As promised by the City, the extension of the Trillium (OTrain) pathway from Young to Carling Avenue is essentially complete. I think it is wonderful. Multi-user pathways (MUP’s) get better with every new build.
The most significant new feature for a MUP is a physical separation of people who cycle from people who walk, or animals who walk their humans. The bike path portion remains full width; the pedestrian portion is additional, bonus width. There is a very low curb between the two paths to separate them. The lowness of the curb prevents a pedal from getting caught.
The separated portion runs from Beech to Carling, where the highest volumes of pedestrian traffic is expected. There is an OTrain Trillium Line rapid transit station at the Carling intersection.
At the station, there are a variety of movements possible, and some mixed traffic is to be expected on all surfaces. Pedestrians accessing the station may cross the bike path to go east or west on Carling Avenue sidewalks. Cyclists accessing the station staircase or elevator lobby must cross the pedestrian pathway. The Hickory-Adeline bridge (not yet given a name) offers a variety of manoeuvres when users meet or cross the pathways (pictures to follow).
First, the Carling intersection:
The median in Carling Avenue has been broken to permit flat crossing to the south side of Carling. This opening is big enough to attract U-turns from cars, so I hope something is planned for this space. Pedestrian and cyclist signals have been installed. They are push-button activated for pedestrian and cyclist crossings. This segment of pathway is City-built and maintained on NCC land.
On the south side of Carling, a short segment of separated pathway has been paved to make for consistent intersection approaches. It separated pedestrians from cyclists, pathway users from the Carling sidewalk users. The NCC is responsible for extending the paved pathway further south (someday) but for now the old narrow stonedust trail remains.
I’m unsure just how users will choose to travel once they reach the south side. Will they follow the stonedust trail? Ride on the sidewalk to Preston and thence Commissioners’ Park or the QE Driveway pathway? Or go diagonally overland through the nearby parking lot to get to the intersection of Preston-QEW-Prince of Wales? The answer should be obvious by mid summer 2016.
The pathway right of way is also much wider at the Carling end, when the NCC reclaimed land it has previously leased to Dow Honda.
Switching now to the other end of the extension, the path begins at Young Street, where the first phase of the pathway ended. PAC members asked that the intersection of this bridge be reformatted a bit to look and function like the Adeline-Hickory bridge, for reasons of consistency, but the City declined. The new pathway simply takes off where the old one ended.
Alas, the joint between the two isn’t exactly smooth or seamless, a common enough feature of many two phase projects where paths don’t align well (path by the Tailrace, ORP at Champlain Bridge, etc):
The pathways follow Ottawa and NCC practice of being “integrated” into the landscape. What this means is water drains downhill over the top of the paths, not intercepted by a ditch, swale, or gradient that directs the water away from the path. (The depth of pipes required to do this, plus cost, is cited as the reason, plus the NCC likes the “smooth” look). There isn’t yet enough concern about runoff freezing to frost or ice on the pathways in winter or the shoulder seasons, or about the mortality rate of earthworms:
The pathway from Young to Beech is a standard MUP width and layout. Users are expected to share the path on an informal basis. As the path approaches Beech, a pedestrian portion begins with a taper. This separates the cyclists and walkers at the crossing ahead …
and prepares them for the fully separated paths south of Beech
The crossing is unsignalized, therefore no painted crosswalk or crossride. The sidewalk dips slightly for the crossing. The asphalt road and path surface is raised, which may slow vehicular cross traffic. It certainly makes for a pleasant walk or ride, once past those P-gates:
The city planning dept had been very reluctant to include this raised intersection, but I am delighted it found its way into the final design.
The new pathway passes the stub ends of several streets. How to connect the street and sidewalk to pathway is a problem. Connect the path to the sidewalks … and it seems to encourage cycling on sidewalks. To the road .. and then what of pedestrians? And the grade difference between the former rail bed that was the old pathway was several feet in some places, raising slope issues, universal access problems, etc. The solution was to reduce the height of the entire pathway by 18-24″ so it approximates the road elevations.
Landscaping is to be installed in spring, 2016. It will probably include large rocks as bollards and seating areas. Sidewalks may be connected to the pathway, provided some budget was found to pay for that, and possibly cyclists will cycle between the rocks/bollards to the street asphalt.
At the Hickory-Adeline bridge, the elevation problem was more difficult, because the new bridge aligned with the former rail bed elevation, which is about 2′ above Adeline Street. And the design had to slow (cyclist) traffic for the intersection of the two pathway elements.
As shown below, arrivals from the Hickory-Adeline bridge intersect with the pathway. There is a curb depression. There is a stair on the east side down a few steps to the Adeline level. It is currently blocked off for the winter as stair maintenance is not planned. The paths, however, will be plowed.
Just south of the intersection, another curb cut, and a multi-user ramp goes down to the street level. I am not a fan of those hefty rocks between paved surfaces, I think bricks would have been safer and more stable.
The curb treatment for the Adeline Street stub end is .. curious. Despite the cyclist-priority lane painting, the sign on the right still permits curbside parking on the lane. Presumably this is still a work in progress and further evaluation will be needed to see if actually works well.
The elevation difference of Adeline to the pathways and the bridge is more obvious in this picture taken from Preston looking west:
The pathway is not yet complete. Landscaping, dealing with adjacent streets, and evaluating how people use the pathway will be required.
There will always be some potential conflict where different users share a path, or at intersections of parallel walking and cycling surfaces. Nonetheless, this path takes network connectivity to a new level, separates pedestrians from cyclists, and meets a number of needs.
I think it is very well done.