Special Report: Cycling

Shifting Shifting Gears into Higher Gear

If we are to get serious about making cycling a viable option for more Hamiltonians, we need to make some significant changes to our Cycling Master Plan.

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 22, 2015

Hamilton City Council approved the Shifting Gears Cycling Master Plan in 2009. That means it's good and ready for a five-year review.

Before Shifting Gears was presented to Council, the City had been spending as little as $300,000 a year on cycling, and in on more than one year spending nothing at all.

So the 2009 plan represented a significant improvement over the status quo: a 20-year strategy to spend $2.5 million a year building out a cycling network under the supervision of a dedicated project manager.

Detail from Shifting Gears bike route map
Detail from Shifting Gears bike route map

Unfortunately, the reality has not quite measured up to the promise. The actual rate of bike lane installation has been downright glacial, more than one project has been vetoed by the local ward councillor, and the infrastructure that has been installed have mostly been the kind of painted-line bike lanes that cities that are serious about cycling abandoned many years ago.

If we are to get serious about making cycling a viable option for more Hamiltonians, we need to make some significant changes to our Cycling Master Plan.

Specifically, we need to adopt a philosophy of routine accommodation, become a lot more proactive about engaging meaningfully with citizens, apply best practices to infrastructure design, obtain and apply better data, emphasize improving the connections between the various pieces of infrastructure, and focus on better wayfinding.

Routine Accommodation

When Council received the Pedestrian Mobility Plan in November 2013, I was delighted to read that at the centre of the plan is the concept of routine accommodation. That means every time a street is built or rebuilt or receives maintenance, improvements for pedestrian accessibility will be included by default.

That is not how Shifting Gears works. Instead, our Cycling Master Plan is a specific network of streets that may receive cycling routes. If a street isn't already listed in the Cycling Master Plan, it is not even considered for possible infrastructure when it is being constructed or reconstructed.

Cyclists were excluded from the city's ill-fated bus-only lane on King Street because, as one manager explained, "the Cycling Master Plan does not propose bike lanes on King Street."

Likewise, cycling - and walking, for that matter - received no consideration in the recent reconstruction of the Beckett Drive escarpment access. Instead of adding a bike lane or sidewalk, the engineers widened the vehicle lanes and added a double yellow line buffer down the middle of the street.

And for the record, wider lanes actually encourage faster, more dangerous driving.

Beckett Drive reconstruction with no accommodation for walking or cycling
Beckett Drive reconstruction with no accommodation for walking or cycling

On top of that, ward councillors are allowed to exercise a veto over planned bike lanes in their wards, as Ward 6 Councillor Tom Jackson did in 2010 when he vetoed bike lanes on Queensdale Avenue.

As a result, the bike lanes on Queensdale Avenue in Ward 7 do not extend east across Upper Sherman.

Queensdale bike lanes
Queensdale bike lanes

In effect, Shifting Gears acts as a ceiling on the city's potential cycling network, not a floor. This needs to change: as long as it remains our cycling template, it will act as much to constrain the expansion of our cycling network as to facilitate it.

Engage Early and Often

The City's track record on community engagement is decidedly mixed, but some groups do a better job than others. Unfortunately, the Cycling Office seems to be particularly immune to public feedback.

In the case of the Hunter Street bike lanes, volunteer associated with RTH spent more than a year trying to communicate with the office to advocate that the bike lanes be physically protected - with bollards or parallel parking - and continuous instead of stopping a couple of blocks away from the GO Station.

We received barely any response from the City and what we did receive was perfunctory. When the bike lanes were installed, they were neither physically protected nor continuous.

The only change that was made to the design was in response to business owners on Hunter Street East who objected to the loss of parking on their side of the street. The design was modified to retain the parking.

There is absolutely no reason not to physically protect the bike lanes on Hunter, and the office has never provided an explanation as to why the lanes are not protected.

