Pedestrians, dumb as posts



Ahh, spring thaw.

And the puddles are here.

Primarily located at crosswalks of course. They are of much less value elsewhere. The picture above isn’t unusual.

And here is a cheap plastic post used to separate people who drive at high speeds from people walking to the transit stops at the temporarily relocated LeBreton transit Station:


Salt and mud spray is the dejour fashion in Ottawa. I wonder if Nordstrom’s knows this cardinal rule of life in Canada’s Capital?

Presumably those cheap posts separating people who walk from people who drive were of some value, since many of them ended up in the ditch beside the roadway. Better a mangled post than a mangled pedestrian.

City engineer-types and their apologists tell us all, over and over, that the puddles at corners and crosswalks is caused by our severe climate, by freeze-thaw cycles, frost heave, by snow/ice banks, by God. But never by engineering design.

Of course, you and I know differently. The engineers insist on designing sidewalks so they are lowest where the cross side streets and driveways. Lower than road in fact. Water is known to flow to the lowest point. Puddles aren’t a flaw, an inadvertent by-product, puddles are a feature of  sidewalk design.

[to digress for a moment, the solution for all minor intersections is to simply leave the sidewalk at its above-the-curb level as it crosses the street, so people who drive in multiple horsepower vehicles could sort of, you know, drive up and over the sidewalk. The hump would be designed-in traffic calming. Sidewalks would be the driest part of the transportation system. Well, we can dream…]

So here’s another picture of flooded sidewalks at an intersection. This isn’t in Ottawa. It is, in fact, in a city where it NEVER snows. There is NEVER any frost. There are NEVER any snow and ice banks. And every crosswalk, every intersection, every major driveway, was similarly flooded. I know, I was walking, and my feet got wet.


Gee, engineers everywhere must use the same design manuals. The ones that treat people who walk with such contempt. We aren’t such special snowflakes after all.


7 thoughts on “Pedestrians, dumb as posts

  1. One of the major suggestions that resulted from the most recent Bronson Ave redesign committee meeting was raising all of the bike lanes to sidewalk level and having cars drive over the speed type-esque rise in the road. Not only does it force you to slow down, it also means bikes will avoid the dip in the road (and therefore the puddles).

    I really hope this suggestion is preserved in the design; it was one of my favourites.

  2. Isn’t one of the purposes of sidewalk design to allow use by people with wheelchairs? I thought that was why curbs were lowered at intersections rather than remaining above the roadway. Your post doesn’t mention this. My bigger peeve is definitely the spray from cars, facilitated by puddles in roads and the proximity of the road to the sidewalk (and drivers who don’t slow down or veer away from puddles when possible). On fast streets, don’t we deserve a margin to separate pedestrians from cars, or wider sidewalks?

    1. Sonja: a curb cut and depression is required because the sidewalk dips to meet the road; leaving the sidewalk raised doesn’t necessitate and sharp curb and step, rather the sidewalk continues across the sidestreet at the same level, in concrete, uninterrupted. Look at driveway, we used to dip the sidewalk at every driveway plus tilt it sideways, for the last decade we large got rid of the dip or roller coaster layout and leave the sidewalk flat. Its time to do the same thing for side streets. It would be 100% easier for wheelchairs and carriages as the sidewalk would be level, straight, and no curb nor any change in surface material.

      1. Okay, I didn’t understand your post when I first read it. Your proposal would mean cars would have to go up and over a raised ‘sidewalk’ as it crosses the street. This would work fine especially at intersections with stop signs. Love it.

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