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

Some real ped improvements, and some not

It is good to be (still) living, in a time when transportation is finally focusing on people who walk, people who cycle, and not just people who drive. Yet to come, of course, is any concern for the people living … Continue reading Some real ped improvements, and some not

Fences Fences Everywhere a Fence

Fences, fences, everywhere a fence ! IF it’s not a song yet, it should be ! But I’m not sitting on one, there is no doubt in my mind that these fences are trouble. It is truly amazing the City (or is it RTG) spending so heavily on fences along Albert and Scott. These ones, along Scott, are wooden … … to keep the salt and slush from splashing on the houses when the 2500 buses a day go crusin’ by. They will also block some of the residential views of the bus lanes, albeit at the price of a … Continue reading Fences Fences Everywhere a Fence

Navigating Albert-Scott (westbound)

People who drive westwards from the downtown using Albert and then Scott have big flashing traffic signs, painted arrows, and scrupulously scraped bare pavement. While the lane markings are new, the learning curve should be short. My only bugbear on this so far is the sudden merge of the two westbound traffic lanes around Brickhill Street (just before Good Companions). People who cycle and people who walk face some more challenges. To RTG’s credit a few small ped directional signs have appeared near Bayview Station. So maybe it is worthwhile to follow the route for people who walk or cycle … Continue reading Navigating Albert-Scott (westbound)

Westward Ho ! (part iii) the curse of stations and transit users

The Cleary Avenue end of the western LRT and motor expressway corridor is shown here:   The westbound trains enter the picture from the right, along the orange line. Cleary Station is shown in dark blue. The Unitarian Church and apartment building is shown a bit further west (left). The underground track alignment swings gently under the Unitarian parking lot to get out towards its (under) Richmond Road alignment. The swing out to Richmond will occur under a car repair shop and/or Kristy’s restaurant. These businesses will not remain in place during construction. Since dig-the-ditch-and-cover construction won’t start until 2017 … Continue reading Westward Ho ! (part iii) the curse of stations and transit users

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

Traffic splitting in the Glebe

Rescue Bronson was born a few years ago when the City decided to “improve” [for through motor traffic] Bronson north of the Queensway. Their plans did not include landscaping, traffic calming, fixing the jack rabbit stop-and-start flow or the frequent rapid lane changes. Pedestrians? Never heard of ’em. Cyclists — run ’em over til they go somewhere else. Rescue Bronson had limited success in correcting the City’s mania to facilitate commuting to Pointe Gatineau. We got better landscaping. A signalized intersection at Arlington where the unmarked crossing was heavily used by cyclists and pedestrians. Cost of relocating the utility poles … Continue reading Traffic splitting in the Glebe

More exciting drainage swales, in industrial parks

Seattle and its suburbs had an abundance of drainage swales. That might reflect the high seasonal rainfall. In a suburban industrial park (in Redmond or Bellevue, I’m not sure) , about half populated with businesses and the other half being vacant lots, the existing roads had been retrofitted to accommodate swales. The existing infrastructure looked to me to be about a decade old. At each half block, a pair of bulbouts had created a “neckdown” or pinch in the road. A crosswalk was installed, simply marked with a zebra stripe and fluorescent sign (Ottawa traffic engineers are horrified at this … Continue reading More exciting drainage swales, in industrial parks

Exciting drainage swales in urban areas

Traditional engineering tries to remove as much rainwater as fast as possible. Rain falls, pavement directs it into storm sewers. Outa sight, outa mind. More recent storm water management for Ottawa streets reduces the permeability of the catch basin grate so water self-stores on the street (that’s  “puddles” to the rest of us) and runs off over time. Preston has this feature. Unfortunately, it makes walking the sidewalks within an hour or two of rainfalls a drenching experience. Some puddles remain for 24 hours. It rains a lot in the pacific northwest.  They have installed a lot of “drainage swales” in … Continue reading Exciting drainage swales in urban areas

De-paving Ottawa; and Permeable pavements

De-paving is a trending catchword in the urban vocabulary. It describes removing already-paved areas and replacing them with porous surfaces. A number of years ago, St Anthony schoolyard on Booth Street won a prize as worst schoolyard in Canada. For winning, they got to dig up a lot of the asphalt and replace it with trees and shrubs and well-composted woodchips. It still looks great. [conventional playstructures are falling rapidly out of favour due to expense, lack of interest and lack of challenge for schoolkids, and are being replaced by … naturalized wood lots]. It’s always curious that school boards … Continue reading De-paving Ottawa; and Permeable pavements

