Thursday, April 14, 2011

My new least favorite intersection

Least favorite intersections are like favorite bands: they change and morph, depending on what sort of emotional and physical place you're in at any given time. Right now, my least favorite intersection is - predictably, and perhaps aptly, since it's the time of year when these kinds of intersections become part of my life again - one of those places where road meets bike path.

I've started taking Smyth, and Main Street, to get downtown, like to the Market, lately. It's quick and direct, if gritty. And Main Street is pothole hell, but that's not the part I hate. The part I hate runs from the intersection of Main and Hawthorne under the Queensway, and ends at Colonel By Drive.

Heading down Main, you first have to make it through the little jog that Hawthorne does. That's not so bad. But then on the other side of the intersection you're suddenly in a right-turn lane. Like most right-turn lanes, I tend to stay right on them, and try to shoulder check and move across them into the through lane as I'm coming up to the intersection, rather than ride the block or so with cars passing on both sides. It just seems to freak the drivers out to have me in the centre lane. (I know, legally I should just be taking up my space in the centre lane. Tell that to an aggressive driver.)

So, once I've negotiated that block, my next problem arises. Assuming I've managed to get into the centre lane, I'm now faced with this ickiness.

Heading toward Colonel By, you have a choice. If you don't want to go with the flow and just keep right onto Colonel By (and how many times have I heard drivers complain about bikes on Colonel By when "there's a perfectly good bike path along the canal"?) - if you want to get onto the bike path, that is - you wind up having to move to the inside of the centre lane - along the yellow line - and then ducking off the road and onto a sidewalk/multi-user path/bit of Echo Drive, just before an island that separates the two lanes between Echo Drive and Colonel By. And you have to duck across the oncoming lane, where there is virtually no marking, crosswalk, or indication of what anyone, car or bike, is supposed to be doing.  

Then the task of getting onto the multi-user path is only half over. Now you're stopped on a grassy median between Echo Drive, which is barely a street anyway, and Colonel By, staring at the bike path across the way, helpfully paved to the edge of Colonel By as if to say, "here, hop on!" However, you have two lanes of traffic - traffic that hasn't seen a stop light since Ottawa U campus in one direction, and god knows how long in the other - to brave before that happens, and no crosswalk, light, or signal. You can even see in the satellite picture, and in this one, where exit ramps have been paved up to the edge of Colonel By from the path.

I cursed this intersection at several places the other day. I know, I could have taken the easy road, and hung a right straight onto Colonel By. And given how many people were out walking, jogging, and cycling on the canal path that day, it might have been faster, if more harried, to take Colonel By as well. But that just results in more unpleasantness further down.

Again: these spots, where you have to somehow get from streetside riding to the NCC's beautiful network of rec paths, are far more annoying than they really should be. I'd take a ramp and pedestrian bridge, I would. Like the Corktown footbridge at Somerset, only over the parkways too. That would be awesome.


  1. Is the description on correct?

    - A

  2. I'm not sure that site is updating. I've sent in problems, posted on the blog (not yet moderated into existence) and nothing yet. Good idea but I'm not sure it's getting the attention from the site owner?

  3. Well, I am the site owner. Let me have a look at your entries, Ken.

  4. You are right, you can't really cross there. There is another option though. Rather then turn right on Colonel By, take the earlier right onto Echo. There is a path on the east side of the parkway starting at Concord, it will take you to the lights at the Corks Town Bridge. This path is not as well used as the canal path so even has the benefit of fewer encounters. It should be signed better.

  5. Alex sent me a nice email about my problems with the site and resolved everything, sorry for sounding a bit negative about a great effort.

  6. Woo - thanks for the tip re: Echo Drive! I'll definitely check that out. (Especially good to know about an underused path, because the other problem is that the canal path is so heavily used that it really slows you down. This day in particular I had to screech to a stop when a dog on an extendable leash wandered across the path from its owner. Effectively stretching a tripwire across the whole path.)

    And Alex - I'll check the description and see. . . *thought* you might have it on the site already! It's a doozy of a bad intersection.