Alex Bikes

Ottawa bike politics.

Category Archives: Cycling

The City cancelled the bike lanes on O’Connor in the Glebe. You need to email them.

Do you think the City should stick to its plan to build bike lanes on O’Connor? Then you need to write the City right now. I believe we can change their course of cancelling the Glebe parts of the O’Connor bike lanes.

Don't want the City changing their mind? Email them.

Don’t want the City changing their mind? Email them.

The plan for bike lanes for all of O’Connor goes back to 2008. This has been reinforced several times over the years, including in the April 9th, 2015 O’Connor Bikeway Plan. Just 11 days later: cancelled for all parts of O’Connor in the Glebe.

Here’s the about-face the City gave on April 20th, in email, out of the blue:

Based on comments from stakeholders and the public as part of the current public consultation program for the O’Connor Street Bikeway study, and in consultation with the Ward Councillor, the recommendations for the Glebe portion of the proposed O’Connor Street Bikeway are being revised.  South of Strathcona Avenue, the recommended treatment will be for shared use lanes, which means that all existing on-street parking and curbside access between Strathcona Avenue and Fifth Avenue will be unchanged; dedicated bike lanes will no longer be recommended in this section and the existing on-street parking will no longer be relocated to other local streets.  The primary reason for this change is in acknowledgement of the low-speed, low-traffic-volume residential nature of this two-way street coupled with the unique need for at least some on-street parking and curbside access.

Parking is usually the biggest blocker of any bike project, and I don’t see how parking can be considered a “unique need”. Moreover, there’s no reduction in parking, it was to be moved: “the on-street parking spaces within the Glebe East Permit Parking Zone would not be reduced”.

Maybe the City has just forgotten the years of support that Citizens for Safe Cycling and many other cyclists have had for this project. They need reminding.

I ask you to email Robert Grimwood, project manager for the Glebe portion of O’Connor bike facilities. His email address is robert.grimwood@ottawa.ca. I’ve known Robert for awhile, he likely isn’t the decision maker, but does collect feedback.

Use your own words, but here are some points I’ll be making:

  • bike lanes encourage sustainable transportation and are important to get new cyclists biking
  • people should be able to bike comfortably from Centretown to Lansdowne
  • the City needs to keep its promises and stick to the Ottawa Cycling Plan
  • cyclists are stakeholders too

Citizens for Safe Cycling appreciates being cc’ed on such notes (at info@bikeottawa.ca). You might also consider mailing Councillor David Chernushenko (david.chernushenko@ottawa.ca).

Please take a moment and do this by Thursday, April 30th. There’s a good chance this will influence their report to the Transportation Committee on June 3rd.

In bike advocacy, you can only ask cyclists so often to write in favour of a cause. I’m using one of my silver bullets here. Please go make some noise.

I’m big on references:

Another French tour: Nice to Groningen

This is the luggage at the Ottawa airport. That's 30lbs I'll be hauling up the hills...

This is the luggage at the Ottawa airport. That’s 30lbs I’ll be hauling up the hills…

I’m going on another tour, and I was looking for something hillier than the last trips (Texas and Quebec). I have 14 bicycle days to get from Nice, France to Groningen, Netherlands. That distance is technically 1500km, but I’m unlikely to be able to keep up the 150km/day pace I had in Texas.

First I’m starting with an established route called Le Tour des Grandes Alpes. which runs from near Nice (Menton) to near Geneva (Thoulon). Normally it’s run southbound, but I’ll be doing it in reverse. It is 600km with a total climb of 20,000m. includes Bonette (2800m), D’Iseran and various others. These are higher than anything I’ve done before.

The second part is getting from Geneva to Eindhoven. I’m expecting I’ll have to take the train for parts of this. I have no real plans on how to do this. I’ll meet up with my parents there; they’re there to reminisce about where they grew up. After that, to Groningen in the north where my sister is celebrating her 50th birthday.

A lot of this is just easier to arrange now. I know what equipment to bring, what to expect, etc. I’m always worried my bike won’t make it or that I’ll suffer some horrible mechanical problem that can’t be fixed.

I’m really bad at blogging during trips. Maybe this time will be different.

 

So what happened in Texas?

The last time I wrote on this blog was back in February as I was planning my bike trip across Texas. Here’s a quick review.

