Special Report: Cycling

Cycling Committee Suggests Speed Humps for Cyclists on Beach Strip

Our city's vision is so narrow that even the cycling committee sees cycling as something to be controlled rather than encouraged.

By Jason Leach
Published August 09, 2013

I can't tell you how many of my neighbours have been begging for speed humps in our neighbourhood due to the dangerous automobile driving here. Our councillor is supportive, but getting anything that actually slows speeding cars down through City Hall is a nightmare.

Motor vehicle collisions cause around 2,000 deaths and 10,000 serious injuries each year in Canada. Speeding motorists are a real, measurable danger to themselves and everyone else on the road, but it's almost impossible to get speed humps on Hamilton streets.

But speaking of speed bumps, an April 2013 report [PDF] from Hamilton's Cycling Committee addresses the issue of "cyclists speeding on the Beach Strip":

members discussed ideas to address speeding cyclists on this multi-use trail including improved etiquette signage and even possible speed-humps by Hutch's.

Cyclists are "speeding" on the Beach Strip and the solution they propose is speed humps? Seriously, this city is so backwards. Keep in mind, this is our cycling committee. This isn't some meeting being run by anti-bike suburban councillors.

We actually have a spot in the city with lots of enthusiastic cyclists and pedestrians. Let's look to enhance their experience even more, not slap speed humps onto a shared path that is clearly too narrow.

Here's an idea: how about a second pathway? One can be for people moving faster, like cyclists, and the other can be for people moving slower, like pedestrians and joggers. That's what they do in Toronto:

Separate walking and cycling trails on Toronto's beach strip (Image Credit: boldts.net)
Separate walking and cycling trails on Toronto's beach strip (Image Credit: boldts.net)

I would love a wooden boardwalk all along our Beach Strip from the residential district back to Confederation Park. But our city's vision is so narrow that even the cycling committee sees cycling as something to be controlled rather than encouraged.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted August 09, 2013 at 07:29:28

Speed humps would interfere with accessibility, if they were employed on multi-use trails - not everyone is a cyclist, a walker, or a jogger. Anyone with a mobility device or a stroller to push would be impeded - go back to principles of universal design when looking at these issues. Certainly careless cyclists impede other users as well - so if we can't set up separate lanes (e.g, on the rail trail) these areas may just need more policing, where cyclists on these trails must yield to pedestrians, otherwise they get ticketed.

Speed bumps on some roads, now -- that would enhance accessibility for everyone else.

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By bikehounds (anonymous) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 09:02:03

This is embarrassing.

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By movedtohamilton (registered) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 09:26:46

The Committee's speed-bump idea is certainly odd. So here's a suggestion. Contact the Committee and engage them on this. Here's a link to the Committee's member list and its staff liaison. Scroll down to the 'H' section (the list is in alphabetical order). http://bit.ly/135QxvE

Comment edited by movedtohamilton on 2013-08-09 09:28:13

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By Core-b (registered) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 09:47:44

I cycle the beach trail and have witnessed a few cyclists who are clearly on a "training run". While most of the rest of us are just out for a casual walk or ride sucking in the beauty of it all. I personally have not been affected by these speeders but I can see the possibility. But speed humps? Really? As Bikehounds says, this is really embarrassing. So what we have here is a case of very few possibly affecting many.

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By movedtohamilton (registered) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 09:57:11 in reply to Comment 90701

Core-b, if cyclists want to push back, you must contact the Committee!

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By The X Guy (anonymous) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 10:00:44

I'm going to have to partially disagree with you on this.....your article doesn't address the real problem here - speed, and safety of all users in this particular area

I did not read the report, but the excerpt in your article mentions speed bumps nears Hutchs. so I'm focusing on that area…...

My wife and I cycle the waterfront a few times a year, most recently this past civic holiday monday. The section from hutches to baranga's is by far the busiest part on the hamilton side of the beach strip, and you can imagine how busy it would be on a holiday weekend.

