Bank Street and Somerset Street West weekend open streets

Somerset Street West from Bank Street to O’Connor Street (Somerset Village) will be open for pedestrians and cyclists and patios:

  • Fridays 5pm to 11pm
  • Saturday & Sunday 12 noon to 11pm

Bank Street from Queen Street to Catherine Street will be open for pedestrians and cyclists and patios:

  • Saturdays from 9am to midnight

The Saturday walking street will remain in place from July 11th – August 8th [2020], at which time we will reevaluate the program to ensure that our businesses and community are well served. – Bank Street B.I.A.

Open Bank Street and Somerset Street
Green line showing Bank Street open from Queen Street to Catherine Street, and Somerset Street West open from Bank Street to O’Connor Street. Map data ©2020 Google.

So I guess it is possible to open streets in the arterial city.

Opening Streets in the Arterial City

This is the city that was

Greber Plan 1945 Population Ottawa-Hull plate_3
1945 Population, Ottawa-Hull and vicinity, from the 1950 Plan for the National Capital (Gréber Plan) – Plate III. Distribution of Population – captioned: “1945 Population, 1 dot represents 20 persons”

And this is the city they made

DSC07529 - edit - crop

Every red line.  Every red line is an arterial highway.  An arterial highway whose wide, high-speed road surface has a status near sacred.  Want cars to go slower?  Sorry that’s not possible, that’s an Arterial.  In the heart of the downtown.  Effectively, once the “Queensway” highway was built (replacing the rail line that had been there), the entire downtown became an on/off ramp for the highway.

Wikipedia – Ontario Highway 417Queensway

Within Ottawa, the Queensway was built as part of a grand plan for the city [the 1950 Gréber Plan] between 1957 and 1966

This 1960s era highway planning was based on many assumptions, but the foremost amongst them was that city cores were blank slates that should be restructured with highways as the primary design element.  Think I’m exaggerating?  Here’s a screenshot from Form, Design and the City (1962):

Form Design and the City

You see all that blank space?  That’s where people actually lived.  But in this worldview, those people don’t exist.

The detour it would take to describe this “urban renewal” planning would be long, but basically the vision was that all the wealthy people would move to the suburbs, and the city core would be nothing but poor people and office towers for the wealthy men who would commute to work every workday.  And the priority would thus obviously be to make the commute as fast as possible for the commuters.  The local residents, as is evident from the image above, basically might as well not exist.

Think this doesn’t apply to Ottawa?  Here’s the great man Gréber himself pointing from the sky at a resident-free Ottawa.

658380-rapport-greber-amenagement-ottawa-menera

This was never a good idea.

By 1988, as William H. Whyte documents extensively with evidence in City: Rediscovering the Center, it was already obvious that this didn’t work and didn’t make any sense.  32 years later, with residential towers rising in city centres all over the world, it is even more evident it doesn’t make any sense.  In 2020, with remote working virtually eliminating the commute for almost anyone who can work with a computer and a telephone, it makes even less sense.

And yet we still prioritize the car commuters, going much much faster than the 30km/h that should apply anywhere downtown, or the 10km/h that should apply for residential streets.  And driving on every street, rather than having some streets reserved exclusively for pedestrians and cyclists.

And this prioritization of car commuters is embedded in decisionmaking which locks in this priority at multiple levels.  Not least of which, wards don’t control their own roads.  Why don’t wards (and their residents) get to control the roads where they live?  Well, no reason from a democratic perspective.  But mostly so that wards don’t get to make roads slower.

The evidence about speeding is abundant.

Excess speed and inappropriate speed are very common

Speed limits provide information to the drivers about the safe speed to travel in average conditions. Exceeding the speed limits is very common. Typically, 40 to 50% of the drivers travel faster than the speed limit. Typically, 10 to 20% exceed the speed limit by more than 10 km/h. In addition, drivers adapt their speed insufficiently to local and temporary conditions related to traffic and weather. They often choose a speed that is inappropriate for the prevailing conditions. Speed choice is related to the drivers’ motives, attitudes, risk perception and risk acceptance. Furthermore, speed choice is affected by characteristics of the road and the road environment and by characteristics of the vehicle.

