Monday, November 8, 2010

Rescue Bronson Avenue this Wednesday!

By now you have hopefully heard of the Rescue Bronson Avenue initiative at The group was started by the Centretown Citizens Community Association, the Dalhousie Community Association, the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation and councillor Diane Holmes in response to the reconstruction plans for Bronson Avenue from Sparks Street to the Rideau Canal.

We're holding a public meeting on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 7pm at McNabb Community Centre, assembly hall, to Rescue Bronson Avenue!

See below for how you can help and the background.

Rescue Bronson: What can you do?

Background on Rescue Bronson Avenue

The underground infrastructure beneath Bronson Avenue is over a century old and needs replacement. As a result, there is an opportunity to revise the way Bronson Avenue looks on the surface. At this point, it looks like work will be done in 2011 from Arlington to Gladstone, 2012 for Gladstone to Gloucester, and 2013 for Gloucester to Sparks.

The City's engineers (and the consultants they hired) want to rebuild Bronson Avenue exactly as it is: a four-lane arterial with no room for cyclists, pedestrians, or front yards. In some places, they even want to widen Bronson's lanes and narrow the sidewalks.

While we invited to a public consultation group, our feedback fell on deaf ears. The road would be rebuilt first, then plans could be made for landscaping. When the community said we want more trees on Bronson Avenue, the consultants replied there wasn't enough room, and proposed fake trees instead.

When we asked for a pedestrian crossing between Gladstone and Catherine, they proposed one at Flora--because it was halfway between--instead of at Arlington, where most pedestrians cross.

When we pointed out that traffic volumes are much lower north of Gladstone, and were low enough to look at a road diet (which would reduce crossing distances for pedestrians and provide space for landscaping, while carrying the same amount of motorized traffic), we were stonewalled.

Here's Bronson Avenue today. The City's engineers want to make the outer lanes wider, which will encourage motorists to speed past each other on the outside lane around left-turning vehicles in the centre lane. Any cyclists or crossing pedestrians in the way won't be seen until it's too late.

By contrast, here's just one way Bronson can be reconfigured to improve flow. No more jockeying for position.

Other alternatives include parking lanes with bulbouts for trees, a middle lane that changes direction during the day, and others (see more examples in Eric's post on a recent Toronto road diet). The point is that the City isn't even considering any of these ideas. The numbers we've seen indicate that traffic north of Gladstone is low enough to warrant a road diet, but the City insists on the status quo.

The same "status quo" message goes for the triangle at the north end, between Albert and Slater. This slanted section through the escarpment is unfriendly to all modes of travel, yet the most the City would propose is a slight narrowing to reduce pedestrian crossing times, or perhaps a "refuge island" so pedestrians could cross in two stages. Surely this is the right opportunity to look at reconfiguring this awkward triangle?

The City's engineers and consultants haven't proposed any solutions because they've prepared their designs before even listening to what the community's problems are.

While Rescue Bronson has identified some problems (like those above), we're sure there are more out there. So please come to the public meeting on Wednesday and help show your support to Rescue Bronson Avenue!

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