The ‘why on earth would you bike in Texas?’ question continued well into the trip and after I got back. My values and political views don’t match a typical Texan’s, although typical is part of the problem.

Here’s something I learned: political views don’t really show through that much when you’re just visiting somewhere. Sure, there were a lot of pickup trucks with gun racks and wildly xenophobic views of Hispanics. If you can look past that (without forgiving it), you’ll find the people caring and genuine. And you’ll have quite an experience.

I learned a lot about nothingness and loneliness. Often there were no cars for an hour. There were no trees to ruin the views. I’ve never gone so long in my life without ever talking to someone. Emptiness. You should experience this, just not all the time.

Here’s a rundown. The average here is 150km / day, by far more than I’ve ever done.

Day 1 – El Paso to Ft. Hancock

IMG_2600.JPGI’d stayed the night before in El Paso with the president of Velo Paso and his wife. The cycling movement in El Paso is further behind Ottawa, shall we say.

I got up before my hosts. Most of the morning was spent exiting, among the avocado trees until we hit the highway. An 80mph road sounds terrible, but with an 8ft shoulder it can actually be okay. There were service roads which I used plenty of.

The population was thinning out, there were more abandoned buildings. The emptiness was starting to show.

I spent the night in a flea-bag motel. The owner warned me not to go to the other part of town as the police no longer had control over it. Fun!

Day 2 – Ft. Hancock to Marfa

This was magical. Suddenly I was on Highway 90 which has nothing on it. Chispa, Valentine and Quebec are abandoned.

I’d filled up on water (around 8 litres) in Van Horn but was completely empty by the time I hit the Marfa Prada, this art thing in the middle of the desert.

IMG_2656.JPGIMG_2662.JPGIn the parking lot, some tourists in a truck saw me and said ‘you don’t look so good, everything okay?’. They gave me a gallon of water which I drank right there. I have never been so thirsty ever.

I finished off the day in Marfa itself and camped in the desert. A fantastic and tiring day, around 170km.

IMG_2699.JPG

The hostel in Marathon.

Day 3 – Marfa to Marathon

Just 90km this day, mostly windy. I was still tired and thirsty. I’d heard about this great hostel in town and hunted around for it. Marathon has few paved roads and I sense there’s a lot of unlocked doors. I found one guy on his front porch and I asked him if he could help me find the hostel. Guil invited me to drink bourbon while we talked about it. He owned the hostel, he said it was free for cyclists. I had the place to myself, so it was a great deal!

Day 4 – Marathon to Sanderson

Not much to report. Windy. Desolate. Road runners.

Day 5 – Marathon to Comstock

Here, I’d deviated from the Adventure Cycling Association’s prescribed Southern Tier route, which meant fewer bikes. I hadn’t actually seen anyone on a bike since El Paso.

I wandered into Comstock and partook of all their retail: gas station (junk food), hotel (room) and newly opened restaurant. This was an experience… the owner had never seen anyone on a bicycle before. Beer was $1.50 a pint. I had two main courses and still left with paying just $20. You can’t plan vacations like this.

Day 6 – Comstock to Eagle Pass

The desert was changing. Still, very few people. I could pump Van Halen on the headphones and nobody could hear or judge.

Eagle Pass is a gambling town. I found a fantastic taco stand and ordered several main dishes. It was a crappy hotel that night with mirrors over the beds.

Day 7 – Eagle Pass to Laredo

What a shitty day. All tours must have a day or two like this. It was so windy, I almost gave up before I started. Many years ago I’d met someone from Laredo and I’d envisioned it being this great place. I was looking forward to it. After a day of constant wind, it started getting dark. I’d done just 130km (after 13 hours). I got a flat tire (the first one in 5 years) so thought I’d camp out by the side of the road. But then I came across an RV park. They’d never had someone show up on a bike (and rarely without an RV), so I was a novelty. What a terrible place.

Wild dogs tried to run off with one of my bike shoes the next morning.

Day 8 – Laredo to McAllen

The last day of biking. McAllen’s a huge place compared to anywhere else I’d been. I stopped at this all-you-can-eat pizza place and ate until I could eat no more. Then met up with Anouk, a full day early.

The next day I slept to 9 and had two breakfasts and lunch. It was nice to be off the bike.

The astute will notice that I missed a day, I lost it in the emptiness of Texas.

 

Museum of Nature: it’s all about the parking revenue

This compares the original plan, and what will actually be in place in 2014.

