Alex Bikes

Ottawa bike politics.

Category Archives: Politics

Why I’m so enraged about parking in a bike lane

There isn’t a centimetre of bike lane in the city that didn’t require volunteer time…

That meant getting a babysitter to go to a consultation, filling out an awful survey on your lunch break or having a frustrating argument with your councillor. Some people take time off work to go to Public Advisory Committees. I know people who do this for their retirement.

Road building for cars is a well-oiled machine; engineers get paid, suburban builders get bonuses and politicians are re-elected. No lobbying is required. This is not a group that benefits from change.

But bike infrastructure is different. This part of our Transportation Master Plan depends on unpaid citizens with no formal training.

Enforcement isn’t working. They’re not patrolling major routes with regularity. If you call it in, the driver will leave and nothing can be done. The main offenders are delivery truck drivers, and those tickets are just an assumed operating expense for the company. Who cares?

The entire rest of the road is optimized for motor vehicles. Can’t we please have this one small strip of land we fought for?

We need to make parking in a bike lane socially unacceptable. So I appeal, again, to go to open houses, have polite discussions with offenders, call bylaw and post photos on social media.

And if you don’t have time, pay a few bucks to your local advocacy group so they can do it on your behalf.

(About the photos… there are hundreds. I’m sorry if I didn’t include yours, and doubly sorry if I didn’t attribute it properly.)

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 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 You might also consider mailing Councillor David Chernushenko (

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:

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.


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.


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.


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



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.


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.


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


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.


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.



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.

The real problem in changing transportation strategies

You do not have to look far to find research that shows that our current car-oriented investment yields a poorer quality of life with a higher burden on taxpayers. So why does nothing change?

It is too bad that I couldn’t go to the City of Ottawa Planning Summit held today put on by Councillor Peter Hume. It is an easy thing for me to like: the speakers were all able to defend our need for smart intensification with support for sustainable transportation.

There’s also a repetition from Mayor Jim Watson that this time we’ll actually hold true to the Operating Plan, Transportation Master Plan, etc. That’s great to hear! But I doubt that can be true, and here’s why.

You probably think I have it in for Councillor Stephen Blais

Actually, Councillor Blais is just fine; I disagree with him sometimes, but he’s responsive and because of him I’m more likely to spend time drinking beer on a patio. He’s an easy example of people who have been given the power to make really bad and uninformed decisions.

We were chatting on twitter about his recent announcement that the expansion of Highway 174 was accelerated. I don’t know Mr. Bus, but this is a pretty common question from anyone familiar with how road widening is unsustainable.

You’ll notice Councillor Blais’s response has nothing to do with the actual question. It seems like more of an excuse. I’ve never seen him answer this actual question.

Then there’s more concern from people about how it’ll reduce transit use, produce longer commutes in the end, etc. What’s notable is how he finishes it off. To me, this explains everything:

My initial reaction was to interpret this as “I got elected so I don’t need to defend my choices with evidence! <insert Nelson ha-ha here>”. But I think he’s right that this is how democracy operates. How disappointing!

He’s told citizens of Ward 1 they’re going to get to work faster. All research shows we’ll all get a fatter tax bill, transit will be worse, and we’ll have more unsustainable sprawl. Councillor Blais isn’t doing anything to dissuade them, so it is easy for him to get elected and support what’s in fact bad for us.

Fact-based arguments

I’m happy to have a fact-based argument that widening highways is bad, but I’ll only bother if opponents come armed to the knife fight. Too many of them turn into discussions like this.

And then nothing; Mr. Ant just leaves us hanging (despite some prodding). So I waisted several minutes of googling and never got the argument I was hoping for. He asked for evidence and then just walked away.

And the problem is…

The problem is that voters are poorly informed and end up voting for whatever helps them directly and immediately. We’ll always be limited by what the electorate thinks they want. And they’re just not that smart.

If the City does put into place plans that make sense and that they stick to, we’ll be in a good place. But either the councillors will get voted out, or they’ll be scared enough of losing their jobs they’ll back down. I know there’s exceptions, but this sufficiently true that major changes in council will be rare.