Albert-Scott Interim alignment, west from Champagne Avenue
Open house 11 Dec 2017 at Tom Brown arena, 6pm to 8.30pm
This story is mostly aimed at those citizens who are keen on city planning and the details of what is planned for Albert Street going west from City Centre Avenue past Bayview Station, then along Scott Street to Tunney’s Pasture. . So be warned, it is detailed commentary on the City’s proposals, which are improved from the previous version but still fall short in a number of life-threatening ways.
I think cyclists and pedestrians and transit users should be most concerned.
I suggest you read these comments by opening up your desktop screen with two pages, one side being the PDF of the plan, so you can scroll along the plan with your finger while you read the comments.
The PDF to be used at the Monday evening meeting is here:
Don’t be alarmed when you first see the PDF, it looks like a civic park plan so much of it has been painted in giant green brushstrokes. Use the + and – buttons at the top of the PDF to enlarge the plan and find the lower right corner where City Centre meets Albert, and follow along as we go west.
- The city shows three westbound lanes as Albert approaches City Centre Avenue (“CCA”, in short form). But only two are marked, which may be an oversight. It also shows two lanes eastbound from CCA, when there is only one lane coming eastbound from the overpass at Bayview Station. Why the additional lane EB? Is this going to become a lengthy stacking lane for Preston northbound when that road is built someday?
- Albert between CCA and the overpass is shown as a “complete street” design. This is good. Note that Albert east of CCA going through the Flats is also supposed to become a complete street in 2019.
- [revised, with newer info]: There is a bus storage bay on the north side of Albert just west of CCA will be used for the No 107 buses that will replace the Trillium Line when it is closed for 19 months or so in 2019-20. I wonder if it will removed once the Trillium Line reopens, or if it will be converted to a car passenger drop and pick up (“PPUDO”) zone. Also on the north side of Albert, going up the slope towards the Station, a new sidewalk is to be installed. But the new sidewalk on the north side of Albert is shown as only on a 2m sidewalk, ie no extra sidewalk width is being provided for a key pedestrian access point to the Station entrance. Congestion will result.
- There is a WB bus stop right in front of the Station plaza. Between 2018 and 2023, when Phase 2 LRT opens, it will be used by express buses from the west end that continue past Tunney’s to stop at Bayview and Pimisi, before heading off north to Gatineau on Booth Street. These bus routes will be in place to avoid forcing west end users to transfer once at Tunney’s, then again one or two stops later to go South or North. Those bus services will evaporate once Phase 2 opens, although there will still be one or two “local” routes along Scott Street, for eg the 16.
- The bus stop for EB local buses stopping at Bayview station is opposite the Station entry plaza, although passengers will have to walk further east to cross at the crosswalk signals before heading back on the north side. It is 100% predictable that passengers will “short cut” the approach to the crosswalk, walking diagonally in front of the buses, and assuming the signal light timing favours cars and motor traffic, the wait at a “don’t walk” signal will be long, further inducing peds to cross on the yellow light. This is a foreseeable risk, but is there any way to avoid it? (other than cattle fences along the curb).
- Between the overpass bridge itself and CCA the street follows “complete street” practices, with set back sidewalks, with separated, elevated above-the-curb bike lanes, and a “protected intersection” at CCA. This is Good. No, it’s Great.
- While it is possible that the south side sidewalk will be widened as part of the Trinity Station development, the plan should clearly state that the 1.8m sidewalk is temporary width, and should be at least 3m wide, on both sides of the street, in the final configuration. Since no development is currently proposed on the north side of Albert, that sidewalk should be built at least 3m wide right now. Why do we build expensive transit and stations and then cheap out on the pedestrian access to those stations? Surely the transit planners realize by now that Bayview is more than a transfer station, but that it has a substantial walk-in traffic and local access function? Uhh, maybe not.
- Starting right at the overpass structure, the elevated bike tracks become asphalt-road-level painted bike lanes. There is no indication of delineator plastic posts separating road traffic from the cycle lane. Since the design of the road currently induces motorists to speed up, this is worrisome from a safety and user comfort viewpoint. I think the narrower traffic lanes and presence of cyclists will also stress some drivers.
- The painted bike lanes continue west to Bayview Road. Since the road has a S-curve in it, and motorists currently “cut” the curve squeezing cyclists to the curb and intimidating pedestrians on the sidewalks who feel the speeding vehicles are ridiculously close to them and threatening their subjective safety, the design here fails both pedestrians and cyclists.
- There is no indication that the existing narrow sidewalks west of the overpass are to be widened to anything approaching a desirable width, say 3m. For a major pedestrian approach to a busy LRT Station this is ridiculously cheap and a safety hazard. The cross sections the city provides somehow manage to not show the sidewalk widths. Too embarrassing I guess. And they also do not draw attention that the overpass section will not have flex posts between the cycle lane and the general traffic. It will remain a hairy, scary place to cycle and walk.
