Most of the respondents to the RTH question about support for the City's bicycle plan strongly support it. Nearly all agree that continuous, safe bicycle routes are important.
By Ryan McGreal
Published October 12, 2010
As at this writing, 50 out of the 86 registered candidates for the upcoming Hamilton municipal election have responded to the question:
Hamilton's Cycling Master Plan has Council approval. However, the implementation timeline is very long and ward councillors can block individual bike lane projects. Do you support accelerating the completion of a continuous bicycle network and other initiatives like a bike sharing program and better access up and down the Escarpment? Why or why not?
Of the 50 respondents, 39 answered "Yes", 2 answered "Maybe" and 9 answered "No". You can read all the full responses on the RTH Elections site.
Among the 15 mayoral candidates, 10 responded, all indicating that they support the bike plan and would like to see its implementation accelerated.
Michael Baldasaro writes, "As bicycling has become more popular and with some, more necessary, to me, it is imperative that the bicycling network be completed as soon as possible." He also argues that the city should favour trails and disused rail lines for bike paths.
Bob Bratina believes the current Council has "shown reasonable support for the Shifting Gears program." He notes that Councillors "have to respond to special circumstances that may occur in the routings through through neighbourhoods", but agrees that Councillors should not "be able to arbitrarily 'block' or otherwise defeat sections of the project."
Mahesh Butani argues that incorporating a bike network is "a design challenge more than a budgetary problem as it is being made out to be" and that today's "patchwork of bike lanes exposes the half-hearted attempt in developing critically needed alternate transit solutions." His goal is "the premier bike friendly city in the GTHA, with one of the most unconventional and visually stunning urban bike lane networks in the world."
Larry Di Ianni identifies bike-supportive initiatives that started during his mayoral term (2003-2006) and notes, "Ever since I began riding my Vespa, I have viewed the necessity of road etiquette, safety and road infrastructure in a far more bike-friendly way." He believes other bike-friendly initiatives "need further study and must consider the experiences of other municipalities who've implemented similar programs."
Fred Eisenberger notes the progress in support for cycling made during his first mayoral term and ties the Bicycle Plan into his "livable streets" platform. He argues that a bicycle sharing program "sends a powerful message both inside and outside our community that we values bicycles as a practical form of urban transportation."
Edward HC Graydon is "a very competent biker and a true pioneer in this area" and wants to see an accelerated Bicycle Plan coupled with mandatory licencing for cyclists, with an annual $75 road maintenance fee, strict enforcement of rules and fines for infractions used to help pay for the system.
Andrew Haines notes that Hamilton is making progress after being "the most bicycle UNfriendly city" in Ontario but that more improvement is needed "as soon as possible".
Ken Leach says he "strongly agree[s] with a community that can travel by foot, bicycle, skateboard or any other self propelled mode of transit" but wants to ensure that the Bicycle Plan is coordinated with the Transit Master Plan and LRT to manage overflow traffic and protect everyone's safety.
Tone Marrone has "been a cyclist for years" and has made "interconnecting bike lanes" part of his platform. He sees a safe, continuous bicycle network as an important part of his commitment to lifelong fitness and health.
Gino Speziale points out the large number of cycling clubs and points out that Hamilton's streets "are not 'share' friendly with vehicles" and that the preponderance of large trucks crowding narrow lanes "acts as a deterrent for many people not to cycle on any main arteries." He wants cycling clubs to participate in planning the bike route network.
Just nine respondents expressed opposition to the Bicycle Plan and another two were ambivalent. Even these respondents are generally supportive of better bicycle infrastructure, but either have different priorities or different ideas on how to encourage more cycling.
John Castle, candidate for Ward 2, believes "bicycles and vehicles just do not mix (they are dangerous to both parties)" but would support "segregated bike paths, where possible."
[Lloyd Ferguson(http://elections.raisethehammer.org/candidate/96/1/ferguson_lloyd), candidate for Ward 2, does not see the Bicycle Plan as a priority "in these difficult economic times when many people inn our community are experiencing difficulty with food and shelter".
Ned Janjic, candidate for Ward 2, believes "children and young people are the most likely users" of a bicycle network, and would prefer off-street routes "where safety can be ensured." He also expresses skepticism "that Hamilton will ever become an Amsterdam" given our climate.
