Innovative sidewalk layout

Urban form is a diagram of the forces acting during planning. Sidewalks are traditionally glued to the edge of the curb. Their routing, and thus that of pedestrians, deemed by engineers to be absolutely perfectly defined by the road geometry designed to move cars. Might there be a more direct way? A different desire line? A more pleasant way? To even consider pedestrian needs and wants is rare (gluing a sidewalk to a curb doesn’t count). All the more delightful to come across this urban scene where landscaping was integrated into the pedestrian realm. A curvy path. Interesting sight lines. … Continue reading Innovative sidewalk layout

Novel bike rack

  As seen at Ryerson University campus in Toronto. Eye catching shape. And it did attract a few cycles. I wonder if it really saved enough space to warrant the expense, and the deterrence to cyclists who wouldn’t want or were unable to lift up their bikes to park them. Wall mounted bike racks make regular appearances, and designers love to design new ones, but gravity remains their foe. That, and the length of chain required to attach the frame of the bike to one of the solid bars, neither of which was close to the frame. Continue reading Novel bike rack

Absolute Marilyn

We all hear the complaints that condo towers are boring, boxy, and uninteresting. I suspect many of the criticisms are simply people casting around for grounds to justify their a priori dislike of tall buildings. In any case, Ottawa has a number of irregularly shaped and “dented” or curved condos now under construction. For those who want something more extreme, be careful of what you wish for, since ground breaking towers elsewhere are prototype buildings bound to be copied — suitably toned down — for the smaller Ottawa market by lesser architects. The podium townhouses featured in the previous story … Continue reading Absolute Marilyn

Sherbourne Ave segregated bike lane, Toronto

In 2012 Toronto converted some painted bike lanes on Sherbourne Street to a segregated bike lane. Sherbourne runs parallel to Yonge Street, and is about 8 blocks east of Yonge, running from Bloor to Front Street. A walk along the bike track proved interesting. Immediately south of Bloor, the track commences as a curbside painted lane, that then drifts out from the curb and becomes green painted. There is an orphan bit of black asphalt between it and the curb, with faded zebra hatching marks on it, but I was unable to determine if this was a right turn lane (awfully narrow) … Continue reading Sherbourne Ave segregated bike lane, Toronto

Distilling Our Lady of the Condos – part ii

Last winter, Domtar knocked down an elderly mill building on the Islands in the Ottawa River. Great consternation arose, as they did it Without Consulting the Bureaucrats. Priceless heritage lost! Like a dog with a bone, the media and planning pundits worried about the lost potential for a vibrant outdoorsy urban waterfront à la Granville Island or The Distillery in Toronto. Few people seemed to notice that Victoria Island is one of the windiest, coldest, bleakest spots in Ottawa, a far remove from sunny* Granville Island or the spirits factory in Toronto. Numerous calls were made for the Distillery Folks to come to … Continue reading Distilling Our Lady of the Condos – part ii

Toronto Now — Ottawa Later

Toronto has new subway trains, now. Ottawa will have its new LRT trains sometime in the future. What Toronto has now has certain similarities with what Ottawa will have in 2017 or 2018. Unlike earlier subway cars that were individual cars hooked together into trains, without any means for passengers to switch cars, the new train cars have open gangways. This is similar to how the articulated OC Transpo buses work. It means passengers can get on any car but then as passengers shift around, the load evens out throughout the train. Passengers feel safer, less “trapped” in one car. It … Continue reading Toronto Now — Ottawa Later