On March 9, 2016, City staff worked with Councillors Tobi Nussbaum and Mathieu Fleury to organize a second public open house to present draft functional design plans for the Beechwood corridor and receive feedback from stakeholders.
The open house focused on the Transition Design Plan, which could be implemented with minimal construction in the short term through the use of pavement markings and signage. The Reference Design Plan was also presented to show what the corridor could look like as properties along the corridor redevelop over the longer term. Information was conveyed through 10 open house display boards and the Transition and Reference Design roll plans.
Highlights [ PDF 243 KB ]
Open House Display Boards [ PDF 9.062 MB ]
Transition Design and Reference Design Plans [ PDF 1.418 MB ]
More than 135 people attended the open house to discuss the project with the study team, Councillors and Councillors' staff. Information was also available on the project website.
Public comments on the proposed design plans were collected at the Open House using comment sheets as well as by email or phone through April 6, 2016.
In total, the City received 90 responses including 24 comment sheets, 64 emails and two phone calls. Adjustments to the design plan will be considered during the detailed design phase based on the feedback received.
An additional meeting hosted by the Quartier Vanier Business Improvement Association (QVBIA) on April 18, 2016 allowed City staff and the two Councillors to hear feedback from QVBIA members primarily concerned with the loss of on-street parking directly on Beechwood. The agenda for this meeting included:
- A review of the proposed changes to Beechwood
- Feedback on how the proposal could affect businesses
- A review of how other BIAs have dealt with similar issues and the lessons learned
- Identification of ways to address merchants' concerns
Feedback was received from 77 residents, several local businesses, the Quartier Vanier Business Improvement Association (QVBIA), which represents local businesses, as well as advocacy groups such as Citizens for Safe Cycling and Local Eco-Action Families (LEAF).
Overall, 48 per cent of responses were supportive, 15 per cent were neutral, and 37 per cent expressed concerns with the plans. When each of the 90 responses is broken down into individual comments or points there are 292 comments, concerns and ideas to be considered.
- 223 comments directly reference the Transition Design and/or Reference Design Plans for Beechwood Avenue
- 56 comments relate to larger planning issues that are addressed in citywide documents such as the Transportation Master Plan, Ottawa Cycling Plan or the Ottawa Pedestrian Plan
- 13 comments relate to the consultation process
- The QVBIA comments were made on behalf of their local business members, which indicated a strong concern related to the loss of on-street parking directly along Beechwood Avenue.
Functional Plan Feedback
The most common responses were related to parking, cycling facilities and traffic management. Other common themes were traffic calming, pedestrian facilities and the removal or relocation of certain bus stop locations.
Parking was the most common theme mentioned in the open house; 49 of the 90 responses mention parking in at least one comment. Parking concerns were also expressed separately by 29 local businesses.
Twenty-eight responses opposed the changes to parking or requested an increase in the parking supply as part of the plan. Approximately 80 per cent of all responses in opposition to the parking provisions mentioned concern for local small businesses as a reason for opposing the parking changes. Other common reasons for the opposition of the parking changes included concern over an increase in side-street parking, concern for those who require accessible loading spaces and the need for the creation of safe mid-block pedestrian crossings to increase access to parking.
Twenty-one responses supported the changes or preferred to see further reduction of parking within the plan. Common reasons for supporting the parking changes were:
- Improving cycling infrastructure necessitates the removal of parking spaces
- Removing the parking will improve some traffic issues
- Improved cycle infrastructure will enable cyclists to spend money at local businesses.
Additionally, responses voiced general support of the project but did not mention parking. In contrast, all but three responses that voiced general opposition of the project mentioned parking.
Cycling and Pedestrian Facilities
Comments related to pedestrian and cycling facilities were constructive in nature with ideas or suggestions to improve the Transition or Reference Design plans.
The most common suggestions are outlined below:
- Bicycle lanes should be widened, flexi-posts added, or some other form of separation implemented
- Sidewalks should be widened to prioritize pedestrian movement and comfort
- Street parking should be positioned to provide a buffer between the vehicular travel lanes and the bike lanes
- Additional bike boxes / left turn boxes / advanced cycling stop bars are needed
- The connection to the Rideau River Eastern Pathway should be improved
Other cycling facility suggestions included adding green thermoplastic lane markings at additional intersections, adding more bike parking and considering a Beechwood location for a VeloGo bicycle share station. There were also several comments discussing the merits of cycle tracks; some looked forward to the raised bike lanes shown in the Reference Design, while others were concerned about the quality of winter maintenance and the sharp transitions between bike lanes and cycle tracks (such as the eastbound transition on St. Patrick Street at Cobourg Street).
Other pedestrian facility suggestions included changing the signal timing of traffic control signals to ensure the pedestrian phase is automatically activated on every cycle.
Traffic Management, Traffic Calming and Transit Concerns
Twenty-three responses expressed concern over the modelled increase to vehicle travel delay and congestion. The concerns traffic issues are outlined below:
- Concern about westbound traffic congestion due to the removal of the dedicated left-turn lane from Beechwood Avenue to the Vanier Parkway
- Concern about increased traffic congestion east of Springfield Road due to the reduction in vehicular travel lanes
- Concerns about potential neighbourhood cut-through traffic in New Edinburgh due to the proposed restriction of left turns from Crichton Street to Beechwood Avenue
- Concern about increased walking distances for OC Transpo users if the westbound bus stop at Crichton Street was removed
- Concern about increased walking distances for OC Transpo users if the eastbound bus stop at Charlevoix Street was removed
Two comments suggested adding transit priority measures on the corridor to improve transit travel times.
