Ottawa’s streets and roads are mostly built on a grid pattern. This results in lots of ” + ” intersections, and also ” T ” intersections.
From time to time, city engineers tell me there is no such thing as a T intersection, they are all + intersections, legally. This means that the top side of the T in the intersection is also part of the intersection.
This legality is selectively ignored. For example, on numerous main streets and residential streets, where there are no traffic lights or painted crosswalks, people are free to park along the curb that runs across the top of the T in the intersection. This seems a reasonable provision for the convenience of motorists and land users.
But every once in while there comes a planner/engineer/official who is a stickler for the rules rather than logic. These dundridges insist that the top of the T is part of the intersection, resulting in stupidities like this:
It’s a signalized intersection, it is logical to require cars to obey the lights. It is also logical to not permit parking along the top of the T-curb shown above.
But why on earth is there a walk/don’t walk signal for pedestrians in the middle of a continuous sidewalk? (the land use to the right is a private car dealership/parking lot, not a street).
Does any pedestrian obey these signals? Of course not. But in a corporation that values obedience to rules over the ability to think …
I have seen other examples of this dumb planning in the City. Readers no doubt will have their favorite examples to share.
is was a similar always-ignored dumb set of signals at the T intersection of Preston and Albert. There was a service lane running north from the intersection, but it wasn’t a road, and was often gated or barricaded shut…
Nonetheless, when Preston was being rebuilt the city folks installed walk / don’t walk signals for the east-west MUP that runs along Albert. Of course, they were ignored.
Now the north side of the Preston-Albert intersection really is an intersection, albeit a private one with service vehicles accessing the LRT construction site. But after next year, it won’t be a road, again.
Will the City leave / install walk/don’t walk signals for the MUP again? Do they accomplish anything practical?
Shift your focus a bit further west, to the intersection of Merton-Scott. There didn’t used to be road on the north side … it was a plain T shaped intersection. Then it became a +. But next year it will become a T-shaped intersection again, although a service gate will be left as it is one of the places where road vehicles can gain access to the tracks and the track work looks to me to have provision for a permanent road-to-rail transition surface.
I think the City has two ways to design this north side “intersection”. It could leave the curbs in place like now, and install a fence on the north side of the MUP, this forcing pedestrians and cyclists into an “intersection”. It certainly looks to me that the this is what the engineers envision since there are so many concrete curbs and pads already installed.
Or, it could run the curb along Scott, with a curb dip to allow vehicles to approach the gate, just like any private driveway or ramp or commercial property. In this scenario, there would be no need for signals for folks on the MUP.
This is important for several reasons. Installing signals tells us that we design exclusively for motor vehicles first, and peds and cyclists are to be fitted into the resulting environment afterwards. If we design for peds and cyclists first, the value of a continuous MUP would be obvious.
Secondly, the access point to the LRT is at the bottom of hill. In both directions. So cyclists are always picking up downhill momentum approaching the point. Or preparing to pedal uphill. In both directions. Requiring them to stop is frustrating, especially since the access gate will be infrequently used.
If one ignores the signals while on the MUP (who pleads guilty? I do !) and the gate is closed and there are no vehicles present, then one is flaunting the law right in front of motorists dutifully (and necessarily…) stopped at the street intersection. [Yes, there might be a cyclists coming from Merton going to the join the MUP, but provided the MUP is set a certain distance back from the curb then it is not part of the intersection ( look, i’m pleading legalities here!).]
I gather there will be a public meeting in mid December at Tom Brown for residents to give input into the next facelift for Scott Street. In addition to putting cycle tracks on both sides of Holland at Scott intersection, you can also suggest that the MUP not be cyclis-interruptus at Merton and Preston.