Posts Tagged ‘mapping

08
Sep
09

A satyr twin: The Transitway anagram map

A bit of fun for all you transit riders: similar to the subway\metro anagram maps that have been created for cities like London and Toronto, someone has created a Transitway anagram map. You can see it on a thread over at Skyscraper Pages. Be warned, some of the station anagrams are NSFW, so if your boss\IT department is particularly sensitive, you may not wish to click through until you get home.

Some of them are amusingly appropriate, too. My favourites are “Gasolene” at the Eagleson Park & Ride, “Rusty Senate Pun” at Tunney’s Pasture, and “Lone Mart” at Montreal. Campus is also entertaining, but I’m going to refrain from posting that particular anagram here…

29
Apr
09

City staff releases route for Downtown Transit Tunnel

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a route.

dottThe map I threw together if you want to see it.

And the Citizen article I used as a source.

It looks like we’ll have stations at Lebreton (aboveground), between Bay and Lyon, between O’Connor and Metcalfe, around Rideau and Sussex and at Campus. The tunnel will go under Albert until Kent, where it will turn north to Rideau\Sussex and then swing south to go underneath Nicholas to the University of Ottawa. The official release of the plans takes place tomorrow, so we should have a more official-looking map tomorrow, I hope.

A couple of things I wanted to note. First, I find it interesting that there’s no station closer to Bank Street. I was certain they’d try to put one there, given that if the City ever wants to build a north\south rapid transit line through the core someday, Bank is the most logical alignment. I guess the logic was that a station between Bank and O’Connor would be too close to the one between Bay and Lyon. Second, I wonder if the City is hoping they might be able to use the old train station again. Take a look at a detail of where the line should go, if it runs in a straight line between Rideau and Sussex and Albert and Kent:

union-stationIf the city can get the federal government to sell them Union Station back, then perhaps it can be reopened to trains; albeit a very different kind from what once went through there. That appears to be all that’s out there for now, but I’ll try to find more official-looking documentation tomorrow.

(Full disclosure: I am going to be starting a summer position with OC Transpo on Monday.)

03
Apr
09

Parking space

When you walk around downtown, they hardly even register in your mind. Parking lots. They’re nearly everywhere, and it’s not often that we give them so much as a second glance. The truth is, parking lots are terrible wastes of space. They don’t really have many alternate uses, they’re visually unappealing, and they’re not very efficient, either, especially when you have a bunch of single-occupant vehicles parked in a lot all day.

What I wanted to know was exactly how much space are we losing to these surface parking lots? While it could always be worse (take a look around downtown Phoenix on Google Maps), the answer is still a lot. I mapped out all of the at least moderately sized lots (skipping parking garages, since they’re a little better in their space usage) in Centretown north of Somerset, and in the ByWard Market. I don’t claim 100% accuracy on these (you can see where Google’s satellite imagery doesn’t match their map data, for one), but I think they should still give you an idea of just how much room we use in Ottawa to give us spots to leave our cars all day.

Parking lots in Centretown north of Somerset

Parking lots in Centretown north of Somerset

Parking lots in the ByWard Market

Parking lots in the ByWard Market

Maybe it’s just me, but I found both of these to be pretty astounding. In both the densest part of our city, an in one of Ottawa’s biggest pedestrian areas, huge amounts of land are given over to parking lots. Just imagine if some of these were turned into apartment buildings, parkettes or squares! I’m certain it would make for a much nicer urban environment, as well as make these areas more attractive to both visitors and residents.

What also gets me is the fact that there are so many parking lots around the Supreme Court. These are federal lands, near a national landmark, so why are they given over to parked cars? Surely they’d be much nicer as public parks?

Of course, I recognize that we can’t just up and eliminate parking. We’re still a car-dependent society, no matter how good public transit use is in this city. However, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that we should build more underground parking lots or parking garages. The latter don’t even have to be ugly, as the Rideau Centre’s new parking garage shows. Maybe it’s not as cheap as simply paving over a square of land, but it’s certainly a much better way to deal with parking in our downtown core.

18
Dec
08

Mapping neighborhoods

If you’ve taken the time to browse through the links on the sidebar of this blog, you may have stumbled across my ongoing project to map the neighborhoods of Ottawa, a project that’s gotten so big Google Maps split into two pieces on me. What I’m starting to find interesting as I spread out into mapping the suburbs is when I start to debate what these shapes on the map actually mean.

For example, here’s central Ottawa, which still includes a wonky little splinter of a neighborhood because of conflicting Wikipedia descriptions:

Neighborhoods of central Ottawa

Neighborhoods of central Ottawa

Again, I stress that this is a work-in-progress, hence there are gaps and things that need to be fixed. But I digress; what I want to get across with this map is that one only really needs a passing knowledge of Ottawa and the ability to read a map to know what some of these neighborhoods are. Places like the ByWard Market, Lowertown, Sandy Hill, Centertown and the Glebe are all clearly visible and easy to pick out. Now, here’s Kanata:

Neighborhoods of Kanata

Neighborhoods of Kanata

Can you pick out Beaverbrook? No? Howabout Katimavik-Hazeldean? Or Glen Cairn? Chances are—unless you recognize a street name—you can’t. I wonder if people who even live in these neighborhoods can even name them, even though I was able to find reference to them online. Do people living on Knudson Drive really know that just by crossing the street, they can move from Beaverbrook to Marchwood-Lakeside? And do they feel any different, between the two places?

What I’m getting at here is something that I’ve always disliked about suburbs (and if you read this blog regularly, you know I’m no great fan of suburbanism). We lose much of our sense of place when we’re in a suburban area, because it feels just like almost any other suburban area, barring differences of climate and geography. Yet if you plonk down someone who’s never been in Ottawa before and tell them to walk down Bank Street, they can probably tell the difference between the CBD, southern Centertown, the Glebe, Old Ottawa South and Billing’s Bridge. Why? Because they’re all appreciably different places with appreciably different feels to them, wheras one part of Kanata, Orleans or Barrhaven feels much like any other.

Now, the reality is, suburbs exist, and there’s not much we can do now but deal with that fact, but is it too much to ask to try and imbue our newly created neighborhoods with the same sense of individuality that our old ones have? There’s nothing quite like living in a place you can call unique; it tends to improve your relationship with the city and people around you, and increaing your appreciation of the city’s built form. Sure, it may not even by a concious thought for most people, but it still happens whether you’re aware of it or not. As we rethink how to build cities into the future, let’s not forget how important concepts of uniqueness and community can be.




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