Engage with New Bank Street Feasibility Study this Week

Reading Time: 4 minutes

On June 12, the City of Ottawa organises a session to talk about the future of Bank Street between the Canal/Lansdowne and the Queensway, in the area we know as the Glebe. The City has initiated a Bank Street Active Transportation and Transit Priority Feasibility Study. You may want to join the on line consultation. You can register here.

A map of the glebe showing a read line to indicate Bank St

I rarely visit the Glebe anymore. My dentist is there, that is the only reason I go there. O, and in spring and summer we bike to the Glebe via the E-W streets to pick up our vegetable box from the parking lot next to Kunstadt Sports. We need to bike one block south on Bank in front of the Shoppers to get to the right westbound street in order to go back home. But that is about it. I do notice though that increasingly the road appears to be pretty clogged.

Bank St trying to please every one

Currently, Bank Street tries to please everyone but at the same time basically fails everyone. The road is used by local residents (in cars, walking, rolling and cycling), tractor trailers, OC Transpo, visitors to the Glebe and Lansdowne, commuters, first aid responders.

Retail versus Patrons on Bank St

I remember from more than a decade ago some research in Edinburgh, Scotland where they asked retailers what concerns they had regarding shopping. The answer: 51% of the retailers wanted more parking. The researchers also asked the public’s concerns. The answers: good selection of shops, pavement not wide enough, more pedestrian priority, traffic congestion and pedestrian environment not safe. Sounds familiar?

an overview with several shopping bags showing percentages and a cash register showing another percentage.
Retailers and shoppers have different ideas about a shopping experience

Patrons Poll

This week, councillor Menard shared a similar poll, which targeted primarily patrons of local businesses, with responses from 1449 people. The pollsters asked people questions to gauge their current and preferred transportation methods, their spending habits and the frequency of visits to Bank and the Glebe and Old Ottawa South neighbourhoods. A clear desire for better, safer facilities for residents who walk and bike emerged, with the addition of bike lanes (bike tracks?) being the most desired improvement by 43% followed by wider side walks at 26%.

From the Bank St report

– In order to create a Bank Street that is great for business and economic development, it is important to prioritize the experience of those who visit it most frequently — to run their errands, shop at small businesses, and catch up with friends over coffee. Those people are unanimously asking for protected (!, not just paint) bike lanes and wider sidewalks, and most of them see reducing on street parking as the best viable option to achieve both.

– One of the top issues was traffic congestion. This was raised by respondents with mobility needs, those who primarily use cycling as their transportation, those who walk as their primary transportation, and individuals with young children or elderly parents.

A child on a push bike in a shopping street in the Netherlands. There are several colours of paving, a tree trunk and a sandwich board.
In Berkel & Rodenrijs (Netherlands), this used to be a a parking spot with a less than exiting retail experience. Now, people flock from other towns to shop in this bike and walk friendly zone in the core. Parking is a 100-200 mtrs away and no one balks.

– Residents worry that the increased traffic congestion and limited public transit options will make Bank Street and parallel neighbourhood streets incredibly dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

Tough choices

The city (as in government as well as residents) will have to make tough choices to break the status quo and there might be hard to accept outcomes for some interest groups. I wouldn’t want to be the project manager for this project.

As Matt writes on his blog last week (Three radical ideas for Bank St), commuters have no place on that stretch of Bank St. Tractor trailers have no place on Bank St. either. Suppliers can deliver in other ways.

Parking has no place on Bank anymore, there is a parking garage off Bank that -from what I read- is not being used much and there is underground parking at Lansdowne. The report shows more suggestions, from ‘no right through red’ to bike signals. But as Matt mentions, perhaps we don’t need traffic lights in the first place?

No changes any time soon

Don’t expect changes any time soon; there will be plans, studies, adjustments, protest, letters to the Ottawa Citizen, polls on the CTV Ottawa website, columns in the Ottawa Business Journal, rural councillors who express concern about access to a football game. I bet every one agrees though “things have to change as long as it doesn’t affect me negatively“. But I am looking forward to separate, raised bike tracks. I might come back and spend more money in the Glebe. You too?

Poll

Study: https://engage.ottawa.ca/bank-street-active-transportation-and-transit-priority-feasibility-study

Survey: https://assets.nationbuilder.com/shawnmenard/pages/1105/attachments/original/1717516127/Bank_Street_Transportation_Survey_-_Final_Report.pdf?1717516127

Register for Zoom: https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0pd-2grD4qGdLRCNwnJvL11MTiyIrTM99m#/registration

If you’d rather go for a bike ride, then visit my Ottawa Cycling Maps page.

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