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April 04, 2011

Is this Ottawa's most dangerous road for pedestrians?

Yes, I think I can make a good case for it.

This is Huntmar Road, a small 900-metre stretch between Maple Grove Road and Palladium Drive.  It's a link between the Fairwinds community in Stittsville (where I live) and Scotiabank Place (where I work).  Here's why it's dangerous:
  1. No sidewalks
  2. Narrow dirt shoulder (not cleared in the winter, covered in rocks and/or mud in the summer)
  3. No lighting
  4. No pavement markings (stop lines, pedestrian crossings) at the Maple Grove / Huntmar intersection
  5. Speed limit 70km/hour
  6. Popular route for trucks, construction equipment and other large vehicles travelling between the Queensway and Hazeldean / Stittsville / Kanata.
  7. Heavily used by pedestrians at night.

Over the past two or three years this has become a popular walking route for concert and hockey fans.  People who live (or park) in the Fairwinds development can walk to the arena in about 10 minutes.  The smart ones wear bright clothing and bring flashlights.  It's an accident waiting to happen.  To the best of my knowledge, no pedestrian has been struck here - yet.  There have been a few unlucky deer.

So how long until the road gets sidewalks?  Or a paved shoulder at least?  Maybe a streetlight?

How about as soon as 2016.  Or as late as 2022. Yikes.

Here's part of an email from our city councillor, Shad Quadri (emphasis mine).
Development Approvals Branch advised that the existing rural cross section of Huntmar Drive ... will ultimately be upgraded in the future (curbs, sidewalks and streetlights) but this is currently scheduled as a Phase 2 project (2016-2022) in the City's Transportation Master Plan.
With the new police station operating on Huntmar Drive and the new housing developments, I believe this will assist in putting pressure on the City budget to have this road upgraded earlier. I have asked City staff to look at ways to make this area safer for both pedestrians and vehicular traffic while the design and planning for the reconstruction are taking place. Part of the solution may involve the paving of the shoulder as a temporary sidewalk. This is being looked at, however, given the rural profile of this road it is not an easy task because of the requirement to maintain the drainage courses along the side of the road... Traffic staff have also been unsuccessful in having street lighting installed along this section of Huntmar at this time, again because of the current design of the road. 
In short, it is only as a result of the recent development in Fairwinds North that there are pressures to have the road upgraded. The developers in Kanata West were a part of the planning process and it was based on their development strategy and traffic planning studies that the schedule for the reconstruction of Huntmar between Palladium and Maple Grove Road was scheduled in the 2016-2022 timeframe in the City's Master Transportation Plan. I am working with staff to find ways to change this because the pattern of development has changed.
So we have thousands of people living less than one kilometre from a police station, a YMCA, and a major community sports and entertainment facility, and it could be five years before anything resembling a sidewalk gets built.  Watch your step!

I'd be interested to hear from you, either in the comments below or via feedback@ottawastart.com:
1) if you live in the area, any horror stories about walking on this stretch of road?
2) what are other bad stretches of pavement for pedestrians in Ottawa?

See also: Ottawa Driving Guide


  1. I agree a sidewalk is needed, but lights especially. I'm new resident to Huntmar but it's always been a bad road, and as you said with more people walking it to attend concerts or games, it's an accident waiting to happen.
    I saw a family almost get hit (pedestrian fault though) as some dad opted to walk with traffic (instead of against as is always smart) and then just cut across as if he had right away, but without lighting he and his family were hard to see.
    With a police station there you would think they would like to put in some lights, here's hoping we can get something sooner rather than an accident or several to take them to put something in.

  2. Anonymous4:52 PM

    I totally agree with you that the road is really dangerous.

    I certainly hope that all of the new services will put pressure to see Huntmar made the way it should be - but I am certainly not going to walk down Huntmar in the mean time. Just like I'm not going to go for a walk down the side of the highway.

    I am disgusted to see the kind of liberties some people take with this road. (walking, jogging, biking, strolling, driving AND with children!) At the end of the day Huntmar (currently) is equipped for vehicle traffic only - and people should behave that way.

  3. Anonymous4:26 PM

    I brought this issue up with Shad Qadri via email back in 2009 and received the same response. It doesn't appear that this is a priority, despite how dangerous it is.

  4. This road is very dangerous, especially given the heavy foot-traffic during the hockey season, when people are walking to the Sens games. My hubby and I were walking (in the mucky, unplowed, narrow shoulder) and a cab actually revved his engine and pointed the car at us, as though we had no right to be walking there?! I hope the police station will keep drivers in check until they fix this road.


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