When Opportunity knocks …

Am I paranormal? Do I see opportunities where others (for eg, the City) see nothing? Are the skeptics about government right when they charge it cannot miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity? In the three short weeks since I … Continue reading When Opportunity knocks …

Yes you can, Mr Mayor

John Turner and Jim Watson have lots in common. In a crisis, both  claim they can’t do something. It didn’t work out well for Mr Turner. So people get killed moving about in Ottawa. Anyone looking at the traffic fatalities knows … Continue reading Yes you can, Mr Mayor

New graphic identity for Confederation line?

The City unveiled the final streetscaping plan for several blocks of Queen Street around the two downtown Confederation Line stations (Lyon, and Parliament). One detail I noticed was the graphic logo for the Stations, consisting of a bright red circle (donut?) on a stick. Here’s the one at Lyon Station: and another at Parliament Station by the old Zellers: and again at the link between the two towers of the Clarica /Sunlife Centre: Of course we need a graphic logo that can (eventually) instantly identify where the Station entrances are for locals and tourists alike. On the existing transitway, the bright … Continue reading New graphic identity for Confederation line?

Trillium Path Extended to Carling Avenue

As promised by the City, the extension of the Trillium (OTrain) pathway from Young to Carling Avenue is essentially complete. I think it is wonderful. Multi-user pathways (MUP’s) get better with every new build. The most significant new feature for a MUP is a physical separation of people who cycle from people who walk, or animals who walk their humans. The bike path portion remains full width; the pedestrian portion is additional, bonus width. There is a very low curb between the two paths to separate them. The lowness of the curb prevents a pedal from getting caught. The separated … Continue reading Trillium Path Extended to Carling Avenue

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

Return of the Fake Trees

The City of Ottawa proposed a few years back to install metal and plastic trees along Bronson because  “there was no room for real trees”. Strong community opposition lead to a citizen’s initiative to show the planners where they could be installed, given more effort. And whatever beauty Bronson will show this summer is due to that effort. Those thoughts were engendered by the offhand remark of a city employee just before Christmas who commented that Bronson didn’t turn out so bad after all, that all our fuss was for nothing. I beg to differ. The street is less awful … Continue reading Return of the Fake Trees

The Dog Shelter Condos – Is Ashcroft Serious?

The Champagne Avenue area — immediately west of the O-Train near Carling Avenue — has been a hotbed for developers recently. Domicile built two red brick mid-rise condo towers and some townhouses at the southwest corner near Carling Avenue.  He has another one – Hom – starting at the corner of Hickory and Champagne. Starwood Mastercraft has the vacant lot at the NE corner of Hickory and Champagne, where they are building two towers, about 16 floors high, the Soho Champagne. Here is an aerial view of the neighborhood, taken from somewhere above the soon-to-be-demolished Sir John Carling Building (which should instead … Continue reading The Dog Shelter Condos – Is Ashcroft Serious?

Sim Preston: Claridge strikes again

The Soho Italia project by Starwood Mastercraft has been controversial since it first became public knowledge through this blog early in the year. The + or – 35 storey condo tower put a major hole in the established urban plan for the neighborhood and multi-year traditional main street plans. The tower, a short block north of Carling Avenue, is aggressively positioned to maximize views. Not being in the “first row” along Carling, it runs the risk of being blocked by competing towers should ones be built where the CIBC is, or Dow Motors (whose site has NO height limit on it) or other vacant … Continue reading Sim Preston: Claridge strikes again

Planning the O-Train bike path

Okay, so it’s not really a “bike path”, the City doesn’t have any of those. We have MUPs, or Multi User Paths, which are shared by cyclists, dog walkers, parents with wailers, grannies with yappers, kids alone,  etc. (It makes an interesting contrast: on roads, cyclists are told to play nicely with cars, buses, and tractor-trailers going 70km; off road, cyclists are sent to play with various pedestrian folks). I’m on the PAC (public advisory committee) for the O-Train path that will eventually run from the Ottawa River pathways south to Dow’s Lake. The City will construct the section from Bayview Station to Somerset (or maybe … Continue reading Planning the O-Train bike path

