Transportation Committee Should Choose Complete Streets Approach for Main Street

Transportation Committee Should Choose Complete Streets Approach for Main Street
Posted on July 9, 2013 | Citizens for Safe Cycling | Written on July 9, 2013


Transportation Committee

Last week, Transportation Committee discussed the redesign of Main Street. After a five our marathon meeting, the vote was 6 in favour - 4 against the proposal.

Below is the letter that went to the Transportation Committee:

In the next few years, Ottawa’s Main Street in Old Ottawa East is scheduled to be dug up to replace aging infrastructure. We would like the city to take the opportunity to bring Main Street into the 21st century by deciding on the complete street proposal (#5). In other words, the street should be designed to take all modes of transport into consideration.

In real life, this means that proper sidewalks and bicycle infrastructure will become part of the streetscape.
Citizens for Safe Cycling, Ottawa’s cycling advocacy group for 29 years, believes that this is the right thing to do for the following reasons:

1. Ottawa’s 20/20 Growth Management Strategy describes a focus on Walking, Cycling and Transit. We quote: “Ottawa implements policies that favour walking, cycling and public transit over the use of private motor vehicles, thereby facilitating the use of modes of transportation that are socially accessible, environmentally healthy and economically feasible”.

2. The Ottawa Transportation Master Plan refers in many different places to improving road safety, providing high-quality services and facilities for walking, cycling and transit, maximizing access to community services and facilities by walking, cycling and transit to name but a few lines.

3. Main Street is an important connector for cyclists from Alta Vista, an older neighbourhood that is within cycling distance from many downtown destinations such as employment, festivals and the Byward Market; it is also an important connection to the canal pathways.

4. The Laurier Segregated Bike Lane pilot has proven that emergency response times and accident numbers have not changed. With creative planning, no parking was lost, on the contrary, more car parking was added. There is no serious worry about parking loss by the citizens in Old Ottawa East anyway. Businesses are on board as the temporary parking will be replaced with 24 hour parking.

5. Bike counters across the city show that better bike facilities attract more cyclists, exactly the goals of the Growth Management Strategy and the Transportation Master Plan.

6. A Main Street that is not dominated by a commuter route will be an attractive neighbourhood for new developments where people can shop, work and play within a walking and cycling distance from home without needing a car for short distances.

Accommodating an ever-increasing number of cars is a vicious circle that needs to be broken in order to really change the way we want to build our city. According to Stats Canada, Ottawa is ranking 3rd in bike modal share in commuter trips (2.4%) now after Victoria and Kelowna but well ahead of well-known Canadian cycling cities such as Montreal and Vancouver.

We are on the right track. Therefore, we strongly suggest the Transportation Committee to consider a complete street approach for Main Street, Ottawa. This is not about repaving a street; it is about a vision for the next 40 years, a vision in which a street is a place for everyone, not just for the hurried car commuter who passes through.

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Citizens for Safe Cycling (CfSC) is a not-for-profit incorporated, independent, membership-based organization founded in 1984. It is a voluntary association made up of cyclists like you who work for better, safer,... More


Lesley Grignon

Main Street is in Ottawa East, it runs east of the canal from Smyth Road to Colonel By Drive :) I also agree that the transportation committee consider a complete approach for Main street. I would also add that special attention be paid to the high volume of student pedestrian traffic (from the university, high school, primary school and children's garden) and to the Smyth/Main street bridge over Riverside Drive. The bridge is a particularly difficult navigate today due to high motor speeds, and off/on ramps. Hospitals are close, by but please let's not persist the risk of needing them.

Excellent argument. Certainly a 'complete street' approach provides for a safer, more walkable community. I hope community activists across the City of Ottawa will get behind this initiative by writing to their councillors, as it will help make Ottawa a more livable city, especially for residents in their local communities.

This article is self serving and biased. The majority of people would rather have a 4 lane main street instead of reducing it to 2 lanes, like Laurier and installing segregated bike lanes. What is wrong with painting a white line to designate the bike lane instead of coddling the small percentage of bicycle riders who do not pay the same amount of taxes as car owners. I ride a bike as well and I don't expect the red carpet to be rolled out and infringe on narrowing the streets. This causes bottlenecking and a slower response time for emergency vehicles. Main street is a major route to the hospital and where will the cars go to pull over to let the emergency vehicle pass if there is no room. I don't believe that it will not hamper emergency response time, it's ridiculous. Main street is also very busy at rush hour as people have to cross the pretoria bridge, it's the only way to get to the other side of the canal. I have seen and have ridden my bike down main street as well and i don't think it's so hard to do and have not seen others having a hard time with it either. Main street is also a few blocks from the canal which has bike lanes that go straight to downtown. So once again this article is wrong and self serving. This is another insult to taxpayers of ottawa and should be left as a 4 lane when being redeveloped..

Alex deVries

The credibility of the author is immediately lost with the following sentence:

"bicycle riders who do not pay the same amount of taxes as car owners"

Projects like Main St. are entirely paid for by property taxes. We pay those no matter what form of transportation we use: walk, bike, transit, drive or not at all.

By portion, far more is spent on car facilities than bike facilities. Cyclists are subsidizing drivers, not the other way around.

Even beyond spelling, punctuation and gammer, there's more wrong with this comment. Maybe someone else will point out other problems.

For me the main issue segregated cycling lanes solve is 'cycling safety'. Integrated lanes may work in some parts of the City, but not out here in Nepean where motorists show little respect for cyclists on the road. It doesn't help, of course, that there are often no lanes whatsoever to cycle on.

Greenbank Rd. is a perfect example. There are three public schools on Greenbank between Banner Rd. and Bellman Rd., a three block distance, but there is no place for people to cycle on Greenbank. For kids coming from the other side of the railroad tracks (Leslie Park and Briar Green), it is very dangerous to ride to school along Greenbank Rd., especially under the bridge.

This is why kids have always crossed the tracks by foot, carrying their bikes by hand and even riding along dirt paths to get to community streets in order to avoid riding their bike along Greenbank. Unfortunately, now many take the school bus instead of riding their bikes to school... which doesn't help their overall health.

In Europe, where I lived and played hockey for two years, they have figured out that the best way to ensure the safety of all involved, is to create separate paths for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. When each has their own place, there are far less problems. Yes, the upfront cost is more, but doing it right the first time avoids having to redo it later on, which will be more expensive at the end of the day. It also helps avoid law suits, which we all know can drive the overall costs way up.