Colonel By Drive Pathway Safety Questioned

John Dance

Improving the substandard pathway running along Colonel By Drive between Bank and Clegg streets should be made a priority for the National Capital Commission (NCC), says the Old Ottawa East Community Association (OOECA). Much of this busy kilometre-long stretch is less than the three-metre width required by NCC standards and, making matters worse, pedestrians can’t readily avoid cyclists because the canal railing is on one side and the busy parkway is on the other.

In October, the NCC board of directors will consider a new capital pathway strategic plan and, while the OOECA sees many positive elements within the plan, the plan’s recommendation pertaining to the dangerous stretch of the Colonel By pathway is Old Ottawa East and Old Ottawa South regarded to be inadequate and indefinite.

The draft plan recommends “Improv[ing] narrow roadside conditions along Colonel By Drive and consider[ing] reclaiming space from the vehicle lanes.”

In a recent letter to the NCC’s CEO, Toby Nussbaum, OOECA acting President Bob Gordon says the NCC should make it a priority to address the unsafe pathway conditions within the next two to three years. The Old Ottawa South Community Association has also written to the NCC in support of the idea.

Sub-standard sections of the Colonel By pathway between Bank and Clegg streets are dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. Photo by John Dance

Sub-standard sections of the Colonel By pathway between Bank and Clegg streets are dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. Photo by John Dance

OOECA specifically recommends “reclaiming space from the vehicle lanes in order to create bike lanes on the parkway that would serve faster cyclists, e-cyclists, and e-scooters; and/or by constructing a pedestrian-only pathway expansion over the canal, similar to the type of pedestrian boardwalk expansion that was installed along the northern shore of Dow’s Lake or at the eastern end of Jacques Cartier Park along the Ottawa River.”

“We will certainly take the recommendation in the letter into consideration along with the other public comments received during the Capital Pathway Strategic Plan review,” says Corey Larocque, NCC strategic communications advisor.

“The pandemic has made us all even more aware that more safe space is required for pedestrians and cyclists and the NCC’s experiment of closing Queen Elizabeth Driveway at specified times has been a resounding success,” wrote acting president Gordon.

“But it is not readily possible to do this for Colonel By Drive, so alternative means for providing additional space for pedestrians and cyclists is needed, a real challenge given the limited available ‘real estate’ in much of the Clegg – Bank stretch of Colonel By,” continued Gordon.

“Building a pedestrian-only boardwalk alongside the canal for the substandard portion of the pathway would require substantial investment but it would fit well with the federal government’s infrastructure program and would finally give the necessary safety to pedestrians. Our idea of having bike lanes on the roadway itself may also be necessary as e-bikes and e-scooters become more popular. They – as well as fast cyclists – endanger pedestrians, who, as per the draft report, are the most vulnerable users,” concluded Gordon.

The draft pathway plan proposes a number of improvements elsewhere on the canal routes. Specifically, the western side by the National Arts Centre is to be improved and, on the eastern side, a “slow zone” is proposed between Laurier and Daly, and construction of the missing segment between Daly and Rideau is recommended

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