2.         Harmonized Sidewalk Technical Design Guidelines


            lignes directrices sur la conception des trottoirs



Committee Recommendation as amended


That Council approve the harmonized Sidewalk Technical Design Guidelines (STDG) attached to this report as Document 1, as amended by the following :


1.         That the “Sidewalk Technical Design Guidelines” document be amended by adding consideration of heritage district guidelines as an additional factor to be considered when determining the location and/or need of sidewalks.


2.         That the Sidewalk Technical Design Guidelines be adopted as an interim measure for existing city sidewalk/city construction.


3.         That public consultation be undertaken as part of the process for finalizing guidelines city-wide for both new and existing communities.


4.         That the following Motion be referred to the Mobility Issues Advisory Committee and to the Accessibility Advisory Committee:


As part of the development of sidewalk design guidelines, a re-evaluation be made of depressed curbs at corners for universal access.  The concern here is that they are dangerous as they provide no protection to pedestrians who are standing on the corner.



Recommandation Modifees


Que le Conseil municipal approuve les lignes directrices sur la conception des trottoirs (LDCT) telles qu’elles lui ont été présentées, modifiées par ce qui suit :


1.         Que le document « Lignes directrices sur la conception des trottoirs » soit modifié par l’examen des directives sur le secteur du patrimoine comme autre facteur à prendre en compte pour déterminer l’emplacement et/ou le besoin de trottoirs.


2.         Que les Lignes directrices sur la conception des trottoirs soit adoptées comme mesure provisoire pour les trottoirs existants et les travaux d’aménagement de la ville.


3.         Que des consultations publiques soient engagées dans le cadre du processus de finalisation des directives à l’échelle de la ville pour les communautés existantes et les nouvelles communautés.


4.         Que la motion suivante soit adressée au Comité consultatif sur les questions de mobilité et au Comité consultatif sur l’accessibilité :


Que, dans le cadre de l’élaboration de lignes directrices sur la conception des trottoirs, soit effectuée une réévaluation des bordures surbaissées pour permettre l’accès universel. Ces bordures sont dangereuses car elles n’offrent aucune protection aux piétons.











1.         General Manager, Transportation, Utilities and Public Works report dated 3 April 2002 is immediately attached (ACS2002-TUP-INF-0005).


2.         The following documentation immediately follows the report:


a.   Chair, Cycling Advisory Committee letter dated 14 May 2002

            b.   Disabled and Proud letter undated

            c.   D. Gladstone letter undated

            d.   A. McGregor letter undated


2.         A draft Extract of Minutes, 15 May 2002, will be distributed prior to Council and will include the voting record.





     Next Item: Page  88

Report to/Rapport au:

Transportation and Transit Committee/

Comité des transports et des services de transport en commun


and Council/et au Conseil


3 April 2002/le 3 avril 2002


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

Transportation, Utilities and Public Works/Transport, services et travaux publics


Contact/Personne-ressource: Richard Hewitt, Director, Infrastructure Services Branch/Directeur des services et travaux publics,

5802424 ext. 21268, Richard.Hewitt@city.ottawa.on.ca




Ref N°:   ACS2002-TUP-INF-0005










That the Transportation and Transit Committee recommend Council approve the harmonized Sidewalk Technical Design Guidelines (STDG) attached to this report as Document 1.




Que le Comité des transports et des services de transport en commun recommande Conseil municipal d’approuver les lignes directrices sur la conception des trottoirs (LDCT) telles qu’elles lui ont été présentées.





On 18 April 2001, the Transportation and Transit Committee recommended to Council:


“That sidewalk rehabilitation be delayed where possible and with agreement of the ward councillor until new standards have been created, which will deal with sidewalk cuts and width and that the money be forwarded into the 2002 budget.”




Sidewalks are an integral part of roadways.  They play a significant safety role in separating pedestrian activities from vehicular traffic.


The overall intent of these guidelines is to improve the walkability of our sidewalks, particularly at driveways where we need to provide a safe walking surface for pedestrians while still providing vehicular access to homes and businesses.


A task team comprised of departmental staff from the Infrastructure Services, Traffic and Parking Operations, and Surface Operations Branches and from the Development Services Department have examined all current sidewalk design guidelines from the former municipalities and have developed the proposed harmonized sidewalk design guidelines incorporating best practices of former municipalities as set out in the attached Document 1.


The proposed guidelines are meant to provide direction to staff and outside designers when designing new sidewalks or rehabilitation of existing sidewalks in the City of Ottawa.  This report is intended to harmonize standards and implement realistic revisions to address identified concern and issues for sidewalk users.  However, a more comprehensive review will be undertaken by the Department over the coming months which will be brought forward to Committee and Council.


