Progress on Rescuing Bronson

The City has compromised on some Bronson issues. They have agreed to remove their proposal to widen the street, which would have speeded up vehicular traffic while simultaneously making the corridor less cycling and pedestrian friendly and chopping off numerous front yards, church entries, and mature trees. In our opinion, it didn’t make the road any safer for motorists either. I like to think it had a lot to do with people objecting. Rescue Bronson encouraged many people to have their say. This included residents, landlords, school principals, recreation coordinators, churches … and yup, we even got some of Ottawa’s condo … Continue reading Progress on Rescuing Bronson

Bronson: an exercise in futility

A previous version of this story originally appeared in, you should have read it there. But here it is again, made slightly longer. ________________________________________________________ Faithful readers will recall the many stories on Bronson Avenue. How it is so poorly designed for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. And how it blights the neighborhood. Instead of lively street, the City seems determined to give us more blight, by widening the lanes 2′, thus removing numerous trees and more front yards/greenspace, all in a vulgar attempt to get the cars to go a little bit faster. Gotta get to Greely quicker! Rescue Bronson has been … Continue reading Bronson: an exercise in futility

City announces art project for Bronson Ave

The City takes a percentage of all major capital projects and spends it on art. Their policy is that the art installation should be located in close proximity to the capital project that generated the money. The reconstruction & widening of Bronson Avenue will cost about $30 million for the first phase alone. Here is an excerpt from the City’s press release regarding the Bronson art project: “city officials noted that just as additional landscaping is proving difficult to provide, because as the landscape architect says “the houses are too close to the road”, and just as the road widening is proving difficult to accomplish “due … Continue reading City announces art project for Bronson Ave

Highway to Heaven Marked with Big Red X’s

Congregants at the Peace Tower Church on Bronson face a difficult road to heaven. The way needs to be proclaimed, work must be done, respect paid, songs sung. The traffic engineers have it easier. Their road is wide, straight, paved, and about to be even wider. Truly a fast road straight to heaven hell. At the Peace Tower Church, City engineers propose chopping off the main front door steps. And removing the trees on their lawn. The City hides behind innocuous statements. Like, “minor widening”, or “improvements to lane width”. What does it mean out on the street? Rescue Bronson activists … Continue reading Highway to Heaven Marked with Big Red X’s

Bronson road widening a fait accompli ?

Faithful readers of past postings will be aware of that the City traffic engineers have wet dreams about widening Bronson. Motorists won’t notice the widening very much at all, since it is modest, about 2 feet wider. But it will make it just that little bit easier to go a little bit faster. Which is surely what the street and neighborhood needs — a faster road. Curiously, the road widening makes the lanes wider than what the City’s own guidelines call for (see table below). Now you really do have to smile in amusement at the limit of their wet dreams. They only … Continue reading Bronson road widening a fait accompli ?

City counts cars

  It took numerous calls and some arm twisting by the Councillor, but the City is now conducting traffic counts on Preston, Bronson, and Albert.  The unique value of these is to count cars while Booth Street south of Albert is closed due to construction. The City always says it cannot close Booth south of Albert to through traffic because, like dammed water, it would flow around and flood the adjacent streets with cars. And push those streets to the breaking point, resulting in traffic chaos. To anyone who bothers to go out on the streets at rush hour (and that is all … Continue reading City counts cars

Park and Ride, here and there

There have been several stories in the media lately about park and ride lots here in Ottawa. The lots seem popular, and mostly over-used with late arrivals not being able to find a parking space. The first-come policy favours regular early morning commuters. The Ottawa lots are free. Well, not exactly free. They cost a lot of money to build, maintain, and patrol. But our municipal government doesn’t charge the users anything. It is therefore not surprising that they are full, as they are being sold (given away) wa-a-a-y below cost and wa-a-a-a-y below value. Things that are free are of course … Continue reading Park and Ride, here and there

To Clem, in Saudi Arabia

Note to reader: After a recent meeting with City staff and consultants, I found this piece of paper on the floor. I wasn’t being nosy, I was being tidy. But I couldn’t help noticing the text. It appears to be most of a letter being drafted to email to someone named “Clem” working in Saudi Arabia. To protect the not so innocent, I’ll report that the author’s name is conveniently missing. –  Ed. “Clem: How is work going on your contract in Saudi Arabia? How I do envy you. To work in an autocratic kingdom must we marvellous. The grand … Continue reading To Clem, in Saudi Arabia

