Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A safer crossing for pedestrians on Somerset

Well, the City of Ottawa has been on a roll, fixing up a number of problems that have been on my list for a while, including fixing the potholes on Lewis and the sign at McLeod and Bank, as I blogged recently.

Those were both nuisance issues, but one true safety problem has been fixed: the lack of crosswalk lines at Somerset Street West and The Driveway.

To recap, this was perhaps the only stop sign in Centretown that wasn't accompanied by a stop bar and crosswalk lines, depriving motorists of an important cue to give right-of-way to cross traffic (including pedestrians and cyclists). I'd been nearly hit on my bike by a motorist who stopped at the stop sign, but blindly started again without registering that I had the right of way along Somerset (thanks to my yell, he braked hard and his bumper just tapped my front fork).

In this photo, it looks more like a laneway to motorists coming from the right.

I'd noticed this past spring that the lines at the nearby intersection of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway and Somerset West were faded, suggesting that the city would be repainting soon. A prime opportunity to add crosswalk lines to The Driveway (the near intersection in the photo below). And this was the gist of my April post on the subject, which I forwarded to City Hall.

I was a bit surprised to see in early August that the lines at the Corktown footbridge had been repainted, but no lines at The Driveway. The motorist at the target intersection is behaving like many others do, blocking the unpainted pedestrian crossing (though there weren't any pedestrians this time). The first photo in this post was taken the same day as this one:

I e-mailed the person at the City who had previously informed me that these paint markings would be added to the city's list. She replied, again assuring me that it was on the list and would be done when they get to it. (The roads department works in mysterious ways...)

So I waited, and after seeing a new crosswalk painted near my office last week, I booted out to this location and, sure enough, it was there! There was now a clearly demarcated pedestrian crossing linking Somerset Street West to the Rideau Canal Pathway and the Corktown Footbridge.

Here's the motorist's perspective (roughly). It's much clearer where the intersection starts, and who has priority.

Don't forget to attend tonight's All-Candidates meeting for the provincial election at 7pm at the Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre on Kent at Florence. Liberal, Conservative, NDP and Green candidates have all confirmed they will attend.

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