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Designing Major Urban Road Corridors for Active Transportation: The Ottawa Case


The aim of this paper is to reinforce the importance of designing major urban road corridors to support active transportation … walking, cycling, and other non-motorized modes. This implements ongoing pubic policy thrusts towards sustainable transportation and increasing public health concerns associated with an automobile dependant society. Major roads including arterials, major collectors, and collectors are often the best candidates for this multi-modal function. They typically link a wide range of destinations, and the investment in pedestrian-friendly and cycling-friendly infrastructure can yield the greatest returns for a municipality. The City of Ottawa continues to show leadership in active transportation and this follows a long history of progressive municipal policy. In this decade, the City has published Design Guidelines to influence the construction and reconstruction of its network of major roads in this regard. A fundamental principle of the Guidelines is that major roads must be considered as part of the City’s network of public spaces, not just traffic carrying devices. A related fundamental principle is that designs must take into account the total road corridor, including the broader civic context and adjacent land uses. A sampling of Ottawa’s design solutions and road cross-section demonstrations is provided. A “family” of road types is introduced. These are referenced from the City’s Regional Road Corridor Design Guidelines (2000) and its Road Corridor Planning and Design Guidelines (2008). The design solutions illustrate how the competing space requirements of various road users can be balanced, often within narrow road right-ofways. Road corridors that form good public spaces, that provide appropriate property access, that sufficiently accommodate services and utilities, and that are safe and comfortable for all transportation modes can result.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Ronald A. Clarke
Geometric design