Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ottawa pedestrian advocates, unite!

This evening, pedestrian advocates from across the city will meet at City Hall to get a group for Ottawa pedestrians on its feet. In recent years, frustrations about walkability have grown in the absence of a common venue for people across the city to come together to draw attention to pedestrian issues or push for the implementation of the Ottawa Pedestrian Plan.

Somerset Ward Councillor Diane Holmes (note: I work in her office) has decided it's time to bring these people together so they can organize themselves into a group that will speak out in unison about the barriers to walkability across the city.

There are big problems and little problems all across the city, and systemic problems that transcend individual communities. One problem is illustrated above at the Corktown Footbridge (my favourite bridge): even though it was built specifically for pedestrian use, the steps are blocked off to actively prevent pedestrian use in the winter. Both functionally and aesthetically, the barricades--which clearly weren't part of the original concept--detract from the award-winning design of the bridge.

Following on the recent successes of the cycling community (including Citizens for Safe Cycling and the Ottawa Biking Problems website), Ottawa walking advocates have started a twitter account, @OttWalk, and a website for Ottawa Walking Problems, where you can submit reports of problems spots around the city and pin them to a map.

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


  1. I'm cool with walking that 10ft. extra to use ramp behind the stairs. Stairs are more hazardous in the winter and it's probably safer/costs less to have people only use the ramp. As for the aesthetic quality, it's only like this for a few months, and all someone needs to do is pick up the barricades.

    I'm sure there are better examples than this.

  2. The Corktown bridge is a disaster during winter. Using the ramp to bypass the stairs shown in the picture isn't a big deal. The real problem is the stairs leading down to the canal, which are also closed.

    On the eastern side, people must walk several hundred metres in a loop along the bike path to get to the canal. For people going downtown, this means walking in the wrong direction.

    But more importantly, on the western side, there is no other way to get to the canal! Access stairs onto the skateway are conveniently located at this location, but big staircase connecting the canal access to the bridge, bike path, Somerset St. W. and Queen Elizabeth Dr. has been completely barricaded! Obviously they placed the skateway access stairs in perfect alignment with the bridge stairs for a reason, so why is it now closed? Pedestrians needing to use these stairs include residents from the Golden triangle, all the tourists in all the hotels in the Golden Triangle, and pedestrians walking through the Golden Triangle, and all the motorists parking in the Golden Triangle. Pedestrians must walk half a kilometre away, and half a kilometre back to travel a few metres.

    I recently went for a walk to the ByWard Market, and I encountered no less than 8 pedestrian barricades strategically placed to make my walk impossible. This included the tiny 3-step staircase connecting the NW corner of the Château Laurier to Major's Hill Park, and all access points from the Plaza Bridge to the canal were locked down. It was extremely frustrating to keep hitting dead-ends on well-travelled pedestrian routes!

    My final complaint is of the ugly wooden boards placed along the railing of the Corktown bridge. It is ugly, and unprofessional. They also do not clear the snow from the bridge very well.