West Side Transportation Cornucopia, part iv – Scott Street at Holland

Scott Street, between Holland Avenue/Tunney’s Pasture, and Merton, is currently  configured as four lanes. In addition, there is an on-road painted east-bound cycle lane:

There is also a bi-directional MUP on the north side of Scott, that handles all westbound cycle traffic. It also serves the east bound  cyclists who are too timid  intimidated  very prudent and prefer to cycle well off the road. I never cycle back from the big box Loblaws via the Scott cycle lane, instead I cross at McRae or Lanark and relax on the MUP. Waaaay fewer intersections and no driveways!

As far as I can tell (no official word, yet), Scott Street will go through several versions over the next few years.

First, for the six months after the opening of the Confederation LRT line the bus lanes will remain painted on the street, for those times if / when the LRT is down or disrupted (chalk it up to learning curves with the signals, when it snows, or rains too much, or there’s leaves on the track, etc…) and it is replaced by emergency parallel bus service. This is similar to the bus #107  that replaces the Trillium Line trains when they are out of service. Except there will be a lot more buses required to move people from the downtown to the Tunney’s transfer station.

It is going to be interesting to see how the city can prevent those lanes from being taken over by motorists on the days the train is running. Although there will still be regular scheduled buses on Scott, such as the future 95’s that will go to and from Gatineau (not downtown Ottawa). Will they actually ticket drivers who pop into the lane well before their next turn or intersection?

Yet, if they don’t keep the cars out, the lanes will be of less use when detour buses are running, and motorists will soon demand they remain permanent. I just hear some Councillors now, whining “after spending $billions on transit it’s time to do something for the long suffering motorist” sort of thing. Leiper and McKenney will have their work cut out for them to keep those lanes empty of cars for the winter of 2018-19.

After the City is confident the Confederation Line is running reliably, Scott will give up its bus lanes between Holland/Tunney’s and Bayview.  Eastbound, there will be one general traffic lane, and a painted cycle lane, with separator stakes, like today. No eastbound bus lane.

For the westbound, the City is leaning to keep TWO westbound general traffic lanes, ie the bus lane becomes a general traffic lane. Is there really such an imbalance of traffic that westbound needs twice the capacity? Cyclists and pedestrians will use the existing MUP instead of a curbside sidewalk.

Holland Intersection

The intersection of Holland Avenue and Scott Street is key to having a safe, easily accessible station. There are lots of pedestrian movements here, moving from the employment centre at Tunney’s to Holland and the shops and services to the south. There will be commuters and residents crossing Scott to get to the major transit station there. In addition to cyclists accessing the station itself, and Tunney’s employment centre, there will be lots of east-west cyclist commuters passing through as they are heading to and from the downtown.

The City has actually managed to fit in a  protected (for peds and cyclists) intersection here. I think this will be our first one in a heavily built up area. Similar intersections are easier to install in suburban locations where there is more space. City staff deserve kudos for getting this design (although some improvements will be suggested below).

At a normal intersection, vehicles turn right pretty much smack up against the the crosswalk. To see pedestrians, or curbside cyclists, motorists have to look about 100 degrees right, through their passenger’s head or head rest, out the right side window. At the same time as they are looking 90 degrees the other way, to check on other vehicles coming though the intersection from the left. Every pedestrian and cyclists can tell tales (if they survived) of the notorious right hook.

In the protected intersection, there is a little eyebrow, a bit like a mini bulb out, that forces the motorist to proceed a bit further into the intersection before turning, and since the cross ride and  cross walk have been pushed back, the motorist is now facing the pedestrian / cyclist right in front of the windscreen, much the same way as you now see pedestrians through the front window when turning left through an intersection.

