Preston “extension” bike path going, going … gone

  The Preston Extension (shown above),  the leftover bit of pavement that runs north from the Preston-Albert intersection, that takes cyclists out to the Aqueduct bike path (now remediated into a pit) and eventually the  Sir John A Mcdonald (JAM?)  Path, is due to be closed this spring. It won’t reopen in a hurry. The surrounding brownfields will be remediated. For a clue as to what that will look like, examine the Damascas-like terrain out by the War Museum. Then the Confederation Line LRT track will replace the transitway. It will be bordered on both sides with six-foot chain link … Continue reading Preston “extension” bike path going, going … gone

High rises: Gladstone southwards

Yesterday’s post covered high rise intensification — on an east-west axis — along the north edge — the Carling Avenue line — of our  community. Today’s post covers a north-south line drawn roughly along the OTrain cut from Gladstone to Carling. It is not clear if the drawing (second pic, below) puts the line along the OTrain cut or Preston Street itself. This post is somewhat speculative. Here is the area in Google Maps: Recall that there is a proposed LRT station on the OTrain corridor near Gladstone. Generally, the station is drawn running from Gladstone to the Queensway, with its north exit … Continue reading High rises: Gladstone southwards

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

Misc thoughts on the western LRT

The instant springing up of a “friends of” organization to oppose rapid transit is not unexpected. Everyone wants transit nearby but not too nearby.  Me included. At least one block over is just fine. Just like for arterial and collector roads. I think the City falls short in its communication of the LRT options. Many of the complaints about each proposed alignment are eminently predictable, or have been already expressed (repeatedly !) in the media. If I were running the show, these complaints / concerns would be addressed right up front, either acknowledged or countered. Instead we have endless rehashing of shallow comments. … Continue reading Misc thoughts on the western LRT

Not your mother’s tulip beds

The NCC tulip beds at Commissioner’s Park at Dow’s Lake are gorgeous this year. And they sure don’t look like the large beds of single colour tulips of your mother’s day. Monochromatic mass displays are so yesterday. Drastic colour combinations are IN. Sometimes the new combinations include perennial beds. And new beds out in the flat lawn areas. The lawn beds can be operated for several years then grassed over and the tulips planted elsewhere. When Ontario banned cosmetic pesticides, it put the kibosh on large monoculture floral displays. Diseases and blights will remain in the soil, or spread unchecked by chemicals. So … Continue reading Not your mother’s tulip beds

The “Other” Iconic Station viewpoint that we lost

The Confederation Square station entrance (or lack of one) is getting a lot of press.  Earlier, the proposed Rideau Station was straddling the underside of the Canal, with the east entrance coming up at the Rideau Centre and the west entrance coming up at Confederation Square. This was called the Rideau Street station as that was its primary market, and the main reason it was pushed eastward under the canal was the sharp southward curve the track took immediately upon leaving the Rideau Station heading towards Campus:   The prior plans showed the western end of the Rideau station platform connected to a long, fairly … Continue reading The “Other” Iconic Station viewpoint that we lost

Firestone Prescribes (iii)

I concur with Dr Firestone that Ottawa took its eye off the ball regarding the transitway. It always has money for road widenings and intersection “improvements” and new roads, and new bridges, but not enough for transitway extensions. Ask a city politician, and you get a dirge back about it’s the provinces or fed’s fault because they aren’t funding the transitway. Funny, the feds don’t fund a lot of stuff, but that doesn’t prevent the city from spending its own money. The City, IMO, has spending problems more than it has funding problems. I must say at this point that Prof Bruce is on … Continue reading Firestone Prescribes (iii)

Phoenix LRT (part iii) The Video

Let’s go for a trip on the Phoenix LRT. The video at this link takes 10 minutes to play. The link may not be live, ie you may have to copy and paste to your browser. Leave the window size small, as the video is low resolution, taken from a handheld digital camera while sitting behind the driver. The Phoenix LRT is 20 miles long (32 km), and has 28 stations. It opened in Dec 2008. Ridership in 2011 averaged 40,600 pax per day. The peak day carried over 60,000 pax. The trains are two-car train sets, thus the … Continue reading Phoenix LRT (part iii) The Video

Desire lines in the snow

Pathways through fields tell us a lot about where people want to go. Frequently it is not where the planners or architects’ walkways want to take us. That’s because they usually make walkways accessories to buildings, following the same square lines. In the summer, paved walkways and roads hide the pedestrian record. But in winter, the size of the beaten path tells us how many people want to go somewhere. And if they want to go badly enough they will boldly go where no snow plow has gone before. [cut the Capt’n Kirk stuff –ed]. Let’s start off with the … Continue reading Desire lines in the snow

Could the city actually install benches ?