Tom Jackson, candidate for Ward 6, expresses support for the plan but is "not convinced there is clamour for bicycle commuter lanes across the city. Earlier this year, Councillor Jackson opposed construction of a bike lane on Queensdale Ave in his ward.
Nathalie Xian Yi Yan, candidate for Ward 6, thinks the Bicycle Plan money should be used instead to "educat[e] drivers on how to share the road" and that Hamilton should do more to learn from other communities with a "stronger bicycle culture, such as China, the Netherlands, Germany and even the City of Ottawa" rather than "reinvent the wheel".
Scott Duvall, candidate for Ward 7, supports the Plan but believes the City "do[es] not have the dollars to accelerate the program" and wants to "repair our crumbling infrastructure first."
Trevor Pettit, candidate for Ward 7, supports the bike Plan but believes councillors have a duty to "represent the majority" if residents oppose a bike lane in their ward. He also prefers to "focus on the basics like infrastructure renewal" based on what residents are telling him.
Kim Jenkinson, candidate for Ward 7, expresses "many reservations about bikes sharing major roads" and believes "Hamilton has more important priorities" than expensive road widening to accommodate safe bike lanes.
David Mitchell, candidate for Ward 11, calls bike lanes "an important part of Hamilton's development" but believes different parts of the city have different infrastructure needs. "One size will not fit all."
Brenda Cox-Graham, candidate for Ward 12, believes the Bicycle Plan is "very difficult ... to implement all across the city" and prefers a "phase-in" to give drivers time to adjust.
Dayna Scime, candidate for Ward 13, supports the Bicycle Plan but does not support accelerating it. Instead, the city should add bike lanes during planned repairs and upgrades on streets that are slated to get bike lanes.
By trevorlikesbikes (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2010 at 12:20:00
Kimmy J is running in Ward 8. her answer is unfortunate as the rest of her platform is decent and far better that our current flipflopper of a councillor.
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2010 at 12:37:25
Disappointed how little support there is for biking from the Ward 7 candidates - Ward 7 is probably the mountain ward that could show the most improvement for biking, since the ward is one of the denser mountain areas but at the same time is physically pretty bike-hostile right now.
Disclaimer: I live in Ward 1.
By Andrea (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 12:38:29
My completely unscientific observations are that in the lower City there is much work needed to accomodate cyclists. There appear to be a high number of people that face the economic reality of affordable bicycle ownership over car ownership.
By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 13:51:44
As an avid cyclist I'd like to see the focus of any bicycle plan focus on having bike routes that are physically separated from auto and bus traffic. With the ungodly proliferation of stop signs on side streets any alternate routes to the main east/west north/south thoroughfares have become difficult if not impossible to traverse without breaking numerous highway traffic act laws. Riding on any major road brings problems and dangers to bikes and a painted line does nothing to alleviate this. As a result I see my fellow bikers blowing through stop signs on side streets to keep moving at a reasonable speed and still stay safe. Although thats bad its beats the ones I see riding the sidewalks endangering pedestrians and themselves as they go unnoticed while going against the flow of traffic at a much greater speed than pedestrians. What shouldn't be done is to commit more money than is already committed because as has been mentioned by many, Canadian cities will never be a predominately bicycle environment because of our climate. I'm really not sure how to implement a bike plan but any plan that precludes recreational riders and focuses on commuters is a giant waste of money as widespread bicycle commuter activity is not achievable no matter how much money you throw at it
By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 14:13:45
One specific area that puzzles me no end is the York Blvd past Dundurn Castle and to the high level bridge. Why on earth is there a silly line when there is ample room to build a real bike path. All that has been accomplished there is to funnel traffic into one lane and still put cyclists at great risk unnecessarily Thats not whats needed anywhere in the city. Every effort should be made to physically separate auto and bicycle traffic
Comment edited by turbo on 2010-10-12 13:16:06
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2010 at 14:17:30
@turbo - many regions have a little helper for the stop-sign frustration:
Bikes only have to stop at all-way stops if there's traffic already moving into the intersection. Otherwise they can coast through. A small thing that would make biking on side-roads far more pleasant. They have little bike-yield signs on the stop signs. I can't remember where this is - Portland, maybe? Whatever. Yeah, problem has been solved elsewhere.
You talk about this stuff like nobody's mentioned it before. Studies have been done - helmet laws and licensing actually make cycling more dangerous for cyclists, as crazy as that sounds. Why? Because it discourages cyclists. Fewer cyclists means fewer drivers remembering to check the bike-lane before making a right-hand turn, or checking their blind-spot before opening the driver-side doors, or whatever. Cyclists survive by being expected and familiar sights.