The above quote is from 11 years ago, from 2009 SafetyNet Speeding (PDF).  If you prefer a more recent version, see European Road Safety Observatory (ERSO) Speed and Speed Management 2018 (PDF).

Or for that matter, read Ottawa’s own 2013 Transportation Master Plan, which says all the right things, not that that seems to make much difference in how some of the staff plans or the majority of Councillors vote.

2013 Transportation Master Plan – Chapter 3 – Create a Supportive Built Environment (PDF)

Section 3.1 Use planning processes to support sustainable choices

  • Action 3-1 Enable walking, cycling and transit through community design plans and development review
  • Action 3-2 Reduce the impacts of surface parking

If you want to know why our actions don’t match our words, I recommend Jeffrey Tumlin speaking on What has prevented Walkable Urbanism, and how to fix our cities and in particular his observation that most cities have great plans that describe a walkable city, but budgets for a car commuter city.

UPDATE 2020-07-10: The problem with this kind of red line vital arteries depiction of the city’s streets is it makes it feel like those arterials are the literal lifeblood of the city, and opening them to other uses would kill the downtown.  In reality it is quite the opposite.  Those red lines are not life.  Those red lines are emptiness and cars and danger.  END UPDATE

Bank Street BIA Street Opening Proposal 2020

The Bank Street BIA has proposed

1/3 Downtown Bank has put together a proposal to close Bank Street (Queen – Flora) to motor vehicles to provide greater access for cyclists and pedestrians. This would take place Saturdays (9am – 11:59pm) from July – September [2020]

2/3 Following feedback that insufficient time to vote was provided, the closure of Bank Street (Queen – Flora) has been postponed for one week to allow for more time for businesses to submit their vote

3/3 The City of Ottawa requires a 2/3 approval from businesses for each block impacted by the closure.
We hope to update everyone on the status of this vote by Wednesday, July 8th. We welcome feedback from our community on social media, or via email at info@bankstreet.ca

If you’re wondering why it requires a 2/3 approval from businesses for each block impacted by the [opening to pedestrians and cyclists], it’s because the Mayor just conjured this requirement up out of thin air, in an unannounced motion that crushed a planned Glebe Bank Street opening.

(One might also ask a larger question of why the BIA members get a larger voice than the actual residents, but anyway.)

UPDATE 2020-07-10: The Bank Street BIA has been successful and thanks to extra work with the city, the street will be opened from Queen Street to Catherine Street.  END UPDATE

geoOttawa beta

geoOttawa is a mapping site from the City of Ottawa that has an incredible wealth of info and overlays about Ottawa.  The main version requires Flash, but Flash technology has basically become obsolete and is disabled on many computers.  The beta works in any browser.

https://maps.ottawa.ca/geoOttawaBeta/

Two items of note are the Ottawa LRT layers, and the aerial layers.

To access the Ottawa LRT layers, select Layer List

geoOttawa beta - Layer List

and then scroll down to (or search for) Rail Implementation Office. There are layers for the completed Stage 1 and the under-construction Stage 2.

geoOttawa beta - Rail Implementation Office

Here’s a view showing Ottawa LRT Line 1 (Confederation Line) Stage 1 with pale green overlay for the Greenbelt (visible to the east).

geoOttawa beta - Ottawa LRT Line 1 Stage 1

Here’s a view adding on to Line 1 Stage 1 (in red) with Line 1 and Line 2 Stage 2 in blue, extending to the east, west and south.  Greenbelt overlay in pale green.

geoOttawa beta - Ottawa LRT Lines 1 and 2 Stage 2

You can see that Line 1 Stage 2 crosses the Greenbelt in the east, and is basically inside the Greenbelt on the west.  Line 2 Stage 2 also crosses the Greenbelt to the south.

STO presentation to NCC on Gatineau west-end rail June 2020

STO presented to the NCC Public Board of Directors Meeting on June 25, 2020.