March of the High Rises

The City has recently seen a spate of high rise applications and project announcements. Claridge has a number of downtown high rises in the high 20- storey range: beside Bell Canada, on Nepean and Gloucester, and on Queen at Lyon (currently Barbarella’s and a parking lot). There are taller applications too. The first out of the gate* was Soho Italia, proposed for 500 Preston Street near Dow’s Lake. The Soho Italia structure is notable for several features: most of the parking garage is above grade (about 7 stories of it) clad in a perforated black metal screen; the building rises straight up occupying all of … Continue reading March of the High Rises

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

Western LRT (part ii)

The study team considered many options for getting from Bayview to Lincoln Fields (and eventually to Colleqe Square, shown in the drooping panhandle line on the far left, which is common to every option). The city study team has now ruled out a number of the options shown above. First, they sought out “fatal flaws” in the potential corridors. This could include pinch points were the corridor becomes too narrow, or turns are too sharp. While the flaws of some corridors were achingly obvious right from the beginning, they were all studied, which prevents someone coming along at a much … Continue reading Western LRT (part ii)

Popular bus stop with no crossing

A fundamental tenet of a usable bus service is to have stops that are accessible. A glaring exception is the Carling Avenue bus stop near the O-Train. Inconveniently far from any signalized cross over, the traffic department has resisted for a decade putting in ped-activated crossing lights. They have relented now, and agreed to a ped and cyclist activated crossing signal can be installed during the reconstruction of Carling Avenue. Alas, that project has been rescheduled from 2011 to some unspecified future date, so bus users will have to continue to cross without signals. I was unaware of how popular this bus stop … Continue reading Popular bus stop with no crossing

Changing the face of Carling Avenue

For decades — it seems like centuries — passersby have seen the dark brick façade of this building on the north side of Carling between the federal government office complex and the residential neighborhood that runs up to Bronson Avenue: Here’s a closer view (Look! pedestrians!!): The building hasn’t been used for some years, but the NCC took good care of the front yard (facing Carling) planting tulips and there was a green thicket of shrubs. While it the construction fence is a good indicator of impending demolition, the view from the street is largely unchanged. However, the view from … Continue reading Changing the face of Carling Avenue

Sidewalk spacing

This is a post I wrote for Spacing Ottawa earlier this week. I repeat it in case you managed to miss it at that site. It was subsequently picked up on the national spacing network, as our problems with sidewalks are common throughout Canada: Sidewalks are installed by the City as an after thought. They are simply glued to the side of the curb on the assumption that if the road geometry is good for cars, it’s perfect for pedestrians. There is little consideration given to pedestrian origin or desires. And certainly no thought is wasted considering the pedestrian experience when actually using … Continue reading Sidewalk spacing

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

West LRT, part iv, the Scott/Byron route

The Scott Byron route starts at Bayview and re-uses the Scott corridor transitway trench to Dominion Station. It uses a toenail of the parkway until it can swing inland at Rochester Field, near the Kegg Manor and gardens. At some point, it would cease being a surface rail line and become cut and cover along the Byron right of way. It is important to notice that the Byron option does not necessitate cut and cover through the dog-walk greenspace that used to be the streetcar right of way. It might be cut and cover under Richmond Road, or under Byron Avenue itself. Byron could certainly use … Continue reading West LRT, part iv, the Scott/Byron route

West LRT, part ii: Carling options

  I suggest you read Part i — the previous post — before reading this part. Some points are valid from post to post, and it would be boring to repeat them each time. Reading the comments is also fun and educational. This review of the options always starts at the Bayview Station (top right corner), ie I talk from east to west. The O-Train corridor option uses existing transportation corridors to take the LRT south then west. It would bump the Otrain off its track, forcing it to terminate at Carling. This LRT option is unlikely to be selected as it has some severe engineering … Continue reading West LRT, part ii: Carling options