Helmet laws and licensing means that most people stop biking, and the few that keep biking become street meat.... including the ones that wear helmets and follow the laws.
Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-10-12 13:19:03
By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 14:27:35
Good points Pxtl. The quickest cheapest and safest way to encourage bike riding would be the stop/yield laws you say have been implemented elsewhere. At the very least it would acknowledge what lots of bikers are doing already. Another cheap fix to make things safer for everyone is to have a safety blitz to get bikes off the sidewalks. Incredibly I've heard from just about every person I know that engages in the practice that they think its legal and that its far safer than the streets
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2010 at 14:35:13
The last cyclist fatality in Hamilton was a guy on a sidewalk who crashed into the side of a car pulling into a Tim Hortons driveway.
By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 14:42:50
I can tell you I'm not cycling on main thoroughfares unless there is a physical barrier. I've been run off the road too many times. Additionally I'll only be riding 4-6 months a year so any bike lane program that inhibits auto and/or bus travel is something I will never favour even though I'll be one of the first beneficiaries of improved bike travel in the city
Comment edited by turbo on 2010-10-12 13:55:18
By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 14:55:10
I've been run off the road too many times
So have I, where there is no bike lane, making it all the more important to take a whole lane along some routes.
I have never had contention of any kind with another vehicle while using a bike lane.
By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 15:00:53
If they actually had bike lanes in ward 3 or ward 4 where I travel I might have a different view but as an automobile driver rest assured I've had issues with bikes with current bike lanes and I've seen drivers ignore the bike lanes altogether far too often to make me feel assured its safe
Comment edited by turbo on 2010-10-12 14:02:12
By MarioSal (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 16:42:17
As a motorist and a bike rider I know how important it is for drivers to be aware of riders around them. And it's just as important for riders to obey the rules of the road and be just as aware. Bike riding is good for the environment, as well as great excercise. I regularly ride my beach cruiser and somtimes bmx ride for a rush. I love my bikes that I got from http://www.2wheelbikes.com/.
By BelleProvince (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 17:56:52
Has anyone ever heard of Montreal?! A city with topography similar to Hamilton, and an infamous unagreeable climate.
Montreal, despite having some of the worst winters in Canada, along with a (real) mountain in the centre of their city, have TRUE dedicated bike lanes separated from traffic by concrete medians.
Montreal has a connective route of bike lanes, along with recreational trails for those who aren't comfortable riding along with traffic.
So if Montreal can support a cycling network, why can't Hamilton?
By Andrea (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 18:02:34
I just want to clarify my earlier remarks on as to why I feel a bicycling master plan needs to be implemented; Not all cyclists are avid fitness enthusiasts or proponents of an environmentally viable transportation alternative. I live in Ward 3 and am personally acquainted with/familiar with various people, from all walks of life, that simply utilize a bicycle due to the economics of it. Some people simply cannot afford to put a car on the road, or choose not to spend the money on one. Please note that it's 'unscientific' because it is purely my subjective experience and observations. That being said, there are great secondary roads that can be used by cyclists in the City.
By highwater (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 18:10:40
I can't remember where this is - Portland, maybe? Whatever. Yeah, problem has been solved elsewhere.
You're thinking of the Idaho Stop Law. Cyclists must still yield the right of way at all-way stops, not just if there is a vehicle already moving into the intersection.
By abracadabra (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 20:52:27
Erik Hess of ward 2 is running on a platform of increased off road trails. He made it clear at the DNA meeting he was not a fan of bike lanes on roads.
By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2010 at 21:58:41
The problem with stopping at stop signs on a bike is that all to frequently, drivers don't have a clue what to do. They think they're being kind by waving you on, but in reality they just confuse everyone - I almost got hit by a cab at a four way stop the other day because a driver was nice enough to wave me on...
When I go through a stop sign, drivers always seem to expect it and know what to do. That is not to say that I don't stop at stop signs - if somebody else has the right of way I give it. But for unused side streets I know well it is often sufficient to be able to stop, and to make sure you're looking for cars. For red lights I stop, then proceed if it's safe.
