Protect me from motorists? terrorists? whomever !

With the increasing popularity of vehicular homicide as a form of political expression, our public spaces have become less welcoming, forever. Which is of course how terrorists and political extremists win. Fortunately, the public memory is short, and decorative planters, bollards, and steps soon become part of the daily landscape as unquestioned as the lack of protection from motorists & terrorists was previously unchallenged.

Just how these protections work is important. They must be functional, first and foremost. A close second is inconspicuousness, blending into the urban landscape, so we don’t feel reminded by our governments that we are subject to attack. Ottawa City Hall installed these concrete jersey barriers to keep larger unwanted vehicles out of Dewar plaza:

They are probably temporary — although one can never be sure. Alas, they are more than conspicuous, they actually penalize people trying to use the plaza. The ratio of walk-through space to blocked-off space definitely favours the closed. The walk thru spaces are further encumbered by other bits of sidewalk “furniture” on the far side.

Here’s another view, taken by Hans Moor:

In contrast, look how Montreal used these barriers for a temporary street closure:

The barriers themselves are more people-sized. The ratio of openings to closed portions favours permeability, yet still functions to block larger vehicles.

For Ottawa to do the same would not cost more than Mayor Jim’s coffee budget. We’re just missing thinking about how it works for the pedestrians it is supposed to protect.


One thought on “Protect me from motorists? terrorists? whomever !

  1. They used the same jersey barriers in the same Montreal-style alignment at the last RedBlacks game to keep cars out of Lansdowne. It was very effective.

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