Downtown Moves

The folks running the Downtown Moves study had an open house last evening. I was very pleased and surprised at the large turnout  around 6pm. Some attendees were the usual suspects we find at these events, ie the city builder activists and those promoting their favourite causes. There were a l0t of “new” faces as well. All good.

One of the display boards offered attendees the opportunity to put a dot on the main cycling and pedestrian problems in the core. Jumping right out at any viewer was the cluster of both ped and cyclist dots at the Albert-Bronson intersection, especially on the NW corner running to Commissioner Street.

In many respects the meeting was like a cocktail party (with the wine and snackies missing). Little clusters of conversation appeared and reappeared as people mingled. So many people were talking about “solutions” they saw elsewhere on their travels. When talking to HM, he described a truly transit-oriented development (TOD) he recently saw in Sweden. A ring road circles the residential area, and has access fingers penetrating — but not crossing — the central area. From anywhere in the residential area within the ring, residents can access schools, stores, and the transit station directly, without crossing a road. To use the car requires a trip out to the perimeter ring road, a longish drive around, and then finding fresh parking. It was simply easier to walk or cycle.

I compared this to the City’s concept sketch of a TOD immediately north of the Hurdman Station. The motorist road came into the neighborhood right by the transit station, and circled the site, but with buildings on both sides of the road. Residents coming or going to the transit station had to cross a road, sometimes twice or three times. Their walks home were glued to the curb. In short, it wasn’t transit-oriented at all, it was car-oriented but just located close by a transit station.

I find the approved  Bayview Yards redevelopment site similarly too auto-focussed despite the proximity for transit. Now maybe, as plans evolve, these layouts will become more TOD and might actually make the car the less-convenient choice. But Ottawa is still far short of being comfortable with or even conceiving of auto-free developments let alone transit-priority development patterns. We talk well, but don’t yet walk the talk.

Here are two pic from Vancouver, taken last week, showing the easy proximity of cycling and pedestrian facilities. Note, no curb separates the two surfaces, they are at the same level. Ottawan’s are still married to the bureaucratic view that there must be physical bounds between peds and cyclists, they cannot be trusted to get along together. Gotta have rules! Fences! Curbs! Signs! Policing!

Thanks to Michelle for both photos.





5 thoughts on “Downtown Moves

  1. Same in Barcelona, Spain, pedestrians and cyclists most often separated by a strip of paint, no curbs. Works for them too. We have not gotten hit by a bycicle once in 8 days being there 😉 However, their scooters is a different story 😉 Is there a speed limit on those things?

  2. Well considering the annual spring whingefest of letters-to-the-editor by pedestrians complaining about cyclists on the region’s “multi-use pathways”, I’d say that hoping pedestrians and cyclists can get along in pretty much the same space without some kind of physical separation is hoping for too much.

    I agree though on Ottawa’s lack of sense when it comes to “transit oriented”. In City of Ottawa parlance, something becomes “transit oriented” the moment it is “transit proximate” regardless of how oriented towards transit it actually is. For instance, the City of Ottawa recently finished building its new archives near Centrepointe. It will be next to a future extension of the Southwest Transitway. They could have pre-built the station and incorporated it into the Archives building by either building the lobby over the station or indeed the entire Archives over the station (imagine… planning for the future! breaking down silos between different arms of the City! saving money overall! making things better for all users! heresy!) but instead future visitors to the Archives arriving by transit will have to navigate out of the station and across some useless open space to get into the building. They’ll probably even find the nearest door locked shut. Maybe someday the Archives will put on an exhibit of transit planning failures in the City of Ottawa, with the prime example being the Archives itself.

  3. More stupidity: The Archives address is 100 Tallwood Dr., however, not only is there no street number on the building, there is no entrance on Tallwood. You have to drive (or walk or bike) to the back of the building where there is a parking lot.

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