How The Great Glebe Garage Sale can be Safer and Attract More People

ABOVE: The Great Glebe Garage Sale is a fun community event that has attracted thousands since 1986. (PHOTO: (L) OLM files, (R) via Facebook)

Ottawa was busy last weekend.

The REDBLACKS had a preseason game on Friday night. Atlético Ottawa played on Saturday. The Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend and The Great Glebe Garage Sale also occurred. Out of all of those events, I attended the latter, The Great Glebe Garage Sale.

Over the years, I’ve attended a few, but mostly in passing. By the time I rolled out of bed and had my coffee, most of the good items would be snatched up. I admit that I’m not a morning person.

This year was a bit different, though.

I had time to check it out and even bought a few things.

I could also get the whole experience, as much as I could handle.

The fastest way to get to Glebe is by taking the Queen Elizabeth Parkway and a right onto one of the side streets. For that to happen, though, the QE Parkway needed to be closed to traffic, but it wasn’t. I took the bumpy sidewalk for about two blocks in that case.

For those unaware, I look like a bobblehead whenever I roll over a bump. My head starts bouncing around, and my whole body shifts due to the movement. It is uncomfortable and typically painful, especially since I’m getting older.

As soon as I turned right, I was immediately in a residential area, which was also open to traffic. That was the first problem of many to come.

However, before I talk about the problems, let me tell you about the positives.

The Great Glebe Garage Sale is a good idea.

It’s a great way to explore the Glebe and meet neighbours if you live in the Glebe or nearby.

If you don’t live in the area, it’s still a great way to see the Glebe and meet people,

Also, there’s a good chance you may find something to buy or look at and perhaps find a new hobby or interest while supporting local charities.

Those are all good things.

However, I quickly encountered a MAJOR flaw, which the organizers should have addressed from the beginning.

The lack of road closures.

Picture this.

Hundreds, maybe thousands, are all using the already very narrow sidewalks to walk and stop to look at the sale items. At the same time, others on those sidewalks are trying to get to where they need to go.

In that crowd are parents with strollers, seniors, people with disabilities, and more. In a city where people regularly mention how narrow the sidewalks are, who, exactly, thought that it was a good idea to have a sale in the middle of the Glebe, which poured out onto the sidewalks of Bank Street?

After picturing busy sidewalks, let’s talk about the side streets.

Picture the roads still being open. Potential shoppers walk up and down the streets, often zigzagging across the road to see the sale items. Again. Among the crowd are parents with strollers, seniors, people with disabilities, and more. Now, though, toss in aggressive drivers and those that generally don’t follow the rules.

Again, who thought it was a good and safe idea?

Also, besides all of the above, it’s not wheelchair friendly.

If a person with a disability who uses any mobility device wants to stop and look at the items for sale, the PWD is blocking the sidewalk. Sooner or later, a passerby/potential shopper WILL say something to the PWD. Trust me. It always happens to me if I’m in a tight or narrow spot.

For example, many cyclists get upset when I’m rolling along the canal, sometimes verbally if I’m blocking the path.

The current model of the Glebe garage sale needs to be altered to provide a safer place to shop or browse.

My suggestion is simple, and many share the same idea: Close all roads that are included in the Glebe garage sale.

By doing so, not only does it allow a safer shopping experience, sellers can set up their tables on the road, giving them more room to display their items and be seen by more potential buyers.

Being able to have tables on the road would also allow people with disabilities to shop without blocking the sidewalk and be able to see the items for sale.

This is common sense.

I’m guessing the organizers of The Great Glebe Garage Sale want as many people to come as possible. If that is the case, they need to make the event more pedestrian friendly.

The more people that can attend The Great Glebe Garage Sale, the more money they will make, as well as any charity organizations benefiting from the sales.