Active Transportation Audit Calls for Safe and Accessible Streets

Ecology Ottawa and the Lowertown Community Association present the results of an active transportation audit.

Improvements needed for pedestrian, bicycle and wheelchair accessibility in Lowertown

Active-Transportation Audit Calls for Safe and Accessible Streets
Improvements needed for pedestrian, bicycle and wheelchair accessibility in Lowertown

An audit of active transportation in Lowertown, released today, calls on the City of Ottawa to adopt a Complete Streets policy as part of the City’s official transportation master plan.

The audit report, co-authored by Ecology Ottawa and the Lowertown Community Association, states that “if we want a vibrant and bustling ByWard Market, a truly great community in the heart of our city, then we have to design our streets with all users, ages and abilities in mind.”

The report calls for a complete-streets approach to Lowertown to ensure safe and comfortable streets for pedestrians, cyclists, and the mobility-impaired, not just cars. Longer-term recommendations include improvements to:

  • Public Spaces  with added benches, trees, water fountains and public art throughout the community;
  • Walking and Biking with expanded pedestrian zones and the creation of a William Street pedestrian area running from Rideau to Clarence Street; and
  • Traffic and Parking with a ban on truck traffic on King Edward Avenue and Rideau and Waller Streets and reduced on-street parking.

The City of Ottawa is expected to table its Transportation Master Plan next week. “The transportation choices we make on a daily basis affect not only the liveability of a community but the environment as well,” says Graham Saul, Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa. “Walking, cycling and other forms of active transportation help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote healthy communities.”

Some short-term audit recommendations include:

  • bans on sandwich boards on sidewalks throughout the ByWard Market;
  • a two meter minimum clear walking width to allow simultaneous passage of a wheelchair and a pedestrian;
  • enhanced bicycle access through improved bicycle parking and signage; and
  • enforcement of the 40 Km speed limit on King Edward Avenue and on Sussex Avenue. 

“We have to put an end to planning that prioritizes cars and trucks over the health and safety of the community,” says Lowertown Community Association Vice-President Liz Bernstein. “As the area with the highest pedestrian circulation in the city, we want Lowertown and the ByWard Market to be a place where we can safely and easily work, shop and live using active means of transportation. We look forward to the City implementing the audit recommendations.”

The Lowertown audit, a two-hour tour of the neighbourhood, was conducted in June by Ottawa cyclists and walkers, residents using wheelchairs and parents with strollers. Ottawa City Councillor Mathieu Fleury, City of Ottawa staff and representatives of Walk Ottawa, the King Edward Avenue Task Force and Citizens for Safe Cycling also participated in the audit tour.

The Lowertown audit was the first of a number of neighbourhood-driven active-transportation audits. Another joint community and Ecology Ottawa audit was recently conducted in Centretown.

The Lowertown audit report will also be released at City Hall on September 19 at 5:30 pm. Minister Meilleur and Councillor Fleury on hand. The event is open to the public.

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