Vehicles blocking the Hunter Street bike lanes (Image Credit: Bob Berberick)
Vehicles blocking the Hunter Street bike lanes (Image Credit: Bob Berberick)

A more recent issue is the planned bike lane installations on Charlton Avenue West and Herkimer Street West. With no public consultation, the residents of Ward 2 were advised by construction notices that the City was about to install painted-line bike lanes that would run right in the "door zone" of paralled parked cars.

The Durand Neighbourhood Association pushed back on the design and struck a cycling committee to engage with the City on a better approach, including advocating for parking-protected bike lanes, which have proven to be much safer after their installation on several streets in New York City.

After months of delays and a fairly unproductive meeting, the City indicated that there are no firm timelines and the project might get bumped by other projects.

This feels downright passive-aggressive. A project manager trying to design cycling infrastructure should be delighted to learn that the community is excited and wants the best possible outcome. Instead, advocates are treated as just another problem to manage.

Apply Best Practices

The research from cities around the world over the past four decades has clearly demonstrated that the only way to get a significant share of trips on bicycle is to build a protected, connected, continuous high-quality network of cycling routes that directly connect to important destinations.

All three criteria are essential for high use: the cycling route must be protected, connected and continuous. It's important to understand that for most potential cyclists, a bike route is only as usable as its least protected connection. That means a route that might otherwise be easy to ride becomes untenable if even a single block of it forces people to ride in mixed traffic.

Protected cycle tracks and neighbourhood greenways are the safest and best at attracting new riders.

Our cycling plan does not reflect this understanding of how to build a successful bike network. Shifting Gears identifies several types of cycling infrastructure: multi-use recreational trails, Reserved on-street bike lanes, signed bike routes (i.e. regular car lanes with bike sharrows painted on them), and rural paved shoulders.

Signed bike route, AKA riding in mixed traffic, on Cannon east of Gage
Signed bike route, AKA riding in mixed traffic, on Cannon east of Gage

Curiously, the plan makes brief mention of grade-separated and protected bike lanes but takes a dim view, citing higher capital costs, maintenance challenges and difficulty making left turns. It doesn't mention neighbourhood greenways at all, even though the original Cycling Master Plan in 1999 discussed them.

It's no coincidence that the only protected bike lanes in the city, the Cannon Street Cycle Track, was approved directly by Council after a massive public campaign and designed by an outside transportation consultant.

Cannon Street Cycle Track
Cannon Street Cycle Track

When City staff undertook to extend cycling infrastructure beyond the eastern and western boundaries of the Cannon Cycle Track, they reverted to the painted lines that characterize most on-street cycling infrastructure in Hamilton.

On York Boulevard west of Hess, the bike lanes at least have a space buffer from the adjacent vehicle traffic lane. However, we know that in the absence of physical protection, most people will not feel safe riding on those lanes.

Buffered bike lane on York Boulevard
Buffered bike lane on York Boulevard

East of Sherman, there is no cycling infrastructure for two blocks and, indeed, no apparent way for an eastbound cyclist to cross Sherman at all. A bare-bones painted lane appears past Lottridge and runs to just before Gage, where it ends abruptly.

Likewise, the Hunter Street Bike Lanes are not physically protected from automobile traffic - aside from a few knockdown sticks just east of Park Street, which were installed a few months later on the request of the local Councillor.

This is despite the fact that the two-way bike lane is wide enough to run a truck with a snow plow - even along the short section where there are knockdown sticks in place.

Truck plowing Hunter Street Bike Lanes
Truck plowing Hunter Street Bike Lanes

One predictable result of the lack of physical protection on Hunter Street is that cycling uptake has not been very significant, especially compared to the protected cycle track on Cannon Street.

Between 2013 and 2014, the number of weekly eastbound trips on Hunter increased from 35 (since Hunter is one-way westbound) to around 300. Meanwhile, the number of westbound trips increased only modestly from around 300 to around 400.

