When Opportunity knocks …

Am I paranormal? Do I see opportunities where others (for eg, the City) see nothing? Are the skeptics about government right when they charge it cannot miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity?

In the three short weeks since I cycled along the Prince of Wales road running south from Dows Lake, the City has installed a new sidewalk:

This is commendably fast work. And it replaces a decrepit narrow asphalt “sidewalk” that was little more than a paved ditch bottom, easily mistaken for a paved drainage swale.

Except the new, wider, concrete sidewalk is in the same location. Note in the picture above how all the rainwater and slush and snowmelt from the road drains down, uninterrupted, to the sidewalk. And all the water runoff from the farm-fields-cum-civic-hospital-campus, drain down to the same swale  sidewalk.  Only some sections on the most uphill part, closer to the traffic circle at the Farm, actually drain off the sidewalk into some hedgerow. But all the road crap also drains over the sidewalk to get to that same ditch. But then, why would anyone go for a walk when it rains, or has rained, or snowed, or melted, or was winter?


But wait, that’s not all folks ! Not only has the sidewalk been thrown into the ditch, but some of the city’s famous roller-coaster features have been installed, with a vengeance. Here is the segment at the north end, where the former entrance to the Sir John Carling building used to be, and traffic lights linger on:

That 30′ of raised sidewalk just might stay unflooded, but as for the rest of the sidewalk it’s obviously depressed.

After navigating the camel hump start to the ditch / sidewalk shared space, the concrete repeats this roller coaster design near the turning circle itself:

Off to the left of the above pic, the new concrete sidewalk joins the existing asphalt sidewalk at the circle, which itself was most curiously designed a few years ago.

So, the city did avail itself of the opportunity to repave a ditch, and call it a sidewalk. So why do I accuse the city of missing an opportunity?

Look at this map, with some major cycling pathways and MUPs shown in blue:

A number of pathways from the downtown meet in the commuter parking lot by Dows Lake. The make pleasant recreational circuits, and the Trillium route in particular is very popular with commuter cyclists. From the Dows Lake end of that path, one can continue south to Carleton U, or on to Mooney’s Bay land. And by using the rather pleasant Farm roads, can get south and west quite nicely too (Carling Avenue is best avoided by cyclists who wish to see tomorrow).

But note the missing cycling link, from Dows Lake up the hill along Prince of Wales to the turning circle, shown in red. Such a short distance, but such a valuable link. Right now cyclists use a paved shoulder cum painted cycle lane.

Why didn’t the City build their preferred model of active transportation infrastructure in this segment abutting the new hospital, ie curb, raised cycle track, sidewalk? Of course it would have cost more, and also delivered  hugely more value. You know, real increased urban transportation options.


Maybe McKenna should ask for her money back?

4 thoughts on “When Opportunity knocks …

  1. If our namby pamby mayor wants to always keep tax increases below 2% then you will always get less than 2% optimal municipal vision. Maybe a 2.2% raise would make a huge difference with out too much pain? Anyway we’ll have to wait until Auntie Jim’s next term is over for someone serious to run against him. He’s in his glory days now with the LRT about to start next year. The city missed the boat when Alex Munter was cheated out of a victory.

  2. Amazon Understands Your Value Proposition re Urban Areas

    Sent the following via email but realize the current post also speaks to the same topic.



    Your name was mentioned in the retweet by a local planner who follows you. I am not a twitterphile so not sure what this may mean apart from the fact the arguments you make for urban walkabilty have Amazon’s endorsement.

    Kudos for all your hard work. The cubicle denizens down at city hall may learn to appreciate your being ahead of the curve.


  3. Would that not be NCC land and could that have prevented widening to install a bike path? Still doesn’t explain the lousy configuration of the sidewalk. By the way, your map is missing the Churchill bike lanes.

  4. your map is missing the bike path through the farm that continues on west past Merivale to Maitland then on to Woodroffe where it connects to the Pinecrest Creek pathway. This short section on POW would be a great link for that pathway, as you say.

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