Downtown moves: Transforming Ottawa’s streets
Downtown Moves is an Urban Design and Transportation Study that identifies ways to create more vibrant, inclusive, safe and accessible streets for residents, workers and visitors of all ages and abilities across Ottawa's Central Business District (CBD). The overall aim is to make walking, cycling and transit use more comfortable and convenient by redistributing and improving the streetscape environment. The Study informs the City on how to best capitalize on the transformative opportunities presented by the implementation of the Confederation Line light rail transit (LRT) project, and seamlessly integrate the future stations at street level.
The Downtown Moves study was undertaken between September 2011 and March 2013 and included several rounds of public consultation. The Study was approved by Transportation Committee on March 4, 2013, with broad public support, and subsequently approved by Council on March 27, 2013.
The construction of the underground LRT will have a transformative impact across the downtown when it opens in 2018. For example, it will alleviate the current bus rapid transit bottleneck on downtown streets and create space that can be reallocated to other street uses and functions. It will change travel patterns of the projected 47,000 morning commuters arriving by LRT who will be seeking new walking routes to their downtown destinations.
As a result of this investment in the LRT, the Downtown Moves Study provides innovative solutions to guide a wide range of planning and engineering projects proposed for Ottawa's CBD and its public spaces in order to create complete and safe environments. Specific examples include: widening of sidewalks, provision of pedestrian priority crossing measures, creation of complete cycling networks, creation of Transit Interface Zones for the seamless transfer between different transportation modes, and consolidation of design guidelines to better integrate buildings with the public realm.
Downtown Moves starts with a clear Vision and Strategic Directions that outlines the Study approach and guides the development and evaluation of all aspects of this study. Vision Plans provide additional planning and design analyses of downtown streets organized by the distinct needs of pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and vehicle drivers. Then, a New Street Design Framework outlines a process to evaluate street design options and identify the preferred solution that is best for the planned function and the adjacent community.
The Street Design Toolkit identifies a range of best practises and creative solutions that are tailored and applicable to the Ottawa context. The best practices are organized into four major mobility modes: pedestrians, cyclists, transit and vehicles .The section also includes over a dozen Complete Street Design Solutions that rebalance street space among the various uses. Downtown Moves also developed pioneering research into the concept of "Pedestrian Level-of-Service" to furthering planning for active transportation in Ottawa.
To assist the community, municipal politicians, business and civic leaders and City staff envision the potential opportunities for change, Street Demonstrations are provided to illustrate innovative and integrated urban design and transportation solutions that could be accomplished on Ottawa's downtown streets.
The Implementation Section of the report identifies:
- Potential streetscape projects that can be implemented incrementally as part of lifecycle renewal over the next five, 10 and 20-year planning horizon
- 13 "Vital Moves", representing realistic projects or actions that builds on the information and analysis presented in the Study
- Guidance to amend the City's Official Plan and Transportation Master Plan, as well as the update of the Cycling and Pedestrian plans
- An implementation program structured around City business practices and departments
- How Downtown Moves fulfills the role of a "Master Plan" as defined in the Ontario Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (2011), to further the Study's rigour and usefulness.
Going forward, Downtown Moves will guide the renewal of downtown streets, promoting active transportation, improved urban design conditions and creating an inclusive environment to people of all ages and ability levels.