Old Ottawa South Community Association

Bank Street Pedestrian Crossing Signals in Old Ottawa South

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Many cities in Canada and around the world are using “Vision Zero” to guide their traffic and safety plans. And the City of Ottawa is no exception!

In July 2017, City Council adopted a motion “that staff be directed to bring forward a report with an updated action plan using principles set out in Vision Zero, for consideration by Transportation Committee, by the first half of 2019.” According to Wikipedia, “Vision Zero is a multi-national road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic.”

The OSCA Traffic and Safety Committee is looking closely at Vision Zero as a guiding principle in current and future strategies for OOS traffic plans. More about this to follow in future OSCAR articles.

One of the areas that the Traffic and Safety Committee has identified as a priority for 2018-2019  fits well within a Vision Zero approach: an investigation and evaluation of the pedestrian crossing signals on Bank Street between Bank Street Bridge and Billing Bridge. In this article, we want to present our findings—based on a combination of personal observations and information and data provided by the City - and propose a few changes. This article will focus on the East-West (EW) pedestrian crossing signals along Bank Street only, as the North-South crossing are all automatic and consistent. Signals along Riverdale and Bronson can/will be the focus of the next phase in pedestrian signal assessment.


The table provides an overview of the current situation along Bank Street. The main thing that stands out from this overview is how inconsistent the EW traffic signals for pedestrians are. 


Automatic EW signal cycle for pedestrians?

Advance signal for pedestrians?

Crossing time (walk + flashing signal)

Bank & Aylmer

No, except at bell times


7s + 12s = 19s

Bank & Sunnyside



7s + 12s = 19s

Bank & Glen/Belmont

No, except at bell times


10s + 12s = 22s

Bank & Cameron



10s + 10s = 20s

Bank & Riverdale



7s + 8s = 15s

Only one intersection has automated EW pedestrian signals (i.e. no need to actuate the button), while two others have automatic lights for half an hour around the Hopewell Ave PS bell times (8:35-9:05am & 3:30-4pm for Bank & Aylmer and 8:15-9am & 3:15-3:45pm for Bank & Glen/Belmont).

Also note that three intersections have an advanced EW green for pedestrians, while two don’t. Another thing to note is that for all the intersections that require pressing the “beg-button” to activate the pedestrian light, a car triggering the EW car signal will NOT also activate the pedestrian signal.

What’s in Place Elsewhere

The situation in the Glebe is quite different from that in Old Ottawa South. As part of the Lansdowne redevelopment, the Glebe Community Association successfully negotiated with the city to have all EW pedestrian traffic signals between Lansdowne and Strathcona put on an automatic cycle between 7 am and 7 pm on weekdays and 9 am and 6 pm on weekends.


The Traffic and Safety Committee believes that getting rid of the requirement for daytime beg-buttons* would be good for at least two reasons: 1) it would bring consistency to all intersections along Bank Street in OOS for pedestrians, which is especially helpful for children, and 2) an automated pedestrian EW green cycle will result in general traffic calming along Bank Street. We will therefore be negotiating with the City to give OOS the same treatment as the Glebe regarding pedestrian signals.

The Traffic and Safety Committee will also ask that all EW intersections have an advance signal for pedestrians. Anyone who crosses Bank at Sunnyside will agree that the advanced signal for pedestrians—lobbied for by OSCA—makes a big difference and makes a very dangerous intersection slightly safer.


If you have any thoughts or concerns regarding the proposed course of action, feel free to let us know by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no later than October 31, 2018.

* Please note: the buttons themselves would not disappear. They would still need to be pressed to request an EW pedestrian light change outside of the 7am-7pm window. In addition, the buttons also function as an auditory aid for visually impaired pedestrians when pressed for 3 seconds.  

Erik van der Torre has lived in Old Ottawa South with his wife and three sons for over 9 years. He is a member of Hopewell Avenue PS’ Parent Council and OSCA’s Traffic & Safety Committee.

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