Making pathways relevant to real life

Real life takes place on real streets. Bike paths, and walking paths, are secondary sorts of things, not for real living. So goes conventional thinking. And so goes Ottawa thinking.

Our city skips the idea of having street signs where the path goes by intersections. Why on earth would a cyclist want to know what that adjoining street is? S/he wouldn’t be actually going somewhere purposeful, maybe looking for an address?

The NCC does post some signage on their paths, expensively produced for quality graphic visuals, but alas, often lacking useful information or downright confusing, and subject to previous stories here.

The City has put up the first urban signage on the OTrain pathway when it opened last year. The signs are good, but are stuck on cheapo posts instead of the real sign posts like the city uses for motorists.


While “regular” street users get nicely mounted signs:

IMG_0534Sept 2013 020

The local BIA puts up signage to local destinations, but its primarily for “authentic ethnic flavour” rather than usefulness (and its not on the OTrain path, where businesses are nearby but not readily visible):


Guerilla urbanistas / moms put up some useful signs:



Which are useful without advertising a specific business:


At least one business thinks its patrons might come by foot or bike, and put up this sign (the sign has since disappeared):



We are still a long ways short of the real respect given to cycling and walking that I find in other cities. This City uses a nice sign post for the stop sign, and the street sign so path users know where they are:

IMG_0117Even better, this City  makes sure the path has the right of way over the main road through the community (note the stop sign for car traffic but not cyclists, the raised intersection, the nice landscaping and lighting):



This same town and real estate development sees trail users as a valuable market:



Is there ever anything so welcoming or respectful in Ottawa?



One thought on “Making pathways relevant to real life

  1. How about, we have hope ?!

    Over the years of reading your blog, which I do appreciate :), I would like to express my opinion… that pretty much… each issue about cycling safety could also be applied to wheelchair accessibility.

    With respect to road safety, wheelchair occupants are less agile than cyclists & pedestrians, yet have similar challenges with motorists. Even pedestrians ‘supposedly’ sharing the sidewalk with the disabled are so disrespectful of individuals in motorized devices.

    Since you are an advocate for a more kind & peaceable Ottawa for people to get about their daily lives, can my husband, wheelchair-bound, please be included too?

    Thank you for your consideration

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