A new round of traffic calming is coming our way

John Verbaas

Chapel Street is in the unenviable position of being one of the busiest of the residential streets in Sandy Hill. It is designated in the City’s official plan as a “neighbourhood collector” and so there is the expectation that it would act as a street that would collect local traffic as it makes its way in and out of the neighbourhood. Unfortunately in addition to that, it does attract cut-through traffic that uses it as a route to get through the neighbourhood and around other more congested arterial roads (chief suspect: King Edward Avenue during the afternoons!).

This summer the City installed some traffic monitors in the 400 block of Chapel and the results showed there were 1500 cars on the street in each direction (3000 total) between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. Those numbers are bound to be 10-20% higher than that in seasons when the University of Ottawa is in full operation.

This makes Chapel Street a prime candidate for applying traffic calming measures. Lately the City’s favoured approach for achieving this is the installation of centreline flex posts. These have been shown to have a small but meaningful impact on getting cars to take it a bit easier on a street. However in the case of Chapel Street where there is parking on one side of the street and two traffic lanes (with buses traveling in one of those directions), it turns out the street is not quite wide enough to meet the City’s centreline post installation guidelines.

The City has now proposed to change the parking to alternate sides of the street on the blocks between Templeton and Osgoode. This has the effect of making the street seem less of a straight-a-way and on average causes drivers to take it just a bit slower. The changes will not result in the loss of any on-street parking spots. The caveat is that the City requires a signature in support of this change from 2/3 of the addresses on each of these two blocks.

Concerned residents on these blocks are planning to take the initiative to garner the signatures needed for this petition. My hope is that if you are reading this and living on this area of Chapel Street that you will support their initiative. In addition to this we will continue to seek other opportunities to introduce other measures to slow down the traffic on Chapel.