Special Report: Pan Am

$17 Million Would Buy a Lot of Bike Lanes

Compared to a velodrome, a continuous citywide bike lane network would produce much bigger and broader public benefits.

By Ryan McGreal
Published September 15, 2011

I've been struggling, really struggling, over what to think about the Pan Am Velodrome issue.

On the one hand, it comes closer to achieving the mandates of its funding sources than Ivor Wynne stadium: the Pan Am mandate to promote high performance amateur sport and the Future Fund mandate to grow the city's economic base, enhance the social fabric and build community.

On the other, the cost is far higher than Council originally envisioned, and the City will be on the hook to cover any shortfall in the 44 percent of the total cost that falls outside Toronto 2015's funding commitment.

The error bars on the velodrome cost estimate stretch millions of dollars in each direction, and staff were not able to confirm any additional funding sources in the two week extension TO2015 gave the city after staff presented their report to Council at the end of August. The Pan Am host corporation has since granted the city another month of leeway to try and close the gap.

Not only is the cost picture highly uncertain and risky, but at the same time, the process senior City staff have followed on this file does not inspire public confidence. The Pan Am Velodrome advisory subcommittee last met on May 26, but the new location at Mohawk College and the vastly increased price tag were not communicated to Council until the end of August.

I like the idea of the velodrome as a world-class facility that will attract elite cyclists, provide a range of community-accessible amenities and, in the words of Mark Chamberlain and cycling coach Andrew Iler, "elevate the city's international stature and ... bring Canada and the world back to the city on an ongoing basis." (They also argue that the final velodrome cost will likely be lower than the worst-case estimate Council faces today.)

The Cycling Infrastructure We Need

But this week I received a report from Hamilton Police Services that set things into a new context. On Monday, September 12 at around 5:30 PM, a 21-year-old female cyclist was struck by a pickup truck at the corner of Concession Street and East 17th Street, between Upper Wellington and Upper Wentworth.

The cyclist was riding west on the south sidewalk of Concession. The pickup driver was heading north on East 17th and turning right to head east on Concession. According to police, the truck driver stopped at the uncontrolled intersection before proceeding. The truck turned into the intersection just as the cyclist entered it, and the cyclist was struck and run over.

As of this writing, she remains in hospital in serious but stable condition. Police are still investigating the incident.

If we're going to spend up to $17 million on cycling infrastructure, we should invest in a continuous bike lane network through the city to be used by anyone before we build an enclosed track to be used by training athletes.

People Use Bike Lanes

It is both illegal and highly dangerous for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk, but many cyclists do it because, in the absence of dedicated space on the street, it subjectively 'feels' safer than riding in mixed traffic.

With a continuous network of bike lanes, more people would choose to ride bikes more often, and those cyclists would be more likely to use the bike lanes rather than dangerous sidewalks.

Perhaps counterintuitively, as the number of cyclists goes up, the number - not just the rate but the absolute count - of cycling collisions and casualties actually goes down.

In fact, a street designed for multi-modal use including cycling is actually safer for all users - including motorists:

The finding that most bike friendly cities are safer than average has been reinforced by the recent experience of cities such as Cambridge, MA, Portland, OR, and New York. These cities have garnered much press for their success in dramatically increasing bike use over the last several years. This increase in bike ridership has corresponded with an equally dramatic decrease in traffic fatality rates in all three cities.

Interestingly, the decrease in fatality occurred not just for people on bikes, but for all classes of road users – including people in cars and people on foot. In other words, the increase in bike use has benefited all road users by helping transform the streets into safer places.

Compared to a velodrome, a continuous citywide bike lane network would produce much bigger and broader public benefits. More cycling means cleaner air, reduced traffic congestion (a bicycle takes up much less space than an automobile), improved public health, longer average life expectancies, and even reduced deaths and injuries in traffic collisions.

Cycling Master Plan

In 2009, Council approved a Cycling Master Plan for the city that would stretch the construction of a city-wide 300 km cycling network over 40 years - and so far, two councillors have already exercised vetoes over bike lanes in their wards.

The total cost for Hamilton's cycling plan is $50 million, of which $21 million would go to urban infrastructure like bike lanes and $29 million will go to rural infrastructure like paved shoulders.

Contrast Paris, which decided to commit to bicycle infrastructure in 1996 and had already built 440 km of bike lanes by 2010, with another 260 km scheduled to be installed by 2014.

At the same time, Paris rolled out a large-scale bike rental system with 20,000 bikes in 1,800 stations across the city. In less than four years, the Vélib' bike rental system surpassed 100 million trips.

The most important quality of any network is that it must be connective. Very few people would drive on a street that is not connected to any other streets, and very few people will cycle on a bike lane that is not connected to other bike lanes.

