Walkability Fail

Lawrence Road Fail

By Michelle Martin
Published April 05, 2010

Lawrence Road is the southernmost boundary of our Delta West neighbourhood. It starts at the west end of Gage Park, and ends at King Street East, where it becomes the on-ramp for the southbound Red Hill Valley Parkway.

It is, in fact, a convenient route to the Parkway from our neighbourhood, and I don't object to this in principle-I use it sometimes myself. I don't even get frightened when I am being pushed on Lawrence by a driver who wants to travel twenty kilometres an hour over the speed limit.

This is not because I am a particularly courageous person. I normally drive our GMC Astro van. If a black sedan pushing me were to crash into my tail end at an intersection, the driver would be both at fault (to use insurancespeak) and dead or maimed. I, on the other hand, would be neither.

My husband, now - there's a brave soul. He insists on driving the limit on Lawrence Road in our compact even when a pick-up truck is following too closely. If he's rear-ended he won't be at fault, but he'll leave me a young middle-aged widow with many mouths to feed.

Courage can be found in others on Lawrence Road, too. Consider, if you will, the plucky souls from our neighbourhood who wait for the Delaware bus, on a bike path (no sidewalk in sight), while cars whiz by without the calming effect of a traffic light or stop sign for blocks.

No sidewalk in sight for blocks...

...even though this end of Lawrence borders Gage Park, for which we all have such high hopes.

The sidewalks appear on the other side of the Kenilworth overpass, in the Rosedale neighbourhood. Here, some traffic lights can finally be seen: one set at Rosedale, and the other at Cochrane:

Past this intersection, we come to the place where a lionhearted crossing guard earns his retirement income:

In the absence of a traffic light or even two-way stop signs, the crossing guard is all that stands between children walking to school and cars heading to and from the Red Hill Valley Parkway. God bless him.

And for spirit of adventure, nothing tops the intrepid cyclists who travel the length of Lawrence Road to the very place where the bike path ends suddenly.

Clearly, these hearty souls follow in the path of Sir Edmund Hilary: they take the Lawrence Road bike path not to conquer it, but to conquer themselves.

I mean, if they really wanted to use Lawrence Road to get somewhere on King Street East or Mount Albion Road, they'd drive - in a big Astro van, like me.

Michelle Martin lives in Hamilton. The opinions she expresses in Raise the Hammer are her own.

12 Comments

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted April 05, 2010 at 11:14:27

Edmund Hillary? Let's hope they don't follow the path of George Leigh Mallory

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By frank (registered) | Posted April 05, 2010 at 15:56:53

That last picture is a brutal location. There's a crossing there for the Red Hill Creek trail and it's insanely dangerous to try cross there. Why there's no light I don't understand...

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted April 05, 2010 at 21:35:27

There's a crossing there for the Red Hill Creek trail and it's insanely dangerous to try cross there. Why there's no light I don't understand...

Indeed. It's also pretty crazy to try and make a left hand turn onto Lawrence from Mount Albion Road at this spot: another situation where making a place more walkable and bikable would make it more drivable, too. For a city to be all of the above, everyone needs to get everywhere they need to go in a safe and pleasant way, which is not the same thing as some people getting some places as fast as possible.

Comment edited by Michelle Martin on 2010-04-05 20:36:04

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted April 06, 2010 at 08:08:12

Well documented, Michelle. You write ...

For a city to be all of the above, everyone needs to get everywhere they need to go in a safe and pleasant way, which is not the same thing as some people getting some places as fast as possible.

And that's not as rose-coloured-glasses hopelessly optimistic as it might sound. I am myself a convert from the "thank God I can get across Hamilton as quickly as possible due to the awesome one-way streets" school. So I do have hope that more and more people will see that we need to be able to drive in the city and not just through the city.

And God bless google maps.

