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Belcourt Boulevard Traffic Calming Study

Project Status: 
Underway

Belcourt Boulevard Traffic Calming Study Final Recommendations (November 2020 Update)

Introduction

Over the summer of 2020, an online survey was conducted to gather additional feedback about the proposed addition of speed cushions to the recommended traffic calming plan along Belcourt Boulevard. The deadline to complete the survey was August 31st, 2020. Since then, the results from the survey have been reviewed and analyzed. All of the survey results are included in the ‘As We Heard It Report #3’ (link provided further below). Based on the results and some additional key factors, the recommended traffic calming plan for Belcourt Boulevard has been updated and finalized.

This November 2020 update includes the final recommended traffic calming plan for Belcourt Boulevard and the rationale for the recommended traffic calming measures.

Final Recommended Traffic Calming Plan

The final traffic calming plan for Belcourt Boulevard includes the following recommended measures:

  • Implement speed cushions along Belcourt Boulevard south of Sunview Drive ONLY.
  • Implement curb radii reductions and a cycle-friendly narrowing at Notre-Dame Boulevard.
  • Implement a curb-radii reduction and a cycle-friendly narrowing at Carrière Street.
  • Implement cycle-friendly narrowings at Beauséjour Drive.

View the final recommended traffic calming plan [ PDF 10.068 MB ]

Traffic calming plans strive to find the right balance between potential benefits, potential secondary impacts, and community feedback. The feedback from the most recent online survey regarding the addition of speed cushions is very divided. In order to find the right balance between the aforementioned factors, the City’s final recommendation to implement speed cushions along Belcourt Boulevard south of Sunview Drive is the best compromise. The speed cushions along the southern section of the street in combination with the previously recommended horizontal traffic calming measures located at various intersections, should improve the traffic conditions along Belcourt Boulevard.

Rationale for Recommended Traffic Calming Measures

One of the factors taken into consideration when finalizing recommended traffic calming plans is based on community feedback. View the ‘As We Heard It Report #3’ [ PDF 157 KB ] which includes the recent online survey results. The City seeks public feedback to assess potential options and/or refine recommendations. While public feedback is very important, the final recommendation is not made exclusively by public preference.

Based on the survey results, although the there is a slight majority of respondents that do not think that speed cushions would be beneficial anywhere along Belcourt Boulevard, there are a sufficient amount of respondents that do think that the addition of speed cushions would be beneficial especially the majority of respondents that live directly adjacent to Belcourt Boulevard, and especially for the southern section of Belcourt Boulevard.

In addition to the survey results, there are other key factors that contributed to the decision to recommend four speed cushions along Belcourt Boulevard south of Sunview Drive. These key factors include:

  • Belcourt Boulevard south of Sunview Drive consists of a long straight residential section of the street with no stops until Beauséjour Drive. This type of street geometry can encourage higher speeds. Implementing speed cushions along this section of Belcourt Boulevard will slow down drivers and increase safety for all street users.
  • Implementing speed cushions along Belcourt Boulevard south of Sunview Drive will not affect OC Transpo. There are no buses operating along this section of the street.
  • Implementing speed cushions along Belcourt Boulevard south of Sunview Drive will not prohibit the possibility of implementing permanent cycling lanes in the future.

The recommended spacing for the speed cushions is based on the recommended distancing provided by the ‘Canadian Guide to Traffic Calming’. A series of speed cushions is more effective than a single installation.

The horizontal traffic calming measures including the narrowings and curb-radii reductions for Notre-Dame, Carrière, and Beauséjour were presented at the public open house in October 2019.

The results from the feedback gathered at the public open house and corresponding online survey indicated that there is sufficient support for these measures. The horizontal measures are recommended to help reduce speeds and increase pedestrian safety near the retirement home, school, and at Beauséjour Drive where residents raised numerous concerns.

Flex Stakes

Until the permanent traffic calming measures are implemented, temporary traffic calming measures such as flex stakes will continue to be installed along Belcourt Boulevard. Based on the feedback that was received, the locations of the flex stakes will be re-evaluated next year. When the permanent traffic calming measures are implemented, the need for flex stakes will be re-evaluated.

Next Steps

The next step in the process is to confirm funding. Once the funding has been confirmed, detailed design will be undertaken (typically 1 year) with the construction typically following the year after.

Belcourt Boulevard (June 2020 Update)

In April 2020, a Study Update was posted stating that the recommended traffic calming plan for Belcourt Boulevard had been updated and was proceeding through the final approval processes. Since then, some concerns from residents have been received about components of the traffic calming plan, specifically pertaining to the addition of more traffic calming measures in the form of speed cushions. (There is more information about speed cushions provided below). As a result, the City is seeking additional feedback through an online survey about the proposed addition of speed cushions.

The City will proceed with the approval and implementation of the other recommended components including bulb-outs and tightening corners (i.e. modifications at certain intersections to create narrower sections of roadway and/or ‘tighter’ corners). The proposed cycling lanes will remain on hold until an assessment of the temporary traffic calming (TTC) measures can be completed (the date for implementation of the TTC measures is still unknown).

