Submitted by/Soumis par : Nancy Schepers, Deputy City Manager/Directrice municipale adjointe, Infrastructure Services and Community Sustainability/Services d 'infrastructure et Viabilité des collectivités
Contact Person/Personne-ressource : Richard Kilstrom, Manager/Gestionnaire, Policy Development and Urban Design/Élaboration de la politique et conception urbaine, Planning and Growth Management/Urbanisme et Gestion de la croissance Élaboration de la politique et conception urbaine
(613) 580-2424 x22653, Richard.Kilstrom@ottawa.ca
Ref N°: ACS2011-ICS-PGM-0011
Que le Comité des transports approuve l’énoncé des travaux de l’étude sur un Volet sous‑jacent de mobilité au centre-ville d’Ottawa, tel que l’explique le document 1.
The Downtown Ottawa Mobility Overlay is in response to several Committee and Council resolutions and reports that have identified the need for an integrated urban design and transportation planning study for the downtown. The focus of the integrated study will be the streetscape environment for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders following completion of the Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel (DOTT). These resolutions and reports have also included several specific issues to be addressed by the study.
A 26 October 2009 memorandum to Transportation Committee set out the role of the Mobility Overlay to coordinate urban design at the street level with the transit station designs for the DOTT project, and to draw upon design relationships and expertise established during the DOTT process. The memorandum also noted that some of the Mobility Overlay tasks include examining whether or not some one-way streets could be restored to two-way traffic, and to identify ways to widen sidewalks, refine conceptual cycling routes, and provide cycling lanes separate from regular traffic.
On 13 January 2010 City Council approved the functional design for the light rail transit corridor from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair Station, via a DOTT (ACS2009-ICS-DCM-0214). Recommendation 5 of the staff report specifically states: “Direct staff to undertake an urban design study and a transportation study for the downtown that takes into account pedestrian, cycling facilities and residual transit service for post-DOTT implementation.”
On 8 September 2010, Council approved a motion: "Taking steps towards a cycle friendly city," (ACS2010-CCS-TRC-0027). The motion included several measures to enhance cycling in Ottawa. Staff supported the motion and stated that: “Staff will ensure that examining a network of segregated bike lanes in the downtown area will be included in the scope of the Mobility Overlay Study to be undertaken in 2011”.
The Downtown Ottawa Mobility Overlay is an urban design and transportation study that will identify ways to create vibrant, safe, and accessible streets for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders by restoring a balance among street users and by improving the quality and character of the streetscape environment. The Mobility Overlay will capitalize on the transformative opportunities presented by the implementation of Light Rail Transit (LRT), and other major infrastructure projects in the downtown to create public spaces on our streets where people have room to move and connect. The Mobility Overlay will highlight ways to make walking, cycling and transit comfortable and convenient mobility choices by improving sidewalks, crosswalks and other walking routes; enhancing the environmental quality of the public realm with landscape amenities; creating continuous, safe and convenient cycling facilities, and by providing on-street amenities and services for transit riders. The Mobility Overlay will also examine ways to seamlessly integrate the proposed street-level design of the LRT stations into the overall downtown context and provide a comprehensive framework to guide a wide range of planning and engineering projects proposed for the downtown.
A more comprehensive discussion of the Downtown Ottawa Mobility Overlay, in the form of a Study Summary and Statement of Work, is attached as Document 1.
The Mobility Overlay study is expected to take 18 months and be completed by late 2012. Early in 2011 key variables such as the location and design of the downtown LRT stations will be refined. The Mobility Overlay can use this information to proceed with recommendations for integrating LRT Stations into the broader downtown context.
The primary focus of the Mobility Overlay is the Central Area (north of Gloucester Street, between Bronson Ave and the east side of the Rideau Canal) that will be most directly affected by the new LRT. The many projects and plans in the surrounding areas of the downtown establish the broader context.
This report recommendation does not have a direct environmental implication. Some of the proposed recommendations and actions arising from the Downtown Ottawa Mobility Overlay may have environmental implications that would require more detailed environmental assessment and evaluation when implemented.
The Mobility Overlay is an opportunity to engage a wide range of stakeholders and partners within the downtown, and to establish a dialogue to refine and inform the urban design solutions of many future projects and initiatives. Potential interested parties include elected municipal officials, federal and provincial agencies, the National Capital Commission, advisory groups, special interest groups, businesses and building owners, land developers, community associations, citizens and various City departments. Three consultation groups are recommended: a Public Consultation Group, an Agency Consultation Group, and a Business Consultation Group. Membership in the consultation groups will be refined through such means as advice from the Ward Councillors, City Advisory Committees, and through invitation and the City’s web pages. Consultation Groups provide an important sounding board and a means to explore mobility issues. Their role will be to meet with the Study Team to review and comment on specific issues, the study’s progress, and proposed recommendations.
The consultation strategy will combine traditional open house and group meetings with innovative engagement techniques to gather input that informs the final study recommendations. The foundation of the consultation strategy will be approximately two public open houses and four consultation group meetings, with more if required. This strategy must be augmented with other means of consultation, such as workshops, print material and web-based consultation. The consultation strategy will also build on the extensive consultations for previous and on-going projects, and draw upon other means of public discourse including the media, opinion polls, blogs and social networking.