In contrast, bicycle traffic on Cannon increased from nearly zero before the cycle track was installed to 250-400 a day within a few weeks.

This is clear, local evidence that protected cycle tracks attract many more riders than unprotected painted bike lanes; but the city's Cycling Office remains deeply reluctant to do what we know works.

The state of the art in cycling infrastructure has changed pretty significantly in the past several years as best practices emerge from cities that are ahead of us in designing and building their cycling networks.

By ignoring that best practice research, we are effectively wasting money by building inferior bike lanes that are less safe and attract fewer people to use them.

Obtain and Apply Better Data

Not incidentally, we don't know how many bicycle trips are happening on Cannon Street currently, because there has not been a bike counter on Cannon since counts were taken last fall. This is despite the fact that the Cannon Cycle Track installation came in $160,000 below its budget.

The lack of data collection - before or after - is endemic in Hamilton's cycling network. The data cited above for Hunter Street was collected at different locations in the before and after stages and should be taken with a grain of salt, although the order of magnitude is likely correct.

But cycling data is generally lacking and it does not appear that the data we do have is being used to drive policy. As a result, politicians are inclined to make decisions based on anecdote and prejudice - and that approach is unlikely to lead to the best outcomes.

More generally, the city needs to start applying a data-driven analysis to its transportation infrastructure priorities. Our cycling-averse fiscal scolds claim we can't afford to spend more money on cycling infrastructure, but the economics change dramatically once you factor in an actual cost-benefit analysis.

A recent economics paper comparing the cost of cars and bicycles in Copenhagen noted that the city applies cost-benefit analysis, including externalities, when making transport policy decisions.

[In Copenhagen] a cost–benefit analysis (CBA) methodology was developed and subsequently refined to assess infrastructure projects with regard to transport costs, security, comfort, branding effects & tourism, transport times and health. The analysis revealed that cycling entails considerably lower costs to society than car driving, and is now used for assessments and the implementation of infrastructural change in favour of the bike.

On top of the various costs of car ownership, the total cost of driving includes: damage, injury, lost productivity and early death related to traffic collisions; illness, hospitalization and early death from air pollution; use of road space and congestion; damage and deterioration of roadway infrastructure due to wear and tear; the poor health outcomes associated with automobile commuting; health issues due to traffic noise; and release of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change.

The paper found that the total cost per kilometre of driving - including externalized costs borne by society as a whole - is €0.50 ($0.70 Cdn) for a kilometre of driving, compared to €0.08 ($0.11 Cdn) for a kilometre of cycling.

Looking at the social cost-benefit, each kilometre driven costs society €0.15 ($0.21 Cdn), whereas each kilometre cycled actually represents a gain to society of €0.16 ($0.22 Cdn).

According to Stefan Gossling, the lead author, "If we want people to cycle, then we have to change our approach towards urban infrastructure. Cyclists will only cycle [in large numbers] when they feel physically safe and when it's fast, which means they need to be physically separated from cars."

Closer to home, the Region of Waterloo has calculated that each one-percent mode shift away from driving will save the region $30 million in infrastructure lifecycle costs.

Hamilton has not conducted this kind of total cost-benefit analysis. We approve road construction projects costing many millions of dollars with scarcely any debate, but then boil the ocean over even modest improvements to our cycling network. If we want better policy decisions, we need to supply council with better data.

Improve Connections

Recently, the Google corporation proposed a high-quality network of protected cycle tracks for Silicon Valley to get more people commuting on bike. They took the innovative approach of representing the quality of the network as a stress map reflecting how stressful the various parts of a given route will be:

Google cycling network stress map
Google cycling network stress map

I would love to see this approach taken with Hamilton's cycling network. We have quite a few pieces of dedicated cycling infrastructure, ranging from poor to very good, but they are for the most part fragmentary with poor or no connections between them.

At every point where the stress of trying to navigate a trip on bike gets high, the number of people who might potentially choose to ride a bike plummets.

An excellent case in point is the intersection of Dundurn Street North and York Boulevard. There are bike lanes on Dundurn, on York west of Dundurn, and on York east of Dundurn, but there is no obvious way to get from one street onto the other.

York Boulevard bike lane at Dundurn
York Boulevard bike lane at Dundurn

Between the lack of physical protection from traffic and the absence of a path through the intersection onto Dundurn, this bike lane is a huge missed opportunity to make cycling accessible to a lot more people.

Focus on Wayfinding

The lack of connections between pieces of cycling infrastructure combines with the relative lack of signage and markings to help people find their way.

The Escarpment Trail runs through Mohawk Sports Park, crosses Limeridge Road East and down to the parking lot on Arbour Road near Mountain Brow Boulevard, across from Albion Falls. A helpful signpost at the parking lot points to several nearby trails.

Trail signs near Albion Falls
Trail signs near Albion Falls

If you continue south on Arbour Road, it takes to you a bridge across the Red Hill Valley Parkway, but a sign on that road indicates that it is not a through route. Assuming you know to ignore the sign and cross the freeway, a paved trail runs down to Stone Church Road next to Arbour Road.

On the south side of Stone Church, the cross street changes to Anchor Road. Heading west, there is a paved pathway running alongside Stone Church:

Paved pathway on Stone Church from Anchor Road to Dartnall Road
Paved pathway on Stone Church from Anchor Road to Dartnall Road

That path extends a block to Dartnall Road, and if you cross Dartnall you can pick up the Chippewa Trail, which runs all the way to Caledonia.

Unfortunately, there are no signs or markings on the path to indicate either that it is for cycling or that it connects to any trails. There is hardly any consideration given to wayfinding, i.e. the ability for a person on a bike to figure out where they are and where they have to go.

This is a common theme. There is an off-street two-way cycle track on Longwood Road running between Aberdeen Avenue and Frid Street, but there are no signs or markings anywhere along the route to inform people that it exists.

Even worse, the track has guy wires anchored to the ground right in the middle of it. Recently the City "fixed" the issue by mounting yellow-and-black diagonal hazard signs in front of them.

City fix for guy wires blocking Longwood Road South cycle track
City fix for guy wires blocking Longwood Road South cycle track

Frankly, this is appalling.

Better Outcomes

Every city is different and has unique challenges, but an array of cities around the world with a wide variety of geographies, climates and demographics have all proven that with the right policy, any city can become a great place to get around on a bike.

It is past time for Hamilton to start learning from what other cities are already doing right and applying those practices here instead of falling back on older, inferior designs or, worse, reinventing the wheel (badly).

Each project we build is a one-time chance to get it right, because we will be stuck with it for years to come. Even worse, new cycling infrastructure that is designed badly will fail to attract cyclists, which undercuts support for additional projects.

As long as we continue not to aim for excellence, we are setting our cycling network up for failure - and during a time when interest in and enthusiasm for cycling is exploding around the industrialized world.

We have an easy opportunity to do what a few pioneering European cities did in the 1970s and permanently change the mix of how Hamiltonians choose to get around - and we get to do it with the full benefit of hindsight after 40 years of trial and error in those places.

Let's prove the case, aim for excellence, get it right and make a real and sustained improvement to our city's quality of life.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2015 at 11:23:31

Recently the City "fixed" the issue by mounting yellow-and-black diagonal hazard signs in front of them.

I'm pretty sure those are gone now, actually. They came down soon after the article on the subject.

And yes, I'm a cyclists and I'm frequently disappointed in how disconnected our great cycling routes are. I go from Westdale to HGH, and the gaps are absurd - there's a bike lane north of Barton on Victoria, but it doesn't connect to the Cannon track. There's no good place to turn south anywhere west of James.

What impresses me is that the cyclists of this city are generally producing realistic, pragmatic suggestions for cycling improvements. I mean, nobody is saying "turn King into a woonerf", we're talking about useful, reasonable plans for cycling infrastructure with real-world traffic counts in mind.

And yet the cycling office seems to ignore us.

I mean, look at this map:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z...

There is so much fantastic low-hanging fruit in there.

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted June 24, 2015 at 09:11:36 in reply to Comment 112387

"I'm pretty sure those are gone now, actually. They came down soon after the article on the subject."

The guy wire is still there, and the hazard signs are still there. Initially, it was just the guy wire. Then (perhaps as a response to someone complaining about the guy wire), a temporary-looking hazard sign was placed in front of it. Later, this more permanent hazard sign replaced it. I wonder how much those visits cost in time and materials, compared to moving the guy wire in the first place.

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By Bollardo (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 11:43:19

We should have a priority based policy: trees over planters every time, planters over bollards every time, bollards over paint every time, etc. Wherever possible.

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By debuzz (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 11:53:34

And don't forget nothing got built in 2013 because the one manager who looks after bike lanes was pulled off to design the bus only lane. And we all know how that turned out...

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2015 at 12:09:23 in reply to Comment 112390

That is not a ringing endorsement of his skills, because whether or not you support the idea of a bus lane on king, one has to admit that the one we got wasn't designed terribly well.

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By eastmount (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 12:12:01

There are currently no bike lanes on Queensdale at all. After the street was reconstructed last year the bike lanes between Upper Wentworth and Upper Wellington were not put back.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 12:18:15 in reply to Comment 112392

Isn't that the street where Cllr. Jackson personally put the kibosh on bike lanes?

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By eastmount (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 12:24:01 in reply to Comment 112393

Jackson kiboshed the section in his ward, Upper Ottawa to Upper Sherman. The only section that had lanes was Wentworth to Wellington. Queensdale from Upper Sherman to Upper Wellington has been rebuilt over the past 2 or 3 years.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 12:36:13

I honestly didn't know that lane on Longwood was an actual bike lane - I felt guilty riding on it! Looks like many might feel the same way up on Stonechurch. You would think that a bit of paint wouldn't cost too much to buy and apply? It almost seems as if the city doesn't want to draw attention to the fact that those are bikes lanes.

As for the painted lanes on the sides of the road, sandwiched between moving cars and the curb, I absolutely agree that they do not encourage cycling. The more I have thought about it I wonder how it ever seemed reasonable to do that. By painting those lanes the city is inviting cyclists (children, parents, human beings) to ride on them. It's like building a bridge that you know is dangerous and inviting people to cross it. I think there should be a policy of either building the lane protected (parked cars or off-road) or not building it at all. There are so many places where this can be done. Dundurn should flip the lanes and the parking - it is the most dangerous one I have ridden on. York bouleveard has so much space off road. Why not a trail right beside the walking trail?

Right now I do not allow my bike riding son to use virtually any of the lanes that exist. I tell him to ride on the sidewalk on busy streets and hop off or stop if he approaches a pedestrian. It's a shame because it doesn't have to be this way.

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By Simon (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2015 at 13:44:23

Same thing happened with the reconstruction of Concession Street. Not on the Cycling Master Plan = No Bike Lane For You. At least there are no major employers or businesses that local buyers would frequent on Concession Street.

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By This Too Shall Pass (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 14:56:09

It's almost as if those that run this city are hoping that if they ignore the issue of bike infrastructure long enough it will all blow over and people will stop asking for it.

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By n (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 16:13:12

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 11:22:47 in reply to Comment 112401

Cyclists need to pay licensing, ownership, safety inspection, environment fees (rubber tires!)

Can you give even one good reason why these measures are necessary for cycling? What problem do they correct?

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 27, 2015 at 08:43:49 in reply to Comment 112416

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 13:41:20 in reply to Comment 112416

I think this persons attitude is one that needs just as much attention as the lack of cycling infrastructure and city councils aversion to the subject. Cyclists are seen by many - and probably most at city hall - as an annoyance that should be gotten rid of. If that attitude can be changed I think the largest battle would be won. It is this kind of emotional resistance that makes even the smallest improvement almost impossible to gain.

How do you win over those who think cyclists are annoying losers that run red lights and stop signs and make us all late for work? Not sure. One thing might be to move the cycling lanes out of traffic. It would a)remove the cyclists from the car drivers field of vision and b) be safer for the cyclist. Take a look at the image Ryan posted in this comments section of Hess St. Perhaps areas like this could have the bike lane next to the sidewalk with the 16 foot hashed lines between it and the car lane. Many little improvements like that could go a long way.

Also, I think current cyclists should really try to be good ambassadors for cycling in their day to day. I have seen grown sensible looking adults cycling at speed on sidewalks weaving around pedestrians - and yes blowing through stop signs. Just yesterday I saw a cyclist riding in the middle of the road down Dundurn with a trail of cars following behind her. The bike lane was right there but she wasn't using it. These actions only serve to increase anger towards cyclists and re-enforce the arguments against cycling in general.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted June 30, 2015 at 20:23:43 in reply to Comment 112420

Ha, that cyclist could have been me. Yes, I take the car lane on Dundurn in the morning from Charlton to Chatham, where I have to turn left. When I started riding to work two or three years ago, I would take the bike lane to Chatham and then wait, sometimes for five minutes to cross Dundurn to head west on Chatham. It felt incredibly dangerous to wait there and have to deal with three directions of traffic (north and south on Dundurn and eastbound from Chatham).

So, I ride down the middle, hugging the centre line so that cars can pass me on the right. I keep my left arm out most of the way from Charlton to Chatham so that auto drivers can tell I want to turn. The slight delay in their commute (10 seconds?) saves me five minutes and feels safer in the long run.

So, yeah. Bitch to your coworkers all you want.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 21:33:10 in reply to Comment 112420

Just yesterday I saw a cyclist riding in the middle of the road down Dundurn with a trail of cars following behind her. The bike lane was right there but she wasn't using it.

Perhaps because she did not have a death wish? The most dangerous place in the road to ride a bike on Dundurn is in the bike lane. Why? Because our City staff put the bike lane in the door zone.

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2015-06-23 21:33:24

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 24, 2015 at 10:47:05 in reply to Comment 112434

She was heading North so it was just the lane - no parking. I agree 100% that if the lane is cracked and has that 1/2 road, 1/2 curb asphalt seam running down the middle they are terribly unsafe to ride in. So this is another case where we'd be better off without the lane at all.

The public advertisement for cycling for that duration of time was not good. There was a lane, she was not using it. She was slowing down all the traffic. Those drivers went to work and b*tched about it to their co-workers who agreed ('I know man!').

If there was no bike lane she could have been cycling legally (as she was yesterday) on a safe portion of the road and the car drivers would not be able to point out that she was not in her 'own lane' although they still would have negative feelings towards it.

The solution of course is to build better and safer lanes and, I think, to remove lanes that are unsafe to use.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 24, 2015 at 08:10:25 in reply to Comment 112434

I almost got killed using that bike lane yesterday. It's ultra narrow and horrendously bumpy and the driving lane is wide and fast. I hit a pot hole while riding a Sobi bike and skidded towards the curb where I then started wobbling along a driveway ramp that was several inches buckled above the road. I thought for sure I was going down into the live lane but managed to gain control and get my feet down. Bike lanes are quite useless when they are always the minimum legal width next to wider than normal car lanes and are a smooth as the surface of the moon.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2015 at 16:32:32 in reply to Comment 112401

Cyclists need to pay licensing, ownership, safety inspection, environment fees (rubber tires!) like car owners

The overhead in running such programs would completely dwarf any positive outcome of it.

So, should pedestrians pay licensing and have their shoes inspected and pay environmental fees on them?

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 27, 2015 at 08:46:10 in reply to Comment 112403

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 16:31:55 in reply to Comment 112401

We've been through this many times whenever the subject of cycling comes up.

Any reasonable levels of fees would cost more to collect than they would bring in (environmental fees for cyclists? Really!?). For example, it costs $12 per year to license a moped; bicycles would presumably be even cheaper.

Every person who cycles instead of drives is very obviously decreasing pollution, decreasing the overall rate of serious accidents, and decreasing wear and tear on the roads. They also decrease congestion for motorists. Is that something you want to discourage by adding punitive fees? Should pedestrians be licensed and forced to pass "walking tests" in order to be allowed to walk on the sidewalks and cross the street?

And most motorists do not stop at stop signs. Try hanging around a stop sign for a while and watch. Not to mention all the other traffic laws they regularly break, especially speed limits (fully half the drives on Hunter were measured to have broken the speed limit). No one says we shouldn't spend anything on facilities for motorists until motorists stop breaking the laws. Not to mention that the vast majority of adult cyclists are already licensed drivers ...

Such suggestions are obviously just punitive, made by people annoyed at having to deal with bikes on the road and "losing" space to cyclists.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-06-22 16:51:14

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 24, 2015 at 07:12:14 in reply to Comment 112402

And most motorists do not stop at stop signs. Try hanging around a stop sign for a while and watch.

You and I both bike through West Hamilton pretty much every day. Is it really your impression that drivers and cyclists run stop signs in proportional numbers? I feel certain that I see cyclists do it more often and more flagrantly both in relative and absolute numbers - though, yes, with far less potential danger to others.

More specifically and significantly, how often do you see drivers just blow through a four-way when other people are waiting? I see it on Sterling alone at least once a week, sometimes more than once a day.

Not to give to much credence to the person to whom you are responding, but we're not going to win people over by contradicting these sort of plainly visible breaches of law and etiquette.

That said, I'm seeing the proportion of scoff-law cyclists go down as more and more people take to utility cycling and cycle like grown-ups (signalling; stopping; waiting their turn).

Comment edited by moylek on 2015-06-24 07:39:12

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 17:00:30

Ditto for the new GO Station on James North. Metrolinx designed bike parking and a SoBi station at the main James Street entrance. But the short strech of James from the Cannon cycle path to the station is getting zip, zero, nada.

It is the fault of Metrolinx, of course. They failed to plan their train station far enough in advance to get it into the 2009 Cycling Master Plan.

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By John S (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 17:15:29

Will comments that were collected during the April Transportation Summit themed "Going for Gold" be forwarded and considered for the Shifting Gears review?

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By Dylan (registered) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 17:26:35

What's wrong with Beckett Drive? There's a sign that politely asks you not to hit pedestrians that are forced onto the road and everything!

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 20:07:37

Thanks, Ryan.

That map is so disjointed it can't be taken seriously. The east-west routes are inadequate in order to avoid doing anything to disturb auto traffic on King and Main. And the north-south routes: Nothing between Victoria and Gage!

I agree - routine accommodation is the only solution to have cycling infrastructure that makes some sense.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 20:29:09

Great piece Ryan. I've stopped sending in any requests or suggestions to the cycling office. Total waste of time.

Amazing that with our beautiful west harbour we have NO cycling routes connecting it south to the city.

All these disgusting, giant one way expressways like Wellington, Victoria with no traffic at all, and the city just keeps repaving and re-striping these streets as if we're Manhattan.

Might be time for a public protest at a council meeting or in front of city hall.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 12:54:30 in reply to Comment 112409

Or you could show up at City Hall the first Wednesday of each month at 5:30 PM and tell City staff to their face what you think of their latest cycling proposals. Frequently the Councilor liaison will also be present so you can also tell a member of City Council to their face what you think.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 22, 2015 at 20:31:34

Maybe someday city hall will figure out how to do this. Looks like a veeeeery tricky paint job

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-RWQk4xpIhmk/Th...

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 09:34:56 in reply to Comment 112410

Can't be done. Where do the cars go?

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By Simon (registered) - website | Posted June 23, 2015 at 09:13:04

Thing is, its not just about bike lanes.

Bike lanes should be seen as just a part of the overall street scape.

There is zero initiative to do anything besides status quo. Concession Street is a prime example of a huge missed opportunity - but there are all kinds of smaller examples. One is Inverness Avenue that runs between Upper James and Upper Wellington. It was just resurfaced within the last couple years. This is a massively overbuilt road - easily 4 lanes wide for no reason at all. It passes a school with a crossing guard.

Instead of simply narrowing the road to a normal 2 lane residential street by adding grassed boulevards, steet trees and a bike lane to make this into a really attractive community boulevard - they just re-paved it the same as it was.

The costs for simple aesthetic upgrades like this are minimal - but have a huge effect on the livability of public spaces.

I think a real road block is public works staff who often decide the details on projects like these.

They see anything aesthetic as nothing more than maintenance work for the City - so the default attitude is pave it and we don't have to do anything.

Comment edited by Simon on 2015-06-23 09:20:21

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 10:02:07 in reply to Comment 112411

Someone else can probably tell us more certainly than I can, but I expect that your idea for Inverness would mean less maintenance costs in the long run. The municipal government doesn't maintain boulevard grass; bike lanes require repaving less frequently than car lanes; and street trees have a positive return on investment. It might have been a somewhat higher capital cost to narrow the road and install these things, but they would actually reduce our future liability in maintenance costs.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 11:12:33

I just want to say that the title of this piece is itself a beautiful work of art.

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By n (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 18:04:25

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 21:45:14 in reply to Comment 112425

Troll be trollin'

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By Dylan (registered) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 18:23:38 in reply to Comment 112425

So cyclists don't pay municipal, provincial, and federal taxes? Automobile lanes are more than twice the size of a bike lane, require more maintenance, and there are infinitely more of them than bike infrastructure. It would be more accurate to say that vehicle owners need to "pay their fair share" than it would to ask cyclists to pay more.

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By Banker (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 19:05:03 in reply to Comment 112426

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By Dylan (registered) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 20:41:42 in reply to Comment 112429

Why are you citing HST as an exclusive tax on cars and their parts? Maybe I'm ignorant on the subject, but I could have sworn I paid HST on the bike I bought last summer.

With exception to the gas tax which is, in theory, designed to contribute to infrastructure and public transit that benefit the very same people paying it, the fees for driving are nominal and fair, if not too lean. Drivers choose to transit using the least cost effective, highest polluting, and least personally healthy way to travel of their own accord (and in part because other infrastructure is inadequate). Drivers place a strain on our system due to affects on the environment and the health of the population. Cycling on the other hand does the opposite, and youre going to grip that we're not charging little Jimmy's $100 a year so he can rid his bike to school?

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By Banker (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 22:52:52 in reply to Comment 112432

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 23, 2015 at 19:45:08 in reply to Comment 112429

Even the CAA, which is obviously heavily biased for drivers, admits that automobile-related fees do not cover the complete costs of the roadway - there is significant subsidy from the general funds of the government, far more than the narrow unprotected strips of urban land afforded to cyclists.

Pedestrians don't pay gas tax either, should we eliminate sidewalks?

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By Banker (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 20:04:25

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 21:40:20 in reply to Comment 112431

And let's not forget how in 2009 the governments of Canada and Ontario spent $13.7 billion buying shares of bankrupt bicycle companies. Oh, wait...

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2015-06-23 21:41:47

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By Banker (anonymous) | Posted June 23, 2015 at 22:50:48 in reply to Comment 112435

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