Urban Detail (iv) Better ped bridges

The simone de Beuavoir pedestrian/cyclist bridge is more properly termed a “passerelle” as it doesn’t carry motorized or heavy vehicles. It’s also stunningly beautiful and even more functional, in ways that manage to escape bridge builders in Ottawa.

Look again at this stylized sign for the passerelle:

Note that each bank of the Seine River is in three terraces, and one bridge manages to connect not just each level with its counterpart, but all three with each and every other level at the same time. Beautifully.

The bridge is constructed of two arches, an inverted one that extends from the top embankment and “sags” as it crosses the river; another arch that rises from the middle embankment to a highest point above the river. Where the two arches cross each other, they cojoin so that users can switch to the other arch and choose their destination.

The two lowest embankments, of the least demand,  are connected to the bridge by elevators and stairs.

As befitting Paris and France, the bridge was constructed by the Eiffel Company. Premade elsewhere and barged to the site, it was installed in just two hours in 2006.

It is 106m long, and 12m wide. The deck is made of user-friendly and sustainable light weight wood planks.

Just in case of a shower while crossing the passerelle, there is a sun and rain shelter at midpoint.

This view from a canal boat shows why the lowest embankment has the least demand, it is mostly a service level for the boat parking area. Although in the future, such valuable riverfront land will undoubtedly be given more popular uses.

Beautiful and functional, I was totally jealous of this bridge and its elegant landing on each shore, compared to the somewhat shoe-horned-in Corkstown bridge in Ottawa. Our bridge manages to bring the soaring over the canal experience to a jarring halt at each end where users are put in their place, reminded of the primacy of motorists and their wants.

I wonder if the crick-backed McFlora bridge near but not at Lansdowne will have a better sense of arrival.


There are lots of better pictures of the Simone de Beauvoir Passerelle on the internet.

Some other interesting ped bridges were previously described here



and someday I will get around to describing some of the ped-bike bridges I experienced in The Netherlands and Denmark. Someday.


3 thoughts on “Urban Detail (iv) Better ped bridges

  1. bad design for canadian winters or even for summer the middle of the bridge is going to be a swimming pool with water accumulation. cause here in canada we dont do anything right but we get billed premium prices. lol

    1. Summer isn’t a problem – there are gaps between the wooden planks for drainage. Though those same wooden planks would not be ideal for snowplowing.

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