20.1.12

A METRO PROPOSAL FOR OTTAWA - PART 1

Ottawa metro underground subway system A modern city needs a proper transportation system and Ottawa does not have it yet. Although the Ottawa Light Rails project is a step in the right direction, I don't believe the current proposed design will solve many of the issues we're currently facing in the city.  So I'm proposing a better solution : Ottawa Metro, a larger underground subway system.

Ottawa transportation issues buses cars bicycle pedestrians metro underground subway system The main "issue" with the streets downtown Ottawa is that most are very narrow. They were not built for buses, on top of cars, on top of bicycles, on top of pedestrians. The population is increasing but the available space has not changed. It just gets more crowded. And with the green belt, we can't really expand either.

There has been various attempts to "solve" the problem,  such as adding more OC Transpo buses on the roads, adding a bike lane on Laurier, widening streets on Kent, narrowing the street on Bank, etc. These are all Band-Aid solutions that don't really address the issue: There isn't enough space. Therefore pleasing one group is always going to be at the expense of another. Let's take a closer look at the "solutions".

1. Widening the roads
Ottawa transportation issues buses cars bicycle pedestrians metro underground subway system
One of the current "solutions" has been to widen the roads like Kent Street (previously mentioned on Urbsite) so that more cars could come to the city. But widening the roads, eliminates the green space and eventually the sidewalks. Most buildings lose their curb appeal, it becomes less inviting or safe to walk there and the city ends up becoming uglier. Not to mention that it increases pollution. So that's not the right solution.


2. Adding more OC Transpo buses
Ottawa transportation issues buses cars bicycle pedestrians metro underground subway system
Adding more buses doesn't do much to improve the situation either. Although buses help reduce the amount of cars in the city, they come with their share of issues. It might have worked at first but we now have ridiculous conga lines of buses on streets like Wellington St. and Albert St. during rush hours. More often then none, it's now faster to walk (and sometime's drive) which defeats their purpose in the first place. Also, on small two-way streets like Bank St., where there is only one lane in each direction, the buses become the cause of much of the traffic during rush hour as well. They have to stop often and cars or trucks can't pass around them. Furthermore most buses also pollute. They are also the subject of many complaints (ex. Public Transit in Ottawa blog) about not being there on time, not showing up at all or bus drivers not picking up people. So that's not the right solution either. 

3. Adding more bike lanes 
Ottawa transportation issues buses cars bicycle pedestrians metro underground subway system Adding more bike lanes may sound like a good idea at first, but since they just end up taking space where there already isn't enough, this ends up making things worst. The number of limited parking spaces and stopping zones is reduced and we found ourselves in situations where delivery trucks, for example, have to block the bike lanes and/or traffic. It's just a mess.

And sharing the road with cyclists is even worse! (Who thought of that one?) The average speed of a cyclist is 15 to 30 km/h. The average speed in the city is 30 to 60 km/hr. Most cyclists will never go as fast as a car or a bus for a long period of time. So they more often end up slowing down traffic when they share the road in area where traffic should go faster. So definitely not the right solution, not to mention that it's dangerous to cyclists.

4. Adding an underground metro system
Ottawa transportation issues buses cars bicycle pedestrians metro underground subway system
The best solution would be to add a modern metro system underground. This is the only solution where we actually create more space to accommodate for the population increase instead of moving things around hoping that we'll find more space. This would release a good amount of the pressure above ground. With a proper metro system in place, there would be less cars, less busses and less bicycles on the road, which in turn would make more space for more trees, benches, patios in front of restaurants. The city would then be a much nicer place to live in. This would make the city more inviting to both locals and tourists alike. We would even be able to turn a couple more streets into pedestrian streets. How nice would that be? 

Photo : via Reddit

5 comments:

  1. Is that it? Pretty thin...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ummm... in most functional cities we don't see bike lanes being thrown out in favour of roads. Lots has been published on this. We need options for active transport as well as public transport. Bike lanes, public transit, walking and cars should be balanced transportation alternatives. Right now they are totally out of whack in favour of cars. So I'm not so sure why you are proposing throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @cyclista : How am I "proposing throwing the baby out with the bath water"?

      I'm proposing increasing the amount of available space for everyone by adding an underground transit. Not sure I get your point.

      Delete

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