The local community around Somerset Street had to push very hard to get a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly environment. The results, shown above, are extraordinary (by Ottawa’s low standards): wide walks, bike lanes, ped lighting, trees and shrubs in irrigated-planters where there is no dirt …
At the top of the bridge (or viaduct, to be accurate) there is a furnished belvedere. Right now the viewing point is a bit understated, but when the lines of 30-35 storey highrises already in the plans appear, there will be only one sight line to the north and south along the greenway corridor, right out to the Gatineau Hills. And this sight line is not protected in law, lacking a dead knee dipper such as Beechwood has.
So into this rather benign and low key environment, the City has decided to harden the structure against attacks on the underpassing OTrain corridor. I am unaware of any history of problems here.
Thus far the proposed designs “protect” the trains but leave the cyclists and walkers below (on the astonishingly successful OTrain pathway) vulnerable to whatever dangers the city envisions.
None of the proposed designs are thrilling improvements to the space. Tomorrow, I’ll suggest a more acceptable save-the-Otrain barrier.
The above arched-fence projects out from the bridge at an angle. It is made of chain link. The drawing is outrageously misleading, since chain link cannot be arched at the top, or even left unsupported, so the outer edge metal pipe has been conveniently dropped from the drawing.
The chain link is also shown as nearly invisible, when the most cursory observation of existing chain link installations will reveal that they are only semi-permeable when viewed at right-angles. For a fence parallel to the walkway, it will appear as a very visible mesh.
And those signs ! Are we to see the flying O logo of our fair city blazoned on every fence and railing in the city? If not, then why stick the advertising signing on this structure?
The next design is much uglier. It builds a large flat table or cage outwards from the viaduct, floored with chain link, supported by scaffolding posts, and having a high fence around it. The drawing charitably leaves out many of the posts and horizontal joists required to support the mesh.
The flat cage floor will attract and display litter, and challenges some people to climb out onto it. I can certainly foresee a certain appeal to lying face down on the mesh to watch the train skim by a few feet down.
The third choice offered by the City is some unspecified variation of this fence installed in Vancouver: (http://goo.gl/maps/n8GI6)
Ironically, the design doesn’t prevent dropping objects onto the tracks unless the bars of the fence are to be very close together. This appears more of a suicide-prevention fence than a safety-for-the-trains design.
It is worth noting that the City declined all attempts to improve the existing railing design when rebuilding Somerset just a few years ago. It cited the expense of any such railing, but seems to have forgotten that impediment now.
There is also the famous suicide fence on a Toronto viaduct to draw inspiration from, but that design is also rather obstructive and totally huge. And expensive.
Tomorrow: suggestions for a better design…
It would also be knice if konsultants could lern to spel the naame of the street kerrectly.