Residents angry over heavy traffic
Michael Woods, Ottawa Citizen
Opposition to the city's contentious plan to send shuttle buses to football games down a quiet residential street might have been expressed in a new way last weekend: with a flashlight beam.
Phil Landry, the city's traffic services manager, said some shuttle drivers reported having lights shone into their eyes while driving on Lakeside Avenue after Saturday night's Redblacks game, the second at TD Place.
"That's a very serious issue," Landry told the Citizen. "It's a very dangerous thing to do."
The city and Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group's plan to send up to 90 shuttle buses on game nights rumbling down the short residential street, which connects Queen Elizabeth Driveway with Bronson Avenue, has residents on the street up in arms.
Some residents protested before the second Redblacks home game on Saturday by crossing the street slowly in front of the shuttle buses. But somebody shining a flashlight at drivers is another matter entirely, said Capital Ward Coun. David Chernushenko.
"I can condone civil disobedience in people walking slowly across the road to make a point," he said. "But anything that crosses over the line and actually puts the driver, passengers and people on the street at risk by distracting or impeding a driver is unacceptable."
The transportation plan to Lansdowne calls for sending shuttles on Lakeside Avenue for the first four home games. That's how long the National Capital Commission agreed to allow the shuttles to use Queen Elizabeth Driveway. The Redblacks have already played two; the next two are Aug. 15 and 24.
It was agreed that after the first four games, the committee monitoring traffic to Lansdowne would review the route and decide whether to change it. Landry said that decision won't be made until the end of August.
One option — recommended in a transportation study done before city council approved the Lansdowne redevelopment — is to send the shuttles on a route using Sunnyside Avenue, Bank Street, Fifth Avenue and Bronson Avenue.
Landry said the impact on homes is a factor in the route decision. Shuttles on Lakeside Avenue affect 25 homes; using Sunnyside and Fifth would have an impact on 300 to 350 homes, he said.
City staff have been driving the Sunnyside route, as well as one using arterial roads Carling Avenue and Preston Street, to compare times. Both create a longer distance for the shuttle buses. And while Chernushenko said he thinks the Sunnyside route should be tested at least once, he's not sure it will work.
"Observations so far are that it's extremely congested, and running hundreds of shuttles may not even be feasible. Making a left turn from Sunnyside on to Bank Street at any time is extremely difficult."
Chernushenko said his preference is to use only arterial routes Carling Avenue and Preston Street in hopes that a shuttle ride five to 10 minutes longer won't deter football fans from using the service.
The city and OSEG have maintained that the shuttles from the four park-and-ride lots — the RA Centre, Canada Post, Vincent Massey Park and Carleton University — must take the most efficient and fastest route. If people aren't having good experiences on the shuttles, the Glebe will be faced with an onslaught of cars looking for parking.
"Unfortunately, a good experience for the shuttle rider might not be a good experience for the resident of that street," Chernushenko said. "So there's a dilemma. How far do you push efficiency over the concerns of local residents?"