Ottawa bike politics.
Parking near the west-end buildings on Laurier – just the facts
June 22, 2012Posted by on
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.
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.
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%.
|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.|
* 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?
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.
- The City of Ottawa Segregated Bicycle Lane Pilot – Final, Table 8.4 (page 74)
- City of Ottawa website – Changes to On-street Parking
- Report to Transportation Committee – January 11, 2012, Table 11
- Direct observation
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.
There’s always been a parkade here. It has several parking spots, presumably those are temporary and could be used for deliveries.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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|
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.
- Condos Ottawa
- Downtown Moves: Transforming Ottawa’s Streets – Interim Progress Report: May 22, 2012, p.146
- CMHC – Comparing Neighbourhoods
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:
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.
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.
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.