The consultation process is discussed further in the attached Document 1.
Rideau-Vanier Ward Councillor Fleury is aware of this report.
Comments from Somerset Ward Councillor, Diane Holmes:
1. With the removal of the current bus congestion on the Slater and Albert Street transitways, we will have the opportunity to reclaim these streets for better public uses and safe pedestrian and cycling travel. I am expecting to see the development of a practical set of urban design guidelines that will be achievable and widely supported by all users of the Central Area.
For decades the downtown pedestrian has been poorly served by substandard and narrow sidewalks, obstructions to safe and convenient movement, and streets where the first priority is given to vehicular mobility. If we are actually going to implement our pedestrian-first planning policies, then this study must provide a strong direction to re-prioritize our downtown streets for the pedestrian.
2. Regarding the 'Study Context' zone, which includes the area under review as part of the Mid‑Centretown Community Design Plan, there must be integration with the transportation objective of that CDP - which is to mitigate the negative impacts of the north-south one way arterial streets that bisect the residential community - such as Metcalfe, O'Connor, Kent, Lyon, and Bronson Avenue.
The Public Works Department is supportive of the report recommendation and will work with the Planning and Growth Management Department on the implementation of the statement of work subject to Council approval.
There are no legal/risk management impediments to implementing this report’s recommendations initiating the Mobility Overlay study
Objective 1: Improve the City’s transportation network to afford ease of mobility, keep pace with growth, reduce congestion and work towards modal split targets.
Sustainable, Healthy and Active Cities
Objective 6: Require walking, transit and cycling-oriented communities and employment centres.
Objective 11: By 2017, close the gap in sidewalks, traffic lights, street lights and bicycle lanes in infrastructure that has been warranted and unfunded.
Planning and Growth Management
Objective 1 Manage growth and create sustainable communities by:
Objective 3: Ensure that the City infrastructure required for new growth is built or improved as needed to serve growth.
Funding is available from within Planning and Growth Management’s existing capital authority - 905435 Rapid Transit EA Studies.
DOWNTOWN OTTAWA MOBILITY OVERLAY STRATEGY –
STUDY SUMMARY, AND STATEMENT OF WORK DOCUMENT 1
The Downtown Ottawa Mobility Overlay is a combined urban design and transportation planning exercise that will produce an updated set of strategies and actions to improve the quality of the streetscape environment, better meet the needs of walkers, cyclists and transit riders, and contribute to the integration of light rail transit stations into the centre of the city. The Mobility Overlay will capitalize on the opportunities presented by the implementation of LRT, and provide a comprehensive framework to guide a wide range of planning and engineering projects by focusing on three key topic areas:
1) Downtown Mobility: Making it easier to get around on foot, bicycle and by public transit
A general policy direction, as found in the Official Plan, Ottawa Pedestrian Plan, Ottawa Cycling Plan and Transportation Master Plan, is to create a city that is pedestrian- , cycling-, and transit-friendly. The advancement of this policy goal in the downtown requires a review of those roadways and/or intersections where consideration needs to be given to improving the quality of the streetscape environment and to a rebalancing of the allocation of the street space provided to various modes of travel – foot, bicycle, transit and car/truck. In particular, this aspect of the Mobility Overlay will provide detailed direction to address problem areas for pedestrians such as narrow sidewalks, recommend an updated cycling network with specific cycling facilities in the core area, and identify on-street needs of transit riders.
2) Seamless Accessibility: Integrating Light Rail Transit and supporting ridership
The planned construction of the Ottawa Light Rail Transit through the downtown may be one of the largest engineering projects to transform Ottawa since the digging of the Rideau Canal. Light rail transit will significantly re-orient transit-related pedestrian movements and open up opportunities for changes to the streetscapes of Albert and Slater Streets as bus volumes reduce by over 75 percent through the downtown core. Now is the time to identify how pedestrians and transit functions will change in the core area and create plans to integrate them into the final engineering design stages for the LRT. Streetscape solutions that make public transit a convenient and enjoyable mode of travel will support meeting increased LRT ridership targets.
3) Quality Streets and Public Spaces: Design excellence that puts people first
The 2004 Downtown Ottawa Urban Design Strategy (DOUDS), an award-winning plan, set out over 40 strategies to be addressed over the next two decades. Strategies related to streets and mobility will be refined and implementation opportunities will be identified in the Mobility Overlay. DOUDS envisions improved streetscape design as part of comprehensive street reconstruction, such as has occurred on Bank and Preston Streets, as well as improved mobility and liveability by evaluating the conversion of some one-way streets to two-way. The Mobility Overlay will assess opportunities for further streetscape design improvements, not only in co-ordination with the LRT and other major projects, but also for smaller stand-alone projects such as crosswalk improvements, tree plantings, and corner parkettes, or streetscape projects integrated with private development.