We want your feedback! Please review the following information and then submit your feedback via the online survey linked below.

Background

Due to complaints about high speeds along Belcourt Boulevard, operating conditions were assessed by collecting and analyzing collision, speed, and traffic volume data. Results from the assessment concluded that Belcourt Boulevard qualified for a traffic calming study.

In the fall of 2018, an initial online survey was conducted to gather feedback on traffic issues and to ensure that there was a reasonable level of community support to initiate a traffic calming study. The feedback from that survey showed that many respondents have traffic related concerns along Belcourt Boulevard including vehicular speeding, aggressive driver behavior, and pedestrian and cyclist safety, among others. However, respondents were very divided both for and against the ideas of various types of traffic calming measures to address these concerns (without any specific recommendations). As a result, the City initially drafted a concept plan that could appease most points of view by limiting the potential modifications to key locations of concern. It included only horizontal traffic calming measures (i.e. bulb-outs and corner tightenings (curb radii reductions)).

At that point in time, the City was not considering vertical traffic calming measures along Belcourt Boulevard because it is both a transit route and a key emergency response street identified by Fire Services. As per the City’s Traffic Calming Design Guidelines (TCDG), vertical measures such as speed humps are discouraged on these types of streets because of the potential impact on transit and emergency operations and traffic calming plans should initially consider other types of measures first.

In October 2019, a public open house meeting was held to present the initial traffic calming plan to the community. The City received a lot of feedback from residents (both in person at the meeting and through a questionnaire) that this plan was not sufficient to address all their concerns. As a result, following the public meeting, the City reassessed the traffic calming concept plan and developed two potential alternative plans for further consideration. One plan included additional horizontal measures which consisted of mid-block roadway narrowings and the other plan included the addition of speed cushions. The City’s Traffic Calming Design Guidelines state that speed cushions can be considered, in locations where other types of vertical traffic calming measures are discouraged, in consultation with impacted City Departments.

Various City Departments (such as OC Transpo, Fire Services, Paramedic Services, Road Services, Traffic Services) and the Chateauneuf Community Association were consulted with about both potential alternative traffic calming plans. Based on further evaluations including the feedback from these groups, the plan that included the addition of speed cushions emerged as the preferred alternative between the two. Additional information on why speed cushions emerged as the preferred traffic calming measure technically is provided in the “Rationale for Speed Cushions” section below.

The City is now seeking broader community feedback about the proposal for adding speed cushions to the recommended Traffic Calming Plan for Belcourt Boulevard.

What are Speed Cushions?

Speed cushions are a type of vertical traffic calming measure which cause a vertical upward movement of the vehicles that are traversing over them. They are raised areas, similar to speed humps, but not covering the entire width of the road. They are designed to allow large vehicles to ‘straddle’ the cushions, resulting in less impacts to emergency and transit vehicle operations. Smaller vehicles are vertically deflected which generally results in lowered vehicles speeds as motorists slow to avoid unpleasant sensations when traversing them. The photos below provide an example of speed cushions that are located along Knudson Drive in Kanata:

Speed cushions on city street

Speed cushions on city street

The number of sets of speed cushions depends on the length of the road and desired operating speeds. Seven sets of speed cushions are proposed along Belcourt Boulevard based on the distancing recommendations in the Canadian Guide to Traffic Calming (CGTC). Each set on Belcourt Boulevard would consist of either three or four raised areas, based on the width of the road.

The location of the speed cushions shown in the concept plan are approximate. Exact locations would be reviewed further during the detailed design stage.

The benefits of speed cushions include reduced vehicular speeds, they are self-enforcing, and they impact larger vehicles less than other vertical measures. Potential disbenefits include that they may affect emergency response times (but less than other vertical measures), could create noise and vibrations, may result in a loss of some on-street parking (adjacent to the speed cushions), and may cause discomfort to some drivers and passengers at high travel speeds.

Rationale for Speed Cushions

Belcourt Boulevard met the minimum qualification criteria to be considered for a traffic calming study through the City’s Neighbourhood Traffic Calming Program. The results from the traffic data that was collected at the start of this study concluded that speeding is an issue along Belcourt Boulevard and that the street would benefit from some form of traffic calming in order to encourage more appropriate driver behaviour.

Traffic calming plans are developed by first selecting candidate measures which are appropriate to the context and configuration of the street under review. The final recommended traffic calming plan (combination of individual measures) is then further developed through an iterative process taking many factors into account. This includes, but is not limited to, prevailing traffic operations, available budgets, design standards and feedback from the local community and technical stakeholders. It is common to update initially recommended plans with more, less or different types of potential measures depending on feedback.

One reason speed cushions emerged as a potential element of the preferred traffic calming plan is because they allow for the possibility of implementing permanent cycling lanes in the future (if cycling lanes are deemed warranted). Mid-block narrowings challenge the possibility of implementing permanent cycling lanes along Belcourt Boulevard between Sunview Drive and Beausejour Drive. The road along this section of Belcourt Boulevard is too narrow to accommodate both mid-block narrowings and permanent cycling lanes. Another benefit of speed cushions over mid-block narrowings is that they have less implications on winter maintenance than mid-block narrowings.

