Are Our Streets Safe and Accessible? A Walking and Cycling Audit of Lowertown

Making streets safer for people, not just cars should be a city priority according the Lowertown Community Association and Ecology Ottawa. An “active transportation” audit – evaluating walking, cycling, skateboarding and wheelchair use in Lowertown – will take place Wednesday June 19 starting at 5:00 PM at Centre Routhier, 172 Guigues St.

Lowertown streets need to be safe and accessible for people of all ages and abilities. The audit, a two-hour tour of the neighbourhood, will be conducted by Ottawa cyclists and walkers, residents using wheelchairs and parents with strollers. Ottawa City Councilor Mathieu Fleury, City of Ottawa staff and representatives of Walk Ottawa, the King Edward Avenue Task Force and Citizens for Safe Cycling will also be participating in the audit tour.

The audit checklist will look at the safety, comfort, and convenience of Lowertown streets. For example: Are streets well-lit? Are pedestrian lights reasonably short? Are sidewalks free from obstructions such as sign poles or sandwich boards? Are sidewalks wide enough for strollers and wheelchairs?

“Lowertown residents walk and cycle more than other communities in Ottawa,” says Liz Bernstein, Vice-President of the Lowertown Community Association.  “With about 40% of Lowertown residents either biking or walking to work, this audit is an important step in improving the livability of the community. Now we need to work with City staff to make these improvements happen.”

Lowertown residents, through City of Ottawa planning processes (including the recent ByWard Market review), are calling for safe and accessible streets. Lowertown residents face dangers from cars and trucks. From 2005 to 2009, four pedestrians were killed on King Edward Avenue and more than 60 people were injured.

“Safe and accessible streets are good for cities,” says Graham Saul, Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa. “Cities that prioritize people over cars end up spending less on expensive road infrastructure and maintenance, they cut greenhouse gas emissions and have active and healthier citizens.”

The audit report will be issued July 16, 2013.

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