Who do the streets belong to? Who gets to live in the city?

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I live on a one-way, one-block street that connects to another one-way, one-block (basically) street. There’s one business at the start of my street, otherwise the entire stretch is residential.

I regularly salmon down these two streets (“salmoning” means riding your bike against the flow of traffic). I’m not the only one; it’s a fairly common practice. There’s sufficient room, you can pop up on the sidewalk if you have to, and if you’re not going unreasonably fast, it’s quite safe…certainly quite safer than the alternative.

But these streets don’t have a contraflow lane (a bike lane that goes the opposite way on a one-way street). It should–and if I get my hands on some yellow paint, it might soon–but right now, it doesn’t.

I and everyone else who lives here who does this is, technically breaking the law (and it’s probably 99% people who live on these streets that do this, as there isn’t much of a reason to be on the street if you don’t live here or aren’t visiting someone).

Within the past year or so, a stop sign was put up at the end of my block. It was never necessary before–short, one-block, one-way streets, you know–and it’s kind of ignored, now. I certainly don’t stop at it when I’m biking down my street (unless I encounter traffic).

But, my street gets more traffic than you’d expect. You regularly see cars whizzing down my street, cutting from Bank to Fifth (when the light at the corner is red, I guess). Or you get trucks. They’re not allowed to go onto Bank at Fifth, so they hop one block over to access it.

Or you get people heading to Lansdowne looking for parking. They’re generally not going to fast–often they’re going quite slow–but they’re looking around, not really paying attention, not really knowing where they’re going (they often start to head down the dead-end of the other street before realizing).

All this, minus the speeding (though even that really gets a shrug from the city…anyway, you’re allowed to drive really fast, just not really really fast), is legal. All these people who are driving recklessly but legally on a street with many kids, many pets and people with mobility issues are perfectly in their “right” doing this.

These are the people whom the city has decided deserve priority on these small, residential streets. It shouldn’t belong to those who live here and just want to get home safely; it’s for traffic; it’s for drivers racing to beat a light; it’s for car storage; it’s for semis.

This is your car-centric Ottawa, and this is really fucked up.

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