This is another post building more detail on the original Downtown Moves series in While health and fitness naggards complain we sit too much, everyone wants to sit sometimes. I love to walk to places in my west side neighborhood, and walk into the core at least three times a week in the winter. (In the summer, I bike many of these trips, plus my travel zone expands…). Twenty years ago, most shopping malls had few benches in the mall area. Those that were there were to catch collapsing shoppers before they hit the deck. But there seemed to … Continue reading Could the city actually install benches ?

You can improve what you measure; and we aren’t

This is the next in a series of posts building on the Downtown Moves articles I did in late December at the site. The Downtown Moves team did a sort of crowd sourcing exercise to identify the problems and some solutions for the downtown enviornment. City staff, consultants, and amateur planners/keeners like myself heard three prominent speakers on urban issues, then sitting around tables of six to ten people cranked out solutions to perceived problems. The consultants then sorted these ideas into major clusters. This is a perfectly legitimate method of finding a bunch of things to do, quickly. I … Continue reading You can improve what you measure; and we aren’t

Sim-City model: Bayview-carling CDP

The City has been sporadically doing up a CDP (Community Design Plan) (which is a plan of dubious effectiveness under the Official Plan) for the O-Train corridor running from Bayview Station to Carling Avenue. Residents frequently ascribe its tardiness to a desire on the part of the City to see all the developable land purchased and rezoned before the plan is drawn up. In that way, the city won’t have to continually amend it. The City is committed to having CDPs done for all the stations along the OLRT. Having seen some of the in-progress ones I’d have to say they are better than nothing.  At least they … Continue reading Sim-City model: Bayview-carling CDP

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

How “secure” (or disruptive…) will the OLRT be?

        We are in the process of replacing the transitway with LRT. In the Scott Street cut, this won’t matter much. But at either end of the cut, it matters a lot. The City is preaching two totally opposed messages on how the track will interact with the community.  On LeBreton Flats, they claim that anyone getting near the tracks will be imminent mortal danger so great that six foot high chain link fences will be constructed on both sides of the tracks. For pedestrian safety, of course. So there will be no crossing of the tracks through the Flats.  City staff … Continue reading How “secure” (or disruptive…) will the OLRT be?

NCC reopens the gate …

Madame Chairman sent crews of workers down to LeBreton Flats and the Preston “extension” on Friday morning. Crews were busy adjusting the tension on the chain link fence, lopping off a few weeds, removing a superannuated  “stop” sign, etc. They even cut off the protruding rebar and its chip-bag safety cone top: While I was watching the crews, there were a steady stream of walkers and cyclists going through the gate. And a trickle of media-types to check up on the path. That the path is reopened is an example of people-power over the bureaucracy. Together, by complaining to Madame … Continue reading NCC reopens the gate …

NCC closes popular cycling link after promising to keep it open

Readers may recall the brief brou-ha-ha in late June and early July, when the gate at the north end of Preston street was unexpectedly closed and locked. You can read about it here: (when you get to the link, scroll up a bit to read the post, and down a bit to see the commentary). See also To recap, there is a paved bit of ‘closed’ road running north from Preston and Albert to a legal crossing of the transitway and then connections to the Ottawa River pathway network. It is popular with people walking to work, cycling, walking … Continue reading NCC closes popular cycling link after promising to keep it open

Toe chopping specials

Residents of the national capital(e) are indeed fortunate beneficiaries of tax dollars collected from the good folks of Ecum Secum and Lower  Shubenacadie who provide us with wonderful paths and benches to sit on. I am not sure how much thinking goes into the details of bench location, though. Take the above pic, which shows the most typical installation of a bench right on the edge of the travelled portion of the path. Slouch down and you risk getting your toenails clipped by passing cyclists. If you stopped because your kid was squirming in the stroller or bike trailer, and needs to run around for … Continue reading Toe chopping specials

