The improved intersection on Colonel By at Main Street

Reading Time: 5 minutes

This week we check out the new intersection at Colonel By (NCC property) and Main Street. This area was a clear missing link in our cycling network as Main Street has raised bike tracks (mostly) and Colonel By has a pathway along the canal.

As you can see in the image below, it is an odd shaped intersection with a refuge in the centre. There are two parallel roads: Colonel By Drive and Echo Drive. As Main St. approaches in an angle, the design was confusing but for northbound traffic the wide corner made it easy to keep the pedal to metal when turning into Colonel By. Not great for the rest of us.

A birds eye overview of the Main street intersection from before the changes
Old situation. Colonel By in the foreground, Echo parallel behind it and Main Street coming towards you

A few years ago, when work on the canal walls was being done, a detour for pedestrians and cyclists followed along Echo Drive and detoured back to the canal at this intersection where a temporary crosswalk was installed.

From experience when taking tourists on bike tours I remember that not all drivers obeyed the rule that they had to wait for pedestrians crossing here, despite the signs, reinforcing the wish of many residents to build a safe crossing here.

Fortunately, there is now a proper intersection. But…you will miss the bike signals. Which makes the intersection a bit weird for cyclists as the detection wires have already been placed in the pavement. For now, you will have to push the pedestrian light button in order to cross the road. This explains why the city puts up a ‘walk your bike’ sign.

detail of an intersection with cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. It shows a walk your bike sign
A ‘walk your bike’ sign as the signals are not installed yet. What is that diagonal Twizzy doing there?

That sign will be temporary though as the city explains to me in this email:

“The installation at Colonel By and Main will have cross rides with green thermoplastic and cycling signal heads once the cycle tracks leading up to them are built to the east along Main Street.

We have detector loops installed at the intersection, but they are not active at this time, and will only be activated once the cycling network gets completed.

Given that partial Federal and Provincial funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) was provided with schedule restrictions for implementation (read: Deadline – Hans on the Bike), we separated out the intersection construction to take advantage of these available funds.

The required underground, utility, and road work yet to be conducted on Main Street, made phased activation necessary, while immediate benefit could be realized.”

So although this intersection currently may look a bit odd, it was a smart move of the city to use the ICIP funds before the deadline approached by splitting off this project from a larger project.

Here are a few images of the intersection I took early September 2022

A ramp pathwy ramp gradually going up towards the intersection. The canal is on the left, Colonel By drive is on the right. A fence stops peole from falling of a berm
The ramp from the canal leading up to the intersection at Main St.
A alrge shiled show a pedestrian and a hand to instruct people to push a button. there is also an image of a waving hand to insturct people to wave their hand to active a light
A feature I had not noticed before: wave your hand in front of the sensor
a view into main street from the intersection
Looking into Main St from Colonel By: note the missing bike signals. Once the signals are in, green thermoplast will be added

Is it me, or are there a lot of TWSI’s (Twizzies) in this picture? I don’t recall TWSI’s run across cross rides before. (TWSI stands for Tactile Walking Surface Indicators – the rusty nobbed metal strips at pedestrian crossings).

Emmett Proulx reacted on Twitter with the following:

“It’s a complex topic, but TWSIs across cycle tracks was interim guidance until the City (of Ottawa) improved standards for delineation between pedestrian and cycling spaces. The Protected Intersection Design Guide doesn’t include TWSIs across the cycle track. Newer designs will reflect that.”

The intersection with cycling and pedestrian infrastructure
Looking north towards downtown. No left turns coming from Main St. Note the black posts that the NCC often requires
A detail of the intersection with a cross walk and strips of rusty metal nobs (knowns as Twizzy) for those with limited eye sight
The northside crosswalk on Colonel By

Church makes place for ECHO near Main Street

Meanwhile there is also construction going on at the corner of Main Street and Echo Drive. There used to be a church at the corner, but it has been demolished recently and a new 7 storey mid rise called ECHO (in capitals) with “sophisticated boutique apartment rentals Soak up the nautical charm of passing boats or a peaceful solo paddler” is appearing.

A gooogle screen shot of the former church that has been demolished on the corner of Main street and Echo. It is made of red brick and has a very small little cupola in the middle
The Holy Trinity Anglican Church ain’t no more

Once known as the Holy Trinity Anglican Church of Archville, and opened in 1877, it was purchased eventually in 1977 by the Portugese community and sold to Uniform Developments a few years back.

A photo of a an empty side with demolishion equipment where the church used to stand
It was razed for a new development as it had no ‘heritage designation’ status, so in came the wrecker’s ball
A building is now being built at the site of the church. Its name is ECHO on Echo drive and Main Street.  the concrete structure is up, but not much else yet. A large crane stands in front of it
The new “ECHO” where the church used to be

John Dance in the Mainstreeter: “Although the church was deemed by the City of Ottawa’s heritage staff to be of heritage “interest,” it was not a “designated” building, which permitted the developer, Uniform Developments, to successfully make the case that they had the right to demolish the building.” And so they did.

Here is a fun snippet from the Ottawa East website:

Years after he served at Holy Trinity, the late Robert Jefferson, Reverend and former Anglican Bishop of Ottawa, co-authored a pamphlet called, “Faith of our Fathers – the Story of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa”. The pamphlet reads in part: “few of the congregations in the Diocese of Ottawa have a rowboat as part of their church property, but when Holy Trinity Church on Canal Road in the village of Archville was built in 1877, a boat was provided to ferry parishioners across the Rideau Canal, there being no nearby bridge”.

Connection with Main St.

It is not entirely clear to me if the bike infrastructure will eventually continue into Main as there is still a missing stretch of a few hundred meters. When Main was revamped, I heard it wasn’t wide enough at that part of Main St. but it becomes even harder to ignore now. To which Councillor Menard reacted after I posted this post:

Three people on bikes cross Colonel By on the cross walk. One has pushed the pedestrian button and they all cycle across the cross walk. A temporary stop sign is in the foreground pointing to the stop line on colonel By
The two persons turned left from the stop line on Colonel By to get to the canal

Read how Main street was transformed into a complete street in this previous post.


1 Comment

  1. It has been several weeks since I cycled on the MUP along Colonel By drive…work appears finished but the canal side mup pavement was damaged and roughed up. It doesn’t look like repaying is coming anytime soon.

    Not too far away is a sinkhole on the edge of the mup. I wonder how many years it will take for that to be fixed.

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