The primary focus of the Mobility Overlay is the Central Area (north of Gloucester Street, between Bronson Ave and the Rideau Canal) that will be most directly affected by the new LRT. The many public works projects and land use plans in the surrounding areas of the downtown provide the broader context. The Mobility Overlay study is expected to start in 2011 and be completed in 2012. It will involve a study team (consultants and City staff) working with input from many stakeholder groups and the general public. In addition to the LRT, there are many other on-going initiatives that will impact on street services for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders, such as the Mid-Centretown Community Design Plan, the East-West Segregated Bike Lane Pilot Project, the National Capital Commission Rideau/Colonel By Node Mobility Study and the Interprovincial Transit Integration Strategy. Co-ordination and the sharing of ideas between the Mobility Overlay and these other initiatives will improve the mobility and urban streetscape of the downtown core.
Le volet sous-jacent de mobilité au centre-ville d’Ottawa est un exercice conjoint de design urbain et de planification du transport qui donnera lieu à une mise à jour des stratégies et des mesures destinées à améliorer la qualité du paysage de rue. Il servira à répondre aux besoins des piétons, des cyclistes et des usagers du transport en commun, et contribuera à l’intégration des stations de train léger sur rail au centre-ville. Le volet sous-jacent de mobilité tirera parti des possibilités offertes par la mise en place du service de train léger, et constituera un cadre global permettant d’orienter une vaste gamme de projets d’urbanisme et d’ingénierie, en les focalisant sur les trois domaines clés suivants :
4) Mobilité au centre-ville : faciliter nos déplacements à pied, à vélo et en transport en commun
Des directives générales, telles que celles figurant dans le Plan officiel, le Plan de la circulation piétonnière d’Ottawa, le Plan sur le cyclisme d’Ottawa et le Plan directeur des transports, visent à créer une ville favorable aux piétons, aux cyclistes et aux usagers du transport en commun. L’évolution de cet objectif de politique au centre-ville nécessite un examen des voies et/ou des intersections qui doivent être prises en compte pour améliorer la qualité du paysage de rue et pour rééquilibrer l’attribution de l’espace aux divers modes de déplacement : la marche, le vélo, le transport en commun, l’automobile/poids lourds. Plus particulièrement, cet aspect du volet sous-jacent de mobilité fournira des directives détaillées permettant de supprimer les zones à problème pour les piétons, comme les trottoirs étroits, de recommander un réseau renouvelé de pistes cyclables offrant des équipements propres au cyclisme au centre-ville, et de désigner les besoins des usagers du transport en commun en matière d’équipements sur voirie.
5) Accessibilité uniforme : intégrer le transport par train léger et soutenir son utilisation
La construction prévue de la voie de train léger sur rail d’Ottawa au centre-ville pourrait bien représenter l’un des plus vastes projets d’ingénierie transformant le visage d’Ottawa depuis le creusement du canal Rideau. Le train léger sur rail réorientera considérablement les déplacements des usagers vers les stations de TLR et créera des occasions de modifier le paysage des rues Albert et Slater, avec une réduction prévue de plus de 75 pour cent du volume de circulation des autobus traversant le centre-ville. Il est maintenant temps de déterminer comment les déplacements des piétons et des véhicules de transport en commun seront modifiés au centre-ville, et de créer des plans pour les intégrer dans les étapes finales de conception technique du TLR. Les solutions en matière de paysage de rue pouvant faire du transport en commun un mode de transport pratique et agréable permettront d’accroître les objectifs de clientèle du TLR.
6) Rues et espaces publics de qualité : réaliser une conception d’excellence qui privilégie les gens
La Stratégie de conception urbaine du centre-ville d’Ottawa (SCUCO, 2004), un plan primé, met de l’avant plus de quarante stratégies à prendre en compte au cours des deux prochaines décennies. Les stratégies liées aux rues et à la mobilité seront peaufinées et les possibilités de mise en œuvre seront désignées dans le volet sous-jacent de mobilité. La SCUCO prévoit une meilleure esthétique de rue, rendue possible par le réaménagement global des rues, comme ce qui a été réalisé sur les rues Bank et Preston, ainsi qu’une mobilité et une qualité de vie améliorées qui pourraient résulter d’une modification en voies à deux sens des rues à sens unique. Le volet sous-jacent de mobilité permettra d’évaluer les possibilités d’améliorer davantage la conception des paysages de rue, non seulement en coordination avec le TLR et d’autres projets d’envergure, mais également avec des projets plus modestes et autonomes visant par exemple à améliorer des passages piétonniers, à planter des arbres, à créer des parcs de secteur, ou avec des projets intégrés dans des aménagements privés.
Le volet sous-jacent de mobilité vise principalement le secteur central (au nord de la rue Gloucester, entre l’avenue Bronson et le canal Rideau), qui sera directement touché par le nouveau TLR. Les nombreux projets de travaux publics et plans d’utilisation du sol visant les quartiers environnants du centre-ville offrent un contexte plus général. L’étude du projet de volet sous-jacent de mobilité devrait être entamée en 2011et prendre fin en 2012. Elle nécessitera l’intervention d’une équipe d’étude (des consultants et des employés de la Ville), qui utilisera les données de nombreux groupes d’intervenants et des membres du public. En plus du TLR, de nombreux autres projets en cours auront une incidence sur les services offerts aux piétons, aux cyclistes et aux usagers du transport en commun, tels que le Plan de conception communautaire pour le secteur médian du centre-ville d’Ottawa, le Projet pilote de voies cyclables séparées est-ouest, l’Étude sur la mobilité à l’angle Rideau/Colonel de la CCN et la Stratégie interprovinciale de transport collectif. La coordination des efforts et le partage des idées entre les responsables du volet sous-jacent de mobilité et de ces autres projets permettront d’améliorer la mobilité et le paysage de rue urbain du centre-ville.
