The City has compromised on some Bronson issues.
They have agreed to remove their proposal to widen the street, which would have speeded up vehicular traffic while simultaneously making the corridor less cycling and pedestrian friendly and chopping off numerous front yards, church entries, and mature trees. In our opinion, it didn’t make the road any safer for motorists either.
I like to think it had a lot to do with people objecting. Rescue Bronson encouraged many people to have their say. This included residents, landlords, school principals, recreation coordinators, churches … and yup, we even got some of Ottawa’s condo developers to weigh in on Bronson and how it affects urban renewal.
But the “straw that broke the camel’s back” came from Ottawa Hydro. Many poles are very close to the road. Widening the road required moving them back. In some cases, such as the block immediately north of Somerset, the wiring almost touches the balconies of apartments built back in the 1950’s. Heritage high rises, if you will. The wiring in front of those buildings would have to be buried. Transformers would have to be located in vaults off the side streets, with ridiculous access problems.
So those big wooden poles which blight our streets while simultaneously protecting pedestrians from rampaging motorists have come to our rescue.
While this is a victory for Councillor Holmes and Rescue Bronson and local residents, there are several steps yet to come. The Somerset and Gladstone intersections remain unsafe for pedestrians, but they can be fixed if the city gets over its compulsive need to cater to motorists. The current proposed revisions to the intersections are a step in the right direction, but still way below potential. The Arlington intersection needs a pedestrian crossing, and we remain hopeful that we can attain that. It comes up before Transportation Committee in a week or so.
The job for local residents now is to ensure those intersections are improved for pedestrians, and to ensure that quality landscaping is actually designed and installed. These are not easy tasks, we will have to continue pushing the traffic engineers, educating them as to what constitutes good design in an urban environment.
But for now, savor the victory.