Glebe [Hearts] Mexican?

A couple of new developments are happening in the Glebe. Two storefronts on Bank (one just south of Fifth, the other just south of Second) are seeing new restaurants coming.

First, at Fifth, we have Glebe Taqueria/Encino Taco (I don’t actually know the official name; both are on the signage, but don’t totally make sense as a name; I imagine the former is more a descriptor, the latter the name). It’s going in what used to be a candy bouquet store, before becoming a temporary office for Whole Foods. It’s an interesting space, with an open loft at the back. And there’s a noticeable chandelier hanging. That’s about all you can see.

At Second, we have Burrito Shack. This is a little more interesting. It’s going in at Second beside Marble Slab, and kitty-corner from Feleena’s, the only current Mexican joint in the Glebe. I don’t think there’ll be a ton of competition, though, as they look to be tackling different markets, Burrito Shack seeming more relaxed with a faux-exposed faux-brick faux-motif* going on.

Both the Shack and the Taqueria will be licensed (assuming all goes according to plan). I have no idea how successful they’ll be, but it’s nice to get some of these empty storefronts filled.

*As you can probably guess, this look isn’t really my jam.

Even when they do something right, they do something wrong

It was with a bit of (well-deserved) fanfare that the city and the NCC unveiled new crosswalk lights at Fifth Avenue and the Queen Elizabeth Driveway. It made a lot of sense. The multi-use paths on either side of the QED are quite popular with both pedestrians and cyclists. Fifth Avenue is a main street and bike route linking people to the canal. Before the new lights were put in, it was quite dangerous to try to cross the QED, as cars zip by ridiculously fast.

The design of the new intersection was well-executed. Bike lanes were added to Fifth Avenue. At the intersection, the lanes extend from Fifth to the entrance to the MUP. Signage dictates that cars yield to bikes and both yield to pedestrians.

On both sides of the QED, there are pedestrian buttons to trigger the light, as well as clearly marked dots allowing bikes to trigger them, as well. All three different types of users, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, as kept separate and have infrastructure designed specifically for them.

It’s quite a good little intersection, now.

The other day I was approaching the intersection from the north along the canal MUP. There was a short line of cars lined up across from me waiting to turn from Fifth onto the QED. I pulled up to the intersection just as the light changed. There were no other cyclists and no pedestrians at the intersection. I didn’t get a light.

Having not been there soon enough to trigger the light change, the lights changed only to allow cars to turn. This is a flaw in the project.

Sadly, it’s not unusual for crosswalk lights to fail to change with the traffic lights if they’re not specifically triggered in time. This should change. There’s absolutely no valid reason for it. It is especially egregious at an intersection that gets heavy pedestrian and bike use, and that’s officially part of Ottawa’s bike route network.

This is a perfect example of the car-centric nature of Ottawa planning. Even when we take the necessary steps to accommodate and (hopefully) provide a little equality for all users, we screw it up by always giving consideration to cars, but only giving limited consideration to pedestrians and bikes. You won’t see an intersection where a pedestrian triggers a cross light while car traffic gets an unchanged red.

This is why we have problems. This is why our streets are far more dangerous than they should be. Even with a bunch of pedestrians around, we don’t really want them getting in the way of cars.

Traffic Laws and Unintended Consequences

vinyl-decal-sticker-8006If you were to drive east down Fifth Avenue from Bank Street, you might notice this sign (or you might not, it’s not really that noticeable, but you’re totally supposed to notice it). In case you don’t speak red-circle-with-red-slash, the sign dictates no trucks. Big, heavy trucks–construction trucks, delivery trucks–aren’t supposed to go down this road. Right at Bank Street, there are some restaurants and businesses, but further along it’s just residential units (except for the fire hall way at the end). It’s a wide street and can lead to the QED or the Queensway, so it makes sense to keep it from becoming a truck thoroughfare (since we know what that can lead to).

Does anyone think this will actually keep trucks off of Fifth?

One block to the south is small, residential one-way street. It’s a block and it leads to another short, narrow residential one-block street. That street connects with Fifth. These two streets–Regent and Howick, respectively–don’t have one of those nice picture-of-a-truck-in-a-red-circle-with-a-red-slash-through-it signs.

Regent is a street with at least 5 to 10 children (who often play outside), at least that many dogs and also a number of cats. There’s on-street parking on one side that fills up quite quickly and eternally. And children play. And people live.

And because Fifth Avenue–the wide street with traffic lights and multiple businesses–won’t allow trucks to enter from Bank Street, the trucks are tacitly encouraged to take Regent to Howick to Fifth, driving on roads that are not meant for vehicles of that size or for excessive traffic loads (unlike Fifth).

Fifth Avenue is considered part of Ottawa’s (woefully neglected) bike infrastructure. In addition, there is a plan to use it as a shuttle route to get commuters into the new Lansdowne village (because that’s how you build an authentic urban village, bus people in!). I image these are the justifications for trying to keep trucks off of Fifth, but it’s clearly not working.

The traffic measure the city has implemented does not keep trucks off of Fifth, it merely forces them onto even less-ideal streets before they wind up on Fifth, anyway. The city needs to either bar trucks from Regent and Howick, or let them back on Fifth.

Or they could just get these inappropriately-large vehicles out of our urban, residential neighbourhoods.