Alex Bikes

Ottawa bike politics.

Parking near the west-end buildings on Laurier – just the facts

Introduction

There’s a lot of controversy about the Laurier segregated bike lane pilot around parking on the western part of the project. There’s a some loud voices who are concerned about the changes in access to parking and pick-up/drop-off areas. I’m not going to argue with that in this article. I’m just laying out the facts. Go draw your own conclusions, maybe I’ll do that in another article.

Executive summary

Here’s some highlights of what I’ve found:

  • The amount of legal on-street parking has been reduced in this two block area from 74 to 68 spaces, a reduction of 8.1%
  • Generally, on-street parking is further from the doors than it was before
  • Pick-up and drop-offs are all the same (and somewhat better with the Gloucester lane gone), and there are no obstaclesthat didn’t exist before.
  • Temporary parking required for deliveries for 570 and 556 Laurier is now further away on Gloucester, which is unsigned. Deliveries at the other addresses is unchanged.
  • Pick-up and drop-offs can no longer happen on Laurier unless they’re in the designated loading areas.
  • All 828 units on theses blocks has its own private spot.

The following are two summary maps that explain the parking situation before and after. This might make it easier to visualize what’s changed.

Map of parking spots around the west end part of Laurier Ave. before the introduction of the segregated bicycle lanes.

Map of parking spots around the west end part of Laurier Ave. after the introduction of the segregated bicycle lanes.

I’ll explain below a bit about how I collected this data.

1. On-street parking

This parking would be used primarily for guests of the residents. It has different constraints; some are limited by 2 hours, some are intended for overnight parking. There’s also seasonal access.

Here’s how spots were relocated. There’s a total of 6 fewer spots now; the total loss is 8.1%.

Location Before After Notes
Laurier, Bronson to Percy, both sides 13 0 Removed to make room for lanes.
Laurier, Percy to Bay, both sides 33 0 Removed to make room for lanes.
Gloucester, Bronson to Percy 10* 17* It seems these spots could have been added regardless of this project.
Gloucester, Percy to Bay 7* 20* Added by removing the bicycle lane on the north side. Also, the school drop-off zone makes it difficult to count spots.
Nepean, Bronson to Percy 6* 13* It seems these could have been added anyway.
Nepean, West of Percy 0 0 This is just a short dead-end street.
Bay between Laurier and Gloucester 0 3 These additions were not part of the original plan.
Percy, Laurier to Nepean 5 5 These are on the east side.
Ottawa Tech HS lot 0 10 These spots are closer to Slater than Laurier, and they are covered.
Total 74 68

* Both Nepean and Gloucester are hard to count as the spots aren’t always marked nor were there absolute numbers recorded before. So the estimates are based on how many cars we saw parked plus estimated available spots.

**Nepean deserves a special mention. We went onsite on Friday, June 22 and counted 17 cars parked between Bronson and Percy.  There’s a few reasons for this: it could be that some were parked illegally (particularly east of Percy), the space actually installed was larger than actually planned, and that more cars were able to be squeezed into the space available. However, to be conservative, I’ve stuck with the 13 spots planned. See how this isn’t so simple?

Nepean St. looking eastwards to the dead end east of Percy St.

But numbers aren’t everything, location matters also. For instance, the Ottawa Tech Highscool spots are particularly far. I haven’t done the numerical analysis of the distribution of walking distances. I suppose you could create two charts showing before and after scenarios, but I haven’t. But eyeballing it, I draw the following conclusions.

For addresses on Laurier, parking is now further from their front entrances. Many visitors will want to park close to the front entrance of the building. They might need to be buzzed in or don’t know how to access the building from other parts of the block. The ten spots on the Ottawa Tech HS property offset this a little.

For addresses on Laurier, parking at the back entrances is now closer. For 175 Bronson, 570 Laurier and 556 Laurier getting to the back doors on Gloucester might mean walking outdoors. Removing the old bike lane on Gloucester and replacing it with parking spots means 13 more spots right by the back entrance to 500/530 Laurier.

For addresses on Gloucester, there’s seven new spots at the front entrance.

Sources:

2. Access for pick-up, drop-off and deliveries

Here, I consider two use cases:
  • dropping someone off or picking someone up; you never need to leave your vehicle so you can use a stopping zone
  • making a delivery, which would require parking, being buzzed in, delivering the pizza/bouquet/whatever, then going down and driving away
There’s no address that has no pick-up or drop-off location at the front entrance. For 556 and 570 Laurier, temporary parking for deliveries is significantly further away.
These buildings all have secondary entrances. None of these have facilities so guests can be buzzed in, so the only entrances useful for visitors entering are the front ones which all face Laurier. However, it is conceivable that visitors could use a door closer to their parked car on exiting. That’d require signage, but it might be possible.
Really, the easiest way to understand these is to look at the photos taken. Click on them for a larger version. I consider these to be authoritative sources.
175 Bronson
There’s always been a parkade here. It has several parking spots, presumably those are temporary and could be used for deliveries.

