Walkability Fail

Walkability Fail at King and Dundurn

By Sean Burak
Published March 22, 2010

Let's say you buy a nice house in the quiet neighbourhood west of Dundurn Ave. N. and north of King St. W. Now let's say you want to walk for groceries at Fortino's.

You can go:

  1. The legal way, crossing in three directions from the northwest corner - east across Dundurn, south across King and back west across Dundurn - waiting through three traffic light cycles;

  2. The illegal way, darting across King on the west side of Dundurn; or

  3. The deadly way, crossing King among highway-mentality drivers from Breadalbane St. over to the plaza entrance.


View Accessing Dundurn Plaza in a larger map

Why do we force pedestrians to do the triple-cross at a fully controlled light capable of supporting a pedestrian signal on its western edge?

Sean Burak was born in Hamilton but raised elsewhere in Ontario. He returned to his birth town at the turn of the century and has never looked back. Sean is the owner of Downtown Bike Hounds.

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By rrrandy (registered) - website | Posted March 22, 2010 at 17:43:07

You beat me to it Sean - yes, instead of making the single stage crossing of 5 (or is it 6 lanes wide there) a trip to the plaza involves a three stage crossing of a total of 14 lanes. Talk about exposure to danger. All so the steady flow of cars and trucks can be maintained on King. Hopefully with LRT the intersection will go back to two way and they can open that leg of the crossing up again.
A pedestrian scramble should be considered, stopping automobile traffic in all directions and letting pedestrians cross diagonally in any direction. Same applies at Dundurn and Main, where the traffic department almost closed the eastern pedestrian crossing because vehicles keep aggressively turning after the advance green, while people try to walk across in the few seconds of "walk" signal. Again, two way conversion on Main would eliminate the danger of this crossing as people step off the sidewalk from the north-east corner to cross Main into the path of cars running the light and driving inches from the curb.

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By alrathbone (registered) | Posted March 22, 2010 at 18:05:29

I was at this intersection today. Almost got run over walking the legal way. I rarely if ever give someone the finger. I flipped off the driver who almost hit me.

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By Resident (anonymous) | Posted March 22, 2010 at 19:03:33

I've been hit by 3 cars at that intersection, all of them their fault. One guy was reading a billboard instead of watching for pedestrians with the right of way.

Definite agreement from me.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 22, 2010 at 19:33:42

One guy was reading a billboard instead of watching for pedestrians with the right of way.

I'm sure glad the city is trying to crack down on 8.5x 11 inch posters on light posts downtown as part of the new sign bylaw. Clearly they are the biggest offenders and danger to traffic sightlines in the city.

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By brodiec (registered) | Posted March 22, 2010 at 23:48:30

I've been walking this intersection to work for more than six years now. I have to enforce a strict policy of "no eye contact, no cross" which shouldn't be the case. Also flipping people the bird is usually a weekly occurrence.

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By Brioski8 (registered) | Posted March 23, 2010 at 09:44:40

I used to live in that area so I've made this trek many times.

Don't forget to mention that as you cross Dundurn along the South side of King walking West the City has helpfully spray painted the words "LOOK RIGHT" on the cross walk. As a helpful warning to pedestrians that even though they have the right of way, they might still be run over by traffic turning left from King St. to Travel South on Dundurn.

Although I think that paint has long since warn away and now it says "LO__K R__HT"

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted March 23, 2010 at 10:16:03

Yes, blood is very effective for removing paint from pavement.

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By michaelcumming (registered) - website | Posted March 25, 2010 at 10:08:50

I'm in favour of a pedestrian scramble at this intersection (where all vehicles stop for pedestrians).

When leaving Fortino's on foot I usually run across King like a madman, unless I'm with the kids then I meander around the ridiculous three cross-walks.

Let us also not forget about the drivability fail here too. If you are driving from Fortino's and want to travel north on Breadalbane you have to drive straight across several lanes of traffic - at precisely the right time. I feel a little guilty each time I do it but since I can't turn north onto Dundurn from the Fortino's parking lot [what were they thinking when they designed that?] I feel I am forced, or at least encouraged, to do it. It is traffic design decisions like these that gives Hamilton a bad name.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 25, 2010 at 10:25:16

the city over-regulates everything in order to keep cars speeding along. There's no reason why Dundurn shouldn't be 1 lane each way with street parking (where available) and bike lanes from Dundurn Castle to the escarpment. Pulling out of Fortino's onto Dundurn should be a normal, signalized intersection where drivers can go north or south on Dundurn. One turning lane for left turns onto both King and Main can be maintained. Pedestrians should be able to cross at every crosswalk and the stupid Nascar ramp from Main to Dundurn should be replaced with a normal corner curb.

It's very simple and straightforward, but in Hamilton our planners have always looked for ways to allow a car to floor it out of their parking spot at Fortinos and never have to let up on the gas all the way home. It's pure lunacy. Whoever designed that whole area along with the 5-lane screaming freeways on both sides should never be allowed to design anything again. I wouldn't want them putting together a kids toy, let alone a public street.

These streets NEED to be made two-way, LRT would help to remove a couple of lanes, wider sidewalks are a no brainer along with street trees and stop lights at reconfigured highway entry/exit ramps to the 403 in a similar manner as the exit/entry ramps along the Linc. Enough of the mega speedways and death traps.

Maybe it was fun to design a real life Frogger experience on paper, but it really sucks to navigate.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 20, 2010 at 10:42:19

The problem is that Hamilton has very peculiar geography. It's a dense city with an escarpment cutting it in half located on a hairpin turn. Dundurn is the worst bottleneck for this, because Dundurn _is_ the hairpin turn, as well as being connected to the expressway.

And it's a pretty damned small road. And they can't widen it.

So it's no wonder they're terrified of putting reasonable traffic measures on Dundurn. A scramble-corner on Dundurn is never going to happen. Anything that slows traffic on that street is going to snarl the city up something fierce.

That said, the Fortinos plaza is a catastrophic failure of planning. If there had been a way to go eastbound on Main pulling out of the plaza, then you would have a way to pull Northbound onto Dundurn... but that would have taken parking space away from that ludicrously oversized double-decker McDonalds! Seriously, _that_ was worth making it impossible to head North? The perpetually empty McDonalds that put in office space on the second floor because it was never, ever properly utilizing their space?

Also, they could put a push-button pedestrian crossing traffic light on the bridge - put it at Breadalbane, which puts it a safe distance from the King and Dundurn intersection and lets the traffic mingle before they hit the light. Or, alternately, at one of the 403/QEW turnoffs, which would provide a natural island instead of needing the long light to cross 5 lanes of traffic... but that wouldn't serve people coming from Breadalbane. This would have the added benefit of providing convenient access to the cricket field (and sewage overflow tank) whose name escapes me.

Here's food for thought: there's a similar push-button pedestrian crossing traffic light at Longwood between Aberdeen and King. It connects a parking lot to the Mcmaster Innovation centre. Apparently, the city does _not_ want the motorists who are driving to the McMaster Innovation Centre to backtrack up to King to cross the street after they get out of their cars. But three crossings and a lengthy overshoot for pedestrians and cyclists heading to fortinos plaza? Totally cool.

So in other words, the city prioritizes pedestrian crossings for motorists over pedestrian crossings for pedestrians.

Crazy.

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