This Tuesday, October 10, you should go to Riley Brockington’s Open House at Brookfield High on Brookfield.
For many years, better cycling infra is planned for the route between Hog’s Back Falls and Saw Mill Creek and on Tuesday, you will have a preview of what the plan is about. Councillor Brockington’s invitation already mentions that this is going to be a bidirectional multi use pathway link. Initially I thought it wasn’t a good idea to design a bidirectional solution until I realized that it is part of a larger network and then it does make sense.
Prince of Wales
Let’s start at the west side at Prince of Wales intersection with Hog’s Back Road. From Prince of Wales towards the bridge over the canal, Hog’s Back Road has two narrow eastbound lanes and therefore the vast majority of cyclists of all ages and abilities cycle on the sidewalk, which has already been adopted by the locals as an unofficial MUP anyway.
Coming from the east end crossing the heritage bridge, you are supposed to walk your bike. However, there is no space to walk your bike. Another example of putting up a sign for liability reasons, I don’t think it would hold up in court. “but, but…we had put a warning sign there….:
The road squeezes on to a heritage swing bridge over the Rideau Canal. After the swing bridge, you can veer right towards the MUP’s on both sides of the canal or continue east. The path on Brookfield continues 150 meters further towards a bridge over the Rideau river. After the second bridge, you can enter Mooney’s Bay’s bike paths.
The heritage bridge doesn’t really have a surface, but one of those metal grid bridge deck structures you look right through. You have to walk your bike. You have to walk your bike on the second bridge too, which is a paved bidirectional pathway, and I bet you that if you ask why, no one has an answer. So no one does. Common sense prevails.
On the south side of Hog’s Back Road, east of the bridges, is a fairly decent MUP all the way to Riverside, where you have to cross a slip lane awkwardly, because by now, you are back on a side walk. Most cyclists cross Riverside on the cross walk and I suspect that will stay the same (there might be a ‘walk-your-bike-totally-ignored-by-every-single-cyclist’ sign and then we will continue on our new bi-directional MUP, all the way to the roundabout at Flannery.
Brookfield is overbuilt, with four lanes where two lanes will do. Brookfield is not a crazy busy street from what I have observed, but it is nice to see the full connection being built to the Saw Mill Creek pathway system and the canal pathways. Remember, we build for 8 to 80 (which really should be 5 -105 nowadays).
Brookfield MUP to connect to Heron Station and Saw Mill Creek
The Brookfield MUP
will should connect to the Saw Mill Creek pathway, which goes to South Keys. It also connects to the MUP leading to the Heron Road LRT station in a roundabout way (pun intended). There are also plans to extend this MUP across the Rideau River right into Carleton U.
To make it 100% safe, both ends of the MUP need work though. Getting to the MUP at Prince of Wales is a bit of a challenge. The slip lanes should go at Riverside; they are pretty terrible conflict zones in an otherwise nice future configuration. At the east end the roundabout configuration needs some modification.
Why? Let’s take a look at the image underneath here and you will notice that there is no legal way to get on the path to go further east if you cycle in the vehicle lanes on the roundabout. Alternatively, you could walk your bike for 1/2 or ¾ roundabout, which few people do.
Twice traffic from the left
On the east side (top part of the image, you will see two lanes leaving the roundabout. I have found that confusing as a pedestrian (walking counter clockwise), as you tend to think you just crossed the lane leaving the roundabout (traffic coming from the left) and you expect that standing on the median, the traffic comes from the right after the roundabout. But is coming from your left again. I would suggest paving these tiles at the cross walk, as I saw them in Toronto recently:
Potential conflict zones on roundabout
The design is pretty straight forward I suspect, the difficult part is the roundabout. Typically a roundabout has many potential conflicts zones. Cycling inside the roundabout, which I always do, requires vigilance, as drivers move in with fairly high speeds and often don’t know how to navigate roundabouts properly. They can also easily cut you off if you cycle along the curb (so never do that) and they want to exit the roundabout. So take the lane and stay there and signal your intentions very clearly. The vast majority of the drivers will give you space as long as it is clear what you are doing.
A few years ago I cycled in the traffic circle on Prince of Wales at the Arboretum and a moving truck barreled right into the roundabout without even touching the brakes. I hit the brakes and waved in a protest type of way and he pulled over on the shoulder and told me that I was not supposed to be in the circle. I explained a bicycle is a vehicle, but he don’t want to have any of it.
Another time, I cycled towards the roundabout in the proper lane to go straight across and a driver in some tiny sedan opened his passenger window and yelled to me ‘to fuck off to a gym’. Until today, I don’t know why he said that, but I guess he had other problems and just took his anger out on me. I think that actually happens often, a cyclist in the way of a hard working middle aged male Canadian on
his  their way to his beloved family is just the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Alternatively, the city could design a cross ride towards the north side of Brookfield, west of the roundabout, in order to avoid 90% of the roundabout for cyclists. This is a suggestion Felix of our Bike Ottawa advocacy group made. We submitted it to the city, so we’ll see if it is incorporated in the plan.
All in all, I think it is a nice initiative, depending how the traffic circle will be adjusted. When it is finished, there is a proper connection between Prince of Wales and the canal pathways on one end and to the Saw Mill creek pathway on the other end. Continuing east from Saw Mill Creek, you’ll end up in a residential area and a (crappy) shortcut gets you to Bank next to Beddingtons (where the duvets are always on sale), near Rebec and Kroes.
Brookfield Private sector post-secondary student residence
As I mentioned, the road isn’t very busy, but that might change, because there are plans to develop 770 Brookfield Road. The plan is to build an 8 and 9 storey post-secondary student apartment complex. There will be ground floor retail, landscaping and underground and surface parking.
Ask the developers on Tuesday if the student buildings will have easy access to a large, clean, heated, well lit bike parking inside the building. With bike lanes in front of the building and if a new bridge over the Rideau will be built alongside the O-train bridge to Carleton U, the car parking at the to be built buildings will likely be empty and the demand for bike parking high.
Hope to see you at Brookfield High Tuesday, October 10 from 6 -7. After 7, there is an open house on the new plans for the student high rises. Let me know what your thoughts are and we’ll take them to the infrastructure group of Bike Ottawa.
Read the update on the open house here in my next post.