Kirkwood and Clare Intersection, redux

I just fired off an email to the planner in charge of the Kirkwood/Clare intersection redesign, the Ottawa cycling team staff, and Councillor Hobbs. This is kind of hyper-local for me, but an east/west connection for cycling is missing between Byron and Carling. Making the Kirkwood/Clare intersection rock-solid for biking makes east/west traversals very safe since you can meander through relatively quiet streets.

Byron isn't bad - but it's almost at gridlock status from Churchill to Island Park right now. I bike it, but I'm comfy as a vehicular cyclist. The path is there, but if you're just north of Carling, and headed for Fisher Park, it's out of the way.

And also: who really wants to make Kirkwood into the next Bronson?

As the Kirkwood/Clare intersection construction didn't go forward in 2012, I was wondering if you had any updates on the technical design and/or construction schedule?

Also, I would like to inquire about signal priority for bikes and pedestrians. With the Churchill re-build going on Clare will be even more well used as a cycling route than it already is. I would like to ensure:

  • the intersection will detect bikes waiting for a light on Clare, and it will not be necessary to dismount to activate a pedestrian crossing button.
  • All east/west green lights are accompanied by a walk signal - no need to activate the crossing signal first.
  • Outside of peak-rush hour, pedestrian crossing activations are given priority. During non-peak there is no harm to "car flow" - why make walkers wait in the cold or rain?
  • I would also like to repeat my objection to left-hand turn lands. Kirkwood is currently a "street" and those turn lanes shift it into "stroad" territory. If they are being added because cars are "edging past" turning cars, unsafely, a better remedy would be bulbouts on the ingress side of the intersection. 

    My fear is turn lanes will ultimately increase speeds and decrease safety because "through" traffic always has priority. 

    All traffic ends up in the Richmond Rd or Carling/Kirkwood quagmires anyway - whether it takes 20 seconds or 24 seconds to reach gridlock makes no difference.

Specifically for the Cycling plan team: a few months ago I inquired about the possibility of shifting the east/west cycling route from Dovercourt to Clare, the section between Churchill and Kirkwood, for the reasons below.

If you agree Clare makes more sense - would it be possible to have any Kirkwood/Clare work being done in 2013 align with future Cycling Route goals? I'm riding Clare daily right now and see at least one other cyclist everyday - and it's March! :)

Left turn off Dovercourt onto Northbound Kirkwood (Street View)

  • The Dovercourt/Kirkwood bike movements are messy in just about every way.
  • Cars on Kirkwood have no reason to stop at that intersection.
    • Their attention is on the light at the mall, or 
    • on finally being out of the Carling/Kirkwood traffic mess (and accelerating northbound).
  • Cyclists need to deal with Sebring cars (maybe)
  • Northbound Kirkwood cars have no visibility onto Dovercourt
  • Comparison to Clare: all bike movements at Clare/Kirkwood are "normal".

Westbound from Kirkwood

  • The last 10 feet of Dovercourt are a one-way to prevent cars from using Dovercourt. There is also a "no entry" sign.
  • Not good to encourage bikers to break the law like that.
  • Probably not acceptable to make Dovercourt a two-way street again.
  • Comparison to Clare: right turns off Kirkwood are normal. Left turns off Kirkwood can use the left-hand turning lane that will appear on Kirkwood.

Grades / Hills

  • There is a modest hill on Dovercourt just west of Tweedsmuir.
  • Using Clare for east/west avoids this sharper grade.

Using Churchill for North/South travel instead of Kirkwood

  • Shifting to Clare between Churchill and Kirkwood will mean the north-south distance between Clare & Dovercourt will use a SBL instead of car lanes. 
  • It's about a 200m distance.

Connecting to Iona

  • Using Clare it's a natural route to continue past Kirkwood and then turn left to connect to Iona or Byron path.
    • The reverse is true, it's natural to cross Kirkwood then meander southbound until a Clare connection is made via residential roads.
  • Using Dovercourt, the northbound connection to Iona requires 200m on Kirkwood (unfriendly), or a non-obvious (right/left) onto Sebring.
    • No biker will attempt to stay on Kirkwood southbound until they reach Dovercourt. 
    • If they end up west of Kirkwood and north of Clare, they'll just use Clare.