OTrain MUP’s muddy cousin

The City deserves congratulations and praise for its construction of the OTrain MUP running from the Ottawa River to Bayview Station to Somerset Street to Gladstone to Young. The path is wide and straight and well-landscaped. Alas, it may be months more before it is opened.

At its south end, Young Street, the new OTrain multi-user path joins the 1963 stone dust path that runs to Carling and then to the Prince of Wales. Here’s the joining point, looking from Young Street southwards:

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Until a few years ago the stonedust pathway was very usable, and attractive in the summer:


But the last few years have seen lots of City work crews using the path as a service road, a sort of Dark-inspired mews. The result is it is now a muddy mess:

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above: some damp zones are generously sized. The house on the left is boarded up. Taggart wants to build a 18 storey apartment building there; the City is considering nine stories, the neighbours of course want four or five.


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above: walking on the grass to skirt wet spots


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above: not quite the same standards as the new MUP

I listened carefully at the recent Citizens for Safe Cycling spring event for the NCC (who may own this section of right of way) to anounce they would rebuild the path to match the city’s section, but they didn’t. Nor did they promise any gravel or to top up the stonedust.

Inquiries to the city yield conflicting replies as to who owns the path, the City or the NCC. I do hope one of them can spot a few truck loads of stonedust to make the path a usable surface again. Hopefully without a few hundred thousand dollars of consulting reports beforehand, you know, to identify the problem, scope it out, consider alternatives, and recommend a course of action (which will include more consulting, of course).

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The stonedust path also crosses Beech Street in a most unfortunate alignment. There is of course no curb cut, why on earth would cyclists want one of those? Surely they would be overjoyed to hop off their bikes, carry them over the curb, walk across the street, lift over the curb, and cycle blissfully onwards? And detouring east on the sidewalk to the next curb cut dumps the cyclist on the road surface without a corresponding curb cut on the other side. Recipe for disaster.

Making a curb cut here should be an easy fix. But it isn’t. This is Ottawa. Apparently it is bad planning practice to “end” a MUP at a road without some sort of traffic control device. Has one been selected yet? Or budgeted for? Maybe a traffic signal for fifty or a hundred thou? After a needs study, of course. Until then, we can look forward to a sign advising cyclists to dismount and carry their steeds across the street. Or am I too pessimistic?

There are some other issues on this section of path. A short section is paved with a narrow asphalt footpath accessing the Carling OTrain Station. Oh oh: conflict ! There is no curb cut(s) or signals to cross Carling to get to the Prince of Wales. And no signal there either.

Somehow bike paths are becoming huge projects with road-like budgets. But not yet  built to road-like standards, since the new MUP is designed to have water drain over the top of the pathway rather than away from the path. Should be fun for fall-winter-spring cyclists.

12 thoughts on “OTrain MUP’s muddy cousin

  1. It is an embarassment that they can’t figure out who owns it. And with the Bixis arriving at Carling and Preston next week and another dock across street at Dow’s Lake… it’s going to be used heavily.

  2. What about my powerchair? No curb cut no go zone or parametics to put me back in my chair while tending to my injuries. Thank you to the powers that be. john woodhouse

  3. I use the path quite often and have often wondered about its abrupt end without a curb cut at Beech Street.

    The lack of clarity on ownership is truly bizarre – e.g. who brought the stonedust that was there before? – or did it just magically appear in pixie dust fashion?!

    1. The NCC used to own the path. They built it in 1963. It took the City half a century to build their half (the new MUP). There is still some NCC signage along it. A NCC type came to the MUP walkabouts and some of the meetings. Then came some questions. When the City bought the OTrain track, did they also buy this strip or is it a separate parcel? Does it fit into the NCC plans and priorities? Some at City Hall tell me the City definitely own it. Others say it is NCC. Hopefully one or the other will put done some stonedust. Note that the City paved the path around the Carling OTrain station, and snow plows it in the winter for station access.

  4. Eric, what makes you say that “it may be months” before the O-Train MUP is opened for use? The city’s website still states Spring 2013. Thanks!

    1. Spring ends June 20th, doesn’t it? That’s two and half months away. They still have some top soil to spread around, the lighting to get working (or turn on), they have to spray the surrounding soil with landscape grass seed, it looks to me like there are some shrub beds to put in, they have to built a handrail up the slope to Somerset; and along the top of the retaining wall at Bayview Station, and maybe above the steep slope just north of the Qway overpass, to pave the intersection of the MUP and the OTrain station pathway with distinctive texture pavement or cobbles, install the traffic lights and paint the cross walks (or hopefully, cross rides…) at Gladstone, insert bollards to keep cars off the MUP, hopefully remove the billboard at Gladstone or fix the platform that is at cyclist head-height, install glorious signage reminding users to share, be nice, moderate speed, and wipe your nose. Then there is the need for an official opening party, preferably when the trees and slopes have a greenish look rather than spindle sticks in mud.. And this doesn’t include stone dust along the south most section, or a curb cut at Beech. I think it will certainly take them right to June 20th, if not longer.

  5. Solution: Renegade stonedusting. I saw an earlier blog post about renegade flower planting…. get a few neighbours, get a dump truck full of stondust and some rakes… done.

    Ok the path is quite long, so maybe can’t fix the whole thing… but at least the trouble spots….

    if everybody wears a work vest, it will look like a normal work crew… except they’re actually getting something done…. so don’t work too efficiently.

  6. Matthew: it would definitely work. Ideally the NCC or City would simply dump some stonedust slowly out the back of a moving dumptruck, leaving it up to the volunteer followers to rake it and walk it flat. Should take all of two hours one saturday morning to do all of the path. No rollers, compactors, mini back hoes, or contractors required.
    Naaah, too easy.

  7. Definitely should be upgraded to paved. Perhaps the city is waiting until they can get some funds from one of the developers to upgrade it, A bit like a developer letting their property become an eyesore, if the city fails to maintain the stone dust, the developers will be practically begging the city to pave the path.

    Alternately perhaps the city doesn’t want to pave the MUP as they are planning to replace it with a vehicle friendly “pedestrian mews” instead.

  8. From a previous discussion with City staff about putting a curb cut at the end of a walkway from a park to the street, I understood this is indeed a no-no. A curb cut needs to align with a crossing mechanism: like a marked (designated) crosswalk. So in my case the users, including those using wheelchairs and scooters, have to make a sharp left turn, travel 2m, then use the adjacent driveway cut to cross the street. It is all about liability.

    1. There are plenty of curb cuts across a road on the NCC’s pathways. And a mini stop sign at each crossing. Does the City have higher standards?

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