Typology for Better Streets: Downtown Oakville

July 19th, 2011, by Jeremy Krygsman

To get the most out of a street, every inch counts. Streets make up a huge percentage of area in cities, and that makes them important public spaces. When we were tasked with re-imagining Downtown Oakville’s streets, we came up with several innovative but simple ways to use the space better.

  • Increasing pedestrian space.
  • Allowing flexibility for sidewalk cafes.
  • Enabling dedicated bike lanes right through the core.
  • All while ensuring access to parking and a smooth flow of traffic.

Check out the full project: Downtown Oakville Public Space Framework. Team members: Ryan Felix, Meaghan Mendonca, Matt Perotto, and Graeme Ruck.

Downtown Oakville Street Typology

Lakeshore Road

CURRENT CONDITION: In its current state, Lakeshore Rd. provides approximately 15m of dedicated space exclusive to the automobile. This includes two lanes of parking, a lane in both directions of travel and a shared centre turn lane. The centre lane is also used as a delivery zone throughout the business day. A sidewalk is provided in the remaining space, with a total width of 9m. Minimal facilities exist for cyclists along Lakeshore.

1 BIKE & TRANSIT IMPROVEMENTS: Removing the centre lane and giving the space to separated bike lanes is a low-cost and effective way to share the streets without limiting automobile access. This could contribute to a complete bike network in Oakville, and the surrounding communities in the Greater Toronto Area. Main Features • Removal of the centre lane • Addition curb & bulb-outs • Improvements for bike and transit.

2 ADJUSTABLE PARKING: Adjustable parking gives control of the street to adjacent businesses, enabling them to decide whether it is more beneficial to have a single car parked in front, ten bicycle spots, or to have space for a dozen people to sit and enjoy a meal. Main Features • Adjustable parking areas allow for seasonal use and civic activities • Bollards allow parking spaces to be removed • Parking Spot decisions are made in collaboration with business owners.

3 MULTIMODAL SHARED STREET: High quality materials really set Downtown Oakville apart, creating a street that has ample space for pedestrians and bikes. Environmentally friendly tree planters remove the need for watering and filter runoff before it enters the stormwater system. Main Features • Pedestrian and bikes are prioritized, with wide sidewalks • Seasonal bike lane replace parking on one side of street during summer • Planters are designed to filter runoff before it runs into the stormwater system.

Local Streets

CURRENT CONDITION: Downtown Oakville’s local streets are very wide, consist of mostly hardscape, and have significantly less greenery than Lakeshore Rd. or surrounding residential streets. Many are one-way roads with travel lanes of approximately 4m wide or more. Parking is well marked, but the pedestrian experience is limited to narrow sidewalks that are often very close to the road edge. Traffic moves well on these streets, but there is less activity.

1 TRAFFIC CALMING & GREEN FEATURES: Filling in blank asphalt with grass and trees will make local streets much more attractive, narrowing the street and signalling to drivers that Downtown is a place to slow down and stop to visit. Main Features • Road narrowed slightly to calm traffic • Extension of the curb at intersections to define corner • Increased space for trees or sidewalk activities • Open spaces (parking lots) physically/visually separated.

2 DEDICATED BIKE LANES: Local streets, especially Church St., are a prime location for a separated bikeway, part of a network that would allow cyclists, especially families on a Sunday bike-ride, to access Downtown safely and easily. Main Features • Dedicated bike lane • Bikes enable more people to access the downtown without increasing demand for parking spaces.

3 ADJUSTABLE PARKING: Downtown Oakville will continue to expand and be redeveloped, and local streets can start adopting some of the same design principles as Lakeshore, becoming more business and pedestrian friendly. Main Features • Future buildings will fill in street wall, increasing activity • As vacant land develops, the street can evolve to utilize adjustable parking in front of buildings.

George Street

Connected to the proposed 16 Mile Square and anchored by Towne Square, the big move for Downtown Oakville is to extend the George St. pedestrian space north to Randall St. The goal is to draw people into other parts of Downtown along a green, urban living room, as well as bring the water that borders Downtown on three sides into the heart of the town. The extended pedestrian street would serve as the beginning of a creek-to-lake corridor that could be extended from Towne Square to the Lake down George St.

Design Goals
• New, green axis to draw people into other parts of downtown and create an urban living room
• Connection to surrounding water, especially 16 mile creek
• The following page shows two different pedestrian street options we considered. Ideas from these options were incorporated into the final vision.

1 GREEN PROMENADE: Taking cars off of George St. north of Lakeshore Rd. is a natural extension of the current pedestrian-only zone just south of Lakeshore. The street would be very green, with wide sidewalks and plenty of space to sit down and enjoy the Downtown ambiance. Main Features • Commerce and activity expand out across a green promenade into the centre of the street.

2 BIOSWALE STREETSCAPE: Imagine having a cup of coffee sitting next to lush greenery and still water, with a soft surface for children to play. Bringing water into Downtown Oakville would reflect the presence of 16 Mile Creek and Lake Ontario, which surround the district. Main Features • A series of swales and ponds that also act to filter storm-water runoff • Create an oasis in the Downtown, emphasizing the role and presence of water in Oakville.

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