Friday, July 26, 2013

Better pedestrian access coming to Lincoln Fields Station

Lincoln Fields Station is a huge hub of Ottawa's western Transitway through which nearly all buses headed west travel. But it's also kind of isolated by roadways, hemmed in to the north by the Transitway, the west by the Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway, the east by a big field, and the south by Carling Avenue. It was never designed with pedestrians or cyclists in mind, and has used obstacles (mostly fences and barricades) to try and shepherd people along major detours in order to get anywhere.

For example: Someone headed westbound who wanted to go to the shopping centre would be forced to climb a set of stairs on the westbound platform, cross over the Transitway to the eastbound platform, cross over again to the local platform into the main station and then along to Carling Avenue--after which they're finally on an actual street, but no closer to the shopping centre itself than when they initially got off the bus. (Of course, many people simply take their chances running across the Parkway,  a pretty treacherous crossing during rush hour.)

Thankfully, though, that's changing, and the station will get slightly better from a walking perspective, as was confirmed earlier in the week by Bay Ward councillor Mark Taylor:

As you can see in the image at the top of this post (thanks to Taylor for sending it), the NCC finally agreed to install a crosswalk on the Parkway where there's already a traffic light (installed for buses turning into the station) in order to provide a pedestrian crossing where people had been forced to make one themselves. (Note the sections where sod is to be placed in the image, which will cover the well-worn footpaths jaywalkers have established over years of crossing.) It's an overdue but still very sensible move to make, and will hopefully make pedestrian access to the major station at least a little bit safer.

The project is well on its way and, based on what I've seen there, should probably be completed within a couple of weeks.

Of course, there's a larger issue at stake here: The lack of initial consideration for pedestrian access to many transit stations in the first place, especially those near major roadways. It's an issue that caused a fatality two years back at the Eagleson Park and Ride, which was poorly designed for pedestrian access. Lincoln Fields is another station with poor accessibility, and the conventional response to it--installing physical obstructions to block pedestrians--is not sufficient to compensate for these errors. These obstructions rarely prevent pedestrians from crossing dangerous roadways, but almost always make those crossings more dangerous than they were originally.

If Ottawa is serious about encouraging people to walk, bike, and ride the bus, they need to ensure connectivity between those systems is possible--especially walking and using transit. If you make it easy for people to get to stations, you give them one less reason to avoid transit.


Anonymous said...

Why sod over the peoplepaths? Why not make them official?

Peter Raaymakers said...

Anon@10:34: Your point's well taken and I'd agree that basing the crosswalk on the line that people are already taking would be sensible, but I think there was a more pressing requirement to align the crosswalk with the existing traffic light there.

Also, there's a big hill between the proposed sidewalk on the western side of the Parkway and the existing bike path; people weren't about to climb that hill, so they took a direct route to the existing path. The proposed sidewalk should make it easier to get across safely.