The harmonized design guidelines incorporate a number of existing former municipal standards and propose several refinements, the most significant of which are discussed below.


1.         Sidewalk Locations


The proposed new harmonized standards provide for a boulevard between the curb and the sidewalk with a minimum boulevard width of 2.0 metres.  However, narrower boulevard widths may be acceptable in constricted areas such as in older neighborhoods.  The boulevard allows for the driveway ramp to be incorporated between the curb and the sidewalk and eliminates the slope and roller coaster effect of the sidewalk at the driveway.  The boulevard also provides a degree of safety for pedestrians, a space to plant trees and install utilities and provides more space for snow storage.


2.         Sidewalk Width


The sidewalk widths in these guidelines endorse the former Regional Road Corridor Design Guidelines dated July 2000 which recommended that the minimum sidewalk width for former Regional Roads be 2.0 m.


However, for local or minor collector streets where pedestrian volumes are generally lower, the recommended minimum width is 1.8 m which is 300 mm (1 foot) wider than the minimum 1.5 m width that most former municipalities recommended.


The additional 300 mm (1 foot) width for the local or minor streets provides safer passing room between an adult and a person pushing a baby carriage, a person in a wheelchair, a child on a tricycle, etc.  However, even on local or minor streets, wider sidewalks of between 2.0 m (6.5 ft) and 2.4 m (8.0 ft) may be required near schools, hospitals, offices, etc… and up to 3.6 m (12 ft.) near shopping and entertainment areas depending on the anticipated pedestrian volumes.


The above proposed sidewalk width and location standard should generally be achievable with construction of new sidewalks in new developments so long as minimum right-of-way widths of 20 m are provided.  Standards related to right-of-way widths are also currently under review by the Department and will be discussed in a future report to Committee and Council on harmonized right-of-way standards and placement of underground utilities.


For reconstruction of existing sidewalks or new sidewalks in established neighborhoods, it will not always be possible to build the sidewalk as per the proposed standards due to existing physical constraints such as mature trees, hydro poles, etc..  In such instances, it may be necessary to locate sidewalks with a narrower boulevard or to construct the sidewalk adjacent to the curb.  In these cases, the elimination of sloping and roller coaster effect of the sidewalk at the driveways cannot be achieved.


3.         Sidewalk Gradients




The proposed new harmonized standards recommend having sidewalks with a 2% cross slope.  A minimum 2% cross slope is necessary to ensure proper drainage which minimizes the occurrence of ice formation during the winter months and improves pedestrian safety for winter walking.  The cross slope may be increased to as much as 4% to facilitate driveway ramps which is considered safe but slightly noticeable when walking.  The guidelines allow for an absolute maximum cross slope of 6% in extreme cases where physical constraints prevent flatter grades.  A 6% cross slope is noticeable while walking and may be slippery if not winter maintained.  However, such cross slopes should only be used for very short distances and low pedestrian volumes.


Longitudinal Gradient:


The longitudinal gradient of the sidewalk itself is dependent on the grade of the road.  The guidelines recommend roughing the texture of the concrete for longitudinal gradients ranging from 6% to 8% and alternative solutions such as the use of handrails if greater than 8%.


4.         Intersection Ramps


The proposed new design guidelines also address the needs of various sidewalk users such as people with children, packages, strollers, canes, crutches, dogs, wheelchairs, etc.  These needs are most acute at intersections where pedestrians and vehicular paths cross each other.  Pedestrians such as the elderly and persons with physical disabilities that impair their movement or ability to visually interpret the situation at an intersection need easier accessibility when crossing an intersection.  To this end the proposed sidewalk guidelines continue to include pedestrian ramps at intersections.


The Canadian National Institute of the Blind (CNIB) has recommended that for partially visually impaired people, the pedestrian crossings be made more visible.  As a result, the department is conducting a limited pilot project at 5 intersections where the depressed edge of the sidewalk at the pedestrian crossings are painted a bright yellow to warn these pedestrians that they are about to cross the street or have reached the other side of the street.


These markings were painted in November 2001 and the response to date has been very favorable.  Depending on the effectiveness and durability of the paint, consideration will be given to adopting this practice City-wide.





The City’s Mobility Issues and Accessibility Advisory Committees were consulted on the harmonization of the sidewalk design guidelines.  A draft of the Guidelines was presented to both of the Committees and their input and comments were solicited.  The Accessibility Advisory Committee provided a number of comments that were considered and are attached as Document 2.