Downtown Ottawa Mobility Overlay
improve our streets for walking, cycling and transit by building upon recommendations
2004 Downtown Ottawa Urban Design Strategy
and the opportunities that arise from the
The Downtown Ottawa Mobility Overlay is an urban design and transportation strategy that will identify ways to create vibrant, safe and accessible streets for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders by restoring a balance among street users and by improving the streetscape environment. The Mobility Overlay will capitalize on the transformative opportunities presented by the implementation of Light Rail Transit (LRT), and other major infrastructure projects in the downtown to create public spaces on our streets where people have room to move and connect. The Mobility Overlay will highlight ways to make walking, cycling and transit become more comfortable and convenient mobility choices by improving sidewalks, crosswalks and other walking routes; by enhancing the environmental quality of the public realm with landscape amenities; by creating continuous, safe and convenient cycling facilities, and by providing on-street amenities and services for transit riders. The Overlay will recommend ways to seamlessly integrate the proposed LRT stations at the street level and in the overall downtown context.
The Mobility Overlay will begin with a strategic overview of the many initiatives and opportunities that will change how we move through and experience the downtown of our city. One of the greatest opportunities for change will arise from the development of an underground light rail transit system through the downtown, which will have a significant impact on downtown streets. With four downtown underground LRT stations and a reduction in the number of downtown surface buses, from approximately 2600 to 600 daily, there is an unprecedented opportunity to improve the quality and character of the downtown street environment. To do this, the Mobility Overlay will not only build upon the strategic recommendations from the award-winning 2004 Downtown Ottawa Urban Design Strategy, but will also provide practical urban design solutions and guide the various urban design proposals of the many downtown planning studies and infrastructure projects to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders. The Mobility Overlay will identify short- and long-term implementation strategies and outline the potential roles and responsibilities of the City and its partner agencies and organizations.
The downtown is the focus of many diverse planning and transportation studies, economic and tourism programs, new buildings and developments, and extensive roadway reconstructions. Each of these initiatives has been undertaken with extensive stakeholder and public consultation. Many of these initiatives will be underway at the same time as the Mobility Overlay. The Mobility Overlay will build on this existing work, co-ordinating and prioritizing the more robust urban design and mobility ideas, and incorporating what was heard in their public consultations. The Mobility Overlay will move forward with a shared vision to set direction for recommendations upon its completion in late 2012.
Undertaking the Downtown Ottawa Mobility Overlay is in response to several Committee and Council resolutions and reports that have identified the need for an integrated urban design and transportation planning study that focuses on the mobility environment in the downtown for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders once the Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel (DOTT) is completed. These resolutions and reports have also included several specific study issues to be addressed.
5. Direct staff to undertake an urban design study and a transportation study for the downtown that takes into account pedestrian, cycling facilities and residual transit service for post-DOTT implementation.
6. Approve that staff ensure that the proposed Downtown Ottawa Urban Design Strategy Mobility Overlay include the integration of the Escarpment Plan and the Bronson Avenue Reconstruction with any streetscape requirements resulting from the DOTT.
Major Guiding Plans and Initiatives
The two major sources of direction for the Mobility Overlay flow from the Downtown Ottawa Urban Design Strategy (DOUDS), and the Environmental Assessment for the Light Rail Transit corridor and the Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel.
The Downtown Ottawa Urban Design Strategy DOUDS was approved by Council in 2004 as an action-oriented strategy to improve urban design and the public realm in the core of Canada’s capital. It contains over 40 strategies to be addressed over two decades.
Council furthered refined the DOUDS recommendations with the approval of the award-winning Escarpment Area District Plan in 2008. The work to improve the design quality of the downtown has continued with the initiation of the Mid-Centretown Community Design Plan in 2010, as well as the inclusion of strong urban design components in recent major public works reconstruction projects such as Bank Street.
The Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel (DOTT) may be one of the most influential engineering projects to shape the downtown since the digging of the Rideau Canal. Among the recommendations of the January 2010 Council Report (ACS2009-ICS-DCM-0214) is direction to initiate preliminary engineering for the tunnel and to focus on implementing urban design and transportation improvements through the core. The project team is currently leading the preliminary engineering process and, as part of this work, the team is refining station locations, and preparing urban design guidelines for the transit stations and the street level environment. Co-ordination with this “fast-track” initiative is essential to the success of the Mobility Overlay.
Other Plans, Studies and Projects
There are several other key initiatives that set the stage for the Mobility Overlay.
With these and a wide variety of other studies, projects and initiatives (listed in Attachment 1), the Mobility Overlay provides an opportunity to take a co-ordinated look at how we design our streets to address the interests of pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. This study will also provide an opportunity to build upon the ideas and opinions solicited from previous and on-going public and agency consultations held for a wide variety of downtown initiatives. Building upon past consultations for the Transportation Master Plan and the DOTT, as well as the consultations for various other projects, will be integral to the success of the Mobility Overlay.
