Ottawa Thinking gives us Elgin 1.2

Down in the Big Apple, the City has completed the pedestrianization of the southern half of Times Square 2.0. The more famous northern half was already done and got world wide publicity.

Predictions of carmageddon, as usual, did not materialize. Businesses did not need “going out of business” sales. Shockingly, people flocked to the area, property values went up, vacancy rates went down, and visitor satisfaction skyrocketed.

The area now has quality “flat” pavement from storefront to storefront across the whole public space, no curbs or barriers. Over 500 lineal feet of benches were placed to encourage people to linger. Note the fine civil-servant quality individuals actually seated in public:

Pedestrian injuries decreased by 40%

Vehicle accidents decreased by 15%

Crime decreased 20%

Air pollution decreased by up to 60%

Subjective safety increased by 80%.

Presumably the road space near Times Square, surrounded by 20 million residents, was of considerable value. As were the parking spaces and loading spaces. Presumably of equal or greater value than Ottawa’s.

New York obviously cares about the quality of public spaces for its residents and for the visitor experience.

With such well-publicized success stories to draw upon, Ottawa has redesigned Elgin Street for reconstruction next year. What lies ahead for locals and visitors to the Sens Mile??

Elgin will lose 32 on-street parking spaces, but the remaining 90 are to be available 24/7 instead of being sacrificed to the needs of commuters at rush hours.

Those parking spaces will be paved like the sidewalk, raised like the sidewalk, and “share space” with the sidewalk. Elgin 1.2 will imaginatively have two incompatible uses sharing one space at the same moment in time. Ottawa has innovation guts.

Look at the exciting, active Elgin Street of the Future:

All those tables and chairs are on the parking spaces. And just who provided them? They aren’t fenced off per our patio rules. Is anyone drinking beer? In a City picture?

And those shoppers on the right sidewalk … are they  walking through parked cars?

What would this photo look like with cars bumper to bumper where the beer tables are, and filling the parking spaces on the right side too, and a local patio extending over the wheelchair leaving a whole but guaranteed 5′ clear walking zone?

We will move closer to our Vision Lesser collision and injury goals with those Huge Sharrows that are sure to impress.

And a number of intersections will be “raised”. The raise is supposed to slow traffic, but the slope has to be very very very gentle so as to not jar the standees on the overcrowded buses. At least the raised crosswalks will drain better in winter, right? We are, after all, using the same design as Queen at Bank:

On our new wonder intersections, raised crosswalks are still the lowest point of the intersection. I wonder if Times Square raised crosswalks drain any better?

New York gets Times Square 2.0.

Ottawa gets Elgin Street 1.2.


You can read more of Times Square and the opportunities seized by Ottawa at


3 thoughts on “Ottawa Thinking gives us Elgin 1.2

  1. If Elgin Street was transformed into a vehicle free zone, think of how much longer it would take for all the people who report to work at 110 Laurier Avenue West to get home at the end of each day.

    1. like when the city “lost” some parking spaces at Constellation Drive and replaced them with spaces at Scott Arena, staff simply took the increased walking time as paid hours, not after work time, according to my source who works there.

      1. Constellation Drive is in my stomping grounds. City staff regularly park in the nearby private parking lots (condo and commercial) and on side streets. Part way through each morning and each afternoon there is a choreographed movement of vehicles shifting parking spots, to avoid tickets – all on the city dime.

        Less than 20% of city staff arrive at Constellation and Ben Franklin Place by not personal vehicle (i.e. by public transit, bicycle, walking). Both buildings are within a couple hundred metres of Baseline Station.

        The city talks the talk, but its staff doesn’t walk the walk. Apparently culture change is for the rest of us.

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