Alex Bikes

Ottawa bike politics.

Category Archives: Complete Streets

Understanding and fact-checking Councillor Hubley’s article on Complete Streets

This is Terry Fox south of Maple Grove in Councillor Hubley’s ward. It is a multi-lane arterial that supports all modes of transport well, which is a Complete Street. He uses Terry Fox as an example of where he doesn’t want one. Does he understand what a Complete Street is?

Kanata South Councillor Allan Hubley wrote in his July 11 newsletter about why he voted against the July 5th Transportation Committee’s decision to support using Complete Streets when renewing Main St.

Councillors can vote however they like, but I feel they should understand the topic and use facts to support their position.

I’ll try to summarize what he wrote.

I think he’s saying that nearly all Kanata South residents drive and that should be our priority. He sees bicycling and Complete Streets as threatening that, so we should never have such infrastructure on arterials, particularly in his ward.  He supports those arguments with:

  • a incorrect understanding of what a Complete Street is
  • a false assumption that an arterial can’t be a Complete Street
  • a misunderstanding of the bicycle and Complete Streets infrastructure in his own ward
  • statistics that are both fabricated and irrelevant

I dug a bit deeper into his text.

Fact checking

Here are Councillor Hubley’s exact words and my interpretation.

At the July 5 Transportation Committee, I voted against the building of a “complete street” on Main Street.

An example of a “complete street” is a road where you take four lanes and make it a two lane street by adding bike lanes and a wider sidewalk.

This is technically correct, but misleading. It suggests that the objective is to reduce driving lanes, and adding bike lanes and widening sidewalks is how is how that is done. Presumably he read the City’s definition: “Complete streets are streets that are designed to accommodate all of their special functions and serve all of the people who use them.”Wikipedia’s referenced description is similiar. It says nothing about removing driving lanes or adding bike lanes.

I do not support the idea of taking away traffic lanes for vehicles in order to replace them with segregated bike lanes.  It was important to oppose changing the streetscape on a North/South road corridor in a manner that would remove 300 cars an hour from the road.

Bicycles are vehicles. The Ontario HTA says so. I can’t think of anywhere the city says otherwise.

The plan does expect to remove capacity for 300 motor vehicles an hour (from 1200), but he’s not saying that that’s for only the six peak hours per week and drivers will be unaffected the other 138 hours a week. He also doesn’t say how many more cyclists (also vehicles) and pedestrians it will support.

Kanata South has a great network of bike paths and trails throughout the neighbourhoods behind houses, but not on the actual roadways.

This is not true. Kanata South does have both on-road bike lanes and off-road multi-use paths on roads like Terry Fox, Castlefrank and the Trans-Canada Trail. I don’t just make this stuff up, it’s quite clear from Google Maps.

Maybe it’s a Rorschach test, but if I disregard on-road biking what I see is some disconnected stringy bits, not the network of bike paths and trails he sees.

I support this type of cycling infrastructure, because it is safe and separates pedestrians and cyclists from moving vehicles.  This is why I will never support a “complete street” in Kanata South.

Honestly, I don’t understand this. I think he’s saying he wants bikers and walkers to be separated from moving vehicles. Main St includes that, but he doesn’t want that for any part of Kanata South (arterial or not). I think he’s assuming that separating active transportation necessitates impeding motor vehicles.

I disagree with the idea of “complete streets” for arterials like Terry Fox, March, Carling, Eagleson, or Hazeldean.

Does he know that the city already has Complete Streets for different transportation modes on arterials? Beyond the example above (in his own ward), here’s a couple more local ones:

This part of Carling east of Holly Acres already is a Complete Street. It supports pedestrians, cyclists and drivers well. Councillor Hubley uses this as an example of where he doesn't want a Complete Street.

This part of Carling east of Holly Acres already is a Complete Street. It supports pedestrians, cyclists and drivers well. He mentions Carling specifically.

Here’s an example of an intersection of multiple arterials. I think it’s well done.

An arterial can be a Complete Street. This is an example in Ottawa of a very large intersection of arterials that supports all forms of transportation: driving, biking, walking and transit.

Large and fast arterials can be Complete Streets. This is an example in Ottawa of a very large intersection that supports all forms of transportation: driving, biking, walking and transit. Hunt Club is posted at 80km/hr, Woodroffe at 60km/hr.


I also disagree that people from Kanata South will cycle downtown to their jobs 12 month a year if we choke off their ability to drive. The distance combined with our harsh climate, make it an unlikely option for the average family.

He’s disagreeing with nobody. I don’t know anyone who expects Kanata South residents to bike such long distances year-round. But the 2011 Origin-Destination Survey says that only 8% of trips within Kanata/Stittsville go downtown. And only some of them go by car. This is misleading.

The 2011 National Household Survey conducted by Statistics Canada found that almost 93% of Canadians commuted to work by car, and that most drove by themselves.

That number is wrong. From the 2011 NHS , 92.7% of people commute to work, but of them 74.0% drive and 5.6% are driven. That means that 69.1% of workers go by car. Plus not all Canadians actually work, so his 93% is more like 42%. I wish people wouldn’t make things up.

It’s also a red-herring. The Kanata-Stittsville region numbers from the O-D survey show that 63.7% of people are travelling to, from or within his district by car.

Expecting more from politicians

People can form whatever opinions they want, but it’s hard to consider them credible if they don’t have a basic understanding of the topic and support their position only by fiction.

Perhaps the councillor meant something different, a clarification is welcome. Comments from anyone are appreciated.