Closing Roads in Ottawa Canada

It was late afternoon on a typical weekday in Ottawa, with the rush hour south just beginning. As usual, the section of Bank Street between Sunnyside and Billing's Bridge, the only section of its 4-lane length where parking is permitted to block two lanes during rush hours, was jammed. That artificially narrowed stretch of road is one of only two ways to cross the Rideau River for miles around. And, unless you know your way through a nest of narrow dead-end streets to get back north to Sunnyside and over to Bronson, the only way out of a jam there is to wait it out.

But, this jam was much worse than usual.

Over half an hour later, I found out why. Reaching the peak of the bridge, I looked out on an almost totally empty two lanes of Bank Street. It contained two police cars blocking the road, and two police officers standing there having a chat while they waited for something. They had been standing there for almost an hour.

The only way out for all of us was to turn west on one open lane of Riverside Drive, the other being blocked by construction. And, since none of the officers were doing a thing to mitigate the situation right in front of them, we could only turn right during the green signal period, right turns on red being prohibited there due to poor visibility of vehicles approaching from the east.

I got out of my car, to do an impromptu survey of the cars in line adjacent to me. After the 4th, having received four negative comments about our police, only one printable, I returned to my car to avoid working people up any more than they already were.

Of course, all of us were right. If a single one of those officers had been diverted to the intersection with Sunnyside, to direct traffic west to cross the Rideau at Bronson, thousands of Ottawa residents would have been spared a half hour or more of unproductive waiting. Not to mention that if one of them had taken the trouble to direct the traffic right in front of them, the wait would have been significantly reduced.

If people are to feel safe in our community, they have to respect our police. Respect is a two way street - our police have to show that they respect us. At the end of that day, there were a lot of Ottawans who had less respect for our police than they did when the day started.

If people are to feel safe in our community, this policy of blocking streets without any aid to blocked vehicles has to change.

John Sankey
other notes on community matters