Complex traffic laws and systems are not built for bikes, and one of the first things we need to do if we want to make cycling safer is stop confusing safety and anal-retentive legalism. Yes, people go through stop signs on bikes - but is it a cautious rolling stop, or just cruising blindly into the path of moving cars? The same could be said of sidewalk-riding, it can be done safely, but often isn't.
By Pinwheel (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2010 at 01:44:23
@BelleProvince: "So if Montreal can support a cycling network, why can't Hamilton?"
Hamilton probably can. The question may be more “Why does Montreal have a dedicated cycling network and not Hamilton?" In answer to which I would suggest (a) intrinsic cultural valuation of bicycle culture, (b) comparatively greater urban population density, (c) six times number of post-secondary institutions proximate to downtown (d) a bloc of sustainable transit advocates who've had rapid transit for generations, thereby freeing their political energies to be focused on lobbying for cycling initiatives. Those are suggested explanations why they got there first, not reasons why we can't get there at all. The main roadblock is of course political will. Electing eight cycling advocates in 12 days' time would be enormously helpful.
By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2010 at 17:26:20
Audio from Ward 2 debate at Stinson School: http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2009/10/missed-exam-night-mayoral-and-ward-2.html
By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 13, 2010 at 21:24:11
Mahesh Butani argues that incorporating a bike network is "a design challenge more than a budgetary problem as it is being made out to be"
I really like this approach. It's important to see a things like two-way streets and bike lanes not as some sort of total redesign, but lines painted on a road. Build new infrastructure where it's needed, but laying out a basic, usable network of paths is a lot more important than giving one or two attractive flower arrangements. Wanna know what's clogging up car access to the Farmer's Market? Because it's not feisty anti-car activists, it's plain old road work.
By specialcircumstances (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2010 at 23:11:36
There was a plan floated at one point to increase the speed of motorized downtown traffic by installing priority green signals along John.
The official bike routes crossed John at these same intersections. The signals at these points of the bike routes would be permanently red, unless a car arrived at the signal.
I was previously hit (luckily, not injured) by a turning car while riding my bike along this stretch, so I was pretty concerned that city staff were attempting to further speed up the traffic in the busy city core. The collision I had was with a car trying to squeeze through fast-moving oncoming traffic. This could only get worse if the signals never cycled to red. Frequent light changes allow cars to filter through these turns. None of these intersection have dedicated turn lanes!
I was concerned that bicycles would be unable to change the signals when cycling through along the cross streets (on the city's official cycle routes), and that the faster traffic would be dangerous for cyclists in general, so I emailed Bob, the ward's counsellor. When I contacted Bratina about these concerns, he responded:
"It's something staff thinks might be of benefit and I'm willing to see if they're right. If you're going after staff you have to pick your issues, otherwise life becomes difficult."
I was shocked. Bratina supported this? I emailed again.
" speeding was the biggest continuing problem in our downtown neighbourhoods, especiall northbound on John and certain other stretches. I'm not referring in the case you mention to the notion of speed but faster in the context of stop and go situations."
So yeah. Speed is bad, but car traffic is a priority. Cyclists be damned.
By Pinwheel (anonymous) | Posted October 14, 2010 at 08:15:45
My "eight councillors" comment was obviously a bit optimistic.
By nobrainer (registered) | Posted October 14, 2010 at 11:49:39
^Don't feed the troll.
Troll or sarcasm? Hard to tell sometimes.
By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2010 at 12:30:22
Pxtl - Hard to believe that anybody would advocate riding a bike without a helmet. What is next on your agenda repeal seatbelt laws for cars or helmet laws for motorcycles? Any argument for riding an open and unrestrained mode of transportation without a helmet must be looked at with the greatest disdain. Even equestrians wear helmets.
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2010 at 13:03:05
Wear a helmet. Let me reiterate: wear a helmet.
Now that the caveat is out of the way; don't legislate wearing a helmet. Helmet laws make the road unsafe, as counterintuitive as that is.
Sure, wearing a helmet might help you if you crash just right. But here are a number of things that will help far, far more ... * getting more cyclists on the road * slower car traffic * upright posture * obeying traffic rules * staying off of sidewalks
And if you want to wear a helmet, knock yourself out. But the helmet histrionics seem mostly to be about shifting blame onto cyclists.
A reasonable cyclist riding a reasonable bike reasonably has no more need of a helmet than a motorist or pedestrian. In fact, I dare say less need - certainly I've knocked my noggin in the car on on foot, but never on my bike.
