The Bank Street Canal Bridge has been a source of concern for neighbouring residents for years. At street level, it is unsafe and unpleasant for pedestrians and cyclists. From a distance, the bridge is beautiful with its rounded arches crossing the canal and has a historic designation – it should be a joy to cross, but it is not.
Since he has been in office, Councillor Shawn Menard and his staff have been working with City staff to try and find a solution to the woes of the bridge. Over the summer, he has asked for input to several proposals.
Residents of Old Ottawa South and other individuals and communities have been writing to the Councillor with ideas. Its not easy to find a solution to the bridge issues, especially in light of limited resources, competing interests and the need for support from other Councillors and the Mayor.
The OSCA Traffic and Safety Committee is among those communicating with the Councillor’s office on the options for the bridge. Given our ongoing support for separate spaces for cars, pedestrians and cyclists, it should not come as a surprise to readers that we favour option #5 in the given list of options. Option #5 has one lane for vehicle traffic in each direction, segregated bike lanes protected from traffic and wider sidewalks for pedestrians. There are issues with this option but it does present the bare bones for a safe passage across the bridge for all concerned.
One of the issues with this proposal is that the bike lanes do not meet the necessary widths. Perhaps the sidewalks could be kept at their current width to accommodate wider bike lanes?
The option favoured by the City staff and the Councillor’s proposal has two lanes for north bound traffic and one for southbound. Why is this extra northbound lane required? It seems that the historic Bank Street Canal Bridge is also a parking lot for buses waiting to pick up spectators coming out of events at Lansdowne Park. We’re not sure why this is and whether whatever agreement between the City and Lansdowne allows this but it doesn’t make sense that structures benefiting the safety of pedestrians and cyclists should be subservient to a structure which is designed for idling buses! The Councillor’s Office has indicated that they recognize the issues with this situation and are trying to find a solution. Let’s hope they do!
The favoured City option also does not include segregated bike and pedestrian lanes but rather a MUP (Multi-Use Pathway) on each side of the bridge with pedestrians and cyclists integrated. We have seen MUPs work but we have also seen them not work – for example, on Colonel By Drive between Bank and Clegg where pedestrians are totally over-run by cyclists. Again, we support a design where cars, cyclists and pedestrians all have their own space.
The opportunity to provide feedback closed on August 7, 2020 and a proposal will go to the City’s Transportation Committee on September 2, 2020. Please pay attention and continue to provide your ideas to the Councillor, the City and the OSCA Traffic and Safety Committee. We may not have another chance for a long time!