M E M O   /   N O T E   D E   S E R V I C E



To / Destinataire


Rob Tremblay, Coordinator,

Roads and Cycling Advisory Committee


File/N° de fichier:  File Number


From / Expéditeur


Alain Gonthier, P. Eng.

Manager, Infrastructure Management, PWS



Subject / Objet


For distribution to Committee Members Subject



6 January 2005Date


Pilot Installation of Ramp Style Sidewalks

Invitation to Committee Members to Participate in the Monitoring Program


At the request of residents, the City initiated two "ramp-style" sidewalk pilot project installations in 2004.  The requests originally focused on installation of the Toronto standard that required minor adjustments to reflect Ottawa specific conditions.    A report outlining the details of the proposed installations and the standard was presented to Transportation Committee June 2, 2004 (copy attached - ACS2004-TUP-INF-0006).     The pilot installations are located on Holland Avenue between Carling Avenue and Tyndall Drive, and on Delaware Avenue between Cartier Street and Robert Street.     One of the requirements of the pilot is to undertake a review of the installations with input from appropriate advisory committees and other interested individuals with the intent of presenting the review findings and potential updates for sidewalk construction guidelines and specifications to Committee and Council for information and consideration in 2005.    


The review of the pilot installations under various conditions will include input from residents, sidewalk users, advisory groups, maintenance operators and construction personnel.    Key to the monitoring is gathering of information over a reasonable period of time representing typical operating conditions between November of 2004 (immediately following construction) and April of 2005.   The comments will be compiled with other inputs and reviewed to define whether the issues are sidewalk standard related, operational in nature or unrelated to sidewalk design and operation as well as to identify potential changes required to mitigate the issues (and the implications of such change), to review the appropriateness of the design standards and potential criteria for consistent definition of the most appropriate and applicable site selection for installation of the standard or standards adopted.       


The intent of this correspondence is to formally advise of the pilot monitoring and to invite your committee to participate in the feedback program.    Your Committee’s participation in the monitoring program is welcomed and important to defining appropriate standards for the City’s infrastructure.  


Ideally, comments related to sidewalk functionality under various weather and operating conditions would be preferred.   As such, we are suggesting your membership visit and use the pilot sidewalk installations at these two locations at their leisure as much as possible between January and April (the monitoring period) and that the committee provide as much constructive feedback (positive or negative) as possible.    To facilitate the process, staff can be made available to attend a site visit, to provide details on design and/or construction issues or to field questions, if required. 


In closing we would request that Committee comments be consolidated and provided to Alain Gonthier, Manager Infrastructure Management before the end of April 2005.       In the intervening time, we are also requesting attendance at one of your scheduled in March to present prelimary feedback received from the various inputs sources prior to finalizing the monitoring process and we appreciate if you could advise of the most appropriate meeting date for the briefing.








Attach.  -  ACS2004-TUP-INF-0006


cc:     Councillor Diane Holmes –Ward 14 – Somerset

Councillor Shawn Little – Ward 15 – Kitchissippi

         Rose Leclair, Deputy City Manager Public Works and Services

         Richard Hewitt, Director, Infrastructure Services

Report to/Rapport au :


Transportation Committee

Comité des transports


18 May 2004 / 18 mai 2004


Submitted by/Soumis par : R.T. Leclair, General Manager/Directrice générale,

Transportation, Utilities and Public Works/Transport, Services et Travaux publics 


Contact Person/Personne ressource : R.G. Hewitt, P.Eng, Director / Directeur

Infrastructure Services/Services d'infrastructure

(613) 580-2424 x21268, Richard.Hewitt@Ottawa.ca



Ref N°: ACS2004-TUP-INF-0006








Réfection de l’avenue holland : répercussions de la conception des trottoirs sur l’application des normes concernant les accès aux entrées de cour de toronto




That the Transportation Committee receive this report for information.




Que le Comité des transports prenne connaissance du présent rapport à titre d’information.




On 27 August 2003, the Transportation and Transit Committee adopted the Holland Avenue Reconstruction Report (ACS2003-TUP-TRF-0021) amended as follows:





The purpose of this report is to present the design implications of the "Toronto" sidewalk standard .  The cycling lane motion was considered by the Cycling Advisory Committee and they have confirmed that a painted line is not appropriate at this location.  More details on this issue are also provided further in this report.