The Mobility Issues Advisory Committee reviewed the guidelines and made the following motion,


“The Committee approved that MIAC direct David Bell, Chair, to inform the Department of Transportation, Utilities and Public Works, that MIAC will integrate in a full discussion of Sidewalk Design Guideline, including broader policy implications of sidewalk location and design into the Committee’s deliberations.  Although the Committee approved the above-noted motion it agreed to defer comments on the guideline until the discussion has occurred.”


The Department understands from the discussion at the Mobility Issues Advisory Committee (MIAC) meeting on October 18, 2001, that the Committee wanted to defer approval of the technical Guidelines until a broader and more comprehensive perspective dealing with planning and policy issues have been addressed for sidewalks in the City of Ottawa.


The Canadian National Institute of the Blind (CNIB) was also consulted in the drafting of the harmonized guidelines.  The CNIB and the Department have collaborated in the past to develop pedestrian ramps at intersections.  Their comments have been incorporated within the report.




The Sidewalk Technical Design Guidelines are in keeping with the hierarchy identified in the Transportation Master Plan and are intended to further confirm and enhance pedestrian infrastructure to the extent possible.  It is recognized that opportunities for  significant change are often limited in rehabilitation activities due to pre-existing physical impediments.


Further, these Guidelines are in accordance with the former Regional Road Corridor Design Guidelines dated July 2000.





Adoption of the larger width sidewalk (i.e. additional 300 mm) will result in a slight increase of approximately 5%, or $7.00 per metre, when sidewalks are constructed.  Based on the City’s average annual new and rehabilitation sidewalk construction program, this could result in an overall increase of approximately $150,000 annually to the Capital Budget Program for sidewalks.  Consequently, approval of the wider sidewalk standard will affect reconstruction until additional funds can be allocated.





Document 1 - Sidewalk Technical Design Guidelines

Document 2 - Comments from the Accessibility Advisory Committee





The Department of Transportation, Utilities and Public Works will implement new sidewalk design guidelines in future sidewalk construction projects.



                                                                              56                                                            Document 1


Sidewalk Technical Design Guidelines                                                                                                















                                    CITY  OF  OTTAWA























Sidewalk Technical Design Guidelines




            Introduction …………………………………………………………………..           1


   History ……………………………………………………………………….           1


Location ………………………………………………………………………          2


Alignment …………………………………………………………………….           3


Width  …………………………………………………………………………         4


Accessibility for Various Sidewalk Users  ……………………………………             4


Dimensions for People Outdoors  …………………………………………….            5


Gradient  ………………………………………………………………………         6


Drainage  ………………………………………………………………………         6


Surfaces & Construction ………………………………………………………          7





SC2                 Monolithic Concrete Curb and Sidewalk

            SC3                 Concrete Curb and Gutter with Sidewalk

            SC4                 Typical Concrete Sidewalk in Boulevard

            SC5                 Sidewalk Construction Joints

            SC6                 Pedestrian Curb Ramp Without Boulevard

            SC7                 Pedestrian Curb Ramp With Boulevard

            SC8                 Vehicle Access Crossing          

            SW1                Considerations in Sidewalk Design

            SW2                Boulevard Drainage

SC103             Sidewalk Detail at Entrances without Boulevard           

SC104             Sidewalk Detail at Entrances with Boulevard

R3                    Concrete Interlocking Paving Stones & Street Crossings





Sidewalks are an integral part of roadways.  They play a significant safety role in separating pedestrian activities from vehicular traffic.


A sidewalk network should provide convenient access to the outdoor environment for all people in our City.


These Guidelines are in accordance with the Regional Road Corridor Design Guidelines dated July 2000 and Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) Urban Supplement to the Geometric Design Guide for Canadian Roads.




Providing a safe walking surface for pedestrians at driveways, while at the same time providing vehicular access to homes and businesses, has been a concern of the City’s since the 1950’s with the result that several improvements to our sidewalk standards have been made.


          Prior to the 1950’s, asphalt or concrete ramps projected out from the edge of the sidewalk  onto the roadway which resulted in drainage problems along the sidewalk, and serious difficulties for maintenance vehicles such as snow plows, sweepers and flushers.  Outside ramps at driveway entrances are now prohibited in Ottawa.


          Between the mid 1950’s and 1970’s, the sidewalk at the driveway had a substantial slope or cross-fall from back to front of the sidewalk to accommodate vehicular access.


          In 1970, specifications were changed to lower the back of the sidewalk to reduce the cross-fall of the sidewalk at the driveway.


          In 1973, further changes increased the length of the tapered slope section approaching the driveway in the pedestrian’s direction of travel along the sidewalk, to further reduce the slope in the direction of travel.  In some locations, however, site constraints prevent strict adherence to the new design standards.