Yes, a separate pararell trail would allow for faster moving people in this area, but the problem is beach access. There are an awful lot of people walking to and from the beach in this area. On almost every other spot on the trail, users are moving forward. In this area, people stop, chat, walking on and off the trail, etc. Last year we witnessed a near collision with a cyclist and a small child who darted across the path towards the beach (i think after another parent who was ahead)

So my recommendation would be to do what spencer smith park does during large events there - big signs on the entrance of these congested areas stating "cyclists must dismount" during busy times

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 09, 2013 at 12:28:13 in reply to Comment 90705

My big problem with the city talking this way is that they're suddenly obsessed with protecting pedestrians and ensuring they can travel freely when it comes to interacting with cyclists, but when it comes to motorists the flow of traffic is the paramount concern.

I've constantly groused about the lack of "yield to pedestrians" signs on the city's various onramp-like turns (particularly the King Street 403 onramp at Dundurn).

The city recently installed a "yield to pedestrians" sign on the King Street 403 bridge...

bikes yield to pedestrians

...in the bike lane.

You can see how this might be a bit frustrating, can't you? Cyclist/pedestrian places get talk of speed humps, while motorist/pedestrian places get

crossing prohibited

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2013-08-09 12:30:58

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By A cyclist (anonymous) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 13:16:27 in reply to Comment 90723

That yield sign in the bike lane is well placed since it's meant to protect people getting on and off the bus. I very nearly had a head-on collision with another cyclist cutting across the sidewalk to avoid a red light at that very intersection.

I'm getting very fucking sick and tired of self-important cyclists making up the rules as they go.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 11, 2013 at 18:29:44 in reply to Comment 90725

The problem isn't that they installed a yield sign in a bike lane, it's that there are dozens of places around the city where a yield-to-pedestrians sign is way, way more urgently needed... but those lanes are automobile traffic. And those problems have existed for decades, ignored, while this brand new bike lane gets a yield sign soon after construction.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2013-08-11 18:30:13

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By A Real Cyclist (anonymous) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 14:38:12 in reply to Comment 90725

I'm a real cyclist, and I'm very fucking sick and tired of self-important phoneys cropping up on every messageboard about cycling to concern troll.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 14:19:01 in reply to Comment 90725

this is one of the side-effects of being in a major city with virtually no cycling infrastructure. 95% of Hamilton you do just kind of make up the rules as you go because city hall has made it clear that providing safe, convenient, well-marked routes for cyclists isn't a priority.

I hear your frustration, but it's tough to blame cyclists in a city that has left them out to dry and survive on their own. That yield sign above is absolutely the proper signage in that case. Sadly, its the ONLY spot in the entire city with a bus/bike lane like that. So I expect many folks to not be familiar with navigating it. If the city was filled with them, everyone would be familiar and know exactly what do to.

Comment edited by jason on 2013-08-09 14:20:16

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 11:28:11 in reply to Comment 90705

certainly the area around Hutch's is the busiest and needs the most attention. And due to the placement of the restaurant, it's back doors open right onto the paved path.

Perhaps an idea would be to convert this entire section of the path into a wooden boardwalk with large 'bollards' placed at either end and signs warning of a "congested area ahead, slower cycling speeds required".

This same treatment may be one to consider in front of Barangas and the Lakeland Pool area. Like most things in an urban setting, the design will dictate how people use a road, sidewalk, path etc.....

For example, some large decorative bollards could be placed at either entrance to the wooden section forcing everyone to slow down:


Kind of overkill here, but same idea before a sharp right bend in the trail: http://www.othercriteria.com/blog/wp-con...

And of course, there are ways to make it fun and artistic, which again lends to folks slowing down to see something unique ahead: http://artseducationguru.com/wp-content/...

My point is, speed humps are probably the worst idea for this area. Think of the impact on joggers, rollerbladers, kids running etc....

I'm all for a few congested nodes along the waterfront that require slow speeds, but let's enhance the public realm as a solution, not just look for the most boring, utilitarian solution possible.

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By rprouse (registered) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 10:16:15

While I agree that a second path would be nice, I don't think that there is room and it would probably cut into the vegetation that has been re-introduced to prevent erosion. Besides, most of the danger around Hutches is people crossing the path down to the beach. A second path wouldn't change that.

I live on the beach strip, am a competitive cyclist and ride on the path regularly. The area around Hutches is particularly dangerous. It is very busy, people tend to cross the path at this point rather than walk along it and kids are always darting out.