The NCC has replied with staff analysis:

including a recommendation that the entire segment in Ottawa, including the crossing of the Portage Bridge and any segment on Wellington, use battery power:

The tramway will have to be battery operated on the bridge to avoid any equipment that diminishes the aesthetic quality of this section of Confederation Boulevard.

In [the Wellington Street] section, the tram would operate on batteries only and no overhead wires or structures would be necessary, in keeping with the aesthetic requirements along Confederation Boulevard.

which would not have been my choice.  Much better to have overhead wires than to introduce more complexity into what is already a very complex transit planning problem.

Plus which, let’s be super generous and say Confederation Boulevard is 35 years old (“Planning began in 1982 and construction in 1985.”)  Ottawa had streetcars with overhead wires from approx. 1891 to 1959.  That’s 68 years.  Overhead wires are way more a part of Ottawa’s built heritage aesthetic history than Confederation Boulevard.

NCC summary:

A presentation was made to the Board of Directors on the Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO) study for a transit system linking Gatineau’s west end with downtown Gatineau and Ottawa.

The study

  • will help to determine the mode (or modes) that would be implemented
  • refine the corridors in the west end of Gatineau (Allumettières and Taché)
  • define the alignment of the future tram / light rail system (which will take the Portage Bridge) into downtown Ottawa (via a tunnel under Sparks Street or a surface route along Wellington Street).

The NCC is in favour of public and active transportation initiatives in the National Capital Region. In evaluating this project, the NCC will have to ensure that the proposed solutions comply with plans governing the use of federal lands.

The sections of the alignment that affect federal lands will be submitted to the Board of Directors for approval in October 2020 or January 2021.

SIDEBAR:

The STO has launched a consultation on how the proposed tramway should arrive on the Ottawa side.  Should it go on the surface on Wellington or in a tunnel under Sparks?

END SIDEBAR

For more information about STO’s proposed transit system, you can see my previous blog post proposed rail transit for Gatineau west end – May 2020 update to City of Ottawa.

STO consultation on options for integrating proposed Gatineau west-end rail transit into Ottawa

STO is proposing a rapid transit system in the west end of Gatineau that would connect to Ottawa by a tramway over the Portage Bridge.

They are consulting on the options for integrating this tram on the Ottawa side.  The options they propose are surface rail on Wellington or a tunnel under Sparks.  The consultation closes July 19, 2020.

There is a really extensive (as in, very long web page) background overview presenting the analysis and options:

Consultation:

The consultation closes July 19, 2020.

For more information, you can see my previous blog post proposed rail transit for Gatineau west end – May 2020 update to City of Ottawa.

NCC Interprovincial Transit Strategy 2013

NCC Interprovincial Transit Strategy 2013

Since everything that goes around comes around, having eliminated all of the interprovincial rail, the NCC circa 2009-2013 tried to conjure up some ideas about bringing it back, as a light rail loop.

There was no money and no plan so the whole thing is moot. This is a historical document only.

In usual NCC fashion, almost all of the documentation has vanished from the web, including the website

www interprovincial-transit-strategy ca

and the archive website

archives ncc-ccn ca/planning/transportation-strategies/interprovincial-transit-strategy

In fact the only thing remaining on the web is the summary hosted by Quebec’s STO – Connecting Communities: An Interprovincial Transit Strategy (PDF).

Some other sites have preserved the report: Action Sandy Hill has the full report in a Google Doc, and City Centre Coalition has all of the annexes/detailed reports as Google Docs.

I saved the presentation deck, and here is the key slide with their imaginary LRT loop.

NCC Interprovincial Transit - Infrastructure

That diagram is pretty small, basically the idea was that Bayview Station would be the hub with connections across Prince of Wales Bridge, and that rail would also come across the Alexandra Bridge, making a loop.

Here is a a clearer version, from page 52 of Interprovincial Transit Strategy for Canada’s Capital Region: Connecting Communities (January 2013).  From the Action Sandy Hill copy.  I have also put a copy in the Internet Archive.

Figure 12 NCC Recommended Long Term Rapid Transit Infrastructure post-2031

This post adapted from the NCC Interprovincial Transit Strategy 2013 section of my post Ottawa – Gatineau interprovincial rail.

What is actually being built instead

Ottawa Stage 1 LRT is complete.

Ottawa Stage 2 LRT is under construction, with a further Stage 3 proposed.

Gatineau has proposed a west-end rapid transit system including trams, crossing the Portage Bridge to connect with Ottawa LRT in the downtown core.

The future of the Prince of Wales Bridge

[photo of the Prince of Wales Bridge]

The Prince of Wales Bridge is currently closed.  Wikipedia tells me that it was built in 1880 and last used in 2001.

The disused line runs between Ottawa’s OC Transpo Bayview Station (the Line 1 – Line 2 interchange station), and Gatineau’s STO Rapibus terminus at Station Taché-UQO.

Google Maps Bayview Station to Station Taché-UQO
Above Imagery ©2019 Google

STO and OC Transpo

Although it was initially considered for a proposed rail transit connection to Ottawa from Gatineau, it has now been removed from consideration by STO in favour of the Portage Bridge.  The reasons cited for removing it from consideration included that OC Transpo’s Bayview Station wouldn’t have enough capacity, and that Portage delivers passengers more directly to the Ottawa Central Business District.

It does remain on Ottawa’s proposed Stage 3 rail transit map (look for the short purple line in the centre of the map below, connected to Bayview) but without any indication of how it would be used and how it would connect into the existing rail lines.

Stage 3 purple from Light-Rail-Transit-Project_Tech-Briefing_20190222_EN
from slide 109 of the Stage 2 Light Rail Transit Project: Technical Briefing – February 22, 2019 (PDF, Internet Archive) – Stage 3 extensions to Kanata, Barrhaven and across the Prince of Wales Bridge in purple

The only other faint possibility of it ever being used for rail is an STO speculation that it could be a “Potential future link for a west-south route” (following the completion of the proposed Gatineau west-end transit project).  Note that I have changed the colours in the map below to align with more common Ottawa usage.

STO - 15 May 2020 - Analysis of Current Crossings - slide 11 - colour adjust
From slide 11 in STO’s Complementary Study: Public Transit System in Gatineau’s West End – Technical Briefing to City of Ottawa May 15, 2020 (PDF) on STO webpage Update: Progress of the analysis of options for the integration in Ottawa.

So for any possible rail use of the Prince of Wales Bridge you’re into the 2030s timeframe, a decade or more from now.

Current Plans

The current plan is to adapt it for pedestrians and cycling, but there doesn’t seem to be any money allocated for that purpose.

Joanne Chianello writes for CBC Ottawa:

The city of Ottawa bought the Prince of Wales Bridge for $400,000 from Canadian Pacific Railway about 15 years ago for the express purpose of running trains across it one day, and that’s still in the city’s current Transportation Master Plan.

But last fall, the mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau announced that plans for rail over the bridge were off.

“It would congest … Bayview station, and secondly, Gatineau has been pursuing their LRT project and they too have ruled it out as a bridge that would be used for transit,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said last September.

Both Watson and Gatineau Mayor Maxime-Pedneaud Jobin are hoping to use the bridge instead as a pedestrian and bike crossing.

from CBC Ottawa – Gatineau wants to run light rail over Portage Bridge

Also see the Mayors’ joint announcement from September 2019 as reported in CBC Ottawa – Mayors rule out Prince of Wales Bridge for transit link.

UPDATE 2020-05-19: Also see Analysis: Rejection of Prince of Wales Bridge illustrates difficulty of planning Ottawa-Gatineau rail link by Jon Willing in the Ottawa Citizen.

