At the Transportaion Committee meeting on July 5, councillors voted 6-4 in favour of a “complete street” on Main Street (read city staff’s report recommending the complete street option). The good news is that the motion passed; the not so good news is that it was a close vote. This item will now be debated at the full council meeting scheduled for July 17.
Councillor Chernushenko has been a leader in promoting the need for more complete streets in Ottawa. What we need now is the support of more councillors. This is not just about one street in Old Ottawa East. Complete streets are important throughout our entire city. If you live in a different ward, please let your councillor know that a complete street on Main Street is important for everyone. Some points to consider:
- The city’s Transportation Master Plan (TMP) supports complete streets: “Pursuing targeted service levels for motor vehicle traffic is not the City’s sole and primary concern. Public safety is paramount, and service to non-automobile modes may take precedent in transit priority corridors, designated cycling routes, and pedestrian-focused neighbourhoods.” (Section 6.6, pg. 63)
- Complete streets are endorsed in the Downtown Moves Study, a guide for the planning and design of street improvements, which was approved by council in March 2013
- The city’s Official Plan Policy (OP) for Mainstreets states: “To achieve the vision for Mainstreets…where the city is proposing public works within a Mainstreet’s right-of-way, it will consider changes such as the institution of on-street parking, improvements to the pedestrian and cycling environment, streetscape enhancements, lane reductions and measures to enhance transit ridership in the area.” (Section 126.96.36.199)
- The Old Ottawa East Community Design Plan (CDP) recommends wider sidewalks, cycling options, and considers narrowing Main Street from four to three lanes.
- City staff have advised that the additional travel time for vehicles on Main Street as a complete street during peak hours will be an extra three minutes.
- Lack of cycling facilities on Main Street.
- Currently, many sidewalks along Main Street are only 1.5m wide, whereas the city standard is 2.0m (arterials) to 3.0m+ (for Mainstreets).
- Currently, excessive speeds have been recorded on Main Street, especially south of Beckwith/Bower. The posted speed limit is 50 km/h, but several blocks south of Beckwith/Bower exhibit 85th percentile speeds in excess of 70 km/h. This is a safety concern for all modes of transportation.
- Of the 200+ comments received from the public open houses, 86% prefer a lane reduction and 80% specifically cited their preference for the complete street option.
Overall, in recommending a complete street for Main Street, city staff argued that it, “Strikes an appropriate balance in meeting the City’s objectives identified in the OP, TMP, and the Old Ottawa East CDP.” It’s time for Ottawa City Council to endorse the ideas contained in the Official Plan Policy and Transportation Master Plan. Encourage your councillor to vote in favour of a complete street on Main Street. It’s the right vision for Ottawa.