A. Sidewalks


Although sidewalk design standards are broadly governed by highway and roadway deisgndesign guidelines produced byu organizations such as the Ontario Provincial Standards, Transportation Association of Canada, US Federal Highway Design Administration and the National Guide to Sustainable Infrastrastructure,  municipal, municipal standards have evelovedevolved over time to reflect site specific best practices that recogizerecognize mobility and accessibility issues, vehicle movement ,movement, operation and maintenance considerations, drainage and aesthetics relevant to the municipality.  While the current Ottawa standard reflects the development and consideration of these issues over many years, there are concerns with the ‘roller coaster” effect resulting largely from mitigation measures used to address slope and vehicular access considerations that occur at driveway entrances.

The current Ottawa standard depresses the back section of the sidewalk  75sidewalk 75 mm across the full width at each vehicular access.  These depressions are designed to keep the crossfall grades within acceptable limits (typically 4 to 6%) for the entire width of the access ramp, to minimize the potential for vehicle scraping and to maintain accessibility for disabled users between road and sidewalk.  The "roller coaster" effect is the impact of the sidewalk transitioning between the normal sidewalk elevation and the lowering of the sidewalk at the vehicular/driveway accesses when accesses are in close proximity.


The Toronto standard helps to mitigate  themitigate the "roller coaster" effect by not depressing the back section of the sidewalk creating a sidewalk platform at a constant longitudinal grade and concentrating the transition to the road elevation over a short distance.  While this this provides a more consistent longitudinal grade over the full length of the sidewalk, it creates a much sharper slope or steep ramp at vehicle entrances (in the order of 25%).  Annexes 1 and 2 provide a comparison of the two standards.


Upon receiving Council direction to implement the Toronto Standard as a pilot on the Holland Avenue reconstruction project, discussion was initiated with the Accessibility Advisory Committee.  While the Committee acknowledged some potential negative aspects of the steeper ramp component, it concluded that the benefits of having a consistent longitudinal flat travel surface could outweigh the impediment imposed by the steep ramp adjacent to the curb at driveway accesses, and supported proceeding with the pilot.


Prior to tendering the project, staff modified the construction drawings and specifications for the Holland (Carling to Tyndall) project, incorporating 2 metre wide sidewalks with the alternative driveway access standard obtained from Toronto.  More recently, to assist with our becoming more familiar with this standard, staff arranged to construct a mock-up of it.  This test section was constructed to accurately reflect the specification from Toronto.  Limited evaluation of the test section revealed that:







The initial observations of the trial identified sufficient concern to cause staff to speak to a number of City of Toronto staff regarding use of their standard.  This was in addition to numerous observations made by Ottawa staff who visited Toronto either for personal reasons or on other business.  We are aware that the Toronto Standard is actually one of many currently in use in that City, and has been used for many years.  Discussions with Toronto staff revealed the following explanations regarding this apparent inconsistency:







Other aspects of interest noted by Toronto staff were that they do maintain a curb face of 125 to 150 mm generally and that the taper sections to transition from the ramp vary from the 2.0 metres identified in the specification to as little at 0.6 metres where there is on-street parking.  It was noted that this particular standard is used currently only for local residential street applications, although it is acknowledged that the standard does exist on other classes of roadway.  It was also mentioned that Toronto uses standard in-road catch basins as opposed to the curb inlet appurtenances used where appropriate in Ottawa.  Finally, Toronto staff indicated that their standard is used on sidewalks less than 2 metres wide.


The focus on this significant issue has led to discussion regarding concerns expressed about the current standard in use in Ottawa.  This standard or similar variants, in addition to use in our City, is used in cities across North America.  It is also very much in keeping with approaches as identified in the National Guide to Sustainable Infrastructure draft best practices document for sidewalk design, construction and maintenance.  However, our review of past projects has identified that construction has sometimes varied from the specification by attempting to regain full curb height between driveways, even where the separation between them is insufficient to permit the specified tapering from the driveway depression to the full height sidewalk and back down to the next driveway depression.  This has exacerbated the so-called roller coaster effect, which has gained notoriety.  Accordingly, directions have been issued to construction staff regarding the necessary distances between driveways to attain full curb height (150 mm) between driveways.  This will mean that in circumstances of driveways in close proximity the curb face will either be left depressed, or will regain only a portion of the full height.