By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2010 at 23:04:54
I have no idea how mandating helmets shifts the blame to cyclists or anybody else for that matter. If you fall, or hit your head in any other way, you are better off with a helmet on your noggin. Period. Why would anyone argue against anything that cut and dried? This sounds a lot like all the arguments I heard years ago when seatbelts became mandatory in cars.
If you fall, or hit your head in any other way, you are better off with a helmet on your noggin. Period. Why would anyone argue against anything that cut and dried?
I could consent to that statement. But that's true when one is walking. Do you wear a helmet when you walk down the street? What about in the car? How about in the shower? Lots of people knock themselves on the head while walking, driving and showering.
A helmet is a nuisance and a source of a false sense of security for the most part.
As a nuisance, it makes cycling a pain in the ass and discourages people from doing it and so by reducing the number of cyclists on the road makes cycling more dangerous. And by sending the message "cycling is more dangerous than walking or driving", helmet regulations and helmet nannies amplify that effect.
And I've seen so many helmeted bike riders jeopardize their safety with foolish behaviour which makes the helmet irrelevant.
Cycling - done sensibly and on a sensible bike - is easy and safe. We have forgotten that in this age of helmets, fancy jackets and fenderless 27-speed mountain bikes.
Comment edited by moylek on 2010-10-20 10:53:51
By nobrainer (registered) | Posted October 20, 2010 at 12:28:00
Not only that but drivers actually pass more closely when cyclists are wearing helmets leaving less room!
By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 08:51:02
The increased speed from riding a bike increases the risk of injury. If the bike is being ridden with other traffic the risk of injury also increases. This whole argument that cycling is safe and therefore helmets are not needed would make one think that if the activity is that safe bike lanes and so forth are not really needed. Cannot have it both ways, either cycling is perfectly safe the way it is or it is not and things need to change. Again you sound so much like a lot of complaints I heard when mandatory seat belt laws were enacted. You will get used to it, especially after a ticket or 2. When seatbelt laws first came into effect they compliance rate was relatively low and has done nothing but rise over the years. I believe that the compliance rate is now around 98%. In turn they have helped to reduce injury and death rated in vehicle accidents. Yes, I know that other things helped as well and the drop is not entirely because of seatbelts usage.
As far as cyclists jeopardizing their safety (and others) with foolish behavior I agree that is a problem. I think the obvious answer to that is mandatory licensing for adults and maybe even a free license for minors. Along with more enforcement by the constabulary. If people's behaviour hurts their wallet they are more likely to change it. Many automobile drivers will vouch for that.
This whole argument that drivers drive closer to a helmeted driver than an unhelmeted one comes from a single study in (I believe) England. How many times did he get hit with and without the helmet on? And of course what were his injuries in either case. Would that not be the true test of whether or not a helmet increases or decreases overall safety?
I find it strange that so many of you are arguing against something that common sense alone tells you is inherently a wise thing. Maybe because common sense is not so common.
By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2010 at 19:25:34
I should not have said cycling was perfectly safe since those are not the words you used, it is what I found you were implying. You said cycling was safe and easy and were somehow using that to justify not wearing a helmet insinuating that it was perfectly safe. The inconvenience of wearing a helmet pales in comparison to the tragedy that it can avert. It is just like arguing that seatbelt use in a car is unnecessary because cars are safe and the accident rate is low. I would love to know how you came to the conclusion that cycling is safer than walking. The logic arguement in that one has got to be a winner. With a statement like that and then saying "Humans are notoriously bad at accurately comparing risks." I can see how you got there.
I am using very straightforward reasoning. I took great execption to the comment that helmets were unneccasery and tried to point out that they are great at doing what they are meant to do, reduce head injuries in case of an accident.
Common sense is a wonderful guide through, life you should try it sometime. It is very seldom wrong. Common sense and logic go hand in hand and have brought multitudes of benefits, discoveries and inventions to mankind. Maybe the fact that some people have so little of it is what causes them to poke fun at it and those of us who use it.
Common sense is not what makes people terrified to fly, in fact many people who are scared to fly will tell you that they know it is a nonsensical thing. I have a phobia of heights, no common sense involved. I know that being in your condo on the 23rd floor is perfectly safe but I do not like to be there. Some of these fears are fueled by media coverage which makes the problem seem much bigger than it really is but if you use a little common sense you can figure it out.
By the way I think we should have a continuous network of bike lanes throughout the city and have posted that thought before.
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