The addition of speed cushions to the traffic calming plan for Belcourt Boulevard is recommended in order to address community concerns by further contributing to encouraging appropriate driver behaviour on this residential street with many vulnerable road users. It is important to realize that measures used to address traffic concerns typically have secondary impacts that can negatively affect some street users or residents. These additional measures offer the best balance between addressing all stakeholders’ concerns and minimizing these potential secondary impacts.

Next Steps and Online Survey (June 2020)

Additional community feedback would help the City to make an informed decision on whether to implement speed cushions as part of the overall traffic calming plan along Belcourt Boulevard. We strongly encourage everybody to complete the online survey which will be available until August 31, 2020. After the deadline has passed, an update will be posted on this webpage.

Thank you for your participation!

Belcourt Boulevard Update (April 2020)

Based on extensive community input and additional feedback from the community association, the City has finalized the recommended traffic calming plan for Belcourt Boulevard. It has been updated from what was presented at the public open house meeting in October 2019 to also include speed cushions. Speed cushions are raised areas, similar to speed humps, but not covering the entire width of the road. They are designed to allow large vehicles like buses and fire trucks to “straddle” the cushions, while smaller vehicles are vertically deflected, which generally encourages these vehicles to slow down.

The decision to include speed cushions was based on the community feedback received at the public open house meeting (click here to view the results) and further discussions with the community association. The feedback received suggests that the local community feels that additional traffic calming measures (beyond what was presented at the public open house meeting) are needed to ensure a safe environment for all street users. As a result, additional analysis was undertaken and speed cushions were added to the traffic calming plan in order to encourage lower vehicle speeds and increase safety for all street users including drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, children, the elderly, and persons with limited mobility.

The next steps in this project include obtaining final approval for the recommended plan, confirming funding, detailed design and finally construction.

In the meantime, in addition to the recommended traffic calming plan for future permanent changes to the street, the City has prepared a new temporary traffic calming (TTC) plan through the Temporary Traffic Calming Measures Program. This Program facilitates the installation of effective, low cost traffic calming measures that are temporary and / or seasonal in nature.

The new TTC plan includes cyclo-delineators (flexible posts along the edge of the roadway) which will help create a buffer for cyclists from vehicular traffic. This TTC plan does not include implementing designated cycling lanes. As a result, parking will still be permitted along the street. The implementation of this new TTC plan however will help assess whether future designated cycling lanes should be implemented with the future permanent traffic calming measures.

Even though designated cycling lanes are shown on the recommended traffic calming plan, a final decision on the cycling lanes will not be made until an assessment of the temporary traffic calming measures is completed.

The TTC plan also includes flex stakes which will be used to create temporary bulb-outs at Notre-Dame Street, Carriére Street, and Beauséjour Drive until the permanent ones can be constructed.

Due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency, it is unclear when or if the temporary traffic calming plan will be implemented this year. Another update will be provided by the City at a later date.

In conclusion, the City is now proceeding with obtaining final approval of the recommended traffic calming plan for future permanent changes to Belcourt Boulevard. As previously mentioned, the plan will not include designated cycling lanes at this time. Please click here to view the final recommended plan.

If you would like to comment on the final recommended plan, please e-mail the Project Manager.

Lindsay Thomas
Project Manager, Area Traffic Management

Belcourt Boulevard Traffic Calming Study

In response to area residents’ concerns regarding aggressive driving behaviour and the safety of all road users on Belcourt Boulevard, the City is initiating a study to examine traffic and driver behaviour. 

The objective of the study is to:

  • Assess the traffic concerns of the local residents
  • Develop and evaluate possible solutions where warranted; and
  • Recommend a preferred plan of action following consultation with the public

Traffic calming studies can result in the implementation of measures such as speed humps, roadway narrowings, medians and pavement markings.  Your input is important to help gauge the community’s interest in this project, and to inform the study team whether traffic calming measures are an acceptable option for this roadway.

Public Open House – Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Dates & Times

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019
Drop in 5 p.m. to 7p.m.

Location

Abiding Word Evangelical Lutheran Church
1575 Belcourt Boulevard
Ottawa, ON, K1C 1M3

The City of Ottawa has initiated the Belcourt Boulevard Traffic Calming Study to examine alternative solutions to address traffic related concerns. The purpose of this public open house meeting is to solicit input from the community and other interested parties on the proposed traffic calming solutions and to gather feedback that will help the study team determine the preferred solution.

Please click the following links to view the concept plan and public open house boards:

Concept Plan

Public Open House Boards

Belcourt Boulevard ‘As We Heard It Report’

In the fall 2018, an online survey was conducted to gather feedback regarding traffic issues along Belcourt Boulevard and to ensure that there was a reasonable level of support to initiate the study. The ‘As We Heard It Report’ includes the results from that survey including summaries of the individual comments received. 

Contact

For more information, please contact:
Lindsay Thomas
Project Manager
Transportation Services
110 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1J1
613-580-2424 ext. 12625
Lindsay.Thomas@ottawa.ca