Alex Bikes

Ottawa bike politics.

Category Archives: Bronson

The Bronson changes explained

Tonight, there’s going to be an open house at Carleton University to talk about proposed changes to Bronson Ave. If you can’t come, or you want it explained in a different way, look at the diagrams below.

The problem is that cyclists choose to take a route that’s dangerous. Why? Because the alternatives are simply terrible. 

Here’s some details that I expect to see, based on my participation at a few related advisory committee meetings. The response to the situation from the city is remarkable. Read about it at my last post.

Here’s the situation for northbound bicycle traffic today:

This is the routing that people use today. This is in no way a recommendation to do this.

This is the routing that people use today. This is in no way a recommendation to do this.

This is dangerous. The facilities encourage bad behaviour.

The primary problem to deal with is how to separate cyclists from fast motor vehicles. Here’s a summary of the changes proposed:

New facilities for Bronson

New facilities for Bronson

Here’s the routing that will be proposed for cyclists:

Bronson - new routes
When? I think rolled out over the coming years.






How the city’s attitude about Bronson has changed

Bronson speed limit

(This is part of a series on articles on Bronson. Friday, read about how the posted speed limits are wrong.)

They’ve done a U-turn. The city identified problems on Bronson in 2006 and ignored most of the recommendations in an unreleased report (until now). The changes didn’t do anything to deal with problems like speed. But their response after a recent tragedy is remarkable.

The death of cyclist Krista Johnson in October, 2012 drew attention to the traffic problems on Bronson between the Rideau River and Holmwood. Most of it pertains to speed, but some is also the lack of facilities for cyclists.

In relatively short order, with Councillor Chernushenko’s help, the city put together a group of city engineers, planners and affected community groups (I sit on both the GCA-TC and the board of Citizens for Safe Cycling). This is the only time I’ve been invited to a committee formed as a result of a fatality. The response of the city was phenomenal. Finally, we can see the city doing something progressive which prioritizes sustainable transportation.

In our second meeting a couple of weeks ago we were shown some ideas of what the city is thinking.  I don’t feel right in sharing their draft diagrams, but here’s a taste:

  • cross-rides across Bronson at Brewer Way
  • creation of a bi-directional path on the west side of Bronson
  • signalled crossing across Bronson for cyclists and pedestrians, just south of the Canal bridge
  • removal of turning lanes to make space for separated bike lanes over the bridge
This shows what a cross ride might look like, where the intersection of the pedestrian path from Carleton crosses Bronson to meet up with Brewer Way.

This shows what a cross ride might look like, where the intersection of the pedestrian path from Carleton crosses Bronson to meet up with Brewer Way.

I blogged about some of my own ideas a few months ago.

I have a set of concerns, mostly that the intent is about separation, not about reducing speed. But it’s probably better to wait to see what they present to the public.

Here’s the details of the open house:

Bronson Operational and Safety Review Open House

February 27th, 6:30-8:30pm

4th floor of the University Centre at Carleton University

If you’re interested in cycling safety, I do hope you can come. You might be surprised.

But the history is miserable…

The city knew there were speed problems where the death occurred and studied what to do. They ignored most of the report, and the speed never changed. That report has never been put online, until now.

In 2006, Syntectics Transportation Consultants was retained to prepare an In-Service Road Safety Review (ISSR). They focused on four problems:

  1. Excessive speed
  2. Rear-end collisions at signalized intersections
  3. Pedestrians and cyclists displaying unsafe behaviour
  4. Road configurations for on- and off-ramps of Colonel By Drive

Here’s an overview of the recommendations of the report and what they chose to implement when they were doing construction around 2009:

