On May 14, 2020, Councillor Glen Gower put forward the following directive to City Staff “…that through the appropriate recovery task force, staff come back to Council with recommendations for a plan, a process, and appropriate funding sources to support changing transportation patterns.”
John Manconi, General Manager of Transportation Services, directed a memo to the Mayor and Councillors in response. With traffic volumes lower due to the announced State of Emergency by Mayor Watson, Manconi outlined various temporary traffic calming and active transportation measures put in place to address the higher volumes of cyclists and pedestrians.
Staff have monitored traffic patterns since May, with a notable trend upward in volumes of vehicular traffic since the gradual re-opening of the province’s economy. “This trend of increasing motorized vehicles on the road has continued, although it is still unclear how transportation needs will change as Ottawa residents return to work and continue to access businesses across the city.” “Given these recent changes and continued uncertainty in traffic patterns, staff do not recommend reallocating space in a temporary manner city-wide.”
The memo went on to say, “Staff will continue to monitor and adapt to changing transportation patterns.” “Staff will also continue to work collaboratively with ward councillors to identify specific locations where allocating space on the right-of-way to pedestrians and cyclists would be feasible and effective.”
Councillor Gower, an avid cyclist himself, had this to say to Stittsville Central, “I’m disappointed by the memo but not surprised. It makes sense that creating a plan is premature given that we still don’t really know how transportation patterns will change”.
Gower further said, “But we should be focused on how we move people most effectively, rather than just vehicles. As Ottawa keeps growing above a million people, we can’t keep taking a car-centered approach to transportation.
I hope that through the Transportation Master Plan update and Official Plan update we can make a real pivot in how we achieve efficient & cost-effective mobility in our city. We have a long way to go.”
This current Term of Council has earmarked $28M for stand-alone active transportation projects. Estimates of the cost to implement temporary city-wide changes to transportation patterns are in the order of several millions of dollars for the remainder of 2020, which exceeds available funding sources. Potential infrastructure stimulus programs that could support active transportation projects continue to be investigated by city staff.