Slow progress, but progress nonetheless

The wheels of local government grind slowly. Very slowly.

Very very slowly.

But they do grind along, and in the spirit of better late than never, both the NCC and City are currently engaged in pedestrian improvement actions that I heartily approve of.

First, consider Lincoln Fields transit station. [I note the City wants to drop the word Pasture from the Tunney’s moniker; can Fields be next?].  When the transitway was built thirty-odd years ago, pedestrian access was out to Carling Avenue. Pedestrians, after all, are only accessories to vehicular design.

In the City’s and NCC fantasy world, peds were to be happy to take a long circuitous route up a flight of stairs, walk half a kilometer (I exaggerate, but in stiffling heat it seems that far) out to Carling, and then along a walkway glued to the edge of the curb where traffic zooms by at 90 Kmh, cross several freeway-style ramp exits (just like Bronson near Carleton U, or Bank Street near Billings [Bridge, if that adjective hasn’t been dropped yet], these are dreadfully hazardous spaces for pedestrians and cyclists, but despite extensive road works along Carling being implemented right now, reshaping these ramps has to wait until someone young and pretty is killed) … to reach the retail mecca shopping centre or cluster of apartment buildings adjacent to the very transit station one started out from but “you can’t get there from here”.

Of course, peds made their own [unapproved] crossings and pathways through the fields to get to where they wanted.  But these were neither paved nor plowed, and crossing the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway was somewhat exciting hazardous.

So, thirty-some years after the transitway station was built, walkways are now under construction to connect directly to the apartments and shopping immediately west:

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I look forward to seeing if this is only a connection from the southbound platform, or if peds will be able to follow the direct route from the eastbound platform too. Presumably there are some signal changes in store for the area too, to make the crossing of the Expressway (and possibly the transitway too) safer.

If the City and NCC try to prevent people crossing from the eastbound platform to the new pathway … I predict widespread disobedience, transit cops with ticket pads, and eventually a bus or car will score a direct hit on a pedestrian. After a lot of paper pushing, then the crossing will be fixed. Maybe in 2043.

It is still too early to see if the connection will only be to the side gate of the apartment complex, or if it will be to the shopping centre too, currently hidden beyond a NCC fence.


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Meanwhile, in Westboro, on Scott Street, another set of improvements is underway to make ped access to the Westboro Station easier. I am delighted that 30 years post-construction the City is giving some thought to people actually accessing the station other than by transfers or car drop off.

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On the south side only, and only on a few selected blocks, ped walks are being installed now. These are designed to facilitate people walking to the transit station built in 1980-something (a tad slow, but progress is progress, and its a different era from when community associations actually opposed pedestrian connections and transit oriented development).

Recall that Scott  has some kind of mainstreet designation, so sidewalks and other pedestrian enhancements are part of a long term policy. This phase doesn’t include ped lighting, trees, or other mainstreet features, but does include  a few bulb outs to designate and protect 24-7 on-street parking for the merchants. I suspect the design didn’t get much community input,  because the layout is bare-bones and [thus far] unimaginative.

But progress is progress. This gives us some walks, some curbs, a permanency to the Scott road diet …

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The block in front of this apartment building was finished a few years ago, and gives a good clue as to improvement finishing the public realm makes. In some blocks, the bike lane has been painted from a former traffic lane, leaving an orphan 4′ lane along the curb to tempt parkers. We shall see how well the new design copes with the bike lane and if the City is constructing this to facilitate conversion back to a wider road.

Immediately west of the apartment shown above, a new low-ish rise office building is going up, which will finish another block. I am delighted to actually see low-rise transit oriented intensification in the city, but wonder why this station gets low rise when other areas are destined for ever-more-phallic condo towers.

Sometimes dealing with the City is one step forward, two steps back. The city favours the roller-coaster sidewalk design, but periodically installs a different design. Some of the new sidewalks on Bronson have a curb dip mostly off the well-trod walkway; and a few years ago Athlone got a new walk with a rolled curb, leaving the walkway wonderfully flat for its whole length. But on this project, the city has decided peds need a little excitement, and its back to the Ottawa’s Winter Wonderland coaster:

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No improvements are planned for the north side of Scott, where the shoulder of the road gets wider month by month. Surely this isn’t because the adjacent auto repair shops and used-car folks augment their private spaces by appropriating the north side of the roadway and the public greenspace corridor?

4 thoughts on “Slow progress, but progress nonetheless

  1. The crosswalk is only to the westbound platform. A suitably high pedestrian fencing system is planned to foil bad pedestrians from going east. I mean, who goes downtown, right?

  2. I can’t help but wonder if the Lincoln Fields improvement is part of an NCC strategy to claim that “we really do believe in pedestrian access, really, we do” because right now the NCC is looking like a bunch of hypocrites with respect to the Western LRT planning.

    On the one hand, they oppose any kind of surface LRT on the former CPR corridor next to the Parkway as it would supposedly inhibit pedestrian access to the river front, yet until now they have taken steps to inhibit that very access at Lincoln Fields, at Dominion (where the same signs against pedestrians crossing with the bus traffic lights exist) and at Churchill, where they tore out a level crossing several years ago.

  3. A street near me which received the more ped friendly sidewalks is a short section of Admiral between Anna and Crerar – rebuilt last year. It is much easier to walk (with a stroller) than the “normal” sidewalks. The same was done whilst rebuilding Holland north of Carling.

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