The best thing we could to to drive much greater adoption of Hamilton's bike lane network is to build it out as quickly as possible so that bike lanes are continuous and connect people to destinations.

That investment would deliver ongoing dividends in cleaner air, healthier residents and safer streets, while communicating that Hamilton is a progressive, forward-looking city.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By theninjasquad (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 12:44:11

I'm appalled that city councilors can veto bike lanes being built in their wards. What's wrong with this city?

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 13:13:13

I believe my ward - Ward 7 - was one where Bike lanes were proposed along Queensdale, and then vetoed by our councillor. Queensdale would have been a perfect choice because it's one of the few (if not the only) continuous east-west "secondary" streets on the north end of the mountain.

Quite unfortunately really that it was vetoed (unless the plan was just withdrawn...). The claim was something to the effect that Queensdale didn't need bike lanes because the road isnt' busy enough (read: dangerous enough) to warrant them.

I'm sure Concession Street would be "too narrrow" (in fact it boggles the mind it's a "truck route" at all, since it's two lanes with on street parking on both sides for most of the street). Similarly Mohawk and Fennell would be "too busy" to justify bike lanes, which leaves us with, understandably, no east-west bike lanes at all.

Ryan, to your point, do you think the city would go and spend 17 million on bike lanes? If they don't build the velodrome, I think they're unlikely to do anything constructive with even the $5 million they presently have allocated (like Bike lanes, or cleaning up randle reef), they'll likely dedicate it to construction of the James St. North GO Station.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 21:49:47 in reply to Comment 69672

NO CHANCE they spend a dime of that money on bike lanes if we pass on the velodrome.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 14:18:34 in reply to Comment 69672

I just did a quick check on the map.

There are 5 parks and 2 schools along Queensdale. It's obviously a major artery to get to Sherwood Secondary.

Did the councilor happen to ask the parents how they'd feel about their kids having safer cycling in the area? Because without that bike lane, I'd wager any local young cyclists are either on the sidewalks (dangerous) or going down Brucedale or soemthing and dashing across traffic on the major arteries without the assistance of a light.

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By mike_sak (registered) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 18:47:32 in reply to Comment 69677

not to mention the lack of traffic lights on queensdale on some stretches allows for speeding

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 22:30:17 in reply to Comment 69696

Only if you ignore the rather numerous stop signs.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 13:27:42

Some of your logic is sound. But it's the extrapolations that fumble, no matter how solid your intentions are.

Do you honestly think that a Council (in general) that couldn't get it right where something as structured as the PanAm Games is concerned could possibly have the vision or show the necessary leadership in applying monies towards what you're suggesting? To actually show civic conviction and implement a plan that would have wide-ranging benefits?

I don't.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 13:41:13 in reply to Comment 69673

Is that cynicism and malaise I hear...? ;)

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 20:11:18 in reply to Comment 69674


But I had a Town Halls Hamilton steering committee meeting...and I'm sunshine and roses once again.

: )

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 20:31:40 in reply to Comment 69700

Good. :) (I'll share a smile)

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 13:59:07

Okay, it makes much more sense now that I realize you mean Paris, France.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 14:00:26

The lack of cycling lanes in the city is appalling. The only thing I find more offensive is the lack of progress on changing that problem. Main St. W. was just completely redone in front of Mac 6 lanes plus turn lanes a wide median between opposing lanes, not a single meter of bike lanes. McMaster has a fair number of students who bike to school and that fact is totally ignored. Even bike lanes along Emerson which feeds students from a large stretch of student homes south of main were ignored. Sterling St. was redone with bike lanes on each side but, Main St. warranted nothing. Of the 2 streets Main St. needs the bike lanes a lot more than Sterling does. Upper James is undergoing a major renovation yet I would bet dollars to donuts that there will not be any bike lanes when the work is complete. This is the time to add cycling lanes whenever work is being done to our streets. Cheapest easiest way to do it, not in a year or two after a major overhaul when the costs are higher.

The busier the street the more it needs bike lanes. Most cyclists would bike on Queensdale long before they would want to bike on either Fennell or Mohawk. Personally I would much rather see money and commitment thrown at bike lanes than a velodrome.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 17:09:19 in reply to Comment 69676

Yeah, we seem to get stuck in this reverse goldilocks effect.

Either the road is too busy and we can't sacrifice the lanes (Main, maybe Concession St.) or not busy enough that cyclists need protection (Queensdale).

It's only when a street is "just right" as apparently Sterling was, and York Blvd (oddly enough) that we get Bike lanes.

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By Andrew Iler (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 15:16:06


Having a connected series of bike lanes and dedicated bike paths is an asset for any community . . . no question!