Here is the current planned layout of the intersection, with cyclists on the green cross rides and pedestrians on the adjacent zebra-stripe cross walks:

above: City of Ottawa drawing

Perhaps it is easiest to examine the various cycle movements one at a time. A cyclist coming from the west, on the curbside painted cycle lane, approaches the intersection in her own buffered, flex-posted lane. About 100′ from the intersection, the lane transforms into a cycle track, an asphalt surface raised above the curb to sidewalk level, and parallel to the sidewalk. This is the raised design we can see today on Churchill Avenue and Main Streets.

At a green light, the cyclist proceeds across Holland Avenue, and picks up the raised cycle track again and continues east towards the downtown. Where the track crosses the pedestrian crosswalks, there will be pavement markings to warn peds to cross with care. The zig zag line on the pavement warns cyclists to watch out for (and hopefully yield…) to people waiting for or boarding the bus. About 100′ past the intersection the cycle track transitions back to a painted, buffered cycle lane.

I sincerely hope that several years from now (2023?), when Phase 2 LRT is open, and all the commuter buses have left Tunney’s Station for good, that the whole length of Scott can be transformed into a complete street a la Main Street and for its whole length motorists can enjoy their unshared lanes, cyclists have cycle tracks, and pedestrians have sidewalks, with a consistent treatment the whole length of the street.

But until then, the layout shown above will be in place. Note that for cyclists coming from the downtown and heading west, the MUP will curve slightly into the intersection with Holland, there will be a crossride, and shared space with pedestrians in front of the station. With continuous coloured pavements, and the judicious use of textured pavers, benches, planters, and curbs, it should be possible to gently steer peds and cyclists into their own spaces with minimal conflict. Of course, there will always be distracted / idiot people. The station forecourt is not a high speed zone for anyone. Rush hour congestion will be its own traffic calming.

The area of Scott Street immediately in front of the station has a design that doesn’t thrill me. Why is it that the prime front door space of the downtown stations was given over to car parking and car drop off? And now so is the Tunney’s Station. The main streetside door to the station is marked with black triangles on the drawing. Right in front, curbside Scott Street, is the area called PPUDO. Apparently our transportation boffins have renamed “kiss and ride” (too sexist, probably) into another tongue twisting jargon. PPUDO stands for Passenger Pick Up and Drop Off zone. Pa – pudo. Say it with confidence and maybe the planners will listen to you.

Maybe a hundred feet west of the PPUDO is a bus stop zone. Tunney’s may be a transit station and transfer point, but transit passengers get more exercise and second billing for space.

Cyclists get parking spaces another 100′ or so further west, well away from the station, and well away from eyes-on-the-street public safety. Their parking pad is roughly where the “temporary” one is now. BTW, cyclists coming from the west are expected to cross Scott at the signalized intersection at Smirle, and ride along the MUP to the parking pad. I suspect many bikes will be chained to any convenient object much closer to the front doors.

Another BTW, immediately beside the BUS STOP in the above drawing, is the existing concrete bridge that spans the transitway cut. In earlier station renderings, this was shown converted to a pedestrian access to the station (there are staircases…) and a fare paid area. Alas, for the street planning exercise shown above,  we are expected to understand how the intersection, road, and bus stop layouts will work on drawings in which the station is invisible. Top Secret, I guess.

Tunney’s Station seen by a pigeon flying over the Pasture. Note the City spells it with one N.

 

Most of the description to this point has focused on east-west movements, for cars (2 lanes west, 1 lane east); cyclists (eastbound lane, westbound MUP); pedestrians (sidewalks, protected intersection).

Now lets look at the north-south movement. Here’s the intersection drawing again, this time pretend you are cycling northbound along Holland, approaching the intersection with Scott. Being a diligent and legal cyclist, you are to the right side of the cars:

 

How, exactly, does a cyclist get to the cross ride across Scott?

The transition bits from street level asphalt to raised above the curb cycle track that benefit Scott cyclists are totally absent for the Holland and TP Driveway cyclists. Apparently traffic staff have decided that all available space is to be given to motorists.