This compares the original plan, and what will actually be in place in 2014.

I went to the Public Information Session last night at the Museum of Nature.  The original plan was to maintain a park on the west side of the building, now they’ve chosen to install a 96-spot parking lot. That’s different than what it was supposed to be.

Naively, I went there to talk to them about cycling aspects of their plans. There were none, and clearly they’d never done any research. They lied about reading the Ottawa Cycling Plan and there was nothing in their plans about biking at all. There were many myths shared (“nobody bikes in the winter”, “who bikes to a museum?”, “why you just walk 100m?”, etc). It was like we were back in 2005. Or at an MTO information session about widening the 417.

For more details on the history, etc, read the article I started at Developing Ottawa.

The story they tell

The story they tell is that they have more visitors than ever. They looked into everything, parking was their last resort (see page 9)! But they needed parking, so would preserve trees and hey, it was only 96 spots! It could have been a lot more!

What actually happened

Up to 2004, parking revenue covered about 0.7% of museum expenses (around $200k). They planned on that in the design and renovation of the museum (2004-2010).

This chart shows the annual parking revenue (in green bars) and the amount of the museum's operating expenses offset by parking (in blue).

This chart shows the annual parking revenue (in green bars) and the amount of the museum’s operating expenses offset by parking (in blue).

Then, the Conservative government mandated that museums generate more revenue (even though this museum’s parliamentary allocation is higher than ever). In 2011 and 2012, they created a ‘temporary’ lot on the west lawn and understood the profit potential (about $650k, 1.6% of expenses). At this point, they’re addicted to parking revenue. The 2013 budget depends on continuing with that revenue. They’d have to lay off their co-workers if they cut that.

This was always about parking revenue, it was never about figuring out their visitors’ transportation needs. They didn’t bother with a TDM study, surveys, investigating better transit or bike infrastructure, etc. That could only cut into their parking revenue.

Other costs to society (local green-space, maintaining roads, health and environmental costs, etc) don’t hit their bottom line. They have no incentive to care.

(All my numbers come from the museum’s annual reports, which are refreshingly easy to read.)

Give up.

To those in the community, here’s my suggestions to you: give up. You lost this battle a long time ago. Focus on something you can win.

There’s an obvious argument that a museum that promotes nature shouldn’t be enabling fossil-fuel guzzling motor vehicles. Nobody cares.

Update: I updated the map. I’d made a mistake and my map was misleading. I’d forgotten that Metcalfe was still there and extended the parking lot on the east side all the way to Elgin. Based on their published plan (in the map above), there’s a future appropriation of the road expected. It seems like a difficult negotiation to me. There’s another story there.

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.

Onward…

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.

My 25km bike to work is now almost entirely on bike paths.

People are amazed when I tell them that my 25km bike commute to work is almost entirely on bike paths away from cars.

A month ago I went to the opening of the O-Train multi-use path, which goes along the O-Train between Carling and the Ottawa River Pathway. Great, I thought, but I’ll never use it. But then I tried it as a temporary construction detour from my old route. How nice! Then I started rolling the numbers.

A lot has changed in Ottawa since I started biking to work. The infrastructure is improving. Here’s how it went for me:

2005: I challenge myself to ride in just one day, it seems an impossible feat. The western part of Carling is really bad. People think I’m insane.

2005 - A

2008: The City paves the shoulders of the western part of Carling and the NCC Watts Creek Pathway is paved. Most of the route is easy (green) except for links. Intersections are a pain as the lights favour drivers, some have 3 min waits.

2008

2009: I start biking to work in the winter. I get into the habit of just taking Carling all year round which is faster. Crazy.

2010: Major construction on Carling so I start taking the paths to avoid congestion with cars. I’m much more relaxed.

2013: The O-Train path is installed which makes the route flatter. I’m now down to just two traffic lights going to work, three coming back. There’s almost no road so I have to deal with pretty much nobody.

2013

Here’s a table that shows how the portion of the route is now residential and paths.

 

table

If I was willing to add 10 mins to my trip I could get an entirely green route. It involves a bit of crushed-stone path and a few lights (some which are per-only).

These changes make a big difference for people on this route, but there are changes in other places that also affect many other people. Some examples are the Laurier Segregated Bicycle Lane, sharrows on Lyon, the bridge over the Airport Parkway. I know there’s lots more coming over the next few years. The Fifth/Clegg Bridge and the Donald St. Bridge are  important projects that will convince new people to take up biking.

