Wednesday, October 5, 2011

O'Connor and Kent: Cross with care

It feels like I took this photo just a few weeks ago, but it was actually June 2010. The street we're looking down is Lewis (my favourite stretch along my now-famous shortcut), and the cross street is O'Connor.

Like Kent Street, the one-way traffic on O'Connor travels pretty darn fast when it gets the green light. Both O'Connor and Kent were widened decades ago to be very close to the buildings, leaving little room to see around the corner when you're at the stop sign on the cross street.

I didn't see the collision, but I suspect this is what happened to the unfortunate driver of this sedan: he looked as far as he could up O'Connor for a gap in traffic to cross at Lewis, and was slammed by the SUV coming down O'Connor far enough away but going fast enough (not necessarily speeding) to not be visible from the side street.

This was a common occurrence on Lyon Street before the speed humps were installed on it. The traffic engineers were up in arms at the thought of speed humps on an arterial road, but so many cars had crashed into the house at the south-west corner of Lyon and MacLaren that the community had had enough and political will overruled the engineers. Now Lyon still carries lots of traffic, but that traffic is calm enough for a bike lane to run alongside.

The Centretown Community Design Plan suggests looking at converting Metcalfe and O'Connor back to two-way traffic. The plan's consultants have suggested this (as well as the rest of the transportation aspects of the CDP) be investigated as part of the Downtown Ottawa Mobility Overlay, a.k.a. Downtown Moves. Now that the DOMO and its terms of reference are out, we see that Centretown isn't part of the core study area. We'll see how many resources, if any, go toward looking at the one-way streets.

In the meantime, when you're crossing Kent and O'Connor on a side street, either on a bike or in a car, be careful!

[Look for more one-photo posts under the label Singles]


  1. I'm definitely in favour of returning our downtown streets to their long forgotton bi-direction roots. I walk past this site every morning on the way to work and there are definitely a lot of cars travelling way too fast. I think Metcalfe heading downtown gets even worse. What's the posted speed limit here? 50 kmph?

  2. Some cities in Europe are lowering speed limits in the cities. I think it is high time. Having been the victim of a high-speed rear end collision I know first hand that 60 can be too fast in the downtown because so many cars speed. 60 quickly becomes 70. I know that Queen Elizabeth is an NCC road but try crossing it at rush hour sometimes. Cars go so fast. There should be some flashing yellow lights to help peds cross especially at Waverly and Delaware where there are paths that lead from the MUP to the road. Maybe I should let my councillor Diane Holmes know :)