This is the parkade in front of 175 Bronson. It has several temporary parking spots.

The only thing that’s changed is that you can’t use the Laurier stretch as a loading zone, but it probably wasn’t used that way anyway given the distance and elevation difference to the front door.
There’s never been anything on Gloucester here; too much space along the road is taken up by entrance ways.
570 Laurier
This building is awkwardly placed, as it borders only on Gloucester and Laurier and has no parkade.
The pick-up/drop-off area is directly at the front door on Laurier. You couldn’t legally park there before either, since the City of Ottawa bylaw says you can’t park within 3m of a hydrant (viewable in the photo).

This is the entrance directly in front of 570 Laurier. It has a smooth surface going directly from the street to the sidewalk.

If you wanted to do deliveries to this address, you’d have to park at one of the spots out back on Gloucester and walk to the front. I didn’t see any signage that explains how to do that.
556 Laurier
There’s a pick-up/drop-off zone directly in front of the front door here too. Again, you can’t leave your vehicle to buzz up and deliver the bouquet.

This is the drop-off/pick-up area in front of 556 Laurier. The lane has been raised so that there’s no drop off the sidewalk. But there is a drop-off now between the lane and the street (on the left).

The length of Percy is only somewhat useful here. There’s a side entrance and a dumpster that makes it impossible to park. There’s some confusion on whether it is okay to actually stop here, that seems to happen often.
If you wanted to make a delivery, you’d have to park on Gloucester and walk around to the front. Again, there’s no signage to explain that.
500/530 Laurier
There’s a delivery parkade that’s built into the building. Unfortunately, it is under construction this summer (between mid-April and mid-September 2012) which makes on-street loading zones more important. If it were running, there’d be the same facilities as there was before. It isn’t clear how many temporary spots there are (if any).

On the east side on Bay, there’s a small area that could be used as a loading zone. There’s a sign there that says “CAR WASH & MOVING AREA ONLY”. It seems to have a spot or two. I’m not sure if this really qualifies as a loading zone and if anyone could use it for deliveries. Note that it is also a significant distance to the front entrance, but presumably close to a side entrance.

This is the car wash/moving area on Bay for 500/530 Laurier. The car parked on the left doesn’t seem to be being washed. It seems impractical to use that vehicle for moving. The pink pavers probably aren’t really a spot.

There’s also a back entrance on Gloucester that didn’t exist before (as there was a bike lane on the north side of Gloucester). It seems to be used as a temporary entrance while the parkade is being built and is signed.  I don’t have a photo of this location.

3. Onsite, private parking

Each of the buildings has some form of private on-site parking that’s purchased with the units. So if you own a condo, you’re likely to own a spot. They’re not configured to be pooled. So if you own a spot and don’t use it, it ends up being wasted space.

It is also important to consider what private parking is available. This would generally be used by property owners or renters. It is worth noting that the average number of vehicles per household is more than 1.0; it could be that some residents normally use on-street parking for their vehicles.

Building Units Private parking spots
175 Bronson 129 373
570 Laurier 132
556 Laurier 112
530 Laurier 217 477
500 Laurier 238
Total 828 850

It would be interesting to know how many spots per resident there really are, but that’s hard to figure out. The average number of dwellers per unit in Ottawa is 2.4 in Centretown, but I don’t know if that’s for these residences.

Sources:

Summary

In all of this I’m only considering legal parking spots. Anecdotally, people are parking all the time on the northern parts of Percy and Bay, in the street and on the bike lane. And I’m pretty sure you’d find people making deliveries using the stopping-only spots, etc.

You can use these to counter some things that have been brought up. A summary of what’s been said is up at Citizen Cycle here. Clearly not all of it is true.

I genuinely want to make sure that I have the facts straight and I want to hear if I’m not stating them properly. But be sure to bring some sort of evidence and site sources.

(Photos by Alex deVries and Lana Stewart used with permission. Others contributed to this content.)

Updates and comments on feedback (August 31, 2012)

This section was added on August 31, 2012. I went through comments both emailed to me from Janine Hutt (chair of BBRAGFAR)  and in this pages comments section. This is a list of changes I made based on that feedback, plus some comments on what I’m not going to change and why. The document they sent me was about 9 pages; I’m not going to publish it here as it was sent to me directly. But I would if they said it was okay.

