City cites construction deficiencies on Colonel By raised crosswalk

They're called raised crosswalks. But motorists say that's just a fancy name for a speed bump and a new one on Ottawa’s Colonel By is catching many drivers off guard. The raised intersection is aimed at slowing motorists down but many are complaining the bump is causing them to bottom out.

Now city staff are trying to figure out whether that bump is simply too big.

When the light turns green, that usually means "go" but at the intersection of Colonel By Drive and the Corktown Footbridge, you risk bottoming out your car if you're going the speed limit.

“They should rectify it,” says one motorist, “It's not good at all.”

In fact, that's just what city workers are trying to do; figure out how to make this bump a little less bumpy.

In a statement, Carina Duclos, the city of Ottawa Manager of Municipal Design and Construction said, “the city has identified some construction deficiencies and we are in the process of addressing them."  Duclos added, “Raising the cross walk at this location reduces the slope of the approach to the crossing for pedestrians and cyclists and this is particularly beneficial during the winter.  Raising the cross walk also discourages drivers from speeding at the point of potential conflict with vulnerable users of the crossing.”

Cyclists and pedestrians, the intended benefactors of this "bump", like it.

“It was annoying during the construction,” says University of Ottawa student Connor Michie, “but I think it's a beautiful pay off now.”

“Mainly it means they have to slow down,” adds pedestrian Rachele Paquet, “so if a pedestrian crosses when the light isn't on, it's a lot safer for the pedestrian. So it's basically just a large speed bump.”

The City says with the LRT opening, it's anticipating a lot more cyclists and pedestrians here.  This is already a high volume area.

“I do see it positively,” says the councilor for the area, Mathieu Fleury, “It makes drivers aware that they are going into a zone to slow down.  It also ensures that when the light changes drivers don't try to slide through the red light.”

The city has installed similar but smaller raised crosswalks elsewhere, including several spots along Alta Vista.  They cost between $50 and $100-thousand dollars.

The raised intersections are part of the city's overall traffic calming measures, as the number of cyclists, pedestrians and cars continues to climb.  This fall, Sandy Hill becomes the first neighborhood to see what's called "gateway" signage.

Changes to Ontario's Highway Traffic Act means entire communities like Sandy Hill can be designated a 40 kilometre an hour zone.  Expect to see a lot more of those in the months to come. 

Until then, the speed limit along Colonel By remains 60, with caution.

“It's good,” says a motorcyclist, as he prepares to pass over the raised crosswalk, “You’ve got to hit it at least 60 to get some air,” he laughs.

On that bump, it probably would launch you in the air.  Over the coming weeks, city staff will be back at that site to figure out whether the bump is too aggressive and how to calm it down a little bit.