People who walk or cycle want infrastructure improvements. Fortunately these improvements are cheap compared to facilities for people who drive motor cars. More cycling and pedestrian infrastructure isn’t an extravagance or luxury in a city budget, it’s a bargain.
Repeat: people who walk or cycle are cheap dates.
Pretty much all residential streets in the US and Canada built since the 1940’s lack facilities for people who walk. We just decided to ignore them and their needs in favour of people who drive cars. In the west side of Ottawa, this is generally true anywhere west of Churchill Avenue.
Now look at the picture above. Your first reaction might be to snicker. What a poor “sidewalk”, just painting a line down the street. But it is better than nothing, which is what Ottawa does.
Funny enough, I felt much more subjectively safe and comfortable walking on this pedestrian lane than I did walking on the even-less-traffic sidestreets off this collector, which didn’t have even the line. And one big reason is that there is no parking permitted “on the sidewalk” or on the cycling lane. Repeat: No Parking. The black and white diamond marks this as a “priority lane” which means really high tickets / fines for people who violate the law.
Ottawa has abundant streets designated as cycling routes, but other than putting up directional signs, does nothing to actually encourage cycling or make it a better or safer experience. People who drive cars park along the roads. People who walk or bike have to weave around them (traffic engineers caution against weaving … but what’s the choice? Walk down the centre of Roosevelt?)
Actually the situation shown above is a great role model for Ottawa. Make facilities designated for people who ride bikes better than the alternative “regular” streets which are designed only for people who drive cars. Le’s start with Armstrong and Roosevelt and all those other west side streets that are designated for people who cycle: remove parking on both sides of the street. Yup, people will have to park on adjacent streets or in their driveways. Later we can address the doomed-to-be-ignored stop signs.
And on the collector residential streets that don’t have a safe place to walk for people who want to walk, let’s start painting some sidewalks right onto the street.
If you go back to the look closely at the picture above, the municipality didn’t even put up a new sign for this facility for people who walk and people who bike. They just put new stickers over the old 25 MPH speed sign. Cheap date indeed.
Note: the city with the painted facility shown above saved the cost of installing concrete sidewalks, and saved aggravating homeowners who hold lawns and driveways sacred. The narrower lanes for people who drive cars possibly yields some traffic calming. What a collection of winning features!