Over the past few years way too many cyclists, young and old have been seriously injured or killed on Hamilton roads and around southern Ontario. These are tragedies that send chills through the cycling community and through those who care about safe streets and roadways.

I find it amazing that the last version I looked at of the MTO's Driver's Manual had sections about how to handle driving situations around animals and debris on the road, but nothing about how to safely share the road with cyclists.

The City of Hamilton has been working hard through its Cycling Committee to address safety concerns and accessibility around the City by bike. Hamilton has been extremely progressive and successful with respect to cycling, specifically in the hiring of an alternative transportation manager, through the adoption of a cycling masterplan and a budget for cycling infrastructure, and with a number of successful cycling-related events. These are all amazing accomplishments and these advancements absolutely have added to the quality of life in the City for kids, commuters, competitive cyclists, and for visiting cyclists. The City Cycling Coordinator's position did not exist before Hamilton hosted the 2003 World Cycling Championships. This event and the high-profile nature of the competitors did a lot to elevate the profile of the sport of cycling and cycling as a recreational acitivity. It inspired thousands of youth and adults. A number of young kids watching those Championships, who never thought about cycling as an athletic outlet, were so inspired that they are now competing on Canada's National Cycling Team.

By the way, the World Championships also made money for the City.

I can tell you from my perspective running almost daily group rides out of the Morgan Firestone Arena in Ancaster, that at first, most of the vehicular traffic in the area did not appear to be pleased with have to pass groups of 6-15 young cyclists. However, once the athletes started to gain recognition for their achievements and the public gained an appreciation for what was happening at the Centre, the attitudes quickly changed from impatience to applause. People recognized that some of the riders might become Canada's next Olympians or World Champions. We started to get waves of encouragement instead of middle fingers and horns.

The fact is that all cyclists are in this together, whether they be commuters, couriers, racers, or kids riding around the neighbourhood.

We need to find ways to leverage positive change where we can, in a way that benefits as broad a section of the community as possible.

I strongly believe that a successful velodrome with active, vibrant and mainstream youth and community cycling programs, standing alone and feeding high-performance programs will allow for significant progress in increasing awareness about cycling and it will allow for a further development of other essential cycling infrastructure.

You only need to look at Portland, Bogota, Melbourne, Copenhagen, and now pretty much anywhere in the U.K. to understand the benefits of working on both ends of the cycling community. All of these cities have very successful cycling facilities for recreational, commuter and competitive cyclists. It took all of the various sectors of the sport, working together to achieve their successes.

Remember . . . we are ALL in this TOGETHER.

Take care.

Andrew A. Iler

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 21:53:48 in reply to Comment 69680

this is a great post Andrew. Thx for sharing. I think I find myself agreeing that developing a world class velodrome will go a long way towards council making bigger investments in the future in bike lanes. More bikes on the road should equal more pressure on them. I'm stunned at how many bikes I see on York Blvd by the market riding both bike lanes. Yet there are almost no bikes on Wilson, east of there or York, west of there. It's as if they just magically appear where there are bike lanes. Ditto for Dundurn South. I see none on Main and very few on Dundurn North, but tons on Dundurn South. Imagine if we treated our bike network like our road network?? This city would see far more pedestrian activity and business vibrancy, not to mention a more active, healthier community.

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By adrian (registered) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 16:13:48 in reply to Comment 69680

Thanks for posting a very interesting counter-point.

I understand where Ryan is coming from, but I think that pragmatically speaking, if the money does not go to the velodrome it will not be spent on bike lanes instead. With that in mind, your argument that a velodrome would increase the profile of cycling and make it more likely that cycling infrastructure will be built later on as a result strikes me as a decent reason to support building it.

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By Bobby1 (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 16:18:35

I realize this is off topic, but what happened to Joey's piece on the Spec's price firewall for on-line comment? It seems strange that it just simply disappeared?
Conspiracy theories will result if no explanation is offered! Even worse,some may think RTH was threatened by the Spec to withdraw any future work to Joey if this didn't disappear! Joey,please tell us.

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By Bobby1 (anonymous) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 18:58:42

Ryan & Joey, Sorry,didn't see it in recent article list so I mistakenly thought it vanished!
My mistake,I opologize!

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted September 15, 2011 at 23:07:26 in reply to Comment 69697

No worries.

I can assure you there is no change in my relationship with TheSpec. In fact, I've had productive conversations on files I'm working with them on during the past 48 hours.

There is likely disagreement at 44 Frid with my assessment, but they are mature journalists there and accept that public discourse involves different viewpoints.