Pity the cyclist coming along Holland. Should she stay in the curb lane, and then at the intersection drive into it like a car and mid-way across drift right into the crossride?[red dot path in drawing below] (while motorists in that same lane expect her to turn right as she was departing from a right turn lane!)…Or should she creep up to the stop line, and then do a sharp 90 degree right turn to get onto the raised cycle track and then sharp left to follow the crossride?[blue dots] Or should she move out into the centre lane at the intersection approaches, and cross like a car, ignoring the cross ride put there specifically for her safety and comfort?[green dots]

And once our intrepid cyclist reaches the far side of the intersection via the crossrides, there is no transition onto TP Driveway or Holland. The  MUP cyclists are similarly left in the lurch.

Yet there appears to be a readily available solution for this. Notice the receiving lane at TP Driveway is almost two lanes wide.

And again, on the south side, there are TWO receiving lanes on Holland. Yet in both cases, only one car at a time can access the lane. I can see no reason for there to be two lanes here when only one can be used. **

Removing the curbside Holland southbound lane (even if just for 50-100′) gives us at least 10′ of additional width to reallocate. Enough room to add a 5′ wide cycle track on both sides of Holland Avenue. And probably enough to create a suitable receiving cycle track on TP Driveway too.

Cycling facilities and road changes are done on an incremental basis, as work needs to be done. So not all bits of infra connect well to the older stuff adjacent. It may be some time before additional bits are built, eventually creating a connected network. After all, the Queensway wasn’t built in a day.

But also, unpredictable and inconsistent installations create uncertainty and in some cases risk. In the case of the Holland intersection, the uncertainties can be reduced by having cycle tracks on the north and south legs of the intersection. Someone’s life will depend on it. Maybe your own.

next: Scott from Merton to Bayview Station.

 

** For a classic example of too many receiving lanes, consider the case of Carling Avenue starting at Bronson. For 70 years, there were 3 receiving lanes. About 15 years ago this was narrowed to two receiving lanes, and more recently it has been repainted to be one receiving lane. After all, only one lane of traffic at a time can turn onto Carling. The three lanes was merely aesthetics, so it would look like 3 lanes in each direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “West Side Transportation Cornucopia, part iv – Scott Street at Holland

  1. To answer the question of why are there two west (out) bound lanes, but only one east (in) bound lane on Scott, one must consider the priorities of the people who report to work at City Hall. Getting home on time is a far higher priority than getting to work on time.

    Cynically yours,

    Ron

  2. Do not know your experience with grocery bike of Scott/Holland/Tunney intersection but as an irregular ped user of that intersection it is chock a block with foot traffic to / from the cubicle farm at Tunney’s.
    At certain periods (lunch hour) the ped traffic consists of multiple herds moving in opposing directions to / from the food delivery options south of Scott, Going to be very difficult to observe ground level pavers or painted lanes to determine desired routing.
    The herd effect does deliver one benefit. Wall of peds creates safety from turning auto as there is zero possibility of passing thru the human barrier.

  3. As a regular car user of this intersection – going to and from an elderly relative’s apartment at Wellington and Holland I find the current configuration and signage very frustrating. Recently it took three lights to make a left turn off Scott onto Holland. Because of the heavy foot traffic, turning east/right from Holland on to Scott is also very difficult. It is also amazing to me that the “no right turns on red” is applicable at all times and on all days.

    I would suggest two solutions. 1 – the pedestrian crossing should be converted to what in Saskatoon used to be called a sramble corner, pedestrians costing in all directions at once. I used a corner like this tw ice today while visiting a client in Montreal. Shouldn’t be too hard to manage from ottawans if québécois and Saskatchewians can do it! 2 – the “no right turns on red light sign” could then be removed. In the meantime it should be added to. Just up holland at the aforementioned corner of Wellington and Holland, there is the standard addition of “7 am to 7 pm, Mon-Fri”. That would save good citizens driving cars long waits in evenings and on weekends.

Thank you for reading. So what do you think?