Yes, it’s getting better. But we need to keep up the pressure.

 

Biking in and around St. Petersburg, Florida

My wife and I went to St. Petersburg in Florida for a week in late February to get out of the snow, do some bird watching, and visit my parents who spend a month there every year. What’s unusual to others is that we camped. Most people think of Florida as condos, beaches, drunk parties and crappy beach stores. But the state parks’ motto is “The Real Florida” and it fits.

The cheapest bike rental place I could find was Trailsport Bikes; $85 for a road bike for me and $60 for my wife’s hybrid. It was a bit out of the way, but they were really nice. I broke a spoke on my way back to the store, and they were okay with that.  I know it makes me a snob, but I really dislike Sora shifters. They’re clicky and stick easily. Renting something better (with 105s) would have been twice the price.

We stayed at Fort De Soto, a county park 5 miles from St. Petersburg with quiet campgrounds and a few beaches. It feels close to nature and far away from the typical Florida junk. I’d say there was about one bike for every two people in the campground.  It has dozens of miles of fantastic bike trails; perfectly paved and separated from the road.

An example of a pleasant trail in Fort De Soto.

An example of a pleasant trail in Fort De Soto.

The road leading to the park has a route that changes between on-road and off-road surfaces. They’re all quite pleasant. Most novice cyclists would feel comfortable here.

Within the city, the highlight of the area is the Pinellas Trail, which runs some 60 miles from Old Tampa Bay to the Gulf. It is wide, smooth and quite empty. Most of it is 5m wide, so there’s enough room for everyone. It has mile markers, fountains and benches. Houses and stores are normally built so the back faces urban rail lines, so there’s nothing like a cafe or ice cream place facing the trail.

 

The Pinellas Trail.

The Pinellas Trail.

The trail starts in downtown St. Petersburg and they had to build the trail on a road that might look like a wider Queen St. They chose to build a bi-directional lane on the south side. It works, there’s lots of signs at intersections.

The Pinellas Trail where it starts in downtown St. Petersburg.

The Pinellas Trail where it starts in downtown St. Petersburg.

Intersections are done differently than in Ottawa and quite well. Wherever the Pinellas Trail crosses a road, there’s distinct crossings that are very well marked. One thing they do is put the signal on a post, so you can ride up and hit the button without having to dismount and reach over.  There are always clearly marked intersections, but in some cases there are lights with push-buttons.

IMG_1907

A typical crossing of a minor road.

Thank the driver!

Thank the driver!

Florida law also allows cyclists to ride on the sidewalk provided they yield to pedestrians. This is incredibly useful as a cyclist, as you can legally get off the  road to pass on the right, or get off to make room when there’s busy traffic. I can count on one hand the number of people I know who think sidewalk biking should be allowed.

The people I saw biking were noticeably different than what I’ve seen in any other North American city. The types of people were:

  • retired couples going for a leisure ride on beach cruisers
  • students, with headphones and riding rusty bikes
  • spandex-clad racers with $5000 carbon frame bikes, most of whom were actually pretty slow

I didn’t see anyone who was commuting to work or out buying groceries. Women biking by themselves was rare. I didn’t notice any families out with their children.

It looks like St. Petersburg and the neighbouring cities are trying to change. There’s a lot more bike facilities coming in, and they are generally very well built. Most of the routes would be very attractive to novices, we should be envious of how they’re building things. But a lot of the connectors are missing, and it’s difficult to go on a really long ride without dealing with busy roads.

In the 300km I biked, not once did I have an irritated driver or someone who passed me unsafely. (This is quite different than Troy, NY, where I got sworn at four times in the first mile.) Even the drivers of jacked-up pickups with truck-nuts and NRA stickers gave me a tip of the baseball cap.

As an amateur urban planner, I feel compelled to point out the connection between food prices and bad urban planning. The city has incredible sprawl and food prices are very high; the cheapest loaf of bread is around $4. Fast food, however, is very cheap. There is a large divide between the rich and poor. To eat healthily, you need the following:

  • a car, or patience with a mediocre transit system
  • money to buy the food
  • the will to pay more for good food than less for easy food

So what happens? The poor continue to be unhealthy in a society with no public healthcare system.

But as a tourist it’s easy to ignore that kind of depressing truth.

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.