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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Centretown’s great divide – the reprise

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We ran this video back in June not long after we learned of the City’s plans to widen the already dangerous Bronson Avenue ever further. What do we mean by dangerous? The video is an unedited minute of rush hour, shot from the perspective of a pedestrian waiting to cross Bronson at Somerset. Except that, other than the masochist shooting the video, there are no pedestrians; foot traffic knows to avoid Bronson if at all possible.

We think it is timely to run the video again during the week when the Rescue Bronson team is mobilizing concerned Centretown citizens ahead of the public meeting on the Bronson Avenue rebuilding, tomorrow at 7.00 PM at the McNabb Community Centre at Percy and Gladstone.

The campaign has been getting attention from the news media; they track the news stories on their resource page.

Commentators have started weighing on the Bronson rebuild as well; the columnist that caught our eye this week was the Citizen’s Ken Gray, who, if I am reading him right, thinks that even an off-the-cuff comment about supporting road-widening in Westboro at some nebulous time in the future is to be strongly opposed the moment it is uttered, while on the other hand, the City’s detailed plans to widen the dangerous, neighbourhood-damaging Bronson Avenue next year are just something Centretown citizens are going to have to deal with.



  1. Anyone who travels along Bronson by car knows that the trick to getting from A to B is to avoid left-turning cars. It’s amazingly evident in this video clip.

    This three-lane solution seems to make a lot or practical sense. Amazingy it is based on actual observation of traffic flow – not just numbers and maps. Kudos to Eric Darwin, Diane Holmes and gang for injecting some common sense into traffic planning!

  2. As someone who walked up Bronson almost every day for a year I can attest that it is completely un-friendly to pedestrians. Between Gladstone & Carling I walked with speeding cars passing inches away from me, since the sidewalk is so very close to the roadway. I would loathe to think of any cyclist who dared compete with traffic on that street.

    On a number of occasions I was soaked thoroughly by passing cars and, especially, OC transpo buses. It’s not like I have anywhere to go, yet they speed through deep potholes, or any of the many indentations of the road. Dressing in “business” clothes is cold enough in the winter, it’s no fun to get soaked with slush before you even make it to the office.

    If they want to widen the road, whatever, but don’t pretend that it’s safe for pedestrians. You might as well put up sound barriers and blockades to keep people safe and dry.

    Another very dangerous point for pedestrians is the 416 off-ramp. I have had a friend hit, as most of the drivers exiting the highway only look for oncomming traffic from the North of Bronson, and not the pedestrians that, god forbid, choose to cross the street on their right of way. If I hadn’t known about this I certainly would have been run over a number of times as clueless drivers zoom around the corner without knowledge or concern that there are people within feet of themselves.

  3. Yes, widen bronson…i think ottawa is particularly deficient of 6 lane arterials (only carling and parts of eagleson/innes come to mind). hell, widen hunt club, widen merivale and woodroffe, all of bank south of riverside, vanier parkway and especially raise the speed limit to 70 km/h on scott st. W…everybody is going that fast anyways. 

    a former ottawa courrier

    I live a block away and need to negotiate crossing Bronson at Christie at least 4 times a day.I can attest to being soaked by cars and buses alike while awaiting the VERY slow crossing lights.There is a popular, well – used dog park at McNabb field and many of those dogs live on the other side of Bronson.  Since our side of Bronson is also deficient in green spaces and playgrounds, our children, too, are negotiating those dangerous corners. At Christie, we have the additional problem of cars who sometimes run the red lights. Bank Street is Main Street for many of us as well, since we have no general grocery stores. It is worth noting that the majority of people in West Centretown do not have cars by choice and / or finances. This, to me, is part of what makes this a special place to live.  It is the future, too, for all of us, and should be celebrated, not made more difficult by those who choose a suburban commuter high energy consumption lifestyle. 

    I welcome the initiative of Rescue Bronson. I also agree that the problem of Bronson is part of a bigger picture. Our city needs to sort out a transit policy that discourages the movement of cars in the downtown of the city and encourages more people to live near where they work and to have a comprehensive public transit system for those that don’t.