  • Joey

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 21:51:57

I almost guarantee that the driver was doing a rolling stop and only looked left for any oncoming cars and didn't give a crap about any pedestrians or cyclists coming from his right. Or else if he did he'd seen that person approaching the intersection. This happens all the time to me. The only thing you can do is watch the driver's face and try to make eye-contact, and far too often they are not looking in that direction, only in oncoming. It's even worse on one-way streets.

Now people will say, "riding a bike on a sidewalk is dangerous", but she could've been walking and he still would've ran over her with his redneck pickup. It's simple he basically didn't check to see if anyone was approaching... or he would've saw her, but yet always in Hamilton, the driver is never at fault when he/she mows down a pedestrian or cyclist. It is far too often that the driver is not at all looking to his right, the driver is looking to his/her left for a break in traffic then he/she guns it... and oops I hit someone. That is not an accident, it's criminal.

This happens to me all the time, I have turn onto Canon (the one-way section), and I first check the sidewalks for people, then if there are no cyclists, legally riding or not, (there are many people walking and biking around there, pushing baby-buggies, riding scooters, and cyclists randomly riding in the wrong direction on a one-way street). It is still my responsibility as a driver of a vehicle to check for all that FIRST.... before I merge into the traffic. I asked my insurance company and yes I'm at fault even it I run over a cyclist riding on the sidewalk. Can't the cops charge this guy? His action totally shows a lack of respect for other people's safety.

The point of a stop sign or intersection is to make sure it is clear of any traffic, people or vehicles or scooters or e-bikes or anyone before merging or entering oncoming traffic. This guy should be stripped of drivers' license for years and made to pay a huge fine, and I hope insurance premiums are $6000 a year.

Comment edited by TreyS on 2011-09-15 22:09:12

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 15:39:21 in reply to Comment 69707

Maybe. Maybe not. If you have special insight or knowledge about this case then please let us know. I have come very close to hitting a cyclist who was riding on a sidewalk. As a driver I am looking for a pedestrian or other slow moving person on the sidewalk, not somebody riding along at a pretty good pace. The cyclist is just to far away from the intersection to register properly. Cyclists really are safer on the road than on the sidewalk. Talk to your cop friend again. The cyclist is considered to be a vehicle and needs to be on the road. Assuming of course that the rider is not young enough to be allowed to ride on the sidewalk. Just think if someone were to ride their motorcycle on the sidewalk and a car hit them as they crossed a road, do you really expect the car to be at fault? A bicycle is considered a vehicle just as a motorcycle is. It is time for cyclists over 16 to be licensed and insured just like any other vehicle on our roads.

What really irritates me is the cyclists who ride on the sidewalk where we have bike lanes.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 21:57:20

Buy the Velo. That's what I say. I bet we won't be on the hook for over-budget. We already know that IO super pads the estimates. So build the Velo. The venue should be at least pay for its own maintenance costs if the City is proper in hosting events. The maintenance should be about the same as a hockey arena, so just build the bloody thing.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 22:20:03

I have a question. Can you ride bike lanes in any direction? Because on Upper Paradise there is a bike lane on the northbound vehicle side. And I get weirded-out by cyclists riding southbound against me, even with the bike lane I feel like i have to move over.

The City should make bike lanes on both sides of the road. Another weird thing is when they converted Upper Paradise from 4 lanes to two, with a mid turning lane and a bike lane, which was good because U.Paradise does not have much traffic, there was orange pylons to let vehicle drivers know that it was a bike lane... then slowly the pylons got removed or hit by vehicles. I think it is a good idea to mark the bike lanes with pylons, or else I've seen drivers, think the bike lane is there personal passing lane.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted September 15, 2011 at 22:36:39

Jason, there are lots of cyclists on Wilson and Canon, but they are not the cyclists we think of, They are pretty much the guys who lost their drivers license or can't afford a vehicle. I'm sorry but that is the truth, when I see them smoking and cycling at the same time, no helmet and spitting gobs too, I'm pretty sure these cyclists are a different type from the rules-of-the-road, commuting riders. These are the cyclists that cause the most danger, and turn a lot people off cyclists, because these guys are what they think of when you mention cyclists, especially in Hamilton. They will randomly cross Canon and Wilson, ride in the wrong direction, ride up the sidewalk and back down, ignore redlights etc. I once a week on Canon have to come to a complete stop in the middle of the traffic because a crackhead decided to cross the street on his bike, scooter or by foot. Or else I would've run him over. These are the riders that most worry me. 99.9% of the time it is a male in his 40s -50s and I can guarantee he is not riding to his place of employment. This is the majority of cyclists in Hamilton that I encounter. I can tell a real cyclist from one of these types, and these types are very dangerous to everyone.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:42:17 in reply to Comment 69712

As classist as it is, it's hard to argue with the fact here - there are people who choose to bike, and people who ride a bike because their life is in too much of a mess to manage a car (thank goodness).