Broader Issues to be Addressed
Space on the public street is a finite resource. A reallocation of spaces, to address the quality and mobility of our streets for pedestrians and cyclists, changes existing priorities. Changing one-way roads to two-way may have traffic calming benefits in some local areas but may also have repercussions beyond the immediate downtown. These changes challenge the status quo and tolerance among other road users, road functions and traffic operations that must coexist in limited space.
The City has the opportunity to rebalance its priorities and to improve its streets. The current design of Ottawa’s downtown streets reflects past pressures and priorities of addressing vehicle traffic. Allocation of space has not only been based on the proportionate size of the various users of the street, but also on our own rather dated biases. The bias of the 20th century was towards expansive suburban growth, car-oriented travel and efficient vehicle movement into, and out of, the downtown. This has resulted in the greatest amount of space on the street being allocated to cars, trucks and buses, while the more vulnerable users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, have limited space on the periphery of the street. As a result, the quality, safety and attractiveness of our major streets – as experienced by pedestrians, cyclists and the adjacent communities – have been compromised.
There will always be competition for the limited space on the street, and the impact of a reallocation of space on the level-of-service for the car may be an issue. For example, the provision of cycling facilities, especially segregated lanes, may impact the space allocated to cars for travel and for parking, as well as for such road uses as bus stops, loading zones, taxi stands and vehicle lay-bys. Sound transportation analysis will therefore be essential in identifying any potential impacts of major urban design proposals.
Streets also serve many functions that must coexist in limited space. Streets provide access to adjacent land, move people, goods, services and vehicles, and are public places for social interaction and public transaction. Finding the balance and the tolerances for a reallocation of space is essential in making recommendations and in creating a viable environment for people whether they are walking, cycling or riding transit.
The quality and design of our streets influences perceptions of Ottawa and can influence tourism, land development, prosperity, public health, and the social and environmental context. Sections of streets, such as Bank, Laurier and Somerset, are lined with stores, offices and residential uses. Designs for these sections include attributes such as broader sidewalks; decorative lighting; benches, trees and other street furniture, as well as amenities for cyclists and transit riders, in order to successfully balance their functional demands. There is an opportunity to extend these desirable elements that create complete streets to additional streets in the downtown.
While the Mobility Overlay is mandated to evaluate whether there is an opportunity to change many of the streets from one-way to two-way, as a means to achieve a better balance among pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and the private car, there are fundamental considerations to be addressed. The conversion to two-way motor vehicle travel may not create sufficient space to redress the spatial requirements and quality of the mobility environment for other travel modes. Such changes may have impact on nearby local streets. The one-way streets tie into a larger and more complex transportation network such as the Queensway on and off ramps, bridge structures such as those over the Rideau Canal, and impact on building access and service areas such as on Metcalfe and O’Connor Streets at Albert Street.
More Specific Issues and Approaches to Pedestrian, Cycling, Transit and Urban Design
Pedestrians – a competition for limited space
One of the constant mobility concerns is the narrow sidewalks along almost all downtown streets and thus insufficient capacity to meet pedestrian needs. Generally narrow sidewalks are further encumbered by signs, lamp poles, newspaper boxes, traffic signal poles, trees, sandwich boards, benches, planters, parking display machines, waste receptacles, etc. At the same time, there is a lack of pedestrian amenities at regular intervals, such as benches and weather protection.
Ottawa’s downtown is typified by narrow streets with tall buildings that fill the block and are close to the sidewalk with no setbacks or public spaces. The design and massing of some major buildings and building complexes in the downtown often create a closed-in environment that does not feel comfortable, safe or convenient. A lack of integration at street level, such as few if any windows or accessible doors along the sidewalk, and the lack of street level amenities such as retail, services and public spaces, as well as few mid-block connections to break up long street blocks, further detracts from the pedestrian environment.
There is a great diversity of pedestrians of all ages and abilities including local residents, office workers, students, shoppers, tourists, and transit riders – each with their own needs. These pedestrians move through the downtown to their various destinations at different times of day, and different seasons of the year. As a result, pedestrian solutions will also need to be diverse.
What the Mobility Overlay will do for pedestrians:
Recommend a pedestrian network with area-specific improvements to the quality, safety and accessibility of the pedestrian environment downtown. This will:
Cycling Issues – opportunities to build a network and meet diverse interests
The increased use of bicycles as a commuting option is statistically observable in Ottawa and in other major Canadian cities. Cycling has been targeted in the Transportation Master Plan for an increased modal share. Many members of the public are telling us they want dedicated bike lanes or even segregated facilities and that they are not comfortable using shared lanes that are typical in the downtown. This request is not only coming from current cyclists in the downtown, but also from people who would like to cycle downtown but are afraid to because of a perceived lack of facilities. This represents a new demand for road space that has not previously existed.
