Many Ottawa streets are dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, and too many neighbourhoods lack affordable and convenient public transportation options. Badly designed streets not only discourage active lifestyles and limit transportation choices, they can increase traffic congestion and hike road maintenance costs.
The people of Ottawa deserve safe and convenient transportation choices, including practical alternatives to driving. To achieve that, especially in light of the city’s future growth, our streets must be considered as more than just conduits for cars. Streets should be accessible to all people, especially pedestrians, cyclists and users of public transit.
Recognizing the problem, in 2013 City Council endorsed a “Complete Streets” approach to ensure our city’s streets are designed to provide safe and comfortable access for people of all ages, genders and abilities. Such streets should accommodate multiple modes of travel and can include such features as on-road bike lanes, wider sidewalks, protected crossings, landscaped areas, and traffic-calming measures. Because Complete Streets must fit local needs, each one will be unique.
Building on lessons learned in other cities, the National Complete Streets Coalition has identified 10 key points for effective implementation of a Complete Streets policy. Among the most important are:
- Pedestrians, bicyclists and transit passengers of all ages and abilities should be considered as equals to drivers of trucks, buses and automobiles.
- Complete street design must take local community needs into account and balance the needs of all users.
- The policy should apply to both new and renewal projects, and should cover all roads.
- Complete streets should contribute to a comprehensive, integrated and connected network for all modes of transportation.
Ottawa’s Complete Streets policy hints at these points, without explicitly affirming them. The challenge is to turn the policy’s good intentions into action.
Over the past decade Ottawa spent 18 times as much to facilitate driving as it did on pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. Future road projects should prioritize alternative modes of transportation. The decisions made by our next city council can ensure safe and convenient transportations choices for all residents of our city.
We Asked the Candidates
Making streets safe and convenient for all is a key municipal issue. Ecology Ottawa asked all municipal candidates to strongly support the city’s Complete Streets approach.
As part of a general survey ahead of the October municipal elections, Ecology Ottawa asked all candidates for mayor and city council to answer three questions regarding their plans for ensuring Ottawa’s streets are safe and convenient:
- If elected, will you commit to prioritizing pedestrian, cycling and affordable public transit infrastructure over automobile infrastructure in meeting the future growth in travel demand in the urban area?
- If elected, will you work to ensure that all new roads and road renewal projects integrate Complete Streets principles?
- The City’s new transportation master plan increases funding for cycling infrastructure but delays many investments for over 15 years. If elected, will you work to increase the overall level of investment and accelerate the pace of implementation?
We released the initial results of the survey on September 15th and the news is encouraging. See our press release here and the link to the report below.
Nine out of ten Ottawa City Council candidates said they would prioritize investing in pedestrian, cycling and affordable public transit infrastructure in the urban area once elected, according to a survey conducted by Ecology Ottawa. And about eighty percent supported accelerated funding for safer cycling in the city.