The latter do a lot for ruining the reputation of cycling, and it's sad... after all, it exacerbates the usual chicken-and-egg problems with cycling.

If cycling has a reputation of being the activity of scofflaw vagrants, then only scofflaw vagrants will cycle. The only way to fix that reputation is if scofflaw vagrants become a teeny-tiny minority of cyclists. And that only happens if cycling becomes seen as a legitimate option by urban commuters... which won't happen when a massive proportion of the cyclists they see downtown are guys that you'd expect to see panhandling.

And I'm writing this as a guy who drops his kids off with his bike, who did the bike-rack-on-bus thing to get to work.

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By Mark-Alan Whittle (anonymous) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 09:03:13

On Upper Wellington, past the Linc, over the hill, there are bike lanes in both directions leading up to Rymal Road. On the other side of the Lic Upper Wellington becomes a two lane arterial road. There is a long stretch between the Linc and the new bike lanes that have no paved shoulder, just gravel and filled in pot-holes. I call it the bike lanes to nowhere. When will the rest of Upper Wellington have bike lanes installed, and will they go all the way down the Access too? Also, who will pay to plow the snow off of curbside bike lanes in the middle of winter? The city used to remove snow and dump it at a secret location, last winter snow was stockpiled at intersections and the sides of streets, with usuallt only one lane for residents traffic to get out of their driveways, after the windage was filled with ploughed snow. Had to dig myself out numerous times. How many people will use bike lanes in the winter? Only the most die-hard fan, about .0001 percent of the population. Meanwhile, Stomechurch hyas bike lanes on both sides running right across the mountain, from Stoney Creek to ancaster. I do see people using this bike lane, lots of electric scooters too.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:33:48 in reply to Comment 69720

I assume they gave up on the upper wellington lanes when the Queensdale lanes got torpedoed. I mean, the connectivity benefits there would be obvious.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2011 at 09:36:29

Just got back from 2 days in Montreal and boy do they know how to build a bike network. It's all connected, with multiple parallel route choices and the really nasty intersections get dedicated bike signals and delayed right turns for cars. You are NEVER dumped from a bike lane into a car lane, there is always somewhere for the bikes to go safely and peacefully.

King has been cut down by one lane (near locke) for a year now with no traffic impact. With the 403 bridge under construction, now is the time the city should be putting in a separated 2 way bike lane from bay to westdale on king!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2011 at 19:23:40 in reply to Comment 69724

Contra-flow bike lanes are just two dangerous - the rule of safety is the principle of least surprise.

Of course, in the absence of LRT I want a 2-way-King, so we could kill two birds there.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:03:43 in reply to Comment 69724

I'm annoyed that nobody from traffic staff has measured the impacts of King only being 3 lanes between Queen and Locke due to construction the past year. It flies full speed 24-7. And then it widens to 5 at Vic Park. We absolutely do not need 2 of those lanes and probably 3 of them. Yet, nobody at traffic dept would dare measure these stats. It flies in the face of their mandate for more lanes at all cost. I think the evidence is clear that curbside parking should now be added, 24-7 on both sides of King from Bay right to Dundurn. We do NOT NEED 5 lanes through there.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted September 16, 2011 at 11:56:55 in reply to Comment 69725

And Main Street has been down a lane in front of the former Federal Building for a few weeks now. When I go by I have yet to see a significant issue with traffic.

What have others observed on Main?

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:51:44 in reply to Comment 69743

I've only seen the odd bottleneck on Main, but that was when they had taken two lanes for some initial truck movements etc..... Keep in mind, in all of these cases, we are talking about lane narrowing that suddenly appears to drivers. If Main was 3 lanes all the way from Westdale it would flow smoothly. Too smoothly in fact. The traffic would simply be 'strung out' in a longer blob instead of a short blob zipping through followed by a completely empty street for 1-2 minutes. Hamilton is simply not big enough to need one-ways. We narrowed King to 2 lanes with bumpouts and parking in the IV, yet people still scream through there from east of Wellington. Put them all back to two-way, add LRT, plant a ton of trees, add street parking and watch these streets come back to life the same way Locke, James, King (Westdale) and Ottawa have.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 20:29:45 in reply to Comment 69790

You obviously have a totally different concept of what screaming through there means then the rest of the population.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 22:18:21 in reply to Comment 69804

try sitting at the patio at Babarossa's and count how many times you brace yourself for a flying car possibly not navigating the curve. I've never had this thought sitting outside near a bend in the road on College or Queen in Toronto.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 18, 2011 at 01:42:39 in reply to Comment 69811


I speak from experience, trust me, Barbarossa's patio is perfectly fine.