I always ride slowly through this area, but many cyclist and some inline skaters who are training go through there at speeds greater than 30 km/h. The new signage is helping, but more needs to be done. Speed bumps do not need to be large enough to impede anyone, they just need to be enough to draw attention to the fact that you should be slowing down in this area.

In an ideal world, cyclists would pay attention to the signs and slow down and walkers would look both ways before crossing the path, but it doesn't happen, so something more needs to be done. Maybe speedbumps aren't the best solution, but let's not paint this as an anti-cyclist initiative. It is being proposed by the cycling committee and as a cyclist I support it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 11:29:44 in reply to Comment 90708

I don't imagine that cutting into a small swath of the beach vegetation for a boardwalk would be a problem. Especially now that the vegetation has grown almost down to the shore once you get NE of Hutchs. But an expert would need to weigh in on that.

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By RonMiller (registered) - website | Posted August 09, 2013 at 13:04:38

Bad, bad, stupid idea. Isn't there more pressing concerns for the city. I have to agree with Bikehounds.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 13:28:42

I'm sorry but I witnessed a horrible accident involving a speeding bike on the Beach Strip a couple of years ago. I can see the point of this initiative after what I saw. The speed of some of the bikers and rollerbladers at Pier 4 park is also far above what is sensible considering the mixed use of that path.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted August 10, 2013 at 16:33:48 in reply to Comment 90726

Ya, I haven't seen any bicycle crashes but I have seen quite a few near misses right at Hutches, usually with small kids and fast moving bikes involved, but it seems the safety concerns of others are lost on some of the bicyclists on this forum.... "embarrassing" themselves with their obvious bias once again.

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By outcry (anonymous) | Posted August 11, 2013 at 10:04:50 in reply to Comment 90770

I love this. If cyclists use statistics to argue for safer streets, it's considered a ridiculous position (presumably because all the drivers just HAVE to get there faster). But when it comes to a multi use path which has statistically near zero chance of hosting a fatal crash, all of the cycling zealots are so biased against safety they will risk the carnage of pedestrians and fight against speed bumps. I'm not in support of high speeds on these trails but surely we can all agree that speed bumps are not a viable answer.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 13:28:46

Wow obviuosly these people have never walked down the king east sidewalk. They'd want speed bumps there as well .... for the scooters

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 14:34:28

"...a shared path that is clearly too narrow."

Six meters wide, reportedly -- roughly the width of a two-lane roadway.


The Beach Trail is ~8 km long. Anyone care to ballpark the cost of a supplementary trail?

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 22:42:16 in reply to Comment 90732

I would personally only recommend the new wooden boardwalk along the edge of the beach run from Barangas to somewhere just past Lakeland pool, or perhaps to the end of the street where the homes begin. Not all 8 km. We have no problem in this city maintaining roads that are twice as wide as they need to be, building highways all over the place etc.... surely we can find some money for a few km of wooden boardwalk on our Great Lake shoreline.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 15:23:58

The Cycling Committee is being conflated somewhat in the comments on this article with "the City" as a corporate entity on the whole. Why should the recommendation of the Cycling Committee in this instance be held up beside pedestrian measures like "cross on other side" signage? Further, the Cycling Committee only provides recommendations and does not institute anything. You may disagree with the recommendation, but they were presented with a problem and proposed a solution. I agree completely with movedtohamilton. Instead of publicly lynching the Committee and calling names, get in touch with them and offer some different options. Jason's suggestions are very good ones and would do better to address the problem while also maintaining accessibility as raised by Michelle.

Ultimately, the conflicts created between the various users of multi-use trails is a serious issue when the number of users increases. It is interesting to think about this within the context of the article Ryan posted a few days ago about protected, separated cycle tracks. Cycling and pedestrians should be separated in much the same way that vehicles and cyclists should be separated. What creates the most dangerous situations is the difference in speeds between modes of transportation. Multi-use trails create those situations by definition, especially when use increases.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 15:30:24

A daydream for a summer day...


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By Core-B (registered) | Posted August 09, 2013 at 23:46:19 in reply to Comment 90736

Excellent article but it makes me sad.

