Last week I spoke with Wallace Beaton of the Westboro Community Association about the proposed closure of Golden Avenue between Richmond Rd. and Byron Ave. He’s previously joined us before to talk about the re-emergence of the WCA- an interview that I wish had been recorded, as it speaks very well to the cyclical nature of voluntary and community organizations. In any case, for more blog postings, turn to Greater Ottawa and Miss Vicky.
Wallace is careful not to stake out an official stance on the matter, important given that the association has yet to do the same, but it is clear that there is a great deal of confusion as to why the proposal has emerged the way it has. The closure was initiated by the Councilor, and comes while the community is in the midst of doing a traffic study, so it is all very curious, and to me seems somewhat ad hoc.
I am somewhat familiar with the area- it is at Golden that the city’s unmarked bike path switches from Richmond proper to the much quieter Byron Ave., and I can count the number of times on one hand that I have seen a car looking to turn onto or off of the street. I also don’t live there, so can understand that those that do might see things differently. That said, decisions that happen in one part of the city have repercussions on those that happen elsewhere later, so non-westboroians should ignore this matter at their peril.
Shawn Micallef of the excellent Spacing Magazine visited Ottawa a few weeks ago- you can read his thoughts here.
It’s always nice to get an outside perspective on where you live (especially when he literally walks through your neighbourhood)- particularly when it reinforces what you already see. I like Ottawa a lot, and Centretown certainly feels like home, but there are really two Ottawa’s: the one you see on T.V. for national events like Remembrance day, and then everything south of Queen St., which too often trades on the reputation of the former. I tend to think that the former is bland and sterile, and see so much wasted potential in the latter.
Below is what I sent to David Reevely for his Worst Intersection in Ottawa Poll:
I am a bit surprised that no one has suggested Baseline and Merivale in your worst intersection contest.
A couple of thoughts on it: First, it seems to always pop up on lists of “most accidents in Ottawa”, and my (limited) encounters with traffic certainly hold that it can be more than a bit confusing and produce congestion, even if not to the same degree that narrower and busier choke points (ie Bronson and the Queensway or Bronson and Carling). Secondly, and more in keeping with your comment about the pedestrian focus of the response, is that the intersection makes distances in the area seem more daunting.
I only realized this this weekend, when a friend of mine was in from out of town, and staying with a friend who lives in a townhome in Central Park. In conversation, in-town friend remarked that one of the things he misses about centretown is that it was much easier (and nicer!) when able to walk to the grocery store. Out-of-town friend pointed out that in this case, the problem was not that the store was much farther (it may even be closer), but that the way the roads were designed discouraged people from walking even that reasonable distance.
Now, I know am not so naive as to suggest that we can totally avoid having busy streets, or that we are just one magic fix from removing people from their cars and having a happy people-powered transportation infrastructure. But there should be a goal of creating safe, efficient roadways that also encourage people to get out of their cars and walk as much as possible. Here we have an example of an intersection that not only is inefficient at being safe, but in doing so forces people into their cars, compounding the traffic problem and limiting the ability to create communities.
(cross posted to Cycling in Ottawa)