It is in fact one of the most unpretentious urban patio's in Hamilton.

And speeding traffic is least of its problems - which by the way can be easily curtailed if there is a new found political will to enforce speeding laws in the core. The bend you mention in fact sufficiently slows the traffic down when the traffic lights or the landscaped bump-outs don't.

This patio is living proof of what is already achieved on a one-way street in downtown, without a major shift in one-way/two-way streets.

By the way there are rumors that a Toronto couple is moving into the blue & white building to the east of the cafe, where a most interesting book shop/wine bar may be opening possibly also with a patio.

alt text

If anything the big issue in the core is roaring motorbikes mostly on summer evenings & speeding bicyclists who ride wild on sidewalks.

The other bigger issue is wealthy kids zooming by at night throwing eggs at stores, laughing away as they zoom by. Yes! that is true. These are kids who come to gawk at downtown, and reaffirm adult biases they have seen and heard daily, by their actions such as these:

alt text

jason, you really need to restart your downtown walks section - and drop in to talk to owners in order to get a more real perspective on prevailing issues in the core. In fact that was the most endearing section of RTH which is sorely missed. That and sections like these which may help reconnect with the original purpose.

I know it is easy to get jaded in this town, but good things are already happening. Drop by Barbarossa's and meet the owner - he may surprise you with his cosmopolitan spirit and Moroccan tea.

It is easy to plan from top down, but difficult to nurture what is already growing. We don't have to be constantly fighting for change. After all, change is incremental and some of it is already here - just waiting for your patronage to take it to the next level.

If businesses such as these have failed and continue to fail in the core it is not due to the direction of the streets or the colour of the lamp posts, or even the type of transportation -- but due to the lack of patronage of those who talk about wanting change in the core, but fail to show up when it is already here.

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2011-09-18 01:44:15

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 18, 2011 at 18:12:25 in reply to Comment 69814


Your raising the issue of speeding cars in the core is a very serious issue (outside of the limited context of the cafe patio referred to above).

The very unfortunate events from only yesterday in the core go to highlight your most relevant concern that has got minimized in my example above.

If you are up to it -- these incidents can be referenced along with many such past incidents in the core, to impress upon Clr. Jason Farr and the Council to seriously and most urgently implement vehicular speeding law enforcement in the downtown core.

Maybe a sign-in petition via a website would be a start in this direction.

We need to immediately set up a 24/7 surveillance system for vehicular speeding infractions - to put an end to this speeding madness on Main & King including James/Canon/Wilson etc.

I believe they do this for speeds over 50kms - with heavy fines/penalties near the Mac campus (at the beginning of Cootes drive) via speed traps and even a large digital speed sign on a bridge. I don't see why this is not possible in the core, on Main & King and James, Cannon, Wilson York etc.

This could be achieved for far less an expense than one/two way conversions - which if and when they happen, may still be useless if speeding laws are not strictly enforced.

School zones are examples where drivers self regulate their speeding tendencies to slow down to 40kms - between flashing sets of lights. There are many creative ways in which such an approach can be used to develop new slowing down mechanisms for the core during peak and off-peak hours.

Such strict enforcement will send a very important message to all that the current administration is deadly serious about its commitment to turning the Downtown core into a pedestrian friendly environment.

All Councillors who are averse to this urgent request by downtown residents - need to be invited by the Ward 2 Councillor to come and sit on beach chairs for an hour - on the sidewalk corner of Main & Walnut (which is by far the narrowest along the entire Main street), to experience first-hand the most treacherous and downright shameful conditions that have been allowed to exist in the core for decades.

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2011-09-18 18:31:47

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 20, 2011 at 09:35:34 in reply to Comment 69825

I'm planning a piece shortly on the need to change the high speed nature of these downtown streets. High speed car/truck traffic combined with a growing downtown scene/population = more people on the streets, and I fear, more fatalities.
Re: your comment two above, I'm certainly not jaded. I love Barbarossa's and didn't mean to imply something is wrong with the patio. I'm talking from experience. I remember having the same experience sitting in the window seat at 316 Lounge when it was next door. Not with every car that passed of course, but enough to make me nervous. I've never been nervous on a patio in Hess, College in TO, or James/Mulberry, so I don't think it's me having a patio-phobia.
I can confirm the rumour of a loft with a bookstore at ground floor coming next to Barbarossa's. Should be a great addition.