Absolute numbers of parking spots

BBRAGFAR had different numbers than me. Their counts differ from mine in the following ways:

  • they didn’t include the Ottawa Tech highschool spots because they said they weren’t yet available and quite far way
  • they disagreed with the numbers on Gloucester and Nepean; I’d said there was an increase of 27 spots, and they said an increase of 18. So we’re off by 9.
  • they didn’t include the new spots on Bay

I chose not to update my numbers above as there wasn’t any actual sourced reason for their numbers. I really need to see some sort of actual reference (some photos, a diagram showing position of spots, maybe a pointer to someone else’s map). I stand by my numbers until someone can provide a trustworthy reference to show how they’re wrong.

So if I calculate it properly, they count a loss from 74 to 46 spots, where as mine are a drop from 74 to 68.

Interpretation of portion of parking loss

I heard back from  BBRAGFAR that they thought my drop of 8% parking availability was in fact 61%. Of course, they’re using their above numbers of 46 current spots.

I’ll use my numbers to explain their method. They’re comparing number of new spots to number of spots lost, essentially only counting the moved spots. With my numbers, 46 spots were removed and 40 were added. Using their method, the loss is then (46-40)/46, so 15%.

They’re not counting the original number of spots, 28. I don’t think their interpretation of the numbers makes any sense. If I’m driving around looking for a spot, I don’t care (or know) if I’m using a spot that’s always been there or one that’s new. Parking contention is only going to come up when all 68 spots are full.

It took me awhile to explain the different interpretations of the numbers, I thought this chart might help:

This chart shows the number of spots before and after the installation of the Laurier bike lane. It also shows two different ways of interpreting the change. The first interpretation shows a loss of 6 of 74 spots (an 8% loss). The approach used by BBRAGFAR doesn’t include the 28 spots that haven’t moved, so a loss of 6 of 46 spots, so 13%. The method of calculation is used against my numbers, not theirs.

If we use the BBRAGFAR numbers (a loss of 46 spots, a gain of 28), then they come up with a 61% loss. But as I said, I don’t think their numbers are right.

Pick-up and Drop-off locations on Laurier

I maintain there’s three spots for the four addresses on Laurier that can be used for legal pick-ups, drop-offs or deliveries. I have photos of each of them on the blog.

The BBRAGFAR response is: “Legal pick-up and drop offs on Laurier are now non-existant between Bronson and Lyon since the SBL except in front of 556 and 570”. The two addresses they say are missing are 500/530 Laurier, which has always had a parkade.

I cannot understand their statement. There’s always been a parkade there that’s been used as for pick-ups and drop-offs. That’s what it was built for. There’s a photo above that shows it. Perhaps they see the lack of access because of the parkade’s construction this summer, but that’s not a result of the bike lane. I think there’s an expectation that the public street could be used for the 4-5 month construction of the condominium property.

Is the city responsible for providing room for pick-up/drop-off space during a private construction project? I don’t think so, but clearly others disagree.

Acceptable distance

One thing that came out is that there’s no definition of an acceptable distance to walk to a parking spot. That might seem obvious, but seems to be part of the problem in describing what should be counted or not.

Other changes

Based on feedback, I made the following smaller changes:

  • emphasized how hard it is to count spots on Gloucester and Nepean
  • explained that the Ottawa Tech spots are far away
  • explained that secondary entrances might not be helpful
  • made it clearer how private parking is allocated.

 

That’s it folks

I think I’m done with this topic. Unless something drastic happens, I’m unlikely to update this blog entry. I encourage readers to think for themselves based  on information they find, hopefully that’s here and my references are sufficient to make it reliable. If you use this information, I’d appreciate a reference.

Oh, and blogs are free. If you don’t like what’s here, go publish your own. Or just comment below.

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5 responses to “Parking near the west-end buildings on Laurier – just the facts

  1. Richard Asselin July 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    The real question is: how far from the front door can a street parking spot be and still qualify for “on street visitor parking”? Without an agreed number for that distance, any spot in the city will qualify. In my opinion, the spot should be within sight, or within a city block, that is about 150 meters. Once this number is agreed, we will be able to tell whether new parking spots on Gloucester, Nepean or Slater can be counted as valid replacement for the spots lost on Laurier.

    Despite your sincere efforts to be factual, there are several misleading details in your facts.

    In particular, the rear/side/secondary entrances of a condo cannot be used as an entry by a visitor. (This also applies to most residential houses)

    I would be please to take you on a tour of my building so that you can see for yourself.

  2. alexthepuffin July 28, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Richard, thanks for your comments.

    I agree that there needs to be a definition of what qualifies as space that’s close enough to be considered on-street parking. The study area I’m using is bound by Bronson, Laurier, Percy and Nepean. I chose that because that’s the section of Laurier with the most on-street parking removed. But it isn’t a circle (eg. Bay between Slater and Laurier isn’t included) either in as-the-crow-flies distance or walking string length.

    As I’d mentioned, the right way to deal with the variable definitions of acceptable distance is to come up with a distribution for the front entrance of each address and each parking spot. Drop that on a chart, and anyone can choose whatever section they want. I’ve done a fair amount of heavy lifting in all this, contributions of such a table are welcome.