          In 1975, ramping curbs at intersections and pedestrians crosswalks to facilitate the use of City sidewalks by persons confined to wheelchairs.


          In 1990, the surface finish of the pedestrian ramps were “roughened” to alert visually impaired people that they were about to cross a street or have reached the other side of the street.



          In 1992, a slight variation in sidewalk design consisting of an integral mountable curb and sidewalk was reviewed.  The merit of this design is that it eliminates the “wavy or undulating effect” to the sidewalk at the driveways and provides a level walking surface for pedestrians.  Some of the disadvantages of sidewalks with mountable curbs are that they provide less protection for pedestrians than the full barrier curbs and secondly, they permit vehicles to easily park on the sidewalk thereby interfering with safe pedestrian  movement along the sidewalk and hampering snow clearing operations.  This parking problem currently occurs city-wide in areas where the curb face at the sidewalk has been reduced due to road overlay works undertaken prior to the advent of grinding operations.  In addition, there are maintenance disadvantages with mountable curbs regarding street flushing, street sweeping and snow clearing operations along the gutterline that are greatly reduced with full barrier curbs.


However, the main reason for not using sidewalks with mountable curbs is parking control.  The City of Ottawa is a city that wants to prohibit illegal access/driveways and illegal front yard parking city-wide.  This is accomplished through zoning rules and regulations, the private approach by-law and the use of full barrier curbs.  The  lowering of the height of the barrier curb (depressed access) to permit vehicular access and parking on residential and commercial properties is permitted only at locations deemed legal by the zoning regulations and private approach by-law.  No doubt, in spite of all our efforts, there are still some illegal access and front yard parking occurring city-wide.  If the City switched to sidewalks with mountable curbs, the passive portion of parking control would cease to exist and we would anticipate an increase in front yard parking problems. 


For these reasons mountable curb are not recommended and generally not adopted.




To determine the location and/or need of sidewalks, many factors, such as the following, must be taken into consideration, 


                      vehicle speed

                      traffic volumes

                      truck volumes

                      public transit volumes

                      school bus volumes

                      total pedestrian volumes

                      handicapped and elderly pedestrian volumes

                      children pedestrian volumes

                      elimination of a school crossing

                      direct routing to schools-parks-shops-churches-recreation centers

                      accident experience

                      parking occupancy

                      shoulder width

                      type of shoulder

                      presence of curb

                      adequate lighting

          abutting land use

          extension of existing sidewalk

          existing sidewalk on the other side of the street


From a purely safety point of view, sidewalks should be required on both sides of every street, however for the sake of economy this is not standard practice.  It is recommended that sidewalks be provided on both sides of Arterial Roads, Major Collector Streets, and on one side of Minor Collector Streets and Local Streets where the Right of Way width is atleast 20 m.  Sidewalks are not recommended on minor local streets where the Right of Way width is less than 20 m such as Crescents, Cul-de-sac, etc., unless they form a well defined route to activity centres such as schools, recreational centres, senior residents etc. 


The location of the sidewalk on the road allowance is also subject to a number of variables generally relating to the expected use of the street, the width of the road allowance and historical community acceptance.  In the older neighbourhoods and downtown areas of the City, sidewalks were generally built immediately adjacent to the curbs (see drawings No. SC2, SC3, SC5, SC6, SC8 and SC103).  While this type of construction provided good access for people getting in and out of their cars and longer landscaped areas in front of the homes, it minimizes the pedestrian separation from vehicular movement on the street.


Where possible, in residential areas and other areas where Zoning By-Laws provide adequate provision for building set back from property lines, sidewalks should be constructed with a minimum distance of 1.5m (2.0m preferred)  from the back of curb and 1.0m from the property line (see drawings No.  SW1, SC4, SC7 and SC104). If the minimum 1.5m separation cannot be achieved, a smaller separation would be acceptable provided the separation area is a hard surface area such as asphalt, concrete or interlocking bricks.  The specific location, depends of course, on the right-of-way width and pavement width, which provides the following advantages:

(a)        A boulevard width between the sidewalk and curb adequately sized to provide a degree of safety between vehicular and pedestrian movement.

            (b)        Boulevard provides space suitable for landscaping and possible tree planting generally making the street more aesthetically pleasing.

            (c )       Boulevards would allow driveways to be sloped between the curb and sidewalks, thereby eliminating the need to drop the sidewalk to allow vehicular access to the driveway.  Sidewalks could then be built flat.

            (d)        Boulevard protect pedestrians from being splashed by vehicles.

(e)        Provides space both on the property side of the sidewalk and in the boulevard to enable the installation of some of the underground utilities rather than under the paved road surface which eases the construction and maintenance of the utility.