Finally, you'll be glad to know of an uplifting piece coming in a couple of months to Urbanicity highlighting the real change and positive projects underway downtown.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 18, 2011 at 10:57:27 in reply to Comment 69814

jason, you really need to restart your downtown walks section - and drop in to talk to owners in order to get a more real perspective on prevailing issues in the core. In fact that was the most endearing section of RTH which is sorely missed. That and sections like these which may help reconnect with the original purpose.

Shorter Mahesh:

"Shut up and sing!"

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 20:37:23 in reply to Comment 69804

Or maybe they will come back to life the way John North did, or did not. I do not remember Locke Street being one way. Was it? My memory could be playing tricks on me but I do not remember it ever being one way except for the block between King and Main. Or are you just trying to attribute it's resurgence to your favourite cause?

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 20:47:03 in reply to Comment 69805

As soon as I reply to one outright lie in your post I read another one. King St in Westdale has never been one way. At least not in the last 35 years. Nor has it undergone any kind of resurgence. It is pretty much what it has always been. Same about Ottawa Street, it has never been one way either. It has changed its makeup from being a fabric mecca to more of an antique place but again it is pretty much as busy now as it was 10, 20, or 30 years ago. It really is to bad that you rely on lying to try and prove your point I doubt you are really that uninformed. Please just stop the CRAP. Just because we disagree with you does not mean we are stupid.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 18, 2011 at 07:29:53 in reply to Comment 69806

Please just stop the CRAP. Just because we disagree with you does not mean we are stupid.


I didn't take Jason's framing of his point the way you did.

I find in a city where discourse between City Hall and residents sucks, that here, on one of the few extant forums, we get into these petty interludes.

To me it reveals desperation, it reveals frustration. And we really do need to do better.

So Mr. Meister, why don't you drop me a line at mystoneycreek@gmail.com so I can invite you to RTHers v6.0, a casual, informal, friendly get-together where these kinds of moments don't happen...where we get to actually discuss topics without the jarring potholes.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 22:20:45 in reply to Comment 69806

My point is that King Street is virtually dead through it's entire one-way stretch, yet suddenly booms to life in two-way Westdale. Main is devoid of pedestrians and pedestrian-oriented businesses, yet right around the corner on Locke, business booms. Ditto for Ottawa Street. John North is one of the few stretches of converted road that isn't commercial. It's simply residential...in one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods. It may not be booming with new life, but its' certainly safer for the residents and kids who walk/bike that street.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted September 18, 2011 at 08:59:01 in reply to Comment 69812

Just more CRAP.

John St is a couple hundred meters east of James. The difference in the neighbourhoods is not that significant. James St was always a commercial strip and after suffering a downturn it realized an upturn. The fact the street was converted to two way is strictly co-incidental. King Street changes drastically because where it becomes 2 way is part of one of the first planned communities ever. It was designed to have a small commercial strip and then it changes to residential and ends at the University. There is a much bigger strip of commercial enterprises a few kilometers east though. From Wellington all the way to Queen is pretty much all commercial and guess what the road is one way through the entire stretch.

What roads crossing Ottawa are one way? None of the major ones are, Cannon, Main and Barton are all 2 way at that point. I know that you are infatuated with 2 way streets but your arguments just do not hold any water. This City's problems have nothing to do with one way or two way streets, get over it. Your obsession with one way streets being evil is just a personal opinion and there are no facts to show otherwise.

I can appreciate that you like two way streets and you are certainly entitled to your opinion. It is not a good or a bad opinion, just another opinion. If someone forces you to live on a one way street then you have a complaint, you have every right to live on a two way street if that is your wish.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 18, 2011 at 21:22:58 in reply to Comment 69817

yes, it's my opinion and the opinion of every urban expert, Economic Summit speaker, downtown area BIA group and revitalization guru we've brought to this city in the past 20 years.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted September 19, 2011 at 09:52:53 in reply to Comment 69831

Yet you do not quote them you lie about things trying to prove your nonexistent point.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 20, 2011 at 09:37:48 in reply to Comment 69840


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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted September 21, 2011 at 15:15:30 in reply to Comment 69900





Do you want more?

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 16, 2011 at 19:13:43 in reply to Comment 69743

I've seen the lanes leading up to the old Federal Building snarled a number of times in the last couple of days. To be fair, this is as much because it's not visible until you're two blocks away, and people seem to be getting used to it.

As for the Veledrome, it's a sporting facility and not a traffic project. The notion that it would negatively impact bike lanes depends on some fairly vindictive accounting. Would a new Formula One racetrack mean less cash for highways?