Air rights over the transitway/LRT

Councilor Katherine Hobbs is in the news for asking the City to examine developing the air rights over the west side part of the transitway/LRT line. I have a bunch of mutually contradictory thoughts on this. 1. The City should sell air rights to help pay for the transitway. Taxpayers are forking out a bundle of money for a transit line, we can recoup some of that expenditure by selling prime access to the most-accessible locations in the city. Otherwise, many of the development benefits go to the builders on adjacent lands. In some cases, these are private developers; in the case … Continue reading Air rights over the transitway/LRT

The devil rides Watson’s new LRT route

Warning: long post. Go pee or get your coffee before you start reading. After so much huffing and puffing, the City has detailed its final LRT route and station locations, and their costs, to Council and the Public. The most noteworthy change has been to move the tunnel from the “cross country” deep alignment under Albert Street, then Queen Street … to one that traverses the downtown always under Queen. I have read the available material from the City justifying the move. It is a very political document, light on the technical stuff. It’s way more PR oriented than the previous reports. … Continue reading The devil rides Watson’s new LRT route

Preston Extension open (for how long…)

Recall that last week the Preston extension (running north from Albert to a legal crosswalk over the transitway to NCC paths along the River) was suddenly gated and locked. We still don’t know for sure who did it, but the NCC seems willing to take the hit. Then, the next day the gate was open. I am told that the chain/lock were cut rather than unlocked. On Tuesday evening, the path received heavy use for patrons heading out to Bluesfest, where they could catch The Long Waits and The NeverEnding Lineups. About dusk I headed out to check out the route. Upon first seeing … Continue reading Preston Extension open (for how long…)

Ontario Bike Summit, Day 1

The Ontario Bike Summit started Monday at the Museum of Nature, and continues on Tuesday. Bug Me, says Watson: What’s a public meeting without politicians to speak? This meeting opened with an abundance of them. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson spoke of the increased volume of cyclists (155,000 in May) and their increased visibility. Speaking of the Laurier Separated Bike Lane (SBL) he made it clear that he understood some cyclists did not like the project, but “they don’t have to use it”. It is designed to offer a safer route for cyclists, to encourage more cycling, and to facilitate tourists who cycle … Continue reading Ontario Bike Summit, Day 1

Get Lost

This post was originally written for Spacing Ottawa,, and is reprinted here in case you are so negligent you do not subscribe to that site. You should have read it there! Spacing deals with geography across Canada; Spacing Ottawa deals with geography in Ottawa. WSA, of course, is a smaller focus on the neighborhoods on the  west side of the downtown. But it’s all geography! There is some new content at the bottom of the post. ________________________ As an urban society, we have to shift our focus away from exclusively serving motor vehicles as the norm, and towards serving people, regardless … Continue reading Get Lost

Indistinguishable crosswalk lures peds to danger

The picture is taken from the McKenzie-King Bridge, between the canal and Rideau Centre. The unique spiral staircase on the left is now closed, and will be removed. It is, apparently, not fully accessible. It is being sort-of replaced by the straight staircase on the right, adjacent the new Convention Centre. It has an elevator hidden inside a nifty turned-over ice-cream cone metal shroud, so Everyone can go up or down. But look closely at Colonel By Drive. Notice that peds arriving at the bottom of the staircase on the right appear to have a crosswalk. And on the left side, partially obscured by the … Continue reading Indistinguishable crosswalk lures peds to danger

LRT Stations (part v) Rideau Centre

The Rideau Centre station isn’t really on the west side, but it interesting, so here is a quickie overview: the underground station is outlined in red oval, the route of the underground tracks is in dotted red. The west entry is beside the NAC, facing onto Confederation Square and War Memorial. The west entry may include a weather sheltered or indoor connection to the NAC. The east entry is marked as “future east entry” but as it is the only east entry, presumably it is built at the same time as the station opens. The aerial photo below shows the key entry points … Continue reading LRT Stations (part v) Rideau Centre