Comment 119795

By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted August 15, 2016 at 07:18:18

I have captured several different 10-minute video clips at Wellington & Cannon for the purposes of counting cars, bikes, and pedestrians.

I counted only bikes that passed a specific point on the road. In the various different videos, Bike ratios varied dramatically from ~0.1 through ~0.45 (count of bikes divided by count of cars/trucks). The equality ratio is 0.33 where you have 1 bike for every 3 cars -- given the cycle track uses 1 car lane out of 4. So anytime the bike ratio went above 0.33 (more than 1 bike for every 3 cars), the lane was actually outperforming cars at that section. In a few years this probably will happen a lot more consistently.

Another observation that struck me was the surge of cars (via stoplight) is often accompanied by a long quiet moment often lasting 60-90 seconds. Where the bikes were far more evenly spaced out. When driving, it does give the illusion the cycle lane is not being used very much, but if you stand roadside long enough, you actually notice -- and anecdotes by residents who live on Cannon also support this as well.

One thing I noticed is that many bikes went onto the cycle track for a few blocks, then went off. There are clearly many people who were going north-south, and using the cycle track for an east-west hop.

Quirkily, I still see cyclists on the sidewalk and on the road, possibly because of the bumpiness of Cannon. Some old habits die hard, and those bikes are clearly not counted. I would suspect that Cannon cycle track usage would actually go up further once the City has their planned repaving of Cannon (I read it was scheduled for some year between now and 2020, IIRC -- I can't find the documentation)


Now, for the observation I will discuss the most about: Motorized users in cycle track.

Another thing I noticed is that a very, very significant number (~10% of cycle track traffic) of scooter-type bikes/vehicles/wheelchairs (some with those emergency pedals) use the cycle lanes. And some high-speed electric wheelchairs too. At the usage levels currently, it is low enough that I don't see concern with these yet, but when the lane eventually hits more frequent bike congestion, laws may need to be revisited (note: there's a distinction between pedelecs (regular bikes with electric assist) and scooter-type ebikes with pedals, and scooter vehicles with no pedals.

Normally I have mixed feelings about motorized vehicles using the Cannon Cycle Track, but it seemed okay within reason such as scooter mobility aids, at the current cycle track usage density levels. It didn't seem to be a yet a concern at this stage as there's still room in this growing on-street cycle track. The sidewalks can admittedly be rather narrow, and pedestrians had more room with the scooter assistive mobility users using the Cannon cycle track, so there are safety pros/cons for all road/sidewalk users, with win-win scenarios... Also cycling on the lanes, I've had to pedal behind motorized vehicles, and then pass them when safe to do so. It was no more difficult than just simply passing a slow or medium-speed bike. They tend to be more predictable as they don't weave back-and-fourth as an unsteady cyclist. This helps passing comfort. So I didn't yet see increased safety concern as a cyclist as long as these vehicles are not high speed. As usage increases, and new danger cases arises as a result (larger number of kids + bike congestion), it probably will need to be revisted what types of motorization is allowed at what speed limit...

Over all, it was about 10% of Cannon cycle track traffic that probably also counted the mobility aids/scooters/e-bikes -- including disabled, elderly, scooter enthusiasts, low-speed e-bikes. They seemed clearly attracted to, and accommodated by, the Cannon cycle track infrastructure. None of these vehicles went very fast (the motorcycles and the fast scooters were on the road instead).

(Currently I'm not sure what Hamilton's laws on in the use of motorization within on-street bike lanes, barriered or otherwise. Anyone to confirm? Based on my impression.

What I have seen so far is mostly okay for street-level cycle lanes and cycle tracks (of the Cannon type), e-bikes (with pedals!) seem okay on road-surface bike lanes when it comes to City of Hamilton (long being a motor-friendly town). Plus also mobility aids for the disabled that are capable of going medium-bike-speed, far faster than safe for sidewalks. So I don't think it would be fair to ban them from Cannon lanes.

Just wondering where the line needs to be drawn in the future (e.g. we don't want high-performance electric motorcycles using the Cycle lanes).

I think it boils down to a speed issue. A blanket motorization ban definitely makes no sense.

My assessment is this: Low-speed legal mobility aids (like basic electric wheelchairs that cannot go fast) should go on sidewalk. Medium-to-fast speed mobility aids should be allowed to transfer to on-street cycle lanes, for faster mobility, as long as they do not impede bike traffic. Pedelecs (i.e. regular bicycles with electric uphill assist from a small motor/battery) should be allowed anywhere bikes can go as long as speed-capped, even off-street bike paths. Small scooter-type ebikes with emergency-use pedals may be allowed on street-surface bike lanes and Cannon cycle track (up to X kph limit), but not off-street bike paths. Electric motorcycles, the ones capable of full car speed and highway speed, are banned from all cycle lanes and cycle tracks. Etc. Some laws in other cities follow roughly this categorization.

Obviously, this is just an opinion, and it's actually in law in some cities that permits certain levels of electric motorization on road versus cycle infrastructure, and sometimes more permissively for disabled (e.g. disabled scooter plate), given the need to accommodate disabled/mobility users that use scooter-type aids that can speed up to speeds unsafe for sidewalks, but not safe for mixing with car traffic, and falls into cycle infrastructure fitting these certain disabled users the best, whenever they're going maximum speed of their electric scooter mobility aid.

I'm looking forward to the continued improvement of cycle infrastructure. As cycle infrastructure booms, motorization usage rules may need to be clarified (in a fair and equitable way) based on the boom of mobility-aid users I'm noticing.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-08-15 08:16:19

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