The Transportation Committee meet yesterday morning and I was there to speak on the funding of the Somerset multipurpose path underpass at the O-Train corridor. The motion passed, the tunnel will be installed later this year, although it won’t be opened because the City hasn’t yet funded any paths or access along the route. Presumably that will come later. I rejoice we got as much (as little?) as we did and am confident we will get the actual usable facility in the next few years.
The Committee then moved on to discuss King Edward Avenue. Essentially the Community there has been fighting for a “road diet”: reducing the over-sized road back to a slimmer, sleeker, healthier size. They managed to get the City study it, or rather, to hire consultants. And as we noted in this space just a few weeks ago, traffic is actually declining on the Mc-C Bridge but you’d be hard pressed to find that acknowledged. Our fair City’s traffic people simply cannot bring themselves to downsize the road, even with abundant evidence that the amount of pavement there simply isn’t needed.
As for our BIA’s … what can one say. Their pursuit of sacred parking is little short of suicidal. People don’t go to the Market because of the convenient parking. We have Loblaws for that. People go to the Market because it is a people place. Making the areas surrounding the Market more people-oriented is better, because then there will be more residents, and these residents will … shop at the Market.
I am delighted to notice Randall Denley’s column in today’s Citizen http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Transportation+committee+road+doing+nothing/4571571/story.html supports the right-sizing of King Edward, and correctly adopts the terminology of urban freeway foes by calling it a traffic sewer.
The Citizen was not nearly so supportive of our efforts to right-size that other traffic planning blight on the west side: Bronson Avenue. They sagely derided our efforts to get the City to examine Bronson for a road diet. In this case, the four lane stretch from Laurier to Gladstone could be reduced to two through lanes and a common left turn lane and still handle the declining traffic volume. There could also be additional turn lanes at major intersections.
After much nay-saying that it couldn’t possibly work, the City did permit the Engineers to run their traffic model with a road diet. Won’t work, came the quick answer. The Rescue Bronson community team requested a detailed briefing with the traffic model. Tinker, tinker … and lo and behold, the road can move the current volume post-diet. Hmm. Post-meeting, more private examination, and the Engineers decide it won’t work after all, they cannot figure out how to make the lanes align on each side of the intersections. “Whew,” they must have thought, “that was close”.
The mindset is still firmly entrenched in our traffic department that the main function of public space is the movement and storage of as many cars as possible. Leftover spaces unsuited for this can be relegated to pedestrians. Any really odd spaces can be planted. Maybe. (One of the terrifying experiences on the Bronson exercise was their landscape architect who started out by identifying the old trees that had to be REMOVED because they were too close to the sidewalk or “blocked the sight triangle”.)
Denley’s article is worth reading. My conclusion: the City can be forced to look at road diets but can’t be forced to go on one. Yet. Our traffic-clogged arteries will be right-sized someday. Right after that next road widening, and the next, and the next….