- I see no physical reason for not having “complete street” design on the west side of the overpass, from there to the Bayview Road. The City’s intent to have a complete street west of Bayview someday anyway. I suspect the reason for the half-assed design is to save money, particularly the cost of relocating the crash barriers along side the road right of way (which predate the transitway and are possibly not needed between the station and Bayview road anymore anyway. ) The City should review the requirement for crash barriers on the north side of Albert west of the overpass.
- As EB traffic approaches the Bayview Road intersection, it is on a 3.5m lane. Yet the receiving lane on the east side of the intersection is 5.2m wide. I presume this is mostly because the asphalt is already there. However, this wide lane makes the pedestrian crossing distance longer and thus exposes pedestrians, within a half block of a major transit station, to more risk of being struck and killed by vehicles.
- On the east side of the intersection, there is a portion of pavement currently used as a bus stop, with a set-back sidewalk. The city proposes to leave the sidewalk setback, to keep the boulevard paved, and have the cyclists on a lane immediately beside the car and truck traffic. Does it not make more sense for the cycle track to follow the (hopefully widened-) sidewalk curb line, thus creating a hundred feet or more of buffered or complete street design? This appears to me to be a low cost or even free improvement.
- Traffic going NB on Bayview has a slip lane for turning EB onto Albert. This used to be a “merge lane” design from back in the 70’s when planners treated intersections like mini freeway interchanges and motorists were not expected to ever have to stop. I suggest the slip lane here is too broad, which induces speeding and old “merge lane” behaviour. The curb on the east side of the slip lane needs to be brought more parallel to the curb line along the west side of the slip lane, making it more of an intersection and less of a merge lane. There will still be plenty of room for trucks to drive onto the EB traffic lane.
- There is a MUP on the north side of the LRT corridor. It is used by cyclists. Yet the turns from the MUP onto Bayview are more than 90 degrees, making them awkward for all movements. And yet there is a large unused space on the east side of the Bayview underpass (currently bricked) that is going unused. How are cyclists on the MUP supposed to get to the Bayview/Scott intersection? The plan ignores this popular movement. The obvious answer is to have a bi-directional cycle track along Bayview on the northeast side of the intersection, up to the MUP. There is room for safe design, but is there the low amount of money required or the will on the part of the City? I also suspect the planners expect cyclists on the MUP to cross Bayview at the unmarked intersection of the MUP and Bayview road, north of the underpass. This works, maybe on a Sunday morning, but not when there is traffic. It is a foolish situation set up to kill pedestrians and cyclists.
- The Bayview-Scott intersection is used by a lot of cyclists, travelling E-W and N-S, and making turns through the intersection. Yet the intersection design is not a complete street or protected intersection design. This is a huge shortfall in the plan. There isn’t even a cycle box shown on the SE corner island for cyclists to make a 2 part turn safely. It’s like the planners just gave up.
- Strangely enough, the plan shows a cycle lane SB on Bayview, but it is not connected to the EB cycle lane approaching the intersection. For 50’ or so cyclists are thrown into sharing the intersection with turning cars and trucks. Given that the city owns a significant amount of side boulevard space here, there is tons of room to make the intersection design a protected one on this leg of the intersection. But apparently not the will to spend the dollars. Human life remains cheap in Ottawa.
- Let’s repeat: the Bayview-Scott intersection should be modified to be a protected intersection, there appears to be tons of room to do so on all four corners, so it is a matter of will, not lack of room.
- Along Scott Street, south side, the bike lane passes behind bus stop platforms. The lane will have an elevation difference and painted markings. This is a standard design I am content with for this interim Scott St design.
- Along Scott Street, north side, the city proposed making the current MUP uni-directional westbound only. I cannot understand why. The MUP is and feels safer to use than the on-street east bound painted bike lane. It has waaaay fewer intersections and no driveways, compared to the south curb side lane. Just leave it bi-directional, please. The speed demon commuters will use the EB on-road cycle lane; slow pokes and intimidated cyclists like myself will use the MUP. As will others of my “indicator species” of users, whom for political correctness these days I dare not name by gender, age, or anything else.
- Along the south curb side of Scott the cycle lane is protected from traffic by floating parking lanes and painted islands and occasional concrete islands. For an interim pre-complete-street plan, I am OK with this design. Not perfect, but acceptable and conventional. I’m the sort that would also throw in some additional portable concrete planters onto those islands.
- The current Merton Street access to the LRT right of way is shown as being a non-intersection, and therefore no traffic signals. Good. Unsaid, but presumably to come, will be a driveway-type access to the LRT right of way, as this has already been provided for in the construction and layout of the trackwork on the LRT corridor.
