A bad design for a bad intersection

Google capture of the current intersection at Bronson and University.
Google capture of the current intersection at Bronson and University.
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Recently, Councillor Shawn Menard posted a new design for the intersection on Bronson with Sunnyside and Carleton U. Carleton U is adding a left (northbound) turning lane, as you can see in the image and someone decided to add green paint for cycling.

Very disappointed with Carleton U solution

I am very disappointed with this design. The green paint has no function here; the slip lanes discourage traffic to slow down. The important connection for cycling here is crossing Bronson from Sunnyside into the university property vice versa. The current drawings don’t show much of an improvement, if at all.

Slightly modified slip lanes and a gallon of paint. Image from Shawn Menard’s screen

I am assuming the slip lanes are kept in there to avoid traffic back ups on Carleton’s University Drive and on Bronson for traffic turning into University Drive. We have an opportunity to make a safer intersection and it is being squandered.

Leave the green paint in the can

Sometimes it is better though, and I hesitate to say this, but sometimes it is better not to add green paint. Paint alone doesn’t do much, it can only be a modestly supportive material to a proper bicycle network. Green paint is not the holy grail of bike infra design. Here it creates a false sense of security at a dangerous, large intersection. If it is a word, I call it bike washing.

I have sent a brief email to the people in charge expressing my disappointment in the treatment of the intersection, but haven’t received a response yet. I believe Bike Ottawa has reacted as well.

Protect the east side at Carleton U

We have seen some modest improvements on Bronson over the years, but this doesn’t cut it. Back to the drawing board we should go. I am going to suggest a protected intersection and if money is an issue, at least build the protective areas at the east side of Bronson at University Drive.

There are beautiful protected intersections on Dynes and Prince of Wales and Dynes and Fisher. This should be the standard when redesigning intersections.

Google capture of the north west corner at Carleton
Google capture of the north west corner at Carleton pre-construction and likely more or less post construction
Prince of Wales at Dynes intersection with protected bike lanes
An example of how the same corner could look like, including a right turning lane from Bronson into Carleton

Dangerous stretch of road

But, I hear you saying, citizens can ride through Brewer Park instead. Indeed, you will hear me saying, they can. But the point is that with this half baked design, you create a false sense of security. Just south of it, someone was killed probably 15 years ago, just north of it a cyclist lost her life. Bronson is not an modest arterial, it is the start of an 80 km/h (read 90 km/h) highway really.

Remember too, in exactly such an intersection design with slip lanes, Mario was killed on Hunt Club while cycling in a bike lane. Nothing has changed at that intersection but let us at least not recreate fatal designs when much better solutions are readily available.

Ottawa and the university should not even entertain this design, it is bad, it is unsafe, it is silly really in a city that carries the Gold Standard Banner for cycling. Carleton doesn’t have a great reputation if it comes to active transportation and this is the moment to change that.

This might be the right place to repeat that long standing joke: Carleton U, where the “K” stands for “Quality”.


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  1. 3 examples of poor bike infrastructure design | Hans on the Bike

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