If there's one budget that needs to be looted in favour of bike lanes it's not sport cycling, it's other road-building projects. If we nix the Mid-Pen highway, we can easily afford both.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 00:07:00

It is not a tine]y tiny miniscule of cyclists. The majority of cyclists are, smoking, spitting, with no helmet and not obeying any rules of the road. Basically those drug-runners, losers -- -for whatever reason -- a cycling and basically disobeaying every rule that exists. So we have to watch out for these 'cyclists' riding on the sidewalk, or in the middle of the road, illegally or not, it is the drivers responsibilty to watch out for these guys, wihich happens every 100 meters. I'm always driving at about 40k and still I have to come to a complete stop because an non-caring self-respecting, individual decides to walk infront of the traffric irregardless of the oncoming traffic, making everone completely stop while this loser randomly crosses the street at a few steps from a traffic light. I'm ,actually surprised we don;t hear about a ped killed on Canon/Wilson/York everyday.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 19, 2011 at 10:03:25 in reply to Comment 69781

That's because you have to be the kind of person who has hit rock bottom to cycle in suicidal terrain like King/Cannon/Main/Wellington/Victoria.

Here in 2-way student-land of Westdale there are ample cyclists and they're respectful and generally law-abiding (although too many of them need more lights and reflectors).

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:11:31 in reply to Comment 69781

I don't want to make a judgment about what the people on their bikes might be doing, but unfortuantely what Trey says about the majority (not all or close to all, but a majority) of the cyclists around downtown Hamilton are non helmet wearing, smoking, non road rule obeying guys who appear to be "bums". I don't know if that means bike lanes are any more or less needed, but it's true.

As some people here know, I do a lot of driving around the city and like Trey says, most of the people on bikes are as described above. I actually watched one "bum" (or a guy who looked like one) intentionally accelerate.. like full on sprint.. just so that he could catch up to a guy making a signaled right hand turn so that the guy making the turn cut off the guy on the bike. Of course the guy on the bike started yelling and waving his arm in the air in disgust... but I saw the whole thing unfold and it was obvious that the guy on the bike was just being a dick.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:52:59 in reply to Comment 69788

that's an incredible story. Car drivers never do stuff like that.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:27:20

Here's a list of things that don't invalidate your right to keep breathing:

a) Smoking b) Spitting c) Looking "like a bum" d) Not wearing a helmet on a bike

Thank you for your time.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 20:52:14 in reply to Comment 69794

They absolutely do not invalidate your right to keep breathing but it sure means that the vast majority of citizens will not have much respect for you. They also prove that you are not very smart. Your obviously pretty stressed about those comments. Which ones apply to you? All of them?

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 21, 2011 at 00:01:16 in reply to Comment 69807

"Pretty stressed"? I didn't know stating that I'm not against people breathing was a sign of stress.

For the record, though, yes. I've been known to smoke, spit, ride a bike without a helmet and even look, occasionally, like a homeless person. How, exactly, does this prove I'm not very smart?

Seriously, some people on here really need to tone down the snobbery. It's not terribly becoming.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2011 at 00:59:58 in reply to Comment 69910

What makes you think it is snobbery. If you do all those things then the vast majority of people will not have a much respect for you. Does not affect your right to all those things but we certainly do not have to approve of your boorish behaviour.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 22, 2011 at 21:08:04 in reply to Comment 69955

If you're going to throw around blatantly classist characterizations (I'm not the first one who's noticed this), you're going to get called out for snobbery.

Not everybody around is able to live up to your elite social standards. I'd suspect a majority wouldn't, especially downtown. Respect whoever you want, but don't imply that it means other people have less rights, or that your responsibilities diminish because you don't like the appearance of other road users.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted September 23, 2011 at 12:53:45 in reply to Comment 69981

I am anything but a classist or elitist but I think this whole rights thing works both ways believe. I never said you or anyone else has less rights. I have said repeatedly that there is a consequence for your actions. If you, or anybody else, decides that they are going to spit in public, smoke in public, go out in public dressed like a bum or ride your bike without a helmet then the rest of society will make assumptions about you and think about you in certain ways. Smoking in public just is not socially acceptable anymore, if you want to smoke you have every right to smoke where the laws let you. Even smoking in lawful areas in public is cause for others to think less of you. Spitting in public has not been socially acceptable for a very long time. To do so shows your innate lack of manners and many of us will think less of you, I will not apologize for that nor should I. Not taking away any of your rights at all but exercising our rights. You can continue to play this silly game of rights. I never said it repudiates any of your rights but it is our right to judge the kind of person that you are by the way you behave and the way you dress. You even have the right to post silly comments about your rights like you did above but it is my right to laugh at you and your silly games.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted September 17, 2011 at 13:20:58 in reply to Comment 69794

When did I say those things you listed were a good or bad thing? It seems that you are the one who should be learning from your own words.

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