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By real cyclist (anonymous) | Posted August 10, 2013 at 12:20:27

For Pete's sake, why is everyone beating around the bush here?

Anyone who uses the path can easily see the problem. It is a handful of self absorbed cyclists who are using a busy multi-use path as a training facility for high speed cycling.

Heads down, they silently speed through troves oif unsuspecting path users expecting all to instantly yield to their sudden appearance and passage. A few even display frustration at the other users who seem to not understand the imperative of their training mission.

Look closely and you notice that few, if any, of these particular cyclists' machines are even equipped with a bell.

Post the trail for a maximum 20kph and enforce it with radar. Those few abusers who are making the public path dangerous to use will hopefully begin to realize how selfish and thoughtless their behaviour is when it's explained to them by the friendly police officer.

The design of the trail is fine. A few people are misusing it. That is all.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 11, 2013 at 22:33:10 in reply to Comment 90767

Personal preference I suppose, but I would rather we solve the problem with good design, and enhance the experience for all it's users. Radar guns and police officers aren't my idea of enhancing a popular, friendly people place.

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By TB (registered) - website | Posted August 11, 2013 at 07:55:38 in reply to Comment 90767

The design is faulty. It needs a few zig-zags every couple of hundred feet, easily negotiated by pedestrians, sensible cyclists, wheelchairs and people with strollers, but forcing the spandex-clad carbon-fibre-helmeted racing zealots to slow down to less than breakneck (and usually someone else's neck) speeds.

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By DavidColacci (registered) | Posted August 10, 2013 at 17:13:13

After visiting many Canadian communities over the past few years, it becomes clearer what works and what does not.

At Stanley Park in Vancouver, they utilize a two-tier trail along the sea wall. The elevated and inner tier is for people with wheels, and the lower and outer tier is for anyone without wheels. After walking and cycling the sea wall it becomes clear that it works remarkably well.

RTH =>

And for particularly busy areas, areas like this could be constructed.

RTH =>

Hope these show up okay!

Edit: I tried, any tips out there?

Comment edited by DavidColacci on 2013-08-10 17:16:11

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted August 11, 2013 at 09:49:56

Got to love this site. There is a real problem with cyclists going to fast for the environment. A real problem caused by the vast minority, as is usually the case. Most cyclists are pretty reasonable when cycling in such close proximity to pedestrians. Instead of finding a real solution to protect people today and find a better long term solution down the road everyone jumps to the defense of the cyclists. (The ones showing poor judgement}Sure a wider path would be nice. A second path would be even better. But neither one is going to happen now, this week or even this year. Such a process takes time with any city. So instead of being concerned for pedestrians safety today this site goes into silly mode yet again and starts to rail against all the injustices that have befallen cyclists over the years. We need to slow cyclists down for the safety of pedestrians especially children and then find a solution that can accommodate cyclists who have little concern for others.

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By facts (anonymous) | Posted August 11, 2013 at 09:54:18 in reply to Comment 90778

Bring us your stats showing the injury rate to pedestrians as caused by cyclists. Truly worried about pedestrians LOL? Then advocate for speed bumps on every road. Drivers are killing pedestrians at an alarming rate in Hamilton. I am willing to bet you that more pedestrians are killed by cars in Hamilton than are killed by cyclists WORLDWIDE each year. Spare us your fake concern for pedestrians.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted August 11, 2013 at 23:29:25 in reply to Comment 90779

So your saying that there is no problem? Or that you don't like my observation? Who said cyclists kill any pedestrians? Not I. You? Anybody? Or are you just being an idiot? Yep that would be the right answer. You are being an idiot and most of the regulars on this site are out to lunch. We have a small problem in the city caused by a few cyclists and we get the obligatory posts about how Holland is a cycling haven. Hamilton has virtually nothing in common with any Dutch city but why would that stop anyone. We get the posts about how badly cyclists are treated in the city. That does not make the poor behaviour of the cyclists in question justifiable.

Your post exemplifies the silliness of this site.

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By Spanner (anonymous) | Posted August 12, 2013 at 08:34:18

Just ban spandex. ;-)

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