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  • Writer's pictureMatthieu Gagnon

Active Transportation in Convent Glen Orléans Wood: Kids First

I wanted to make a blog post about my priorities for active transportation in Convent Glen Orléans Wood so I can get some feedback before we get approached by Laura for our priorities for the next budget (I don’t know the budget process so I decided to just get ready). Since the first part ended up being pretty lengthy, I decided to split it up by objective.

Here are my objectives, in order of priority, for active transportation infrastructure in Convent Glen Orléans Wood and by extension, a good portion of Orléans:

  1. Create routes for children and teenagers to get to school and other amenities

  2. Make local amenities accessible to people on bike or on foot

  3. Enable year-round bike and multi-modal (bike, foot and/or transit) commutes towards downtown

Two girls on a multi-use pathway going through a park. One walking and the other riding a bike
Kids coming home from school on a multi-use pathway in Convent Glen (photo courtesy of Sébastien Fleurant)

Focusing on children and teenagers (kids) for active transportation is really easy to justify. Transportation options are limited for them so it makes sense to give them good options to move around the neighbourhood. According to Health Canada, there are a lot of benefits for kids who bike or walk to school including better mental health, better physical fitness, added autonomy, better school performance, etc. There are also a lot of benefits for the community since it reduces the number of cars on the road at peak times and reduces air pollution. 

For the design and implementation of active infrastructure, kids should be considered the main user. If an eight year old (and their parents) is comfortable and safe while riding on a piece of bike infrastructure, that piece of infrastructure will likely be suitable for all other users including people with disabilities.

School is the most obvious destination for kids. Most schools are located on or near Jeanne D’Arc and Orléans Boulevard. Between the Ottawa River Pathway and the multi-use pathways (MUP) in the neighbourhoods, there are generally enough satisfactory active transportation connections going from east to west. Those paths are not ideal since they are not very wide, are generally in poor condition and are mostly not winter maintained. There are also a number of important crossings that are missing to make the east-west network safe for kids notably a safe crossing of Jeanne D’Arc near fire station 52 as noted in my previous post about the coming Jeanne D’Arc and Fortune/Vineyard Roundabout. The access from the MUP at Terry Fox Park to Orléans Boulevard is also lacking. Terry Fox Elementary School is also not directly accessible via the MUP at Terry Fox Park.

Map showing the schools in the north of Orléans
Map showing the schools in the north of Orléans

The major issue to get kids to school by bike or foot is the north south connection. Specifically, crossing the 174 is unpleasant and dangerous. As an adult with good cycling skills, I do not feel very comfortable crossing the 174 using Orléans Boulevard and Champlain but I do it because there are no other viable options. I absolutely avoid using Jeanne D’Arc unless I am in a rush and I feel like an idiot every time I do. The planned MUP on the Jeanne D’Arc overpass to be built as part of Stage 2 LRT has a number of issues as pointed out by Hans on the Bike’s post on East end stage 2 stations. Given that construction is underway for the very flawed MUP on Jeanne D’Arc, I don’t expect to get any improvements anytime soon and I don’t think parents should feel safe having their kids use the proposed infrastructure. The city decided that it was more important to make room for cars in the design of the Jeanne D’Arc overpass despite adding the LRT which should reduce traffic in the area. This is very frustrating since the closure of two lanes for construction with very little congestion shows that those lanes are not needed and just a dangerous waste of money. The Orléans Boulevard overpass design has been withdrawn and will be included in a new design currently underway. If the proposed design for the Orléans Boulevard active transportation corridor is good and provides safe separated infrastructure and safe intersections, this would be a game changer in the area for active transportation. It would allow kids living between the 174 and St-Joseph to access most schools in the area and if it extends to Carrière, could also allow kids north of the 174 to safely access the schools on Carrière. Good active transportation on Orléans Boulevard is key to developing a culture of active transportation in Orléans. Given the low traffic levels on Orléans Boulevard, it would be easy to remove two lanes to develop that corridor without causing significant congestion (people should really try walking or biking to Taffy Lane to see the lights).

Other kid amenities I would like to mention that should be accessible are Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex and various activities such as martial arts and music schools located on Youville and St-Joseph. I do not see any potential easy wins for making those areas accessible since they are very car centric and unpleasant for people regardless of the mode of transportation used to get there. We would need a lot of political will and funds to make St-Joseph bikeable or walkable despite the clear benefits to the businesses and people of the community. 

Active transportation priority list

  1. Orléans Boulevard active transportation corridor

  2. Safe crossing of Jeanne D’Arc between Vineyard and Voyageurs

  3. Park MUP network improvements including better connectivity and winter maintenance

  4. St-Joseph active transportation infrastructure*

  5. Jeanne D’Arc Boulevard safe crossing*

*Unlikely due to the various constraints

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Julian Kirby
Julian Kirby
Apr 23

An underpass of the 417 between youville and Vineyard would be great


Apr 19

This is so good! Thanks so much for taking the initiative. I really like your suggestion for a child-centric approach to designing MUPs and other infrastructure - your reasons make so much sense! I also agree that continuing to have two lanes for cars over the highway at Jeanne d'arc and Orléans Blvd is unnecessary. We must push for one lane for cars and the other for a MUP in both directions at both overpasses. The City keeps saying they want to do a Complete Streets approach whenever streets are being renovated - this is the perfect opportunity to apply that approach at these locations now, while the whole area is being renovated. Keep this conversation going!

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