High-Level Planning Feedback
There were approximately 55 comments that were outside the scope of this study or related to larger planning issues that are addressed in citywide documents such as the Transportation Master Plan. The most common planning issues are listed below:
- Possibility of cycling facilities on side streets (Barrette Street)
- Bicycle licensing / insurance
- Responsible cycling / cycling etiquette
- Redevelopment of the former Rockcliffe airbase and/or new condos will increase traffic along the Beechwood corridor
- Transit should be prioritized over cycling
- Too much or too little winter maintenance of cycling infrastructure
There was one request to add cycling infrastructure on the Vanier Parkway and an idea to turn Beechwood Avenue and Barrette Street into one way streets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why consider changes to Beechwood Avenue?
Beechwood Avenue is a significant transportation corridor located in the heart of a changing neighbourhood. The street serves as a destination for both residents and visitors and as a major corridor for commuters. Rebalancing the needs of various road users would act as a major placemaking opportunity, in both the short- and long-term.
Q. Why should the plan for Beechwood Avenue include bike lanes and cycle tracks?
Providing an effective alternative for residents interested in cycling requires a major improvement in the quality and connectivity of the City's cycling network. Beechwood Avenue is designated as a Crosstown Bikeway in the 2013 Cycling Plan. Crosstown bikeways are meant to provide continuous connectivity over long distances for cycling across the city and are to include both on-road and off-road facilities that consistently provide a high level of comfort. Beechwood Avenue is one of the last remaining sections of Crosstown Bikeway Route 2 that does not currently provide continuous facilities.
Q. Is it possible to add additional parking spaces on side streets to compensate for the loss of spaces on Beechwood Avenue?
Up to 40 all day parking spaces would be restored on Barrette Street if the transition plan for Beechwood Avenue is implemented. The possibility of adding additional parking spaces on Beechwood Avenue and side streets is being evaluated.
Q. Is it possible to restore at least some of the on-street parking spots on Beechwood Avenue itself- to mitigate local business impacts?
The restoral of some of the lost parking on Beechwood Avenue is being actively worked on. The number of additional spots which could be restored will be finalized during the detailed design phase.
Q. Can the proposed bicycle lanes on the transition plan be widened?
Due to the narrow width of the existing road corridor, it is not possible to widen the bicycle lanes beyond what is currently proposed while still maintaining minimum lane widths for transit service.
Q. Can the bike lanes be separated from traffic?
In the Transition Plan, bicycle lanes would be added using pavement markings. In the long term, as the corridor is redeveloped, there will be opportunities to add separated cycling facilities (cycle tracks) as shown on the Reference Design Plan. An example of this approach can be viewed at the recently completed 222 Beechwood Ave. redevelopment ("The Kavanaugh").
Q. Can the sidewalks on Beechwood Avenue be widened?
Due to the narrow width of the existing road corridor, there are no immediate plans to widen the sidewalks on Beechwood Avenue. Initial work to implement the Transition Plan design would be completed mainly by repainting the lines on the road. In the long term, as properties along the corridor are redeveloped, there may be opportunities to widen the pedestrian realm as shown on the Reference Design Plan by adding curb extensions to reduce crossing distance.
Q. Can the bicycle lanes be positioned between parked cars and the sidewalk?
Operating considerations do not allow for this type of configuration. The proposed configuration in the Transition Design Plan allows for a 0.5 meter buffer zone to prevent dooring, and allows cyclists to pass in lower traffic conditions which would not be possible if the bike lane were to be located between a parked car and sidewalk. In the long-term, as the corridor is redeveloped, separated cycle tracks may be added at the same height as the sidewalk as shown in the reference plan.
Q. Is it possible to include additional bike boxes for left turns?
This will be considered during the detailed design phase.
Q. What is the expected impact on vehicle travel time along Beechwood Avenue with the reduction of travel lanes?
Using 2014 traffic volumes, during the morning peak period westbound travel times would be expected to increase by approximately one minute, with eastbound travel times expected to increase by approximately 15 seconds. For traffic conditions in 2031, westbound travel times during the morning peak period are expected increase by approximately 85 seconds.
Q. What is the expected impact on vehicle delay for left turns from Beechwood Avenue onto the Vanier Parkway?
Left turns onto the Vanier Parkway from Beechwood Avenue would be serviced by an advanced left turn arrow, but in a shared left/straight lane. Allowing vehicles to turn left with an advanced signal reduces the amount of vehicles waiting to turn left. The current configuration includes a short dedicated left-turn lane and already results in left-turning vehicles queuing in one of the straight-through lanes. Signal timing for the left turn arrow would be monitored if the transition plan is implemented and may be adjusted depending on travel behaviour.
Q. Can bus stops be removed and relocated to more efficient or practical locations?
The relocation of bus stops is being considered as part of the detailed design stage in order to improve efficiency of the corridor and possibly permit additional on street parking spaces.
Following a review of the functional design plans based on comments received at the open house and under the direction of both Councillors, implementation of the Transition Design Plan is tentatively planned for sometime in 2016.
For more information on this project, please contact:
Zlatko Krstulic, P.Eng., Senior Project Manager
Transportation Strategic Planning
City of Ottawa, 110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J1
613-580-2424, ext. 21827