The provision of dedicated cycling facilities in the downtown is limited. A few dedicated cycling lanes were installed in the mid-1990s at the periphery of the downtown area, on Bay and Percy, then later on the Mackenzie-King and Laurier Avenue bridges, and most recently, in late 2010, a dedicated lane on Lyon Street. Cyclists for the most part must share road lanes regardless of how busy the roadway is.
There are some current initiatives to enhance cycling in the downtown. City Council approved a pilot project for an east-west segregated cycling lane on Laurier Avenue in the downtown, with implementation planned in 2011. The National Capital Commission is addressing gaps in its multi-use pathway network. These individual initiatives would be better served if there was an overall mobility framework for their co-ordinated implementation.
There is limited guidance for the improvement of cycling facilities in the downtown. The 2008 Ottawa Cycling Plan and Transportation Master Plan deferred recommending a cycling network for the downtown until the choices regarding overall approach to the LRT were finalised. Now that the approach to LRT has been finalized and preliminary engineering design will commence, firmer guidance for cycling can be provided.
The downtown is where the greatest amount of cycling currently takes place, where the greatest potential for growth exists, and where bicycle transportation has the greatest potential to be a viable alternative travel choice in Ottawa. No amount of cycling infrastructure outside the central core will have the desired effect of substantially increasing bicycle transportation unless mobility for cyclists within the city’s most popular destination – the downtown – is improved.
What the Mobility Overlay will do for cyclists:
Recommend a quick, convenient and safe cycling network, with specific facilities for downtown streets to accommodate a diverse cycling community which can be adopted into the Ottawa Cycling Plan. This will:
· Identify the appropriate type of cycling facilities – shared lane, designated lane, segregated lane – based on the land use context and the road corridor function and character;
· Co-ordinate with destinations such as offices, institutions and other transit modes, including the underground LRT and surface buses, for seamless movement between, and choice among, travel modes.
· Connect to the conceptual network in the Ottawa Cycling Plan beyond the downtown;
· Include segregated cycling lanes serving both north-south and east-west directions;
· Build upon research and proposals for cycling such as the Segregated Cycling Lane Pilot project, the design of interim cycling facilities during LRT construction, and the integration of cycling services at LRT stations;
· Recommend designs for at-grade street cross-sections and intersections for cycling facilities and services at transit stations and other destinations in the downtown, and
· Test the feasibility of recommendations supporting them with applicable best practices identified in the Ottawa Cycling Plan and from other jurisdictions/communities;
Transit – radical change and reintegration
Major transit changes are forthcoming. Light rail transit in the downtown will significantly re-orient transit-related pedestrian movements to the planned LRT stations. LRT stations will be generators of great concentrations of pedestrian traffic. Quality and ease of access at street level and integration into the overall downtown context will be key considerations for success and meeting ridership targets. In addition, the arrival of LRT service will open up opportunities for changes to the streetscape of Albert and Slater Streets where future bus transit service will operate with much smaller volumes. Ottawa surface bus numbers will significantly decrease (to approximately 600 versus 2600). However the Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) has the “rapi-bus” program that could have implications on Ottawa streets. This is the opportune time to plan for these significant changes in how pedestrians move and how transit functions in the core area, and to integrate them into the final engineering design stages for the LRT, as well as into other transit projects.
While there may be a marked reduction in overall surface transit, steps must be taken to ensure that travel on the surface by local bus remains viable, and that its place on the street and its priority in road design over the private automobile is confirmed. An enjoyable and convenient experience with amenities at the stops and seamless connections to other modes and destinations is essential for success. The overall strategic planning and route selection for the surface buses has been completed, but more detailed design is required to integrate those buses with the LRT stations, as well as with cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists, each of whom is also seeking their space on the street.
What the Mobility Overlay will do for transit:
Recommend an approach to the physical design of mass transit at the street level, which will integrate LRT stations and surface bus services. This approach will:
Urban Design – Quality streets and public spaces through a design-lead approach to co-ordination
The most important role of urban design in the Mobility Overlay will be to create a coherent approach to mobility and integrate it into the urban context. Urban design will set the strategic framework and allocate space on the street as it guides the co-ordination of the many individual projects and efforts. Design solutions must not only create street space for integrated mobility options that will make walking, cycling and riding transit preferable travel choices to the car, but they must also contribute to the overall quality and character of the Ottawa’s capital, commercial and community context. A strong vision and imaginative urban design solutions are required to seize on the transformative opportunities presented by the LRT and to stake a claim in the street for public space. There are, and will be, a great number of major public works projects, each with its own agenda and timeframe. To be effective, the urban design approach must seamlessly shift in scale from a broader network of mobility to the more detailed street-level design that will guide street level solutions for a co-ordinated approach.
The 2004 Downtown Ottawa Urban Design Strategy has provided a framework for action over the past several years. Now that decisions related to the LRT through the downtown have been addressed, design strategies related to streetscapes and transit can be updated and refined through the Mobility Overlay.
A creative design process provides the opportunity to challenge existing situations and assumptions. For example: would turning certain one-way streets to two-way enhance the streetscape for walkers, cyclists, transit riders, and for the surrounding community? And what would that look like?
