The City of Ottawa Traffic Calming Design Guidelines inform the planning and design of safer community streets, fulfilling the City’s complete streets policies. Previously, traffic calming design in Ottawa was approached from scratch, on a case-by-case basis, reacting to traffic concerns as they arose through retrofits. Today, these guidelines apply not only to retrofits, but also street renewals and new construction with the intent of formalizing lowspeed design from the outset and avoid the need for costly retrofits later. The guidelines outline the process, community engagement activities, and features necessary to reduce negative traffic impacts, create attractive environments for vulnerable road users, and meet broader objectives to create livable communities.
In April 2019, Ottawa’s City Council approved these new guidelines to walk users through the process to develop traffic calming plans that balance competing objectives and highlight appropriate measures for different applications. They inform the design, application, and evaluation of traffic calming and integrated speed management. The guide also levels the playing field between the public and professionals. It offers the details needed for designers but is illustrated for general consumption to help the public, community and marginalized groups participate meaningfully in the design of safe streets.
Application of the new guidelines reduces design and review time by centralizing technical agreements between key stakeholders, introducing a consistent approach to planning and design sensitive to context, and enabling less experienced designers to develop meaningful concepts more rapidly. The results also support the City’s traffic calming retrofit program with a “plug-and-play” planning framework and pre-prepared consultation materials.
The project team used historic project examples and more recent traffic calming design experiments as base points in consultations to help refine recommendations with stakeholders in the new guide. For example, details on design options that consider bus service frequency, winter maintenance and emergency response needs are built into the document, addressing Ottawa-specific considerations that could benefit other jurisdictions as well.
Calmer streets, developed for and with communities they serve, create environments fostering increased sustainable travel and the resulting social interactions on streets that make neighbourhoods more livable.