My rules vs your rules

Yes, dealing with the City (and the BIA’s, the Community Associations, the Councilors, neighbours… you name it) can be frustrating. I persevere, joining traffic studies and public advisory committees because sometimes we “win”, ie speaking up effects a change or improvement in a project. But it can be terribly frustrating. The City is an impenetrable maze of rules and standards for any occasion. Too many times to count we are told “you can’t have that” because it violates some engineering code, or bylaw, or whatever. Only to turn around and see that violation employed somewhere else or to get the … Continue reading My rules vs your rules

YES ! to municipal bike tax

So a City Councillor has suggested we tax bicycles, perhaps by levying a license fee. I suspect he pictures in his mind a miniature license plate, similar to the full size plates that a car has, or what bicycles in the 1950’s used to have. Some places use stickers instead of metal plates, but these are hard to read, and certainly cannot be read while an offending cyclist speeds off into the sunset after his or her dasterly deed. I agree with Councillor Monette. The municipality should license bicycles and indeed all vehicles driving in the City. Right now, the City … Continue reading YES ! to municipal bike tax

King Edward, meet Mr Bronson

The Transportation Committee meet yesterday morning and I was there to speak on the funding of the Somerset multipurpose path underpass at the O-Train corridor. The motion passed, the tunnel will be installed later this year, although it won’t be opened because the City hasn’t yet funded any paths or access along the route. Presumably that will come later. I rejoice we got as much (as little?) as we did and am confident we will get the actual usable facility in the next few years. The Committee then moved on to discuss King Edward Avenue. Essentially the Community there has been fighting … Continue reading King Edward, meet Mr Bronson

More Empty Parking lots and underused streets

There are turning moments in the urban paradigm whereby all that was “normal” before gets swept away and is replaced by a new version of “normal”. I think we are in the midst of a paradigm shift to a new normal with respect to parking and streets in central cities. We saw this once in the 70’s when the anti-freeway mobilizers successfully beat down the Spadina Expressway in Toronto. This inspired decades of courage to residents of Canadian cities coast to coast to object to road building. It was only a partial victory of course. Freeways were renamed parkways, or arterials. The Hunt … Continue reading More Empty Parking lots and underused streets

Be careful what you wish for … the story of Carling Avenue

Life, especially when it comes to municipal planning in Ottawa, is full of inadvertent disasters. Sometimes these come from the law of unintended consequences, whereby something ostensibly for the good turns out to be awful. Other times is results from good wishes, which when delivered, make you wish you had never asked in the first place. That sounds like something from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and the proposed reconstruction of Carling between the O-Train and Bronson is looking a bit grimm to me today. In a city whose new mantra is taxpayer dollar value, we are looking at an expensive road scheme that will be … Continue reading Be careful what you wish for … the story of Carling Avenue

New Year’s Diets: for roads

  Everyone is familiar with the New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, to get fit, to go on a diet. For the better part of a year the Rescue Bronson group in downtown Ottawa have been pushing back against the City’s plans to rebuild Bronson without first looking at what should be done with the road. Is it so perfect today that no improvements could be made? Is its interaction with the adjacent community, landlords, tenants, businesses, pedestrians, transit users … so obviously beneficent that no one need inquire if it could be improved? Or was the city just trying to slip a 1950’s … Continue reading New Year’s Diets: for roads

Planning Exercise (iii)

Christ Church Cathedral and their planners/architects held a public meeting last Thursday to explain their proposed real estate development on the Sparks/Bronson/Queen block. the project was well covered in the Citizen Dec 2nd: and by a Nov 23rd  blog post here: I attended the public meeting mostly to see how the idea went over with the crowd. First up was the Dean of the Cathedral, who explained what the Church does, how much it needs money, and how real estate development would support the ongoing good works of the church. This was well presented and set a positive framework … Continue reading Planning Exercise (iii)

Bronson 4 lane reconstruction postponed

Readers will recall the City’s plan first to widen Bronson at the expense of narrower sidewalks, later revised to some widening but still four lanes. Then at the public advisory group consultation last week they reported their initial results of modelling the “road diet” approach requested by the Rescue Bronson group. While not enthusiastically embracing the road diet concept, they did find that it was not impossible, and would not result in traffic chaos. Members of the PAC will be meeting with the planners next week to reassess some assumptions and try to come up with a road plan that will … Continue reading Bronson 4 lane reconstruction postponed

Bronson — some progress made!