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-04-06 07:09:23

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By Regular user (anonymous) | Posted April 06, 2010 at 08:19:37

Are you for real. Must we complain about everything and nothing is ever good enough. It is what it is. I drive this route daily from end to end. i cycle it in the summer. There are basic rules of the road and you have to LOOK and are responsible for your own space. This is a great route with minimal traffic unlike King. Smooth uninterupted flow or traffic lights, long field of view as it is real straight and only the hump over Kenilworth obstruct the entire route. many people cycle this route and as for sidewalks when the city trims the side bush you have 9-12 feet of shoulder. So there are many runners. As for bus riders they have a clear view and can stand off to the rad edge or next to a telephone pole.
This is better than many other roads and routes. Be thankful for what it is. We don't need sidewalks as it would mess up the bikes. There are not many walkers as there are no destinations and amny other walking routes paralel to between king and gage park as well as the big sidewalks on KING. Get real I use it I like it. However in winter it can be slippery getting up onto lawrence with the lip along the edge, but you could still cycle or run in the winter as it is plowed and well. The city just has to trim back the weeds and trees on the south side and more people will walk there.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted April 06, 2010 at 08:31:25

Must we complain about everything and nothing is ever good enough.

I just love this attitude. If there are only a few bad streets, we're making a big deal out of nothing. But if there are tons of bad streets, we're 'complaining about everything and nothing is ever good enough'.

Either way how dare we uppity residents get hifalutin ideas about making our own neighborhoods safer.

It is what it is.

It is what we made it. And it can be what we remake it.

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By Regular user (anonymous) | Posted April 06, 2010 at 11:06:31

So make it something else and soon. Chop chop. seriously we can't have everything right away. People who care will overcome but you can never win the war just concentrate on one battle at a time. I too would like to see Hamilton get it's act together but we can't even elect thr right people or true visionaries.
I just am tired of ALL the negative whining and complaining, so much energy wasted on things you ain't gonna see fixed any time soon, learn to live within our surrounding a little more ahppy and work towards improvment. lawrence got picked apart from King to Gage. I like it and it works for me and the ones I see riding, running or walking on it with their dogs.
Now Cumberland has too many stop signs and the east end is murder on my brake pads with all the stupid stop signs. Sell them and fix a pot hole.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted April 06, 2010 at 18:14:59

This is a great route with minimal traffic unlike King.

The point is, the bike path stops at the end of Lawrence. What if you want to go somewhere else? Is it safe, for example, for a teenager who cannot legally ride on the sidewalk to ride a bike to Eastgate mall, or Bishop Ryan high school, or to get together with friends who live out that way? There are lots of reasonsto ride a bike besides getting a workout.

The other point is, Lawrence Rd out at our end of the neighbourhood has no sidewalk. Again, not kid friendly, though there are joggers who are willing to run on the bike path.

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By frank (registered) | Posted April 09, 2010 at 09:55:30

Regular user what you're calling whining and complaining is actually how ideas get generated and vision gets built.

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By alrathbone (registered) | Posted April 09, 2010 at 18:42:45

Honestly, I don't see this as a big problem. Grew up in the neighbourhood. Everyone walks in the neighbourhood not along lawrence road. For the most part, there's no need to.

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By Regular user (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2010 at 06:21:39

Frank:
'
"Regular user what you're calling whining and complaining is actually how ideas get generated and vision gets built."
Really! I am just saying considering the MAJOR issue in the city for example in this area of Question maybe concentrate on proper water drainage in preparation of the next big rain. As many of the residents can not get house insurance nor will the city help out to an adequate level.
I really don't see the value for the number of people who may walk this area. I live here and with the amount of sidewalks, paths and trails don't see huge crowds walking down lawrence and where exactely will they be going???????
Sure it would be nice but there are priorities and this is not near the top of the list especially with a 2% tax hike this yr.
ideas are great but it is usually with someone elses money (tax money)for personal reasons. There are things I would like to see but would many benefit. I do like Gage park getting up graded, "there" a destination now for the sidewalks.

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By Mel Content (anonymous) | Posted April 12, 2010 at 09:46:08

Sign me up as a fan of Michelle Martin....I thought this stretch of streetscape was just fine until Michelle instructed us. On to other subjects Michelle....maybe sunsets or those awful starry nights or maybe baby smiles...try those too. I kinda like all of them!

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