Special Report: Cycling

Proposal to Run Hunter Street Bike Lanes Past GO Station

City staff still need to decide how to run the Hunter Street bike lanes past the GO Station. Here is a suggestion.

By Letter to the Editor
Published February 20, 2014

Previous Raise the Hammer articles have reported that the reason the planned Hunter Street bike lanes will not be continuous is that the design is not finalized around the GO station at Hunter and Hughson.

(Editor's note: The sections from Liberty to Catharine and from MacNab to Queen were supposed to be completed last year, but were delayed because City staff were redeployed to implement the transit lane on King Street.)

Jason Leach suggested a layout with parking on both sides and a protected bi-directional bicycle lane, but I found his drawing hard to decipher. Here is my own take at the illustrating the layout he was proposing.

Rendering of Hunter Street bike lanes at GO Station
Rendering of Hunter Street bike lanes at GO Station

Rendering of Hunter Street bike lanes at GO Station, overhead view
Rendering of Hunter Street bike lanes at GO Station, overhead view

I went ahead and included traffic signals, given that the existing stop sign configuration results in poor level of service for pedestrians crossing to the GO Station, and introducing an all-way stop would likely result in a poor level of service for motorists traveling along Hunter.

I also show Hughson as having two bicycle lanes and one northbound car lane, as opposed to one shared lane in each direction currently. I think Hughson has great potential as a "bicycle boulevard", where cars are permitted only for access.

On Hughson, through car traffic could be eliminated using alternating one-way restrictions (bicycles excepted).

Here's hoping that the Hunter Street bicycle lanes get completed as soon as possible!

We welcome feedback from our readers and invite you to send a letter to the editor. Please read our submissions policy for details.

27 Comments

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 08:38:03

Fantastic images. This is exactly the best way to run the lanes past the GO Station without interfering with parking on either side. At James the south curb parking becomes a left turn lane. Simple solution to a simple problem. Well done. Agree on Hughson too. It could be a great cycling route from Hunter through downtown to the James N GO Station and waterfront. One small suggestion would be to make the Hughson lanes also bi-directional and protected.

Comment edited by jason on 2014-02-20 08:39:23

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By The Letter Writer (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 10:46:21 in reply to Comment 97731

Thanks! I am definitely a fan of separated lanes because they provide separation from high volumes of fast-moving traffic. That said, there is no high volume on Hughson, so separated lanes are not necessary. In any case, there isn't room for them anyway.

Elimininating through traffic by creating alternating one-way restrictions for cars (the direction alternates between northbound and southbound every few blocks) would create a prefectly pleasant cycling environment. If there are blocks where the street is not needed for access to properties, the street could be closed to cars entirely.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2014 at 10:51:31 in reply to Comment 97747

In any case, there isn't room for them anyway.

How much space would knockdown sticks take up? Physically separated doesn't have to mean raised curbs or wide planter boxes.

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By The Letter Writer (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 11:48:30 in reply to Comment 97748

Knockdown sticks do not take up space, but they do create unnecessary hazard for cyclists given that the speed and volume of car traffic is not threatening to begin with. There isn't space for bi-directional bicycle lanes because there isn't space for any bicycle lanes at all in some segments.
It is important that physical (lateral) separation is not the only possible type of segregation between cyclists and motorists. Route separation can be just as effective.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2014 at 12:01:31 in reply to Comment 97758

I'm a seasoned, confident cyclist who has ridden year-round in mixed traffic since I was in my 20s. I cycle on Hunter street regularly and I find automobile speeds to be dangerously, frighteningly high - precisely because volumes are so low and the lanes are wide.

The City has already said there will be a space buffer - essentially, two spaced white lines - between the bike lanes and the automobile lanes so there is definitely room to install a physical barrier.

The most important lesson in cycling infrastructure that we have learned in the past several years is that a physical barrier is vastly more successful at attracting new cyclists to ride in bike lanes than painted markings.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2014 at 13:01:03 in reply to Comment 97759

The city uses the "full-car-width bike-lane with only right half for bikes" on Victoria street. It's not perfect, but it beats the heck out of the "narrow bike-lane with no protection" approach used elsewhere - the buffer on Victoria street is almost the width of a car, so cyclists are a respectable distance from car traffic.

The reason seems to be ploughing - otherwise the city would need the expense for a bobcat to clear the bike-lane, whereas the Victoria lane can be cleared by a plough... that said, at the Hunter Street terminal, I imagine a bobcat works there already. Also, the plough doesn't do a great job of clearing the Victoria lane so cyclists use the safety-buffer a bit. Still, they have space. I'd think it was a good accomodation if it weren't for the terrifyingly fast traffic on Victoria and the pathetically-short length of the lane (it only exists north of Barton and doesn't have a Southbound counterpart on Wellington).

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2014 at 12:45:30 in reply to Comment 97759

... physical barriers also prevent drivers from using bike lanes as stopping zones.

But I think the letter writer is talking about Hughson, not Hunter

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 13:37:03 in reply to Comment 97763

... physical barriers also prevent drivers from using bike lanes as stopping zones.

Not necessarily

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2014 at 14:05:43 in reply to Comment 97769

Well played, but the Sherbourne bike lanes are barely separated. The barrier would hardly even qualify as a speed bump.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2014 at 13:20:15 in reply to Comment 97763

Oops, reading comprehension fail. I think you're right. In that case, ignore my comments and carry on as if nothing happened.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 08:39:52

Fantastic design. That is a far more appropriate design for a train station!

