Elgin Street is a historically busy thoroughfare in central Ottawa that is currently being reconstructed to support a 30km/h operating speed, along with fewer vehicle lanes and an enhanced pedestrian realm. The new design aligns with the City’s Road Safety Action Plan and is expected to reduce the number of collisions while significantly improving the public realm, especially for vulnerable road users. In Ottawa, between 2013 and 2017, almost 50% of fatal and major injuries occurred due to vehicle collisions at signalized intersections. In this commercial business district, 71% of fatal and major injury collisions involved pedestrians, as compared to the citywide average of 26%. With seven signalized intersections and high pedestrian volumes, significant safety benefits are anticipated as a result of this project.
Prior to the reconstruction, Elgin Street was auto-focused, consisting of four travel lanes with off-peak parking on both sides. No auxiliary turning lanes resulted in unsafe slip-around movements and weaving through intersections. The proposed design will ensure safer, single-file vehicle operation and improved sightlines for all users.
The sidewalks were also very narrow with over 800 pedestrians typically walking along Elgin Street during the afternoon peak hour. The proposed design reduces the number of vehicle lanes from four to two, plus auxiliary lanes, which allows for the reallocation of space to sidewalks. The plan also incorporates “flex space” which can be programmed for pedestrian use, patio space or on-street parking. This results in generous sidewalks and the ability to provide seating, artwork and landscaping, as well as accessible parking and loading opportunities at various times throughout the day and year.
Elgin Street will be the first arterial mainstreet in Ottawa with a posted speed limit of 30km/h, which is expected to reduce the risk and severity of collisions while promoting an enhanced public realm. To support a lower speed limit, the design includes four raised intersections, tighter curb radii, curb extensions and narrow vehicle lanes. The design concept for this roadway can be applied to other municipalities by referring to Ottawa’s Complete Streets Guidelines.