(f)         Boulevard provides space for snow storage which can greatly reduce snow removal costs in areas so affected.

(g)        Boulevards also contributes micro-climate and environmental benefits.

Boulevards provide space for various street hardware such as signs, lighting poles, transit shelters, hydrants etc.




Sidewalks with boulevards can be adjusted from their normal alignment paralleling the property  line or road curb to avoid healthy mature trees, hydro poles, or other surface topography which are felt desirable to preserve.


The bends in the sidewalk in these locations should be smooth; long enough to provide for the movement of sidewalk snow clearing equipment within the sidewalk width.


For the same reason it is also desirable that the sidewalk have a minimum 0.5 m lateral set-back for trees, light and sign posts, etc.  This clearance also assists pedestrian flow along the walk, and is of particular assistance to blind people.




Whenever feasible and practical, the designer should attempt to provide a 1.8 m sidewalk.  This width provides for safe passing room between an adult and a person pushing a baby carriage, a person in a wheelchair, child on tricycle, etc. (refer to following "Dimensions for People Outdoors").  However, if there is any physical constraints such as poles, retaining walls, rock gardens, fences, hedges, trees, etc..., a 1.5 m sidewalk would be acceptable. 


To clear the snow off the sidewalks, the 1.5 m minimum width reduces the potential of damaging adjacent landscaped areas by the snow clearing equipment.


In general, the intensity of land development measured in terms of people per unit area require a sidewalk of higher capacity.  Extra width sidewalks of 2.0 and 2.4 m should be provided near schools, hospitals, offices, commercial and industrial areas where large pedestrian volumes occur.  In shopping areas and entertainment areas even wider widths of 2.4 to 3.6 m should be considered.  Also for arterial or major Collectors where the right of way width is 26 m or greater, the sidewalks width should be 2.0 m.


Accessibility for Various Sidewalk Users


The designer must keep in mind that sidewalks are not only for regular pedestrian but for many different types of users such as people with children, packages, strollers, wagons, canes, crutches, dogs or wheelchairs.


All sidewalks must be designed to allow all the above users to have free unobstructive access and feel secure when using the sidewalks.


These needs are most acute at intersections where pedestrian and vehicular paths must cross each other.  Intersection accessibility  refers to the comfort, security and safety provided to pedestrians during all activities involved in crossing an intersection.  Frail elderly persons and persons with disabilities constitute a segment of the population with a broad range of conditions which may hinder mobility.  This population includes the elderly who may no longer by fully mobile, as well as people who have a physical disability which impairs their movement or ability to readily interpret the situation at an intersection.  Additionally, this group may include people whose mobility is restricted because they are pushing a stroller, carrying a parcel, etc.


Therefore, pedestrian crossings are the areas were the designer should be most concern when designing sidewalks.







The recommended cross slope for sidewalks is 2%.  The cross slope may be increased at driveways, but it is recommended that it be no greater than 4%, due to the increased slipping hazard.  With the introduction of boulevards, the cross slope of a sidewalk at driveways may be maintained at the desired cross slope of 2% by using the boulevard to adjust any grade difference between the road  and driveway.  These  cross slopes should be achievable in all new developments and subdivisions.  However, in existing developed areas where physical constraints may prevent the implementation of these cross slope limits, an absolute maximum cross slope of 6% may be considered for very short sections and preferably only on low volume usage sidewalks.


Generally,  the sidewalks will follow the road gradient, with the maximum sidewalk grade controlled accordingly.


When the sidewalk longitudinal gradient is in excess of  6% but less than 8% due to the road grade it should be generally considered as a ramp and may require a coarser surface texture as an aid against slipping during icy weather.  If longitudinal grades are greater than 8% alternative solutions such as the use of handrails should be considered.




Experience in our northern climate has shown that a cross slope of 2% is desirable to provide reasonable drainage off the sidewalk during freezing weather.  An absolute minimum cross fall of 1% should only be considered for short sections of walk where particular design conditions may warrant its use.   Particular care must be made in the design and installation of a sidewalk to ensure that drainage from the private properties onto the road allowance is not blocked.


Where the drainage from a large lot or from several small lots is carried down a swale to the road, it is desirable to intercept this drainage by means of a catch basin or a culvert at the back of the sidewalk.  Drainage of this nature, particularly from larger areas, may cause winter icing problems if allowed to drain over the sidewalk.


Normally where the drainage is of a local nature, the sidewalk grade should be adjusted to allow the drainage to pass over it.