The current departments that planned Hunter are so lazy they just skip over their main train station altogether. I'm likely missing some facts as to why that happened. Nevertheless, your proposal is far too proper and permanent for the lazy half complete pilot projects that are the norm.

If the new generation of urban planners are coming in with clearer vision, that gives me tremendous hope that transformation will occur, even if slowly. Thank you, and wishing you tremendous success in your profession! (Read: help!! :)

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-02-20 08:42:36

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 09:10:05

Assuming that the signallized bike lanes means cyclists would have an advance green?

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By The Letter Writer (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 11:44:00 in reply to Comment 97734

Not sure exactly what you mean by advanced green in this context. North/South cyclists are the only vehicles moving on the north/south signal phase, and East/West cyclists are not signal controlled (simply yield to pedestrians).

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 15:46:47 in reply to Comment 97757

At first glance, the traffic signals appeared to be facing the GO station doors. My bad.

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 10:03:56

A few things:
1) You're making that stretch of Hughson one-way?
2) Your design would prevent Hunter from being converted to two-ways, which I know that individuals in Durand have long been advocating for.
3) Where would you move the existing taxi stand to? Their lobby is rather loud in the city.
4) Where would you allow for DARTS drop-off/pick-up at the station?

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By Stinson (registered) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 19:28:41 in reply to Comment 97737

He has a dream!

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By The Letter Writer (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 10:58:06 in reply to Comment 97737

Yes, in the image, Hughson is one-way northbound. This has the advantage that during the north/south signal phase, there are no cars in the intersection at all, creating a perfectly safe environment for pedestrians and cyclists. With cars permitted in both directions, cars turning right onto Hunter would conflict with cyclists going straight into the cycle track.

However, that is just an idea I threw in, it is by no means necessary. This design can just as easily be implemented with the current lane configuration on Hughson. Nothing has changed north of the centre line of Hunter Stret (apart from the new signals).

And Hunter street IS two-ways in this design, just not for cars. My impression is that residents support two-way streets because they calm traffic and improve pedestrian and cyclist experience relative to our current one-way speedways. This design accomplishes all those goals, so I don't see the need to compromise all other transport modes by cramming in an additional car lane.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 20:35:29 in reply to Comment 97750

Hughson is already 1-way from Main to LIUNA. I like the idea personally. I'm hopeful that once we see a couple of complete, safe, vibrant 1-way streets developed in Hamilton we will realize that they aren't horrible. Sure two-way is preferred, but in the absence of road-space, give me a 1-lane Hughson with 2-way bike lanes.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 10:16:16 in reply to Comment 97737

In response to 3 and 4, in the last image, the existing cut-outs for taxi and DARTs drop-off/pickup have been retained on either side of the "central" portion of the building, much as it is now.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 10:30:12 in reply to Comment 97740

As long as the lane/taxi-curb/sidewalk are at uniform grade, there should be no barrier to wheelchairs/walkers/mobility challenged.

The HSR is in the habit of keeping active standby stock idling along the south curb of Hunter, between John North and GO's access ramp, but again, if the bike lane is painted along this brief portion, it shouldn't be an issue. Alternately, the City could expressly designate an area along Haymarket.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 20, 2014 at 10:59:35

The Hughson thing strikes me as over-designed. Hughson south of Main is not a high-speed high-traffic deadly road that is imposing for cyclists - it's a road that's comfortable for mixed cyclist traffic already.

I like the separated bi-directional bike lane. I want one of those on Main, really.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-02-20 10:59:55

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By The Letter Writer (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2014 at 14:10:28 in reply to Comment 97751

The point of the bike lanes on Hughson isn't to provide separation from traffic (as you mention, there is very little to begin with). The point is to allow cycling in both directions on a street which has segments too narrow for bi-directional car traffic. For those segments I had in mind a 1.5m contraflow bike lane and a 3.0m shared car/bike lane.

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By jedbrown (registered) | Posted February 20, 2014 at 12:21:54

This discussion could not be more timely. The Durand Neighbourhood Association (DNA), Councillor Farr and City staff from the Traffic Department are currently working together to revisit concerns and issues that were not addressed in the 2002 Durand Traffic Study. This includes bike lanes and obviously the proposed bike lane on Hunter Street. Please visit the Durand Neighbourhood Association blog on our website (www.durandna.com) and take part in Democravise, a tool that we are using to solicit concerns, questions and suggestions to make Durand streets safe for all users. Input from Duranders and others is appreciated. There will be a Special Traffic Meeting, Thursday March 6, City Hall, Room 192 at 7pm. City Staff will be present. Mark your calendars.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2014 at 13:17:58

FYI the city made "the letter writer" remove their name from this article because it was a violation of their media contact rules. This is how our city treats its progressive employees.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 22, 2014 at 15:30:25 in reply to Comment 97835

this person works for the city of Hamilton???? Wow, how did they let that happen?

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By Stinson (registered) | Posted February 22, 2014 at 15:06:25

Its pretty common policy for large corporations. It's how most corporations treat employees progressive or not. I believe it would apply to conservative employees as well.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2014 at 18:09:51 in reply to Comment 97838

best for city hall if its people don't have ideas. and if they DO, they had better not tell them to anyone

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