    By using Google Maps to measure, I think the shortest distance between the front entrance of Queen Elizabeth Towers and the furthest parking spot (south side of Nepean, furthest west from Bay) is about 305m. The shortest distance for the return from the back door is 175m, for an average of 240m. Based on an average walking speed of 4.5km/hr, that’s 3m12s each way. I have no way to know the distribution of times taken for the on-property travel time (buzzing in, walking, waiting for the elevator, etc).

    I’ll also be clearer about that no entrance except the front can be used to buzz people in for any of the buildings. Am I right in thinking that rear or side entrances could be used for visitors to exit?

    I have some other comments by email, I’ll roll these changes up into an update to this article.

  3. Janine Hutt September 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Alex

    I believe I provided you with city parking maps for Gloucester and explanation of changes and exceptions. Unfortunately, in this update you continue to say that there are 17 parking spaces on Gloucester between Bronson and Percy. This is not even physically possible and the fact that you show some spaces on the north side of Gloucester between Bronson and Percy when there is no parking allowed on that side shows that you are using old or false information.

    Also, to state that there are 20 parking spaces on Gloucester between Percy and Bay is also amazing. Again, your new information shows parking on the south side of Gloucester between Percy and Bay when no parking is allowed at any time. Furthermore, there is no parking allowed during the day on half of the north side of the street which is a huge problem for daytime service providers and family members who need to drop in on family members.

    I understand that you are putting this blog to rest and that is fine. What I sent you regarding parking on Gloucester is accurate and my only suggestion is that if you really want to see for yourself the numbers I reported I would be happy to walk through them with you.

    It should also be noted that the 10 spots in the school parking lot are still not available 17 months since parking was removed from Laurier in May 2011.

    Alex, it is a fact that all kinds of numbers have been bandied about but for the thousands of residents in this area, it has been a real problem and not a war on cycling. We have made numerous proposals to address our problems without compromising the pilot project but each proposal was rebuffed.

    We are not interested in getting into a numbers argument and neither do we want this to be a war between cyclists and residents especially since a large number of residents are cyclists and we support cycling as an important mode of transportation. Unfortunately, the decision to put the SBL on Laurier was badly managed and thousands of people are paying the price.

    I reiterate, if you ever want to come by and walk through the area with me, I will be happy to do so. I truly believe it can result in a more informed dialogue and lead to better discussions and solutions down the road.

    Janine

  4. Alex deVries September 7, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Frankly, I’m confused with what parking numbers you see. Could you please break it down block-by-block, perhaps in the same format that I see? If you’ve drawn a map, I haven’t received it. I suggest you post it somewhere public.

    As for ‘not even physically possible’, that is provably false. Gloucester from Bronson to Bay is 113m long. Subtract out the 9m on each side, and you end up with 95m. The average parking space is 6.1m, so that’d mean you could physically get 15 spots on each side of the street. Yes, you can physically get 30 spots on Gloucester from Bronson to Bay. You said ‘physically’, not ‘legally’.

    I’m going through this research because I think the facts and numbers do matter. There’s been various claims:
    – “Not only were our buildings’ front entrances literally barricaded with concrete barriers…”
    – “Of the eight condominiums between Lyon Street and Bronson Avenue, four still do not have the legal right to (have residents’ cars) stop, let alone disembark, at their front entrance”
    – “we are the ones without any available parking.”

    (There’s a lot of other arguments presented I object to from other residents. The highlight is “A service for which we pay taxes was taken away from us for the sake of a few cyclists,” … but I thought I’d just stick to facts that are easily verifiable.)

    Perhaps readers of my blog will notice that I’m agreeing to the premise that there’s less nearby parking, and the parking is further away. I came to that conclusion by seeing the situation from the vantage point of the residents. I haven’t noticed any expressed opinion from BBRAGFAR that shows they understand cyclists. “Some of my best friends are cyclists” just doesn’t cut it.

    What would be refreshing is if BBRAGFAR spent some time considering the benefits to cyclists and society at large. What’s the increased adoption of cycling by having a contiguous route? What’s the frequency of dooring collisions? How has this changed the lives of cyclists? What are the taxpayer benefits to sustainable transportation?

    Also refreshing would be for BBRAGFAR to publish what their suggested solution is. Cancel the entire length of the lanes? Move it to another street, ignoring Appendix D?

    I’ve been around those blocks many times now. But I’m happy to meet with BBRAGFAR when I see some interest from them that they’ve considered other perspectives. But bring a bike, we’ll start with a ride through downtown…

  5. Alex deVries December 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Here’s something that’s changed: the parkade at 500/530 Laurier which has been under construction is open. I think that’s been the case since early November.

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