Care should also be taken to ensure an adequate boulevard cross slope, so that the drainage may be carried clear off the sidewalk and over the road curb.  A minimum overall boulevard slope of 2% should be maintained for this purpose.  The designer should attempt to intercept the surface drainage in shallow swales between the curb and sidewalk in order to clean and reduce the amount of storm water getting to the catch basins on the street (see drawing No. SW2).



Surfaces and Construction


Sidewalks should always be constructed in concrete because concrete has proven to provide a long life with generally low maintenance, together with a pleasing walking surface.


            Asphalt can be used as a temporary repair of an existing sidewalk or for pathways.


Interlocking bricks are sometimes used in commercial areas or public facilities to gain the benefit of their decorative values.  However, the installation and maintenance cost of interlocking brick are normally higher than concrete.  Therefore, interlocking pavers should be limited to other walking surfaces such as hard surface boulevards, pedestrian nodes such as super mailbox station areas, transit stops etc…


Attached are several drawings providing typical details for the installation of concrete sidewalks.


It is recommended that asphalt walks be constructed, using  a minimum asphalt depth of  50 mm HL3A over a minimum of 150 mm of Granular 'A' material.


Interlocking brick walks are also placed on a granular base and the installation should follow the manufacturer's specifications and recommendations.  (see drawing R3).


Particular attention should be made to the construction of pedestrian ramps between the sidewalk and the road surface on curbed streets.  The details are shown on the attached detail drawings.











































Protect healthy mature trees.


Hydrant to be relocated to provide min. 0.5 m clearance from  swk




Property owner requested to relocate fence and plantings clear of road allowance.




















Hydro relocate guywires to be clear of sidewalk.


If drainage swale low or flow from several properties or large area, install suitable dia. pipe (min. 450 mm dia.)


Where possible, saw cut existing concrete or asphalt driveways to match with sidewalk.


Normal and min. 2% crossfall, unless there are special circumstances.


Existing driveways to be reconstructed as necessary to provide suitable gradient for drainage and vehicle operation.  The sidewalk elevation is related to existing curb elevation or anticipated future curb elevation, thereby, providing suitable drainage as required from the private properties, across the sidewalk, and across the boulevard to the curb or ditch.


Small trees or shrubs may be transplanted as part of construction or by others prior to work subject to time of year.


8% max. recommended for driveways where road has normal cross fall.


Maximum slope in embankment or cut should be 3:1.


In special circumstances a boulevard swale may be used with drainage to a catchbasin or out to the road at a driveway.


Document 2


Comments from the Accessibility Advisory Committee


The Accessibility Advisory Committee provided the following comments.  The Department’s response follows each comment.


  1. Personal anecdote, from a committee member who lives near the Civic Hospital, about current sidewalk designs, such as those on ParkdaleAvenue.  As a person who is ambulatory but not the steadiest on my feet, I fear for my life when the walks are iced (as they often are) and a bus is flying by.  If one slipped on the sloped surface of a driveway, one would instantly be under a fast moving bus whose motion has a vacuum cleaner (venturi) effect of pulling objects into it.  And much of the Parkdale Avenue sidewalk is low rise similar to mountable curb design.  I do appreciate the extra energy requirements placed on wheelchair users if the slopes were instead kept horizontal, i.e., dipping down for every driveway.




These deficiencies will be addressed either through regular maintenance such as road resurfacing, snow removal, etc… or when the sidewalk is reconstructed on Parkdale Avenue.


2.      Has any consideration been given to using pavers to contour the Pedestrian Curb ramp?  This would serve two purposes:


a)      It would provide a colour and texture contrast indication for blind and vision- impaired pedestrians.


b)      It would allow easy maintenance to regulate height of curb lip after regrading of street surfaces, and to repair damage due to frost heave.




a)      The colour needs to be bright such as yellow or orange and pavers are usually dark red.  The Department is currently experimenting with the painting of some pedestrian curbs yellow to evaluate its resilience, functionality and practicality.


b)      The curb portion cannot be adjusted independently from the road and sidewalk elevation.  The sidewalk adjacent to the pavers would need to be adjusted as well. As well, pavers will move over time and create some unevenness.


  1. Although expansion joints are specified to be 10 mm with the pre-molded fibre-board, the concrete is finished with a round-over or level that results in a gap of at least 20mm, as shown in your expansion joint profile.  Wheelchair users suffer greatly when constantly running over these gaps.  They are hard on the back especially.  Can the bevel be eliminated so that the gap is at a minimum?





The expansion material (premoulded fibreboard) is usually flush with the surface of the sidewalk thereby minimizing any bumps.  Notwithstanding, that the fibreboard will deteriorate over time and create these gaps, the Department has yet to uncover an economical alternative to using fibreboard.


4.      There should be a specification for curbs at city parks and recreational facilities that would allow a curb cut where no sidewalks exist.  A curb makes it awkward for wheelchair users to gain access without having to make a long detour.




         Agree.  If the Committee could provide a list of Community Parks that are not accessible, it would be passed onto the appropriate Department for action.


5.      There should be a specification to allow for increasing the existing sidewalk grade level to allow for easy access to premises abutting the sidewalk, especially when the complete front of the stores are accessed by one or two steps and access barriers can be eliminated by raising the whole sidewalk.  Of course, a solution would be required at the curb so that there is an easy transition from street to sidewalk.




This was done on Sparks Street Mall where no road exists or vehicles allowed.  On a normal street, this would be extremely difficult to do without creating hazardous situations for the sidewalk users.


6.      A specification should be added to ensure pavers are flat so that no edges protrude.  This is a serious tripping hazard if an edge lifts even 5 mm.




This is more of maintenance issue.  The standards do include requirements to ensure that paver installations are flush, but over time differential movement may cause the pavers to move.  When this occurs, maintenance is required to correct.


7.      Going into the guidelines presented to us by the City engineer for sidewalks, I checked into the guidelines of other cities with a similar climate like ours (Calgary and Winnipeg) and found that their guidelines for lips on curb cuts are specified at a maximum of 10 mm.  I think if these cities can do it, we can do it here in Ottawa.  For a person in a wheelchair every 1/4" of height difference can make a big difference.  I therefore, suggest that a recommendation be made to the City that maximum height of lips on curb cuts be at 10 mm.




These cities may specify a maximum lip of 10 mm but as explained at the September 24, 2001 meeting, this is very difficult to achieve in the field consistently due to many factors.  The City of Ottawa specifies a desired lip height of 15mm but will accept a minimum height of 0 mm and a maximum height of 25 mm.



8.      Include more detail in the section on the transition from sidewalk to road as often the case is the contractor just dumps asphalt and makes a soft ramp that is hard to use and creates drainage problems also.




         The section shown in the design guidelines clearly shows the paved road surface and the concrete sidewalk without any asphalt ramping.  If this is done, it clearly contravenes the standards illustrated (see detail drawing No. SC2) in the design guidelines.

2002 May 14


Members of Transportation and Transit Committee

City of Ottawa



Agenda 25, 2002 May 15

Item 2


The Cycling Advisory Committee was not consulted in the preparation of these guidelines. I would like to raise a number of points that appear to have been missed by this report and that should be considered.



1. Cycling on sidewalks


Sidewalk cycling is known to be a serious risk to the bicycle rider, as well as to pedestrians. Cycling by small children is on tricycles, which is safer because of the limited distance they cycle, crossing far fewer intersections and at slow speed.


Under the Section "Accessibility for Various Sidewalk Users", "Dimensions for People Outdoors" drawing, an adult cyclist on a bicycle is shown in addition to a child on a tricycle. This could imply that cyclists are sidewalk users. No! The drawing of the cyclist should be deleted from the document. OCAC recently approved recommendations regarding proper graphical portrayal of cyclists in city publications. It states, in part:


"It is preferable that images of cyclists riding bicycles for transportation show this being done properly on city streets and in mixed traffic. This helps promote the message that cyclists are legitimate road users.


Cycling on sidewalks is dangerous and illegal. Images that portray legal behaviour but could be interpreted as cycling on a sidewalk should not be used. Images of cycling on a recreational path that looks like a sidewalk or runs into a sidewalk should be avoided."


2. Bicycle parking


The document makes no reference to the width required to park a bicycle on sidewalk. Parking meters continue to be a highly desirable location to park a bicycle due to the reliable security of the pole and the visibility of this location, which deters theft. The proposed width of a sidewalk may be inadequate when the additional space required by the parked bicycle is considered. Many cyclists have concern for the needs of pedestrians and would prefer to see a sidewalk width that accommodates bicycle parking and the safe and practical movement of pedestrians.


OCAC understands that the City recently renewed a contract with a private company for the provision of advertising-based bicycle parking racks for the next 5 years. These are commonly placed on narrow sidewalks and take up 80 cm or more of sidewalk space. The report does not appear to address the need for and space required for continued bicycle parking on sidewalks.


3. Curb cuts


There are probably hundreds of connections between city-owned (not NCC) multi-use paths and sidewalks. It may be appropriate to provide curb cuts at some of these locations to enable cyclist traffic to directly access the street, as opposed to forcing/encouraging cyclist traffic to travel down the sidewalk to a street corner curb cut. This could endanger pedestrians unnecessarily and cause cyclists to enter the roadway at a far more dangerous location.


The report does not appear to address this issue.


