From time to time the city rebuilds residential streets. Loretta Avenue, which runs north-south between the Trillium Line tracks and Bayswater Avenue, is one such street.
It crosses Hickory, a busy east-west cycle and ped route, and crosses Laurel, which will become busier once the ped-cycle bridge gets built over the Trillium OTrain tracks. I don’t think either Laurel or Loretta themselves are yet busy cycling routes.
Here are the plans: http://kitchissippiward.ca/content/loretta-avenue-primary-design
I looked over the plans for the Loretta avenue rebuild and note:
- Somehow, despite bulb outs, pedestrian crossings are not always at the narrowest point of road, eg at Carling Avenue and some other crossings. They are, however, always at the lowest point of elevation, thus ensuring that they will puddle much of the year and make walking miserable.
- Other than at Carling, the crosswalks should be at sidewalk grade, no dip, and at the shortest crossing point.
- Sidewalks could be pushed away from being uptight flush to queuing traffic, in a more set back “protected intersection” design.
- Somehow, despite a rebuild, there are no pedestrian sidewalks on the east side of Loretta, north of the Qway. This continues the city’s current practice that “industrial areas” don’t need sidewalks, therefore must not have sidewalks.
- A number of those industrial sites are quasi-retail uses, eg the glass kiln, happy goat, art studios, kitchen reno showroom. But surely no one walks to them, so no sidewalk is necessary.
- And there are office spaces too, employing people, but I guess they are all expected to drive to work and avoid transit, especially at city-owned office sites with city employees (do office workers get free parking at the office?). Despite being within the 600 foot (metre?) catchment radius of two transit stations, using transit isn’t …
- Sidewalks should be installed on all blocks now. This should also improve the safety of the vehicular movements that cross the “curb” line anywhere and everywhere.
- The vague “cross anywhere” access/crossing of the curb has been regularized at the SE corner of Gladstone (Southam Design etc) , but not elsewhere. What was acceptable in 1940 is not best practice today.
- There is a new sidewalk on the south side of Laurel. Good.
Transit oriented development? Really?
- The new sidewalks are not just for current land uses. All the area on the east side of Loretta North is designated for intensification and mixed use or residential redevelopment, although with high parking requirements. If sidewalks are only to be built one redeveloped lot at a time, which is the city’s usual policy, then walkability is postponed for decades. Just ask those folks living on Champagne Avenue at Soho or Envie buildings with 100′ of curbside sidewalk unconnected to anything except mud.
- The bulb outs at busy cycling intersections like hickory will cause some cyclists to be upset as it forces them into a very tight squeeze (no one metre separation from vehicles) or to file with the vehicles.
- What riding advice will be promoted for bulb out locations?
- If mix with traffic, will this be simply “sharrows”, signage, or what? Does this encourage vulnerable road users to cycle? Does it frustrate speed-focused commuter cyclists?
- Has consideration been given to ride-over bulb outs, and how safely might they work here? Will the east-west cycling route on Hickory benefit from protected intersection designs?
- Has enough consideration been given at Laurel-Bayview intersection to the safe movement of children? It seems an odd intersection to skip concrete crossings and bulbouts, when it just beside a grade school. Or maybe everyone is supposed to bus it or be chauffeured.
- The intersection of Gladstone at Loretta marks a very long block from the signals at Bayswater to the signals at Preston. Downhill to boot. So in my experience traffic speeds up along here. This would have been a good opportunity to put in some traffic calming feature. Maybe even a centre line diversion.
- Or it may be that a proposed PXO at the Trillium cycle path will provide the necessary calming, should that be approved (different ward from the Loretta project).
Down the Drain
- A number of the catch basins are recessed under the pedestrian sidewalk. A primary feature of this design is that any snow or slush or ice blocks drainage, ensuring maximum on-street moisture retention to be splashed onto pedestrians, onto sidewalks to freeze as a glaze, and to puddle crosswalk locations. Cycling to the curbside of vehicles is rendered icy and dangerous.
- This design might work great in sunny Los Angeles, where the engineering manuals are written, but seems custom designed to discourage walking in Ottawa. Add in some sloped sidewalks at driveways and the discouragement is complete.
- There is some opportunity, provided the city is pushed hard, for the sidewalks to not slope at driveways where there is a brick median proposed between the sidewalk and curb. Rather, all the slope should occur in the median space. This goes against all the training of the design engineers and construction crews, who have spent decades catering to motorists who don’t want any “bump” at the sidewalk.
- Here is an example from Bronson Avenue, one with the whole sidewalk sloping, and one where the slope is only in the brick boulevard portion: