Many residents near Bronson Avenue are fed up with safety issues around the busy thoroughfare and they’re trying to do something about it.

The Bronson Team, formed in January 2023, is working on a plan to address traffic safety issues between the Queensway and the Rideau Canal. 

Six members from the Dow’s Lake Residents Association (DLRA), the Glebe Community Association (GCA), and the Glebe Annex Community Association (GACA) work on the Bronson Team now. They represent residents from both sides of Bronson Avenue.

They are proposing more than a dozen immediate solutions the group believes the City of Ottawa can implement now to tackle road safety and health issues along the busy roadway and more solutions that the city can implement when reconstructing Bronson from the Queensway to the Rideau Canal. 

The team hopes to make this part of the street safer for pedestrians, transit users and cyclists and a healthier place to live for nearby residents.

Barbara Popel leads the Bronson Team and is chair of the Dow’s Lake Residents Association Traffic Committee. [Photo © Alina Cai]

“I’ve lived in the neighborhood since 1991. Traffic safety was bad then, and we feel it’s getting worse,” said Barbara Popel, team leader of the Bronson Team and chair of the DLRA Traffic Committee.

According to Popel, the part of Bronson Avenue between the Queensway and the Rideau Canal is dangerous because of high volumes of traffic and frequent instances of speeding, red light running, and making illegal turns. 

Nick Lavryssen, who lives near Bronson, told Capital Current, traffic congestion can distract drivers.

“The more you have, the less likely cars are to pay attention to pedestrians because they just want to move,” said Laveryssen.

He said he is often afraid to drive, especially during rush hours. 

“It feels like I have to look out every side of my car just every second,” said Lavryssen.

Red light running and speeding often happen on Bronson, Popel said. While the speed limit is 50 kilometres an hour, Popel said her husband sees vehicles regularly going much faster.

One proposed immediate solution for speeding and red light running is to install photo radar to catch speeders and photo red light cameras to capture cars that run red lights, said Popel.

The Bronson Team also proposes some immediate solutions such as prioritizing sidewalk snow clearing and snow removal, including at the intersections to increase safety for pedestrians.

“Sometimes the sidewalks are completely blocked,” said Popel. 

“There are also, very often, huge snow banks right at the intersection, and you have to climb over them to be able to cross Bronson. It's not easy. It's not fun. Some people just can't do it,” she said.

During a future reconstruction of Bronson one solution to help with safety would be to widen the sidewalks. 

According to Popel, pedestrians are inches away from the traffic because the sidewalks are almost too narrow for two people to walk side by side. Many people also ride their bikes on the sidewalks to avoid the cars.

Some potential solutions to tackle traffic safety issues on Bronson Avenue between the Queensway and the Rideau Canal

Immediate solutions:

  • Designate Bronson Avenue between the Queensway and the Canal as a Community Safety Zone
  • Install photo radar to enforce the posted speed limit
  • Reduce speed limit to 40 km/h
  • Install photo red-light cameras
  • Prioritize sidewalk snow clearing and snow removal, including at the intersections
  • Label Glebe Collegiate Institute as a school zone and the area around Eugene Forsey Park as a playground zone
  • Increase crossing times at certain crosswalks
  • Add “leading pedestrian intervals” of seven to 10 seconds at crosswalks
  • Add school crossing guards at Bronson and Madawaska

Solutions implemented during Bronson redevelopment:

  • Build a pedestrian-initiated crosswalk between Second Avenue and Third Avenue
  • Build a pedestrian-initiated crosswalk near Renfrew
  • Widen sidewalks
  • Redesign certain cross-street intersections, including:
    • Lakeside/Bronson
    • Madawaska/Fifth/Bronson
    • Kippewa/Bronson
    • Carling/Bronson

*The potential solutions for the Bronson Redevelopment Project are not yet in the final draft stage. The Bronson Team still has some work to do on them.

Information provided by Barbara Popel, team leader of the Bronson Team

“We even had incidents of cars jumping the curbs," said Popel. "That's very dangerous.”

Maureen Cerroni, a resident living beside Bronson Avenue, said she's afraid to walk and ride on the sidewalks.

"I'm nervous. And I walk on the grass (close to houses) instead," said Cerroni. "I have a bicycle, and I walk it down to the quiet street and start riding. I don't ride on this street at all." 

Another critical solution is to build a pedestrian crosswalk between Second Avenue and Third Avenue along Bronson. Popel said many residents have been wishing for this for years. 

“There's a long stretch between Fifth Avenue and Glebe Avenue. That's from Fifth to Fourth, Third, Second, First, and then Glebe. There's no way of crossing Bronson (in between),” said Popel.

Cerroni and her husband live beside the intersection of Second and Bronson.

Both wish there was a crosswalk close to where they live.

They said accidents often happen at the intersection, especially when cars coming from Second Avenue try to turn onto Bronson.

“We watch it from our window. We see somebody sitting there (in a car). And eventually, we know there's going to be an accident. We can predict it,” said Maureen Cerroni.

According to City of Ottawa data, there were 81 collisions around Bronson and Carling Avenues between 2017 and 2022, with another 40 reported around Bronson and First Avenues.

The Bronson Team hopes to send out questionnaires to residents by early in 2024 for feedback on potential solutions. After receiving the feedback, it will formally engage with Capital Coun. Shawn Menard and the city's Traffic Services Department.

The team will then refine those solutions. Popel says “there is a possibility” the city will start to design the redevelopment in 2024.

The redevelopment of Bronson Avenue from Queensway to the Rideau Canal was supposed to happen in 2016 but was postponed several times.

The city says staff have completed the design work from Chamberlain Avenue to the Rideau Canal in 2017 and they are reviewing the timing for more redevelopment.

"Once an appropriate timeframe has been identified for the reconstruction to occur, and in advance of any construction work, the city will engage in additional public consultations prior to updating the design to meet current guidelines," said Bruce Kenny, the city's manager of design and construction, in an email.

The Bronson Team will be ready.

“That's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us to be able to do more than just repainting, replacing the sewers and so forth, but actually make improvements to how Bronson is built in that section,” said Popel.