OCAC would be glad to review these overlooked issues with staff should the opportunity become available.




Brett Delmage

Chair, Cycling Advisory Committee



cc: members of Cycling Advisory Committee





To : Transportation and Transit Committee


Agenda 25 Item #2; Harmonization of sidewalk tech design guidelines.


First of all I am sorry I cannot attend this AM. to present this in person. (Medical). I would like to summit the following:


Whereas; Persons with Disabilities are in the process of changing the Ontario building codes and soon there will be standards that will be set up on sidewalk design and standards.


Whereas; The Ontarians with Disabilities Act "Definition of Barriers" portion will soon be given proclamation, and soon the elimination of those barriers will be acted on.


Whereas; A majority of those with Disabilities that are in need of mobility devices are having problems mounting most curb cuts, and of those that can , some having problem with spine problems often hurt themselves attempting this feat.


We at Disabled and Proud want the Committee to know that our needs of the Disabled for curb cuts have to be a MAXIMUM of 10mm.


We also would like to address the need for the partitions between slabs of sidewalk not be as wide, to eliminate the feeling of "traveling over railway ties" while traveling over them in a wheelchair.


We strongly urge you listen to your Advisory Committees that are telling you the same.


As always, We acknowledge, that Ottawa has done so much for the Disabled in the past and is known as a good example of how things should be done, We encourage you now to again do the right thing and look into these two matters.




Charles Matthews

Disabled and Proud






I've gone through the Agenda for today's Committee meeting and would like to make a few comments:

- introducing frequent bus service from Bayview Station to Gatineau is an excellent initiative and will encourage transit use in general, while encouraging users in areas served by the current O-train service to travel to Gatineau by O-train instead of going by bus through central Ottawa. The next step, I trust, is extending O-Train service across the Prince of Wales Bridge to Gatineau;

- The Sidewalk Technical Design Guidelines need to be linked to a description of the core role sidewalks play in the transportation system.  Also required is detailing of the relationship between sidewalk width and their pedestrian carrying capacities.  A downtown issue requiring detailed guidance are the limits on 'obstacles' such as fixed and temporary signs, vending boxes, bus shelters, etc.

- Suggest Transportation and Transit Committee consider how to best obtain  timely advice from the Mobility Issues Advisory Committee on issues in its mandate.

David Gladstone
118 Frank Street #2
Ottawa K2P 0X2




Conseillere Madeleine Meilleur

Chair, Transportation and Transit Committee

City of Ottawa

(by email)


Re: T&TC Committee Meeting March 15/02: Item 2

    Harmonized Sidewalk Technical Design Guidelines


Cher Conseillere Meilleur:


This report provides many good ideas for ensuring safe and usable sidewalks in newly-built subdivisions in Ottawa. As a regular sidewalk user, I applaud its requirement for boulevards on streets. These will separate sidewalks from traffic, and ensure the sidewalks can be built withour driveway dips so they are comfortable to walk on.


However, this report essentially abdicates its responsibility for ensuring the safety of pedestrians in the older neighbourhoods in Ottawa -- in exactly those neighbourhoods where more people do walk.


Rather than looking at innovative ways of extending the sidewalk right-of-way, either by narrowing streets or by moving sidewalks around barriers like trees, the report instead concludes "the elimination of sloping and roller coaster effect of the sidewalk at the driveways cannot be achieved" [where physical barriers exist].


The report also does not deal with the following issues:

* interaction of sidewalk ramps with street ponding

* snow storage on boulevards leading to ponding and subsequent ice-rink

surfaces on sidewalks

* runoff across sidewalks freezing on sidewalks leading to stripes of ice

on sidewalks, seriously reducing traction

* sidewalks below the road grade (e.g. on Eagleson Road south of

Hazeldean Road) which are consistently flooded in the spring and after

heavy rains.


Most importantly, it does not deal with the inevitable consequence of the "roller coaster effect": that low spots in the sidewalks will fill with water and slush and (in fall and winter) then freeze, creating sidewalks where traction constantly changes, and is frequently almost non-existent.




I invite city staff and councillors, for example, to try to walk on the east sidewalk on Holland Avenue (between Carling and Wellington) say, in February, where it is frequently safer to walk on the road than on the treacherous sidewalks -- because of this roller coaster design.


This report needs to be expanded to consider a further section on how the safety of current sidewalks can be improved. This is dangerous to ordinary, active people -- much less the elderly and frail. If this city intends to actually promote active living, it has to look at how the design of its sidewalk actively discourages walking by making it uncomfortable and dangerous.


Yours sincerely,



Alayne McGregor

389 Holland Avenue

Ottawa, ON K1Y 0Y9