Road Diet Approved

Regular readers of WSA will be well aware of the community proposals for a Bronson “road diet”.

A road diet tries to fix urban arterial roads that were mis-widened to four lanes in the 60’s-80’s in a vain attempt to handle more traffic, but which blighted the neighborhoods along the road instead. A three lane configuration – one through lane in each direction, plus a two-way centre turn lane – can usually handle the same volume of traffic, safer.

The City’s contractors have managed to rule out a road diet on Bronson between Laurier and Gladstone. But the stink Rescue Bronson raised about the unsatisfactory four lane configuration resonated with a number of councillors and some people in the city planning and engineering staff. A list was produced of suitable four lane roads that might be subject to a road diet.

I had heart rumours previously that Scott Street might be a candidate for a road diet. A reader (thanks Chris!) tells me today that it appears Scott in the Holland area is being repainted in a three lane configuration with curbside bike lanes.

Does anyone know if this is Ottawa’s first implemented road diet??

Update: that a portion of Scott is going a road diet is confirmed. Exactly how much of Scott we still don’t know. Apparently, the road diet was suggested by the City cycling dept as a way of getting painted bike lanes on the sides of the street without widening it. And, the engineer in charge of the project agreed, with Councilor Hobbs’s encouragement and consent.

Kudos a very much deserved for Hobbs, our cycling dept under Robin Bennett, and the progessive engineer — C Duclos —  for the project.

Now, let’s try for some more …

16 thoughts on “Road Diet Approved

  1. Score! That’s a start at least. Now for Bronson.

    I can’t help but feel that there’s slow, but marked, progress being made in North America on the philosophical issues surrounding traffic. It’s starting to feel like they understand that you can’t widen roads infinitely… even if the general rule puts cars first over all other modes of transportation.

  2. I think Main Street in Old Ottawa East HAS to be on the list. It is a road that does not need 4 lanes, and would be immeasurably improved by wider sidewalks and more trees. Especially as they continue to intensify (which will accelerate with the proposed St. Paul’s development)

    1. No – there is no such thing as a “bike path” in Ottawa anymore. They’re all the so-called “multi-use pathways” (MUP). The one along Scott is in fact impossible to use legally for cyclists, since it directs cyclists into pedestrian crosswalks at cross streets. Moreover, Scott Street has no sidewalk on the north side either, so the path is the only realistic choice for pedestrians, making it even less usable for cyclists.

      In an ideal world, the entire Scott Street corridor would have been rebuilt from one side to the other to reduce the number of lanes, widen and add sidewalks, and build a dedicated Dutch-style bikeway with proper intersection treatments.

  3. I just saw the Scott Street lines (or dots) and while I am excited that anything is being done it really just looks like more of the same disconnected lanes that we see all over the place. The lines from Churchill east to Island Park do not look like bike lanes. On the north side of Scott cars are parked half in these lanes and the south side they are exposed to the parking lots of various businesses along Scott. From Island Park east to Holland they do, indeed, look like bike lanes but in usual Ottawa fashion they vanish east of Holland forcing you to ride that dangerous road or pop up onto the above noted MUP. So again we have a bike lane that is only useful for a short distance. It does have one useful purpose though and that it seems it may be a good connector if you head north on Island Park, swing east on Scott and then to Tunney’s Pasture. Perhaps that was it’s purpose.

  4. When the Ottawa Cycling Plan was up for approval in 2008, there was a map color-coded with timeframes for when certain cycling routes were to be implemented. Scott Street was in the longest-term range, along with all the other east-west routes in Kitchissippi ward. Councillor Leadman at the time had that changed and it’s good to see that it was implemented so soon!

  5. While I find this totally encouraging, I wonder how integrated any decision for a road diet on Scott Street is with the (over)abundant condo construction on Wellington/Richmond. With Somerset having been under construction now for months, Scott St. has proved to be one of the only escapes from the west end to downtown. With the exponential increase in residents that these condos and their “intensification” brings, I just hope that urban planning and transportation decisions are being made in tandem so that the right roads are being selected.

    1. Well, I think we should consider the need for a four lane road running directly alongside the Transitway – all that intensification is walking distance to a Transitway station. If we want to encourage increased usage of alternative modes of transportation, you cannot do this by maintaining or increasing the number of lanes (look at Vancouver which has reduced the amount of roadway leading downtown in the last 20 years with no net increase in congestion and a huge increase in transit/pedestrian/bike share)

  6. Great news indeed. Although it seems obvious that the interests of the families that live on Scott 24/7 trump those that race through for but fleeting moments to get from point a to point b, staff and politicians seem to favour the latter.

  7. The lines in all their glory are now on the entire length of this stretch, and the “road diet” strikes me more as road Bulimia: with bike and car lanes bingeing and purging in several chaotic ways along the length of Scott Street. I LOVE the small section between Island Park and Grange where the road offers decent bike lanes and 2+1 lanes for traffic. The problem is both transition zones West and especially East of the section – where four lanes merge into the 2+1 configuration. I’ve already seen cars swerve in confusion as they travel West through the transition zone.

    So I can see this being brought up in the future by car fans as an example of how bad road diets are for drivers / neighbourhoods / etc. – in the same way Kirkwood’s half- pregnant implementation of bump-outs and traffic calming measures were trotted out at public meetings to slam plans for proper urban street design along Wellington West.

    Why so messed up? Because doing it right takes vision – and the money to back it up.

  8. I really like the new road diet on Scott. The old road wasn’t really wide enough for 4 lanes, especially when they let the curb lane deteriorate so badly.
    I even saw a bicycle riding West on my drive home yesterday.
    I don’t like how the bike lane abruptly ends at Holland when riding east, but that seems to be the norm in the city.

    It looks like they’re about to finish the line painting from Island Park west to Clifton.

  9. I live along Scott street, and it remains to be seen if this will be helpful. This seems like putting the cart before the horse. We want less traffic, but we can’t simply will it to be so by removing access.

    This reminds me of the whole issue of turning left onto the Champlain bridge from the Parkway, eastbound. The lineup is so terribly long that some drivers bypass the left turn and do a U-turn on the other side of the intersection. What is actually needed is some sort of left-turn-lane widening and/or light sequence changes to allow more cars to pass, but what does the city do? They put a “No U-Turns 3-6pm” sign there, which doesn’t help ANYBODY. The honest people drive to the next intersection, and next time will join the people blocking the left lane while waiting to turn left. The dishonest people pretend they didn’t see the sign and U-turn anyways. Drivers who aren’t turning left are still placed in a dangerous situation when going through that intersection, regardless of the sign.

    I believe that trying a similarly-administrative solution to Scott street will fail.

    I fully agree that it would be nice to have fewer cars on the road, but restricting lanes isn’t going to help. It’s like treating blood pressure by constricting veins.

  10. We need a culture that respects the safety of people in the densely populated areas of town.The City should implement strict speed limits on streets in the core area and in densely populated neighbourhoods outside the core.This would encourage more people to walk and cycle, knowing they can do so in safety. All motorists would have to adjust their driving habits. Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians need to respect one another. Cyclists on recreational pathways should also be required to slow down so pedestrians are not run over by competitive cyclists. Everyone needs to slow down, share the roads and paths. We will have to accept that we cannot be racing around trying to make appointments or getting to work on time. This requires a major education campaign but the result would greatly improve the quality of city life. We have drivers and cyclists who think the roads are for their personal speeding pleasure. We have to stop all this racing around and it
    is up to the City to take the lead so that everyone can use the roads, paths and sidewalks safely.

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