Scott Street interim alignment meeting Dec 11

Albert-Scott Interim alignment, west from Champagne Avenue Open house 11 Dec 2017 at Tom Brown arena, 6pm to 8.30pm This story is mostly aimed at those citizens who are keen on city planning and the details of what is planned … Continue reading Scott Street interim alignment meeting Dec 11

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

Bus stop Bus stop, part iii, LRT in Ottawa and Seattle, with videos

  I trotted off for an evening walk and ended up at Lansdowne Park and presto [pardon the pun] there was the new Confederation Otrain. Sort of. Inside it looked very familiar: The deja vu all over again feeling was partially due to a flood of memories of using the Seattle LRT last year. Although Seattle has Korean-made equipment. With that in mind, let’s peek into a Seattle downtown station.   Their downtown station is used by diesel buses and the LRT. In the pic above, note the [indoor] escalator; the electric pick up lines suspended a few inches below the … Continue reading Bus stop Bus stop, part iii, LRT in Ottawa and Seattle, with videos

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

Seeing Seattle (xiii): simple pleasures on the sidewalk

Expensive, “look at me” sidewalks pavers are fine for some selected special places. But most sidewalks are pretty humdrum things. Trod underfoot, usually cracked, always puddled at corners, and roller-coastered for your wintertime walking adventure. Sidewalks in Ottawa are the same as most other cities. Large poured concrete squares, about 5′ x 5′. You’d never know where you are by the looking at your feet. But Seattle had a distinctive concrete tooling, shown in the lead picture. Here’s a longer view: Sidewalks age over time, and decades on the sidewalk squares look like this: A few things really impressed me … Continue reading Seeing Seattle (xiii): simple pleasures on the sidewalk

Seeing Seattle (xii) parade of landscaped overpasses

Yesterday, we saw the “top” views of a landscaped overpass in Redmond, a suburb of Seattle. This landscaping is neither universal nor unique. But most impressively, along the I90 freeway, there were NINE overpasses in a row with luscious landscaping: Here’s some of the views from the freeway itself:   BTW, down the centre lanes of numerous freeways were transit priority lanes; stations were located in the centre median space either at freeway levels below the underpasses or sometimes transit vehicles had separate off ramps from the centre. You can see some of these features in the pictures here. In several … Continue reading Seeing Seattle (xii) parade of landscaped overpasses

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 (viii) Misc street observations

Visiting other cities reveals so many subtle differences in how something can be done. It breaks my assumptions — often implicit — that things “just are that way” as a matter of course.  So rather than look in depth at some significant urban planning diffences, which will be subject of future stories (drainage swales, bus stops, etc) lets look at a few miscellaneous differences. Here’s a few examples. Seattle’s Chinatown, being remonikered as the International District, seemed to have a heavy import-export-industrial flavour to it, rather than being a restaurant row. There was the requisite Chinatown Arch, albeit much more … Continue reading Seeing Seattle (viii) Misc street observations

Seeing Seattle (vii) Cultivating trees as if they were wanted

  The picture shows a typical older street. The walkway is set back from the vehicle curb. There is a row of trees planted between the walk and the curb. Between the trees is asphalt, concrete, or pavers. The trees are tolerated but paved surfaces dominate. This would still rate as excellent by Ottawa standards, should we be so lucky as to have a boulevard of trees on a street. Here’s a newer installation, in front of an infill midrise apartment. Here’s another:   Notice too the steel frame and glass panels that partially shelter the pedestrians from rain or … Continue reading Seeing Seattle (vii) Cultivating trees as if they were wanted

Seeing Seattle (iv): the Burke Gilman trail (the more urban bits)

As the Burke Gilman trail moves eastwards it approaches Fremont. First, it climbs some hills. Shown here, it sort of merges with a concrete sidewalk (note the sign, which I carefully cut off, with courtesy instructions):   This section had no yellow line:       the view from the hill was fine: Linkages to other loops and paths were marked out at various points:     We passed a chocolate factory with a sign telling people it wasn’t a retail store. Fortunately, that part was nearby, albeit not with the benefit of useful directions from the factory. Admire our … Continue reading Seeing Seattle (iv): the Burke Gilman trail (the more urban bits)

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