I hope you are not sick of posts on Bronson Avenue,  because Bronson is an important street in our community as well as being a significant barrier and blight creater; and because Bronson is a bit of a barometer — if we can fix Bronson, there is hope for similar four lane arterials throughout our city. Others may think nothing can be done, but true urbanists will fight on. There was a meeting last week of “stakeholders” (those are the residents who are suckers for punishment and go to long meetings with the engineers) and the engineers. With a pleasant smile, I can say … Continue reading Bronson — some progress made!

Skateboarder vs Car

Last week I was at the corner of Bronson and Somerset reading an informative utility pole posting about alternative lane configurations for Bronson Ave, when this guy asks me to watch his camera for a second. My picture shows his camera filming the guy skateboarding through the intersection. I secretly wondered if we would get a “good shot” of him being taken out by a car. But alas, survived, made the movie, and you can watch it at J2xF stars in the movie, as does his ex-car (he kept the skateboard). Continue reading Skateboarder vs Car

Citizen’s take on Bronson

Put Bronson on ‘road diet,’ city told Community groups spot chance to fix street in coming roadworks By Neco Cockburn, The Ottawa Citizen November 10, 2010 7:38 AM OTTAWA — Community advocates want the city to make Bronson Avenue safer and better-looking after it’s torn up to replace old sewers and water mains. The city’s most important north-south artery is jammed at rush hour, and often at other times, too. There’s not much room to widen it. And even if the city could, the extra traffic and noise and pollution would be bad news for pedestrians and nearby residents. Starting … Continue reading Citizen’s take on Bronson

Bronson vid

Over on Spacing Ottawa they reprised the traffic video of Bronson at rush hour. Well worth watching the one minute video: Trying to make a Better Bronson is not just the nefarious scheme of the radical wooly leftist elitist glebe-wanna-be’s, as some MSM might want you to believe. Look at the picture below. Recall that Bronson is supposed to be a typical mainstreet. You know, mix of houses, apartments, small businesses, useful to the community. Part of the house shown above was converted to doctor’s offices a few years ago. This city apparently didn’t notice. Oops, now they do. And there is … Continue reading Bronson vid

Generous sidewalks

If the city is really serious about promoting pedestrian movement, there have to be decent and attractive sidewalks to move along. Providing feeble excuses for a sidewalk system; providing deteriorated, unpleasant concrete curb extensions, does not a sidewalk system make. In the photo above, the sidewalk only appears to be sacrificed for a utility pole and driveway … but in reality, the squeeze was caused by adding in another lane on the adjacent street. The car lane does not get narrowed. The above location is too narrow for the sidewalk plow in winter. It goes around, on the street, leaving a packed … Continue reading Generous sidewalks

Bronson road diet idea heats up

The idea of a road diet for Bronson is generating lots of interest around the city. Here’s a story from today’s Ottawa Sun story by Scott Taylor: “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, a community activist says, to do a makeover on Bronson Ave. that will appeal to motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. With the city planning to completely rebuild the major artery next spring, the time will never be better to beautify it. The problem Eric Darwin sees, though, is that nobody is really listening. “You take streets like Preston. It used to be four lanes and now it’s … Continue reading Bronson road diet idea heats up

Public gets chance to Rescue Bronson

  This flyer is making the rounds of the west side neighborhoods abutting Bronson Avenue. The above photoshopped illustration shows just ONE potential way to improve Bronson so that it meets the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, adjacent businesses and residents, as well as motorists and commuters. There are alternative ways to improve Bronson so that it makes more people happy. Anyone who travels on or across that blighted street knows that the 1950’s thinking that gave us the current “four lane” urban arterial didn’t work. Yet Ottawa seems on the way to fifty more years of a disfunctional … Continue reading Public gets chance to Rescue Bronson

Toronto road diet

Christie Street in Toronto is painted in different configurations. The southern section is a typical urban arterial, like Bronson: four lanes squeezed into a tight right of way, traffic jostling for position and obviously unattractive to adjacent businesses and residents. The more northerly section has been repainted into a different configuration. There is a painted bike lane between the parking and the travelled road surface. The bike lane is tight up to cars, raising concerns about “the door prize”. Traffic flowed much more smoothly too, with no passing and less stress driving the street. Above: north of Davenport,  Christie is painted with two … Continue reading Toronto road diet