B. Implications of the Painted White Line in the Shared Lane


Council direction also included a motion referred to the Cycling Advisory Committee stating that "the reconstruction include a white line be painted in the shared facility lane to indicate the existence of a bicycle lane as has been done on Harbrod and Davenport in Toronto."  Staff of the Traffic and Parking Operations Branch and the Cycling Advisory Committee have reviewed the motion and concur that given the nature of Holland Avenue, the proposed shared lanes are the most appropriate method to accommodate cycling in this corridor and that a painted line to indicate the existence of a bicycle lane is not appropriate.


C. Recommended Course of Action




In terms of the sidewalk standard, our review has led to some conclusions of which Committee should be aware.  It is staff's position that it would be inappropriate to construct the driveway accesses on Holland exactly in accordance with the specification obtained from Toronto given the knowledge that we have of the way the standard has been implemented in Toronto and the likelihood of problems arising that could have been mitigated.


By the time this report is tabled, it is expected that the first sections of sidewalks along Holland Ave will be constructed.  The pilot will proceed based on the following modifications that are in keeping with Toronto's construction practices:


  1. curb lip height at depressions of 25 mm (rather than 45 mm);


  1. increased ramp width of driveway access, with smooth, rather than abrupt, grade transition.  Depending on driveway grades, this could mean ramp widths more in the range of 750 mm, perhaps as much as 1 metre in extreme cases;


  1. transition tapers from the depressed ramp to the full height sidewalk of 1.4 metres.  This helps to define on-street parking locations and minimize areas where the adjacent ramps will intersect;


  1. where dictated by driveway/private property grades, it may be necessary to depress the back of sidewalk by up to 50 mm and the taper length adjusted accordingly;


In addition, there are 3 high volume accesses along Holland that serve commercial/institutional establishments.  For these specific locations the current "Ottawa Standard" will be constructed.


Upon completion of the Holland pilot, staff will undertake a review, with further input from the appropriate advisory committees, Holland Avenue residents and other interested individuals.  As well, winter maintenance operations will be reviewed.  Regarding snow and ice control, it is expected that the substantial sidewalk width where the platform is of consistent slope should allow for effective snow clearing.  It must be recognized that, as with current standards, there will be no intent to undertake multiple snow clearing passes where sidewalk widths are increased, so the ramp component of the sidewalk will require clearing by residents.  It is not known at this time whether snow accumulation on the steeper ramp of the Toronto Standard will cause additional winter concerns to pedestrians, and this aspect will be included in our review.  The findings of the pilot will be included in our update of sidewalk construction guidelines and specifications, and will be submitted for Committee and Council consideration in 2005.


Painted White Line in Shared Lane


With respect to the cycling facilities, based on recommendations from staff of the Traffic and Parking Operations Branch and the Cycling Advisory Committee, it has been determined that the proposed shared lanes are the most appropriate method to accommodate cycling in this corridor and that a painted line to indicate the existence of a bicycle lane will not be provided.




Residents of Holland Avenue


A letter to affected residents was prepared and reviewed with the Ward Councillor's office.  This letter was sent out on 15 January 2004.  The letter outlined that the Toronto Driveway Access Standard was added to the reconstruction project as a pilot project, and if residents had any questions or conerns, that these should be communicated to the City by 30 January 2004.  As of the January 30th timeline, and through February, no comments were received.


More recently, the affected Community Associations were advised of the full scale mock-up and invited to view the installation for comment.  This process is ongoing and input received will be included in the findings of the pilot project.


Advisory Committees




A meeting was held on 18 December 2003 with representatives of the Accessibility, Transportation and Cycling Advisory Committees to review the design implications of the Toronto Driveway Access Standard.  The general agreement at this meeting was that they agreed with the pilot project, and are willing to accept the challenges of the 25% ramp because of the overall gain of a flatter sidewalk.


Subsequent to the construction of the test section, the Department extended the invitation to the advisory committees to view the mock-up site and provide further comments on the accessibility issues.  Discussions are ongoing and input will be included in the findings of the pilot project.


