VIA Rail, Climate Change, and Naiomi on a streetcar

Every time there is a new Liberal government in Ottawa, VIA Rail appears, exactly on schedule, to promote spending money   investing on a dedicated passenger rail network in The Corridor (Windsor-Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal-Quebec City, or some subset thereof). While the “solution” is always … Continue reading VIA Rail, Climate Change, and Naiomi on a streetcar

Bus stop; Bus stop, part v; what happens on the bus stays on the bus

Las Vegas is one big sprawling desert metropolis. Rapid transit such as LRT or subway is difficult to justify. Several monorail systems have been tried, but mostly they work to get riders from one casino to another of the same consortium, by-passing the casinos of competitors. And the routes go behind the buildings, away from the flashy strip where everyone wants to be. Casinos are all flash and fantasy; so is their rapid transit. If you can’t have trains, at least mock up the buses to look like trains. Funny thing is, just like the gaudy buildings are attractive (in … Continue reading Bus stop; Bus stop, part v; what happens on the bus stays on the bus

Bus stop; Bus stop, part iv: Seattle rapid transit bus stops

Seattle appeared to have local bus services (blue) as well as express ones (red) that ran with more limited stops between neighbourhoods.  These Rapid routes made it easier to go long distances in a very spread out city (remember, most of its growth has been in the automobile era, and thus is sprawly). The Rapid routes had their own bus stops, with distinctive red branding. Electronic boards informed passengers when the next buses would arrive, and their destinations. The yellow box on the post is a fare card reader. In Ottawa, we buy a certain amount of time on the … Continue reading Bus stop; Bus stop, part iv: Seattle rapid transit bus stops

Seeing Seattle (xi) sidewalks you’ll never see in Ottawa

the photo shows a generously wide sidewalk, interlock retaining wall, nice mulched bit of planting between the walkway and the road. Notice too how some surface treatment (sandblasting?) gave it an interesting pattern and texture. But there is something here that is extraordinary. there’s a pretty ordinary bike lane on the adjacent road. and a spot where the bike lane turns onto a bike path, crossing our sidewalk first. I;m not so sure I like the post, but it probably keeps motorists out. No, what is special can be seen in this picture: Look very carefully. Look at the left … Continue reading Seeing Seattle (xi) sidewalks you’ll never see in Ottawa

Seeing Seattle (ix) street paving you can’t have here

There are a variety of reasons to pave a street in something other than asphalt. Decorative paving, for example, highlights to drivers and pedestrians that we are in a special place. Take extra care. Regular readers of this site will have seen many such paving examples of certain blocks or even major intersections. And sometimes the paving is deliberately complex to increase uncertainty and blur the distinctions between different parts of the paved area. Right in the heart of downtown Seattle there was this paving pattern that covered sidewalks, corsswalks, roads, parking areas, intersections… [an area roughly akin to Rideau … Continue reading Seeing Seattle (ix) street paving you can’t have here

Seeing Seattle (ii) : When bike paths and pedestrians conflict

Of course we rented bikes. Gotta explore and check out their bike facilities. In the Green Lake area, we found ample evidence of cyclists and pedestrians — and dog walkers, joggers, and runners  — in conflict for limited space. This solution is pretty rational: it appears to be a bi-directional asphalt path and a flush concrete pedestrian sidewalk beside it (on both sides). But once the pedestrians and cyclists are separated, other issues of equity arise. Joggers go faster than walkers, the elderly, or people with strollers. Is this jogger going the right way being on the left sidewalk or should … Continue reading Seeing Seattle (ii) : When bike paths and pedestrians conflict

Seeing Seattle (iii): the Burke Gilman trail

The most famous bike path / trail in Seattle is the Burke Gilman trail.  It runs from Puget Sound (the Ocean) inland along the ship canal that connects to Lake Washington (fresh water) via the smaller Lake Union (half and half). The path then runs past the University of Washington campus (called “U Dub” by the locals. Dub is short for W. Now, in my old age, I know why the previous US president was nicknamed Dubya. It’s sort of scary to be 10 years out of date.) From the northern shores of Lake Washington, the trail runs forever to … Continue reading Seeing Seattle (iii): the Burke Gilman trail

Benchmarking Ottawa

Readers may have noticed I’ve been away for a while. I was in the American Pacific Northwest. And have tons of photos of intensification, sidewalks, streetscaping, traffic circles, transit, street painting, infills, bio-swales, bike lanes, bike paths, and just plain weird stuff. Since this is election time in municipal Ottawa, I’ll take the next few weeks to look at Seattle, Bellevue, some smaller towns on the Olympic Penninsula, and nirvana Portland. It’s both interesting to see how they do things, and of course compare them to what we get here. Of course the cities are bigger; the climate is different … Continue reading Benchmarking Ottawa