For historical completeness, there was an NCC Interprovincial Transit “Strategy” in 2013 that had trains going from Bayview Station across the Prince of Wales Bridge to connect with STO transit, and also had a rail connection across Alexandra Bridge.  But it was totally unfunded so it is moot.

proposed rail transit for Gatineau west end – May 2020 update to City of Ottawa

On May 15, 2020 the Gatineau transit agency, the STO (la Société de transport de l’Outaouais) presented a technical briefing to the City of Ottawa about its studies into improved transit on the Quebec side that would run basically from Place du Portage to Aylmer.  There was a particular focus on how the proposed transit, previously narrowed down to include trams (streetcars) in all three options, would land in Ottawa (the language used is Options d’insertion à Ottawa which is standard French urban planning terminology that does not lend itself to a literal translation).

This is about a tram that would cross Portage Bridge from Gatineau to Ottawa and is proposed to deliver passengers somewhere along Wellington Street or Sparks Street, at least as far as Lyon Station, but possibly as far as Parliament Station or even farther east.

Note that this system is nowhere near being funded and approved yet.

UPDATE 2020-06-27: The STO has launched a consultation on how the proposed tramway should arrive on the Ottawa side.  Should it go on the surface on Wellington or in a tunnel under Sparks?

END UPDATE

There is an STO press release in French only:

The City of Ottawa also did press releases:

I have to say you would be hard pressed to understand exactly what is being proposed from the Ottawa press releases. The STO one is not super clear on the Portage Bridge part, although it does make the two options for landing in Ottawa clear: either on the surface along Wellington Street, or in a tunnel under Sparks Street.

deux options d’aménagement d’un tramway sont retenues pour la suite de l’étude :

* Une insertion en surface sur la rue Wellington;
* Une insertion en tunnel sous la rue Sparks.

Rather than burying the lede, here’s the key slide from the STO presentation:
STO - 15 May 2020 - Options for Tram Component in Ottawa - slide 29
From slide 29 in  STO’s Complementary Study: Public Transit System in Gatineau’s West End – Technical Briefing to City of Ottawa May 15, 2020 (PDF) on STO webpage Update: Progress of the analysis of options for the integration in Ottawa.

Why Portage?

These two slides from the May 2020 presentation sum up their analysis:

STO - 15 May 2020 - Analysis of Current Crossings - slides 11 and 12
From slides 11 and 12 in STO’s Complementary Study: Public Transit System in Gatineau’s West End – Technical Briefing to City of Ottawa May 15, 2020 (PDF) on STO webpage Update: Progress of the analysis of options for the integration in Ottawa.

Why a Tramway?

As seen in this slide from the January 30, 2020 update (presentation available in French only), STO’s study recommends a tramway because the bus-only options don’t have enough capacity for a scenario of 7,000 – 7,500 riders per peak hour over the next 15 years.  Also note that to meet that projected demand they’re planning for a future with a tram every 2.4 minutes.

STO - 30 janvier 2020 - Nombre de passagers transportés versus mode - diapositive 23
From slide 23 in Étude complémentaire pour la réalisation d’un système de transport collectif structurant dans l’ouest de la ville de Gatineau – Breffage technique 30 janvier 2020 (PDF) on STO webpage Update on the additional study.

Three Scenarios

As a reminder, here are the three scenarios being considered on the Gatineau side: all-tram (T1), hybrid with rail (in blue) to the north and bus rapid transit (in green) to the south (H1), and hybrid with rail (in blue) to the south and bus rapid transit (in green) to the north (H2).

STO - 30 janvier 2020 - 3 scénarios viables - diapositive 24
From slide 24 of Étude complémentaire pour la réalisation d’un système de transport collectif structurant dans l’ouest de la ville de Gatineau – Breffage technique 30 janvier 2020 (PDF) on STO webpage Update on the additional study.

STO and City of Ottawa Information

The STO presentation is available:

The City of Ottawa info is very high-level and basically just tells you to read the STO webpages.

You can watch a recording of the briefing on YouTube.  Note that it’s a Zoom meeting so there is a lot happening on screen sometimes (multiple video windows).

