Comment 115342

By MichaelHealey (registered) - website | Posted December 03, 2015 at 11:06:33

I am angered and saddened by just how wrong the lack of infrastructure situation is and by the impact it is having on people's lives. I agree the changes Ryan and Jason (in his RTH article published today) are long overdue and should be implemented forthwith.

I see the main issue though, is the mindset coming from city hall. Instead of a vision for zero deaths and a city-wide accommodation for active transportation we get councillors arguing that streets can't be made safe because it might inconvenience drivers (eg. Aberdeen, where a diet would slow traffic cutting through from Beckett to 403 down by a mere minute or two), or where opportunities to make currently-under-construction streets complete (Concession) are not grabbed because that street wasn't included in what is a woefully under-inspired Master Cycling Plan.

When I study detailed accounts of what other cities have accomplished with respect to active transportation infrastructure, invariably there was leadership at the municipal staff and governance level. Leadership for positive change. The leadership in Hamilton seem to be paralyzed by fear from taking a strong position in support of protecting those that bike and walk. When I say strong leadership, I mean more than the occasional tweet that they are all for complete streets. We need more than that - we need leadership that will pound (figuratively) the table and bring passion to this issue. As well, that leadership should be focused on mobilizing what appears to be a moribund city staff.

Mobilizing staff could well be a significantly serious issue as well. If the reports are accurate, that 50% or so of staff feel intimidated, then all it takes is for one or two seriously aggressive councillors to intimidate staff and impact how those staff respond and make decisions. And yes, there have been public displays of aggression towards the public by two councillors recently. When councillors shove journalists and use intimidation tactics on twitter, there is a strong likelihood there are councillors who will use aggression and intimidation with city staff.

Unfortunately, before any real progress can be realized in this city, the culture of fear and intimidation at city hall will need to be rectified. Intimidation and aggression are forms of abuse, and are unacceptable.

Organizationally, culture starts and stops at the top. I didn't see this issue feature prominently in the last mayoral election, but it should be at the top of the list of priorities for Mayor Eisenberger.

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