At the time of writing this article (April 23, 2020), traffic is calm in Old Ottawa South. There are fewer cars on the road and the Bank Street Canal Bridge has been re-configured to allow more space for pedestrians and cyclists. Isn’t it wonderful! But we are all looking forward to some degree of normalcy returning to our lives and our streets. Unfortunately some of the traffic and safety issues will return as well. In anticipation, the OSCA Traffic and Safety Committee has developed objectives for 2020/21 and on April 21, 2020, these were endorsed by the OSCA Board of Directors, so work will begin.
Those of you who have followed the activity of the Traffic and Safety Committee over the years will recognize many of these objectives from previous years. Each year, it seems that we chip away but significant challenges still remain.
Safety on Bank Street
Every year, we priorize safety on Bank Street, including the Bank Street Canal Bridge as a focus for our attention. In 2019, we were delighted that we were able to make progress on the east/west traffic signals on all but one of the intersections. Pedestrians no longer have to push the “beg buttons” in order to stop traffic to cross Bank Street. As well, advanced pedestrian signals were installed, and at Bank and Aylmer the countdown signal was extended from 10 to 12 seconds in order to give pedestrians more time to cross.
But what about speeding cars, red light runners, illegal left turns and unsafe crossings for children at Belmont? These are issues we have been trying to address but have not made much progress. And we are getting impatient!
Bank Street Bridge
And what about the Bank Street Canal Bridge – how many years have the citizens of Old Ottawa South pointed out the dangers that pedestrians and cyclists face in crossing that bridge? We have seen of late that change is possible – a new temporary lane has been created for cyclists and pedestrians! Why do we have to look back – can we not build on this initiative to make this architecturally beautiful bridge a joy to cross?
Well, in 2020 the Traffic and Safety Committee will focus on Bank Street, not exclusively but energetically. Our objectives include: increased safety for pedestrians at the Bank/Riverdale intersection; strong lobby for red light cameras and photo radar, a crossing guard at Bank and Belmont; permanent renovations to the Bank Street Canal Bridge; and increased safety measures at the Bank and Sunnyside intersection.
30 km/hour Speed Zone
Off Bank Street, you may have noticed that OOS west of Bank has been declared a 30 km/hour Speed Zone. We are happy about this and look forward to OOS on the east side of Bank receiving a similar designation. In 2020/21, we will be putting forward recommendations to the City and the Councillor for traffic calming measures that will increase the effectiveness of this designation.
Colonel By Drive
Changes will also be coming to Colonel By Drive. After working for over three years with the Councillor(s), the City and the NCC, we are pleased that construction will start in May 2020 on a safe crossing of Colonel By Drive at Seneca, including signalized lights. This will slow down traffic on Colonel By Drive. We will continue to monitor progress until this project is complete.
Bike lanes have become a topic of discussion in OOS with a new one already in operation on Seneca, a new one on Aylmer, and a proposed bus/ bike lane on Bank (which the T&S Committee has spoken out against because of the safety risk to cyclists and the removal of parking spots that currently serve our local businesses and constrict traffic flow thereby lowering vehicle speeds). Last year we discussed the need for the bike lane on Cameron to be segregated from vehicles and the City installed plates for the flex sticks but none appeared. We’ll follow up again this year. We will also continue to advocate for a stop sign on Seneca at Cameron to increase safety for both pedestrians and cyclists at this busy intersection.
Sue Neill is a member of the OSCA Board and Chair of the Traffic and Safety Committee and the Nomination and Elections Committee.
This article was originally published in the May-June 2020 edition of the OSCAR.