On separating cars and pedestrians

I hope readers haven’t been too bored with the ongoing series of stories of how well some cities protect / separate pedestrians from motorists. Here’s another example, where a series of large granite bollards not only delineate the separation, but provide an enormous measure of subjective safety. Don’t you just feel comfortable on this sidewalk, that no motorist is going to take it over for a “just for a moment” parking space, or a careless overrun of the curb that leaves the motorist unscathed (so much redundancy is put into road design to protect the motorist, usually by transferring the … Continue reading On separating cars and pedestrians

Putting pedestrians first at intersections

Yesterday I self-indulged in a bit of bitch about how the City makes intersections safer for motor vehicles at the expense of pedestrians: Look at almost any intersection. The City locates the signal posts back from the curb line, for the safety of motorists. But then directs pedestrians to stand in the same spot where they deem it too dangerous to place a wooden or steel post.  Allright, the natural question is what could be done to make it better? My first response is Amsterdam, like many European cities, puts real bollards (set deep into cement bases, designed to repel … Continue reading Putting pedestrians first at intersections

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

Street painting in Woodpark

On the “far” west side, at the intersection of Flower and Ancaster, Ottawa’s blah streets got their second makeover, this time by the folks at Woodpark (opposite the Library branch at Carlingwood). The City approved 3 street painting projects for this year. We earlier looked at the one near Elmdale School The intersection is nicely framed by painted crosswalks. The flower design grows out of a seedbed on the north side of the intersection. A great many residents came out to help with the painting Saturday.   The paint is the special “long lasting” striping paint used by city … Continue reading Street painting in Woodpark

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

Paint the streets red…and blue…and green…and pink

If you are out cycling or walking this weekend, make a point of passing by Clarendon and Iona Streets on the West Side. There you will see Ottawa’s first officially sanctioned, artist-supervised street painting exercise. It is mid-block, whereas most street painting projects I have seen on-line favour intersections (to slow vehicles down) or along main streets (same reason). Ottawa, of course, is still very much under the thumb of conservative traffic engineers who seemingly cannot distinguish a road (for getting from point A to B) from a street (which is for local access, and therefore reduced speeds). In their … Continue reading Paint the streets red…and blue…and green…and pink

Community Gardeners carry on …

Community Gardeners, sometimes called guerilla gardeners, inspired by a love of plants, work to beautify their neighbourhood through planting things. Sometimes this is into otherwise empty planters the city leaves scattered around. Other times it is in less-expected places, ie real guerilla planting. Here is the community garden planted outside the Plant Rec Centre:   In the Plant case, gardeners worked with the city to install the garden. The city provided a truckload of topsoil as part of the Somerset reconstruction project. Volunteers spread the soil and did the planting with material from other sites and private gardens. A passing … Continue reading Community Gardeners carry on …

Lipstick on Pig improves looks

Last year, we wondered if the proposed artwork on the “reconstructed” part of Bronson Avenue would be enough to make a difference. Andrew O’Malley’s artwork is now installed on the porch roof of the Bronson Centre (there being no public right of way space available at ground level as its all devoted to car worship). The residents of the ‘hood, taking refuge on the Bronson Centre’s roof, were installed this week. And lit up. Here’s some snaps of the action figures: As promised, sometimes the figures are all the same colour, as we come together. I think this is fun … Continue reading Lipstick on Pig improves looks

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

City sidewalks, pretty sidewalks …

  So, the picture isn’t of an Ottawa sidewalk. What are the clues? First, there is no snow. But there are people. Happy people. Sitting around with friends, drinking … alcoholic beverages ! The walking pedestrians have to share the space with others using the sidewalk as a living room. There is a [private] overhead roof. With fun lights. That someone could electrocute themselves on if they stuck a wet pole into the light socket. Oops, that last comment was my city bureaucrat bad doppelgänger coming out. Someone with a stroller would have to exercise some caution getting through the … Continue reading City sidewalks, pretty sidewalks …