Next Steps

June 2020: On-line public consultation for Ottawa and Gatineau.  Until then, email contact addresses are available:

July 2020: Transportation Committee and Council – present recommended plan for integration in Ottawa

SIDEBAR: What’s Old is New Again

I couldn’t resist bringing forward this comparison from my first blog post in this series, showing that the proposed new rail infrastructure echos rail infrastructure we already had and tore up.  The earlier STO map I have chosen shows rail options across either Prince of Wales or Alexandra, which emphasizes in a way that they both used to be rail bridges (Portage was never a rail bridge).

If you put the proposed Gatineau (orange) and Ottawa (red) commuter rail map up against the rail that existed in a map from the Greber Plan (all the black lines on the second map below), it’s pretty striking that with the tracks curving along either side of the river we’re trying to recreate some of what already existed. (You can literally still see the ghost of the old rail line to Aylmer in the curve of what is now a vehicle road by the river.)
Gatineau - map of proposed route for west end LRT - en

Greber Plan plate 12 Réseau Ferroviaire Existant Ottawa - Hull and Environs 1948
Above from Greber Plan: Plate 12 Réseau Ferroviaire Existant Ottawa – Hull and Environs 1948 as made available on the Town and Crown website, 1950 Plan for the National Capital: General Report (Greber Plan)List of Plates Contained in the Atlas.

END SIDEBAR

Prince of Wales Bridge

If you want to find out more about the various (unfunded) proposals for using the bridge, see my post The future of the Prince of Wales Bridge.

Previously

I’ve done three previous blog posts related to the Gatineau west-end rapid transit proposal, with a lot of detail about the history of interprovincial rail including old photos and videos:

May 31, 2019  proposed rail transit for Gatineau west end including rail across Portage Bridge
February 10, 2019  proposed Gatineau west-end rail project

February 13, 2019  Ottawa – Gatineau interprovincial rail

Disclaimer

Check with the City of Gatineau and the STO website for updates and for the official word on the specific rail line routes and stations for Gatineau west-end rail.

Ottawa LRT Stage 2 Line 2 in Emojis

Ottawa Line 2 🚆 Stage 2

Bayview 🚉 ↔️ Line 1 🚈 East-West
🛤️

Gladstone 🚉
🛤️

Carling 🚉
🛤️

Carleton 🚉
🛤️

Mooney’s Bay 🚉
🛤️

Walkley 🚉
🛤️

Greenboro 🚉
🛤️

South Keys 🚉 ↔️ Airport Link 🚆
🛤️

Leitrim 🚉
🛤️

Bowesville 🚉
🛤️

Limebank 🚉

Alternative with washrooms

Ottawa Line 2 🚆 Stage 2

Bayview 🚉🚻 ↔️ Line 1 🚈 East-West
🛤️

Gladstone 🚉
🛤️

Carling 🚉
🛤️

Carleton 🚉
🛤️

Mooney’s Bay 🚉
🛤️

Walkley 🚉
🛤️

Greenboro 🚉
🛤️

South Keys 🚉 ↔️ Airport Link 🚆
🛤️

Leitrim 🚉
🛤️

Bowesville 🚉
🛤️

Limebank 🚉🚻

Airport Link

The Airport Link is a separate line; you have to change trains at South Keys Station.

Ottawa Line 2 🚆 Stage 2 Airport Link

South Keys 🚉 ↔️ Line 2 🚆
🛤️

Uplands 🚉
🛤️

Airport 🚉 ↔️ ✈️

Emojis Used

See Also

November 13, 2018  Ottawa LRT Stage 2 maps

September 10, 2019 Ottawa LRT Stage 1 Line 1 in Emojis

2022 Official Plan for the City of Ottawa

Ottawa has an Official Plan from 2003.  It is the master document describing development in the city.

So the general idea is that the Official Plan shapes and constrains everything that can happen in terms of development in the city.

Engagement is underway for the new 2022 Official Plan

ottawa.ca/newop

Personal Observations

I have to say in that in my view the idea that the Official Plan manages development hasn’t worked particularly well.