What the Mobility Overlay will do for urban design:
Building on the DOUDS, prepare an urban design plan that creates complete streets with an emphasis on the quality and character of the mobility environment for pedestrians, cyclists and transit riders, and not only encourages these travel options, but integrates them into Ottawa’s capital, commercial and community context through a series of recommendations that will:
Initiatives in Other Communities
Focusing on the street environment is not unique. Many communities across Canada, the United States and Europe are taking stock of the quality and character of their streets and reclaiming the street for a wide range of walking, cycling and transit improvements, and for community, environmental and economic benefits. The Mobility Overlay will look at best practices in other communities and incorporate these ideas into our own Ottawa-based approach.
Vancouver has its Greenways Program that creates linear public corridors for pedestrians and cyclists connecting parks, nature reserves, cultural features, historic sites, neighbourhoods and retail areas. In the spring of 2010, the Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation hosted a Complete Streets Forum with support from the City of Toronto’s Office for the Public Realm, which is researching implementation techniques and best practices. In the United States, the National Complete Streets Coalition (NCSC) is an excellent starting point to discover the wide range of solutions and participants in creating “complete streets”, which are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users. Transport Canada is also an excellent resource that highlights the application of the “Complete Streets” concepts in communities in Canada and the US. Their research article, Complete Streets: Making Canada's roads safer for all is on the web. These initiatives may have different names, but they share common themes in seeking ways to restore balance among diverse users of the street.
The benefits are clear. Streets that are safe, attractive and accessible, with an emphasis on walking, cycling and transit, set the stage for a wide range of community, environmental and economic benefits. These include healthy community benefits from greater physical activity and improved accessibility for more people; environmental benefits through increased use of public transit and improved air quality resulting from more travel choices, financial benefits including increased foot traffic for retailers, as well as more attractive property values, better development potential and in turn higher tax assessment value for the City. Community benefits arise when streets become public spaces for socializing, and have a context that supports the image of the National Capital as well as the downtown’s neighbourhoods, businesses and institutions.
These ideas are coming to Ottawa. Delegates from the City of Ottawa, Ville de Gatineau, and the National Capital Commission participated in the Velo-City Global 2010 in Copenhagen. They returned with a renewed appreciation for not only urban cycling but also for quality urban design and place-making. In follow-up, renowned Danish architect, Jan Gehl, was invited to Ottawa in October 2010 to speak to a packed hall about designing for street life and public space.
Study Area and Scope
The physical area
· The primary study area is the Central Business District of the Central Area (north of Gloucester Street, between Bronson and the east side of the Rideau Canal), and along the major arterial streets that will be influenced by the significant changes as a result of the new LRT stations. The focus is the quality of public realm based on the values and ideas proposed by the DOUDS.
· The broader study context includes the surrounding areas of the downtown as generally defined in the DOUDS (Mid-Centretown, the Escarpment District, Rideau Street, the Parliamentary Precinct, as well as the University of Ottawa, the Byward Market and LeBreton). These areas have been the subject of many past, on-going and recently completed plans, projects, and strategies.
· A key step in the Mobility Overlay will be to refine and confirm the physical study area and study context as needed.
The scope of enquiry/study
· The construction of the LRT, along with other major infrastructure projects, will have a significant impact on the streets of the downtown. This may include major changes to how streets work, including changing one-way streets to two-way. Therefore:
o Consider changing and improving all movement options, traffic patterns, connections and modes within the downtown to achieve a better balance among pedestrians, cyclists, transit users and private vehicles.
· The overlay is to guide the actions of the City of Ottawa and other agencies such as the NCC; federal departments; Ministry of Transportation for Ontario; OC-Transpo; Société de transport de l'Outaouais; and the City of Gatineau. The private sector, such as Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), Downtown Business Improvements Areas (BIAs), and related organisations would also likely be involved. Therefore:
o Co-ordinate the urban design actions of the many projects and stakeholders that have a role and impact on the public realm in the downtown, and provide recommendations that stitch the urban design elements into a comprehensive approach;
· The focus of the Mobility Overlay is on the street level. Overhead and underground connections will not be part of the study except where they meet grade. The circulation within buildings will not be considered except those at-grade routes that contribute to mobility. Therefore:
o Focus on improving the urban design of the “public realm” for accessible streets and open spaces regardless of ownership or jurisdiction;
· Urban design and planning initiatives that are part of the scope of work for projects already underway, such as the Mid-Centretown Community Design Plan and the Downtown Ottawa Transit Station Design Guidelines, will not be duplicated, but refinements to the scope of work of these projects may be recommended as part of the preparation of the Mobility Overlay. Therefore:
o Provide strategic timely advice to these on-going projects and undertake original work to address “gaps” in any urban design responses;
The study will be led by the Policy Development and Urban Design Branch. Staff from the Transportation Planning Branch will provide oversight for matters relating to the pedestrians, cycling and transit facilities. The City’s staff study team will be assisted by a multi-disciplinary consulting team. Study Consultation Groups will be the foundation to a broad-based approach to consultation with agency partners, stakeholders, advisory groups, affected communities, and City departments. This Statement of Work will form the basis of the Request-for-Proposals (RFP).