Title Recommendation Implemented?
Road changes to reduce speed At the north end, create gateway features such as pedestrian refuges or surface treatment to visually highlight any change in conditions No
Complete the curb-and-gutter installation on the east side of Bronson Yes
Reduce lane widths No
Short-term (2006-2009): construct a landscaping barrier on the median No
Long term (beyond 2009): Landscape the corridor boulevards and/or fence lines to provide a more urban atmosphere. No
Pedestrian signals at Brewer Way Short term (2006-2009): Adjust timing of flashers northbound approaching Brewer Way Unclear
Long term (beyond 2009): After speeds are lowered, remove flashers northbound approaching Brewer Way. No
New pedestrian countdown signals Yes, installed in 2008
Relocate northbound transit stop from the south side of Brewer Way to the north side (if consistent with City policy) Staff were to have discussions with OC Transpo with regards to implementing this measure.
Reflective bollards across the entrance near Brewer Way to further convey that access is provided by cyclists/pedestrians only. No
Change posted speed After first round of changes, post 60km/hr speed zone midway of Rideau River Bridge No
After it has been shown that speed has been lowered, post a 50km/h speed sign midpoint of the Rideau River Bridge. No
Pedestrian/Cyclist Education Co-ordinate an ongoing pedestrian/cyclist education campaign with Carleton University No evidence
Request high-profile police enforcement targeting violations by pedestrians/cyclists at Bronson Avenue and Brewer Way No evidence
Pedestrian Facilities Construct paved paths on the west side of Bronson Yes
Construct concrete sidewalks to connect path from Carleton University to other sidewalks. No
Traffic Controls Improve legibility and placement of guide and information signs No
Post a “No Stopping” zone throughout the study area Yes
Improvements to Colonel By ramps Designate the northbound curb lane N of Sunnyside / Campus Ave as right turn lane. Yes
Extend the island between the S-E,W and E,W-N ramps at Colonel By Drive to terminate the curb lane. No
Install “Yield to pedestrians” signs at ramps Yes
Pavement friction Increase pavement friction along the corridor Yes, installed in June 2006

The things I think would have really made a difference are the gateway features, narrowing lanes and landscaping. Instead, they installed a gutter and added a turning lane.

It is sad.

About the report

The report has never been put online, but it is a public document. A staff member scanned the document in and gave it to me and I am posting it here.

It’s too bad that more people didn’t have access to the report. Perhaps there would have been more information when the issue came up at council in May, 2009. The engineers seem to have just ignored most of the report and focused on car-oriented changes.

Ideas on how to allocate space on Bronson to protect cyclists

On October 18th, a cyclist died in a collision with a car on Bronson Ave in Ottawa. The police said she was going the wrong way on Bronson, which is probably true. David Reevely described some of the problems better than I could have. Really, it’s a shitty place to have to bike.

I have some suggestions to make it better:

  • Move the pinchpoint south by 375m, so that the transition from 2×3 lanes to 2×2 lanes is where the Carleton path meets Bronson
  • Use the available space to put a multi-direction mutli-use path on the west side Bronson from the Carleton path to Holmwood
  • Make the Holmwood crossing navigable by bike
  • Get Carleton University to pave the crushed gravel path they have now

Here’s a diagram of the current lane arrangement:

This diagram shows the number of lanes on Bronson between Campus Ave. and Holmwood. The current situation, the pinchpoint is at Bronson and Findlay.

Here’s a diagram that shows how I’d reconfigure the existing space:

This is the new lane arrangement I’d suggest. It still requires a transition from 2×3 down to 2×2 lanes, it just happens further south. This leaves room for a new ped/cycle path.

The sacrifice here is that the on- and offramps to Colonel By Dr. would be shorter. That might mean that traffic would back up during the congestion. But I wonder how often that really happens.

Another downside is that in some parts (particularly between Findlay and Holmwood), the median might have to be moved to make room for a new path. A median is intended to reduce the chance of head-on collisions. But I’d argue that allocating all the space to motor vehicles puts vulnerable road users at risk. And why should drivers be protected, but cyclists not?

These stories normally get a lot of media attention. What’s different is that city appears to be having an immediate reaction to it. I’ve never seen that before. Citizens for Safe Cycling will be at the Carleton Graduate Student Association (GSA) town hall on Nov. 6. Councillor David Chernushenko’s also putting a committee together to talk about this?

It is good that the city’s looking at this. But does this mean there’ll be a change to address this? Not soon, anyway. And then it’ll inconvenience drivers, which is very rare for the city.