With the suburban-urban divide on council, and with individual wards having basically no say in development or road design within their wards, Council tends to do spot approvals for basically anything that is requested.  Ward residents hate the uncertainty this brings, with what is typically a spot upzoning changing the expected character of the neighbourhood.  Council has promised repeatedly that the layers upon layers of secondary plans are to bring certainty in planning, but so far they haven’t.

About the only meaningful constraint the Official Plan imposes is on the development lands around the city.  But there is always a push to expand the urban boundaries.

So at the core there’s the Official Plan, but the Official Plan has amendments upon amendments, page upon page of amendments in the Annexes to a point where I don’t know how anyone could meaningfully understand it.

In addition to the Official Plan there are other plans, specifically the Infrastructure Master Plan, Transportation Master Plan and the Development Charges By-law.  I don’t know what effect these plans have.  The 2013 Transportation Master Plan is a model of promoting active transportation and transit in its main text, and then lists seven pages of road widenings in its annex (pp. 108-114).  It’s not clear that the Transportation Master Plan has any effect on Council decisions or budgets.  The one thing that is certain is that anything that is not explicitly on the approved urban and rural Cycling Network is generally declined.

This is not to say that the city isn’t slowly improving for active transportation and transit.  The LRT will by a wide margin have the biggest impact on the city, but there are also separated bike lanes (cycle tracks) and road narrowings (road “diets”) including Main and Elgin.  The road changes are almost always a compromise rather than a full transformation, and the arterials like Bronson and Kent remain pretty much untouchable one-way highways in the heart of the city.

Ultimately what matters is the city budget and individual Council votes on specific buildings and road redesigns.  In theory the Official Plan and other plans should guide the budget and votes.

If you’re in the urban core, it can be a challenge to be endlessly consulted about layers upon layers of plans (including NCC plans in addition to the city plans) while having the underlying reality of a suburban-majority council.

How many times can you provide the same feedback?  Anyway, the Council could take some steps that would transform the city’s urban fabric, including:

    • the city should have one or more dedicated pedestrian planners
    • all consultations should include one or more sessions where the Councillor(s), planners (including traffic planners) and citizens walk and cycle the affected area(s)
      • I would add to this that Councillors need to use the infrastructure they approve.  I like the idea of a winter and summer transit challenge, but we also need Councillors to do winter and summer pedestrian and cycling challenges.  The reality is that it is hard to get around this city by any other mode than car, particularly in the winter.
    • Demand again and again that cars be slowed to 30km/h or less in residential zones (which applies to much of downtown Ottawa).  Using road design, not just signs.
    • make sure the experience of getting to and from the LRT on foot and by bicycle is delightful
    • invest in Vision Zero now
    • allocate budget according to target modal share
      • including increasing subsidies for transit, and decreasing subsidies for single-passenger vehicles, in particular parking subsidies

It’s important to understand that this involves reallocating money.  Road redesign costs money.

Vision Zero done properly is an integrated process with road redesign.  Vision Zero isn’t about some sign you stick in your lawn asking people to slow down.  Vision Zero means that every single time there is a death of a vulnerable road user, every single time, there is a detailed investigation of the design of the road involved and an analysis of the design as a risk factor.  Then you spend a bunch of money to redesign the road to make it safer.  And you keep doing that, over and over, until it actually is safe with zero fatalities.  That’s Vision Zero.

The thing is, the 2013 Transportation Master Plan already says the right words:

  1. Create a Supportive Built Environment
  2. Maximize Walkability
  3. Develop a Great Cycling City
  4. Transform Ottawa’s Transit System

I think it’s Jeffrey Tumlin who has observed that in city after city where he consults, they have plans that say all the right things about active transportation and transit, and then they continue to budget for a 1960s single-passenger car city.  You can see a presentation by Tumlin in my blog post What has prevented Walkable Urbanism, and how to fix our cities.

END Personal Observations

By all means, participate in the Official Plan consultations

ottawa.ca/newop

But remember that ultimately what matters is the yearly budget and the monthly Council votes.