· Recommendations that complement and complete the Ottawa Cycling Plan and the Pedestrian Plan with a network through the downtown, and with attention to the urban design quality and character of the street for these users;
The Mobility Overlay will include short-term and, medium-term strategies, as well as longer-term strategies based on the horizon of the Official Plan and the Transportation Master Plan.
The Overlay study is expected to take 18 months and be completed in late 2012.
Key Mobility Overlay Milestones
Prepare a study outline and seek staff endorsement
Scope of Work to Transportation Committee for approval
Award of contract for consulting contract
Initiate study and launch consultation strategy; organize PCG, BCG and ACG
Mobility Overlay consultation in co-ordination with refinement of LRT station design
Prepare recommended strategy
Consult on the strategy
Propose strategy and final consultation
Committee and Council approval of the strategy
Early in 2011 key variables such as the location and design of the downtown LRT stations will be refined. The Mobility Overlay can use this information to proceed with recommendations for integrating LRT Stations into the broader downtown context. Conceptual station design will be consulted upon and developed over the Summer with preliminary station design completed by late-summer 2011. More detailed LRT station design will start late in 2011.
The Mobility Overlay is an opportunity to engage a wide range of stakeholders and partners within the downtown and to establish a dialogue to refine and inform the urban design solutions of many future projects and initiatives. Potential interested parties include municipal elected officials, federal provincial agencies, the National Capital Commission, advisory groups, special interest groups, businesses and building owners, land developers, community associations, citizens and various City departments.
The Study Team will develop a consultation strategy that combines traditional open house and group meetings with research and innovative engagement techniques to gather input that informs the final study recommendations. The foundation of the consultation strategy will be approximately two public open houses and four consultation group meetings, with more if required. This strategy must be augmented with other means of consultation, such as workshops, print material and web-based consultation. The consultation strategy will also build on the extensive consultations for previous and on-going projects and draw upon other means of public discourse including the media, opinion polls, blogs and social networking.
Three consultation groups are recommended: a Public Consultation Group (PCG), an Agency Consultation Group (ACG), and a Business Consultation Group (BCG). Membership in the consultation groups will be refined through such means as advice from the ward councillors, City Advisory Committees, and through invitation and the City’s web pages. Consultation Groups provide an important sounding board and means to explore mobility issues. Their role is to meet with the Study Team to review and comment on specific issues, the study’s progress, and the proposed recommendations.
An Initial List of Partners, Stakeholders and Communities
This list is a starting point and will be refined as the study proceeds
· National Capital Commission
· Ontario Ministry of Transportation
Potential Advisory Group and Committees
· Roads and Cycling
· Pedestrians and Transit
· Built Heritage
· Building Owners and Managers Assoc.
· Public Works and Government Services Canada
· Centretown Citizens Community Assoc.
· Downtown BIAs
· Cycling groups,
· Pedestrian groups
· Ville de Gatineau
· Société de transport de l'Outaouais
· Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) working groups
· Out-of-town transit companies
Potential Internal Groups
· The Ottawa Light Rail Office
· Transit Services
· Infrastructure Services Department
· Community Sustainability Department
· Transportation Planning Branch
· Transit Service Design Branch
· Parking Operations, Maintenance and Development Branch.
· Traffic Management and Operational Support
· Roads and Traffic Operations and Maintenance
· Forestry Services
· Utility/Development Co-ordination Unit
· Recreation Planning and Facilities Development Unit
· Neighbourhood Planning Initiative working group
There are a number of studies and projects that will influence and inform the preparation of the Mobility Overlay. Some of these have been completed; some are underway, while others are planned initiatives still in the early stages. Co-ordination with these studies and projects will be key references in the success of the Mobility Overlay.
Existing City Polices and Plans
· Ottawa Official Plan (2009)
· Transportation Master Plan (2008);
· Ottawa Cycling Plan (2008);
· Ottawa Pedestrian Plan (2008);
· Downtown Ottawa Urban Design Strategy (2004);
· Escarpment Area District Plan (2008);
· Municipal Parking Management Strategy (2009);
· Rights-of-Way Lighting Policy (2007);
· Pedestrians Downtown (1983);
· Linkages Strategy (1990s)
· Municipal Parking Management Strategy
National Capital Commission plans and strategies
· Capital Urban Lands Master Plan;
· Canada’s Capital Core Area Sector Plan;
· Sparks Street Area Vocational Strategy;
· Interprovincial Transit Integration Strategy (NCC Gatineau and Ottawa);
· Interprovincial Crossing Environmental Assessment;
· Various planned initiatives and studies including: Rideau/ Colonel By Node Mobility Study and Design;
On-going City Policies and Plans
· Mid-Centretown Community Design Plan;
· Rideau Area Transportation Network Study Update;
· Integrated Street Furniture Program;
· Downtown Ottawa Transit Tunnel (DOTT) Stations and Service Connections;
· Downtown Ottawa Transit Station Design Guidelines;
· Underground Wiring Policy Study.
Other Plans, Studies and initiatives
· University of Ottawa Campus Master Plan;
· Ottawa Queensway Preliminary Design and Environmental Assessment Study, Ministry of Transportation Ontario;
· Concepts for the renewal of the Rideau Centre;
· Concepts for the renewal of the National Arts Centre.