Walking and cycling play a vital role in any efficient public transit system, because they allow people to get from the major bus stops to their destinations. Mayoral candidate Jim Watson thinks the city has done well trying to encourage cycling, but he thinks more can be done.
Obviously cycling is something that we should be investing in. The city, to its credit, has been putting some money aside through the capital budget, but we have a long way to go in terms of our cycling infrastructure compared to cities like Montreal. Everything from cycling stands, parking, to segregated lanes, to the fact that I think we still need to put more resources and emphasis into education, in terms of both motorists and cyclists themselves.
Watson said he supports the pilot project for a segregated bicycle lane in Ottawa's centre. And although he realizes that businesses may have problems with some of their on-street parking being handed over to bicycles, Watson thinks that's exactly what a pilot project is for: To find out what, exactly, a more permanent change would mean.
I’d like to see the pilot project go ahead, with the segregated lane. I’m not privy to what the recommended lane is going to be, I think we have to heed the legitimate concerns of the business community—if it means, for instance, they’re going to lose a good portion of their parking, and they rely on their parking for customers, are there ways that we can accommodate both the parking and the cycling, as they do in some municipalities? But until we actually have a pilot, we’ll never know what the impact is going to be, one way or another. I’m prepared to support a pilot project. Is there a street better than Somerset that would be less disruptive to the business community? There may well be, and I think we should keep an open mind and determine if we can reach a compromise between different interests.Watson sees walking part of another issue for Ottawa: The reality that as our city's population ages, proper maintenance of the infrastructure for pedestrians will become more pressing.
I was talking to a seniors’ group the other day, and we’re trying to always get seniors to be physically active and living in their homes, yet the design of the sidewalks in many instances in Ottawa is very dangerous for people to go walking in wintertime. The steep slopes at the driveways, I don’t think they’re well-designed, and the actual maintenance of the sidewalks is not as good as the road maintenance. Roads are often bare pavement, and sidewalks tend to be a secondary priority for the city.
Still, Watson cautions that money for these projects has to come from somewhere.
We have some challenges, it all takes money, and it has to be prioritized against everything else.
the design of the sidewalks in many instances in Ottawa is very dangerous for people to go walking in wintertime. The steep slopes at the driveways, I don’t think they’re well-designed, and the actual maintenance of the sidewalks is not as good as the road maintenance. Roads are often bare pavement, and sidewalks tend to be a secondary priority for the city.
Sidewalks are a secondary consideration in terms of walkability of the city.
Tackle the problem of mass-segregated land use.
Kill the fixation with beautiful "setbacks", especially of public buildings, which only add walking distance and require additional walkway maintenance and bother, espeically in winter. This means you, unbelievably stupidly site-planned Greenboro library, A CITY-BUILT FACILITY. If the city itself can't get things right, why should private developers be expected to?
Stop allowing spaghetti-soup new suburban street layouts that do not permit crow-flies walking from A to B, and force you to inefficiently backtrack on even the shortest of walking trajectories.
Start retro-fitting some existing spaghetti-soup layouts with this principle in mind as opportunities present.
Put a moratorium on converting existing lights, where pedestrians get a walk as of right, to call-only walks.
Get rid of existing call-only walks along traditional main streets like Bank, Montreal Road, Somerset West, etc.
Where call-only buttons are required, make sure they work. All the time. Even in winter. ESPECIALLY IN WINTER.
Cut an at-grade pedestrian crossing into the south platform at Bayshore station; the forced overpass is entirely unnecessary for the amount of bus traffic at that point.
Really, sidewalk design is among the least of Ottawa's walkability problems. People who actually walk, instead of those who think they are pandering to those who walk, understand that.
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