Painted White Line in Shared Lane


On the issue of the cycling lane, the Cycling Advisory Committee (CAC) provided the following comments:

"CAC agrees that the proposed 4.25 m shared cycling and motorist lanes along with 2.4m wide parking lanes on Holland Avenue between Carling Avenue and Tyndall Street would be the appropriate cycling facility given the fact of a 50 km/h speed limit and only one through-lane in each direction.  CAC notes with approval that the proposed curb to curb dimension at the road narrowings/curb extensions meets with the City's shared lane standards.  The bicycle lanes in Toronto range from 1.6 to 1.8 m in width and the parking lanes are 2.4 m wide, implying that if we did follow Toronto's example on this stretch of roadway, we would need slightly wider cycling lanes than our minimum standard and widening to accommodate bicycle lanes would greatly add to the project cost.  CAC also recognizes the technical difficulty and consequent greater cost of widening the curb to curb width because of the steep gradients and retaining wall on the east side of Holland south of the Queensway.


CAC agrees that the concept of using the Toronto bicycle lanes would be worth considering here in Ottawa under certain circumstances but not on Holland Avenue.  A key difference of the Toronto examples is the conversion of 4 regular travel lanes to only 2 regular travel lanes, thus greatly improving the peak hour travel conditions for cyclists.  Holland Avenue does not at present have 4 regular travel lanes and this constitutes a significant difference in cycling conditions."


The Ward Councillor is aware of this report.



The Toronto sidewalk vehicle access standard was included in the tender for the Holland Avenue Reconstruction project.  A review of the tender prices indicates no significant price difference between sidewalks constructed with the Toronto Driveway Access Standard and sidewalks constructed with the Ottawa Driveway Access Standard.  While the initial construction costs are identical, there are financial risks associated with the pilot installation should remedial work be required to address unacceptable performance. 


There are 75 residential entrances identified under the reconstruction plans for Holland Avenue.  While it is difficult to quantify the exact extent of these issues, it is expected that some entrances may suffer from vehicle scraping leading to some form of action that could cost up to $3,000 per entrance where a full replacement is required.




Annex 1 - Comparison Drawing of the Toronto and Ottawa Sidewalk Standard

Annex 2 - Technical Review



The Department of Transportation, Utilities and Public Works will proceed with the construction of the Toronto Driveway Access Standard as a pilot as part of the Holland Avenue Reconstruction Project.  The Department will assess the performance of the pilot project, and observations will be considered as part of the process to update the current sidewalk guidelines, to be completed by mid-2005.



Annex 1 – Comparison Drawing of the Toronto and Ottawa Sidewalk Standards


Annex 2 - Technical Review


Definitions and Terminology


Cross slope – The slope that is perpendicular to the direction of travel.


Running slope – The slope that is parallel to the direction of travel.


Front of sidewalk – The side of the sidewalk that is closest to the edge of the roadway.


Back of sidewalk – The side of the sidewalk that is closest to the adjacent property.


Curb ramp - A short ramp cutting through a curb, or built up to a curb, to facilitate access from one level to another.


The City of Toronto Sidewalk Vehicle Access Standard


Front of sidewalk elevation above roadway in normal conditions = 125 to 150 mm

Front of sidewalk elevation above roadway for vehicular access = 45 mm

Difference = 105 mm (max)


Front of sidewalk elevation above roadway for pedestrian access – not addressed


To accommodate the 105 mm of drop, the Toronto standard concentrates the elevation change to 460 mm at the front of sidewalk.  This ramp cross slope is calculated to be approximately 26%.  This short steep ramp design negates the need for the entire sidewalk to lower and riseraise at each access, hence eliminating the roller coaster effect.  This ramp is transitioned over 2.0 m.


The City of Ottawa Sidewalk Vehicle Access Standard


Front of sidewalk elevation above roadway in normal conditions = 150 mm

Front of sidewalk elevation above roadway for vehicular access = 25 mm

Difference = 125 mm


Front of sidewalk elevation above roadway for pedestrian access 15 mm


To accommodate the 125 mm of drop the current City of Ottawa standard uses a combination of a 75 mm back of sidewalk lowering and an uniform increase in sidewalk cross slope.  For example, for a normal 2% cross slope sidewalk at a driveway access, the cross slope would increase to 3.75% for the length of the access.


The drop of the sidewalk is transitioned over 2.4 m, which results in a running slope of 5%.  These grades are also impacted by the running grade of the roadway and hence the sidewalk.


The Ontario Provincial Standard, Sidewalk Driveway Entrance uses a similar elevation drop as the Ottawa Standard.