Transitway ! Then one day — shock: Several times the NCC has tried to close the gate, but we beat them back. Some kind soul even put up a sign naming the gate after Qui- Moi? That sign is long gone, and today the NCC announced our gate and access to the Flats, the River, the bike paths … is … Continue reading Eric Darwin commemorative gate CLOSES soon

Cycle tracks, beginning and end of

In a previous post on cycle tracks (segregated cycling lanes set back from the general motor vehicular traffic, sometimes protected by parked vehicles)  –illustrated with pictures from the Cambridge MA cycle track installed a number of years ago — a reader inquired for more details on how the track segments begin and end. Ever mindful of faithful readers, here are two ends, alpha and omega: And just for completeness, the middle: Continue reading Cycle tracks, beginning and end of

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)

California Dreamin’: Palo Alto bike boulevards

The City of Palo Alto is not far from San Francisco, in Silicon Valley. It is a university and hi tech town, with lots of cycling and cyclists. There are a number of factors that make it attractive to cycle: short-ish distances, a dappled shade on the streets from the overhead tree canopy [to be contrasted in a few posts with the San Jose non-canopy], and their bike boulevards. Bike boulevards or neighborhood greenways are rather different from Ottawa designated bike routes. In Ottawa, the green sign goes up, and most of the time, nothing else changes. It’s merely a recommended route. As … Continue reading California Dreamin’: Palo Alto bike boulevards

Life’s a Beach, even downtown

The NCC is responsible for most of what is good and attractive in Ottawa. In the process of delivering the nice stuff, the NCC relies on government ownership of the property. Alas, the Law of Unintended Consequences comes into play. Measures intended to promote access to the waterfronts end up cutting them off, “public” space is too often “dead” space. The introduction of a new urban beach in downtown Ottawa might go a long way to rectifying this. The beach, between Ottawa U and the canal, on the east side of the Corktown Bridge (not to be confused with Corkstown Road, which is … Continue reading Life’s a Beach, even downtown

City’s tallest office towers proposed for west side

Phoenix DCR is going to Council in August seeking rezoning of the parcel of land known as 801 Albert Street. They are proposing a 34 storey office tower; a 31 storey office tower, and a 7 storey office tower. Currently, the tallest office buildings in Ottawa are Place de Ville at 29 stories and Place Bell, both in the downtown core. The parcel of land they propose to build these on is right across Albert Street from the existing Bayview transit station and the adjacent OTrain station. The triangular parcel of land is immediately north of the 8 storey City … Continue reading City’s tallest office towers proposed for west side

The O-Train bike path

For some time the City has been working on a multi-user path — MUP — (aka “bike path”) from the Ottawa River beside the Prince of Wales Bridge, south to the Bayview Station O-train platform, then south behind City Centre to the new underpass under Somerset Street, then slightly uphill to an at-grade crossing of Gladstone, thence behind the City signals yard, St Anthony Soccer Club parking lot, under the Qway, and joining the existing NCC path along the east side of the OTrain cut right to Carling Station. The reconstruction plan for Carling includes a signalized crossing of Carling for the MUP. At a … Continue reading The O-Train bike path