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All In Hand

Final Debate - Thursday Nov 9

Miss Vicky Tue Nov 7, 2006

The last debate is sponsored by a number of community organizations and will take place at St. Francois d'Assise Church at Wellington and Fairmont. The fun starts at 7. Turnout has been excellent for all of the debates so far, so even though this venue holds 600, we're hoping for a packed house.

Edited to add: if you can't make it, (or even if you can) you can also watch the Nov 5th debate on Vicky's campaign site. It was held at Dovercourt Recreation Centre.

Safety Walk report

Miss Vicky Fri Nov 3, 2006

Thanks to Tony, Stefan, Cathy (and kids), Kate, Pat, Gina and Bob for your participation and your great ideas. Thanks also to the Ottawa Police officer who joined us and offered some useful insight and suggestions. Here are our observations and recommendations, which we'll be sending along to the police as well as to Women's Initiative for Safer Environments, who prepared the handy audit materials.There is certainly enough there to want to follow up. The police have a more formal audit process, so I'd like to conduct another walk, ideally involving the Wellington West Community Association and pathway neighbours. If we can build consensus around some recommendations, we might actually be able to see some positive changes.

Safety Audit Report
Byron Pathway, Holland Ave to Picadilly

We began our safety walk at the intersection of Byron and Holland, where the pathway begins. Just after 7pm, we headed westward down the pathway. The asphalt path is narrow and winding, bordered on either side by fairly mature trees, including many coniferous trees with full, low-hanging branches. In the daytime, any season, itís a beautiful stroll. At night, itís a different vibe entirely.

The first thing you notice is the darkness. There is some lighting along Byron Ave, but the pathway itself is dark and shadowy. Itís hard to see anyone approaching, much less between and under the trees and bushes that line the pathway.

People use the Byron pathway in many different ways. Itís a popular spot for dog-walkers (indeed, there are very few places in the area to walk a dog), joggers, parents with strollers, parents jogging with strollers, cyclists, roller bladers and recreational walkers. Itís on the route to and from a number of schools. So there is plenty of potential for conflict between these different pathway users. We had representatives of different types of users along with us (as well as a member of the Ottawa police force, who was very helpful), so we were able to evaluate the pathway from different points of view.

Here are our observations:

Lighting: The entire path is quite dark. This is an issue for personal safety as well as falls prevention (esp for seniors or people with mobility problems). It is difficult to see oncoming traffic.

Recommendation: Lighting along the pathway. This would need to be done in a way to minimize impact on neighbouring houses. Globe lighting, low-hanging streetlamps or other similar technology along the south side of the pathway would be appropriate.

Dense trees and bushes offer plenty of dark, shadowy hiding places.

Recommendation: In some places (near the park) for example, lower limbs of trees could be removed to provide sightlines around corners, into dark areas, etc.

The playground at Picadilly/Mayfair offers a potential gathering place that is shielded from view from the street by hills. While this is great for parents and kids in the daytime, itís a perfect spot for troublemakers at night.

Recommendation: better lighting, and there could be ways of providing some shaded areas in the summer.

Visibililty: The path curves , particularly at points where it intersects with cross-streets (i.e. Julian) and this could be a hazard for cyclist-pedestrian crashes.

Recommendation: Improve sightlines by removing lower branches of some trees. Install small speedbumps or better gates at dead-end cross-streets to slow cycling traffic. Stop or yield signs for cycling traffic or signage clearly indicating an intersection would also be useful.

There is a steep hill at the intersection of Mayfair and the pathway, with very poor sightlines. This is a risky spot for collisions, especially with cyclists connecting to the pathway from Mayfair (or tobogganers in the wintertime).

Recommendation: Install a mirror reflecting oncoming traffic, and better signage.

Isolation: Although the pathway traverses a residential neighbourhood, it has the feeling of being quite isolated. It is separated from neighbouring houses by Byron Ave or by fences.

Recommendation: Emergency phones or alarms could be installed at different points along the pathway.

Signage: There are many streets which end on the path and don't have street signs or any signage at all.

Recommendation: Street names could be painted on the asphalt or signs installed to give people a sense of where they are. This would help people unfamiliar with the neighbourhood to navigate and use the path instead of a street with more traffic. It would also be useful for people who need to contact emergency services.

Overall design: The pavement is very narrow, which could be difficult during busy times (interactions among cyclists, joggers, bladers, walkers, strollers, children, dogs)

Recommendation: A wider pathway, able to accommodate at least 2 large strollers. A line separating pathway lanes might also help manage traffic.

Pedestrian crossings are at the street intersections, not the intersections between street and pathway. The path goes straight across the street with no markings or signage and southbound motorists will be looking toward the stop sign just south of the path.

Recommendation: There should be some form of pedestrian crossing at the intersections of the path and Clarendon and Granville.

Accessibility: There are few benches on the section of path we walked. Existing benches are in need of repair.

Recommendations: more benches, to offer a resting place along the path for those who need it. Unsafe benches need to be repaired or replaced.

Maintenance: Drainage and grading of the area is a problem in the winter, when thaw-freeze cycles end up with thick icy patches which are dangerous, and in the spring, when all that ice melts and pools. Poor grading and badly maintained asphalt poses difficulties in the dark as well.

Recommendation: Improved grading and drainage at problem spots. This will require some monitoring over this winter and spring to identify the areas where work is necessary.

Byron Pathway safety walk

Miss Vicky Thu Nov 2, 2006

Ever stroll down the Byron Pathway at night? It is dark and spooky. But it is well used, by dog walkers, parents, joggers, kids heading to and from school, and others. There are so few green spaces in our community, but we want to make sure they are safe to use, no matter what time of day.

So tonight we're bringing our flashlights and conducting a safety audit of the pathway. Consider joining us - we're meeting at 7pm at Holland and Byron, close to the tennis courts. Afterwards, we'll retire to Bridgehead to discuss ways to keep our neighbourhoods safer.

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