- Presumably, when Scott is finally rebuilt as a complete street, there will be an elevated cycle track, a buffer to the street, and wider sidewalks. I expect to see lots of intensification along this corridor, with a corresponding increase in pedestrian and cyclist traffic volumes.
- The intersection of Carruthers and Scott has a remarkably long crosswalk on the east side. The risk to pedestrians increases with the distance they are exposed to speeding traffic. Squaring off the crosswalk does increase the probability pedestrians will “short cut” the distance to the intersection, which is another hazard.
- The city proposes to install “walk your bike” signage at each intersection the north side of the road MUP crosses. This is a waste of money, IMO, and will be disregarded by pretty much every user. It isn’t like we don’t have enough useless signs that everyone ignores.
- The MUP has swerves built into it to slow speeding cyclists as they approach intersections. For the section between Carruthers and Hinchey, this results in a silly, wiggly pathway that most cyclists “cut corners” or smooth out to more straight path, by cycling on the wrong side of the pathway curves. There is no distance to “speed up” anyway, since there is a bus stop in the middle of the miniscule-ly short block. Just straighten the path already.
- The intersection of Carruthers and Scott is one of those where so much is left unsaid in the plan. There are a number of problems here that are not being addressed. This is an opportunity to fix problems that is being missed. On the SE side of the intersection there used to be the (old) St Francois school, later it became Odawa Centre. Then it was partly demolished and rebuilt as some expensive schoolhouse-looking condos. Between the old building and Scott, there is approval to build a 17 or so storey apartment building. If the garage entrance and exit is on Carruthers, which the city insists, then all traffic has to follow Carruthers, which is barely wider than a lane, south through the neighbourhood. Motorists will circle other blocks impatient with frustration. It seems pretty obvious to me that the first 100’ or so on the SE side should be widened to be a two-way street, allowing the Morley Hoppner apartment building an in-out access to Scott at a signalized intersection. And as such the developer should pay for the road widening too. But noooo, the situation is being left to fester longer, so that later fixes are more expensive.
- There is a mixed crossride/crosswalk at Hinchey, north side of Scott, which is an unsignalized intersection. These are not employed elsewhere, probably because they other intersections are signalised, and the city is saving money by not installing crossride signals. IMO, separate signals are only required in unusual circumstances, but our bureaucrats want them everywhere, at such great expense, we end up getting them no where.
- Parkdale has another very long crosswalk on the east leg of the intersection, same problem as at Carruthers.
- The Holland-Scott intersection is half of a protected intersection. By drawing the boundary line of this planning project along the edge of the LRT corridor, the city manages to avoid addressing how people get from the MUP or the protected crossrides of the intersection, onto Tunney’s Pasture Road. “It’s not our jurisdiction” and “it’s outside the project limits” are poor excuses for an inferior design that will predictably cause safety hazards because the walls separating government silos are sacrosanct.
- Note that there isn’t enough room for a NB bike lane on Tunney’s Pasture Road but there is room for a painted and curbed median to separate north and south bound traffic. Cars cannot bump into each other, but are welcome to strike cyclists and pedestrians.
- The situation is just as bad on the Holland side of the intersection, which the city does own, and isn’t adjacent the LRT silo. Even so, the city has opted to provide for two SB receiving lanes on Holland, even though it is only possible for one lane at a time to feed vehicles onto the street. There is only the need for one receiving lane on Holland SB. The 100′ or so of freed-up space could then be reallocated to wider sidewalks on Holland, a curb side cycle track or lane, and maybe even some safety provisions on Holland NB which is bereft of complete street or indeed, any sort of safety forethought.
- The plans for Scott Street somehow manage to not show the Tunney’s Pasture LRT station, or where its entrances are. Do our planners actually know these facts and aren’t telling us? An alternative explanation is worse: might the city be planning Scott without knowing those facts, which makes a mockery of the whole expensive notion of planning. Or maybe because they are embarrassed to show how poorly the design integrates with the Station. Come-on guys, show us the Station entrances and sidewalks!
- Why is the primest front-door space to the station given over to a Passenger Pick Up and Drop Off zone (PPUDO) for motorists? Why is the bus stop so far west of the intersection? What buses are expected to use it? Are there entrances that make this acceptable and ideal for transit users? If so, show them. In detail. And show cynical folks like me as alarmist. Honestly, is the city going out of its way to be opaque? We aren’t mushrooms.
- I find it interesting that the largest vehicles using this strip of Scott, OC Transpo buses, are able to exit Goldenrod onto Scott with a 3.5m receiving lane, but at Bayview general traffic is getting a 5.2m receiving lane.
So, after all my griping and bitching, the Scott Street interim plan isn’t too bad in concept. But it misses a lot of fairly easy fixes (possibly because they might cost money, and even modest sums seem unavailable). And it has some definite dangerous intersections that should be fixed before construction begins.