A Breakthrough for Safe Streets at City Hall

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(Ottawa) October 7, 2015: Today the City of Ottawa ended a 50 year-old practice of engineering roads with the almost exclusive interest of cars in mind and adopted a plan that also represents the interests of pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. The Transportation Committee unanimously approved a new Complete Streets Implementation Framework and, in so doing, took an important step towards safer, healthier, and more sustainable streets.

“Ottawa just catapulted itself into the forefront of the growing complete streets movement," said Graham Saul, Executive Director of Ecology Ottawa. "People who walk, cycle or take public transit will finally be included in the formula that city engineers use to design our streets. Complete streets are about moving people, not just cars, and it's about time we had a framework that reflects the interests of all users, ages, abilities, and modes of transportation. Ottawa just catapulted itself into the forefront of the growing complete streets movement." 

The City of Ottawa adopted a Complete Streets Policy in its 2013 Transportation Master Plan. Today it introduced a Complete Streets Implementation Framework to guide the implementation of the new policy (see "Background" below). Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work.

“Over time, this policy will make it safer for your children to walk to school and your ageing parents to get around town," Saul continued. "It will help you cycle to work without feeling like you're taking your life in your hands, and it will help promote a world class public transit system. The best way to fight traffic congestion, promote safe streets and reduce pollution is to give people a range of transportation options."


BACKGROUND The City of Ottawa agreed to adopt a complete streets policy in its 2013 Transportation Master Plan, but only now presented the Transportation Committee with a detailed implementation framework.

The key change in the implementation framework relates to "Level of Service". Put simply, Level of Service is a formula that traffic engineers use to measure how bad rush hour delays are in comparison to the normal flow of traffic. It provides a way of assessing traffic congestion and categorizing roads based on how quickly cars are able to move down the street, free of delays, and how easily they can maneuver in the roadway. This information is then used to design and reconstruct our streets over time.

According to the Complete Streets Implementation Framework approved by the Transportation Committee today, instead of having only one Level of Service (for cars), Level of Service criteria will be used for all modes of transportation (cars, pedestrians, cyclists, public transit, vehicles and trucks). This will not be a cookie-cutter approach though. Different kinds of roads serve different purposes and will continue to be designed in different ways. However, if you walk, cycle or take public transit you will no longer be left out of the traffic engineer’s design formula.

This change is an initial but important step in the right direction for Ottawa to move towards becoming a sustainable and green capital of Canada. It positions Ottawa as a leader in terms of finding concrete ways to implement the complete street concept.

Ecology Ottawa is non-partisan grassroots environmental organization that is working to make Ottawa the green capital of Canada. Ecology Ottawa’s vision for Ottawa is one where pedestrians, public transit and cyclists are favoured over cars, where renewable energy and conservation is favoured over pipelines and the use of fossil fuels and where trees, green spaces, rivers and watersheds are protected and enjoyed by all who live in Ottawa.

Read More:

Transportation Committee Meeting Agenda: app05.ottawa.ca/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=6453&doctype=AGENDA

Multi-Modal Level of Service (MMLOS) Guidelines (draft report):


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For more information please contact: Graham Saul, Executive Director, Ecology Ottawa, Cell: 613-710-2819 [email protected]

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