Any pedestrian in Ottawa recognizes the scene: melting snow puddles on the sidewalks, roads, and crosswalks. Such puddles are to be expected when the roads are old, breaking up, sagging, worn out.But the pic above is of a main street rebuilt … last year!
Why can’t our engineers get it right? Surely it isn’t rocket science to build crosswalks that drain to catch basins?
The answer lies in an equally predictable realm. The intersections are not designed for pedestrians, but for motorists. To build that concrete crosswalk one or two inches higher would ensure drainage, but then motorists would feel a slight bump as they go over it. What a disaster and inconvenience!
Traffic goes faster than we desire on our streets because we build them flatter, straighter, with wider sight lines that encourage speed. Then we complain about too much traffic going too fast. We cater to car traffic while simultaneously making pedestrian movements decidedly second class, even while claiming to pedestrianize a space.
The situation won’t change until people express a stronger demand for usable sidewalks and crosswalks. As a side benefit, they will be traffic calming too. It’s up to us to speak up.