Special Report: Cycling

Change Doesn't Happen Overnight

The car culture which so many of us are railing against happened gradually, incrementally, over many years, thanks to many big and small decisions, piece by piece. Changing it will take time.

By Matthew Sweet
Published October 23, 2013

For starters, a mea culpa. I'm a graduate of Mohawk's Transportation Engineering Technology program. Yes, by all accounts, I am a Traffic Engineer. I currently work for a municipality in Southern Ontario on their cycling infrastructure program. Yes, by all accounts, I am a City Staffer.

I recently began teaching a course in Active Transportation at Mohawk. I am by no means an expert, having only been working as a professional for just over a year. I got lucky to get this gig and I'm doing my best.

I have been cycling as a commuter for nearly four years now, in combination with public transit. I occasionally walk places and have been known to drive here and there. I consider myself multi-modal.

I also consider myself in the "Enthused and Confident" category of cyclists, willing to ride in mixed traffic without much trepidation.


Design Vehicle: 4 Types of Transportation Cyclists

Having said that, I try to focus planning for the "Interested but Concerned" crowd, since that is where growth in cycling is going to happen.

So now that I've established the soup that I swim in on this particular topic, I will get to the point.

Raise the Hammer has been a very influential forum for me as I've developed my opinions and skills in this field. I always check in to hear what members of the community have to say about the work being done here on improving cycling infrastructure. The arguments and criticisms are usually excellent and I firmly believe that a forum like RTH provides an invaluable counter-balance to the actions and plans of city staff and politicians.

Hamilton is very lucky to have so many engaged citizens on the subject of cycling and urban issues, which discerning individuals in other municipalities would be wise to envy. This isn't blowing smoke, for the record. I am a firm believer in the democratic process and that requires engaged citizens.

Change is Incremental

Having said that, of late I am noticing a trend in many of the posts and stories that is troubling to me, and so far I haven't noticed anyone attempting to correct it. Perhaps then, it is only my opinion that the trend I am about to expound upon is an error. In that case, I welcome the regular contributors to let me know that it is I who is missing the mark.

Change doesn't happen overnight. The car culture which so many of us are railing against wasn't an overnight success. It happened gradually, incrementally, over many years, thanks to many big and small decisions, piece by piece.

The concept of incremental change is probably old news to many readers here. When it comes to changing the car culture to one which is more multi-modal, change won't happen overnight.

All of the entrenched interests are not going to go quietly, be they big business or each individual citizen working hard to put food on the table and having to commute by automobile to a workplace far from their home because of the car culture we have inherited.

So when it comes to creating new cycling infrastructure, sometimes we (by "we" I mean planners, engineers, politicians, citizens etc, collectively) hit a home run, and sometimes we have to take what we can get.

Cannon Bike Lanes a Huge Win

The Cannon Street cycle track proposal is probably the most exciting single project to come along in Hamilton's cycling existence. The grassroots work that went into getting this project on the radar and which got it approved by council to this point was frankly amazing.


Rendering of two-way bike lanes on Cannon (Image Credit: Jeremy Johnston)

As I said before, any other discerning municipality should beg for this kind of citizen engagement. But the work isn't over yet until those lanes are actually on the ground.

However, this project has limits, as does any project. The proposal does not span the entirety of Cannon Street. The proposal does not extend beyond Bay Street at this point. This point was raised very specifically in a recent post.

So what are we to say, therefore? I think the criticism of limited scope for the Cannon Street cycle tracks has some basis, and of course there must always be a push for more. But to call the Cannon proposal a "half-measure" is a disservice. Relative to most cycling proposals in a lot of cities, the Cannon Street proposal is a huge win.

Bike Lanes to Nowhere

Calls for continuous cycling facilities are valuable and necessary. Raise the Hammer has done a fantastic job advocating for fulsome planning and pushing against legitimate "half-measures". Most of the time.

Then recently there were posts and comments calling out the City for not installing bicycle lanes on King Street in a section where resurfacing was being completed. The section, from the Delta to Wellington, is 3.1 km long. At either end, there are no existing cycling facilities of any kind.


King Street Repaved (RTH file photo)

Suddenly, a proposal for a cycling facility is being made on a prominent community forum in Hamilton, which is essentially an infamous case of a "bike lane to nowhere". Precisely the sort of project that this forum has lobbied against for so many years.

To be honest, I liked the idea of bike lanes on King Street in the section being mentioned. The issue of LRT on King Street certainly enters the equation from a planning perspective, but leaving that aside (since that particular elephant is in limbo right now rather than in the room with us), bike lanes on King Street would have been a useful addition to the network.

Yet, it would not have represented the full scope of a potential continuous King Street bicycle lane. Rather, what it would represent is another small win on the long road to incremental change.

Long and Winding Road

My initial response to the notion of RTH contributors calling for a "bike lane to nowhere" was to note the inconsistency in that position, as outlined above.

Perhaps instead, the admission that abbreviated segments of the network should be added in stages over a long time frame based on opportunities suggests that RTH contributors are starting to realize that this is going to be a long and winding road.

(Unless of course political leadership appears on the cycling portfolio and shoves us headlong into intensive infrastructure investment and network development. Until then, slow and steady will have to suffice.)

Portland Not Built in a Day

I hesitate to bring up everyone's favourite example, but Portland Oregon's cycling network wasn't built in a day. It took them over 30 years of continuous improvement, successes and failures, support and opposition to get where they are today. Where are they today? (Today being 2009 in this case)


Portland Oregon Bicycle Commute Mode Split by Census Tract, 2009

Portland, after all of those years of planning and installation, is at 10 percent bicycle commute mode split in the downtown core neighbourhoods. There are still 54.2 percent of commuters driving single occupancy motor vehicles! And for the record, the cycling community in Portland complain too.

I guess my point is this: I realize that there is no "RTH voice" per se, as there are many contributors with a variety of viewpoints. But when it comes to cycling infrastructure, pick a horse and roll with it.

If you don't like "bike lanes to nowhere", then stick to that conviction and don't try to have your cake and eat it too by calling out the City for not implementing a project which fits that very criteria.

If you support separated facilities, then for the love of God support the Cannon Street proposal and use those lanes when they get installed if it works for any part of your commute.

If my viewpoint is way off base, I welcome your comments. This is my opinion, and I'm still learning. RTH has taught me plenty over the years, and I don't think it is about to stop.

Matthew Sweet is a graduate of Mohawk's Transportation Engineering Technology program and is also a McMaster alumnus. He currently works in Cambridge and lives in Hamilton. If you run into him in public at various transportation related events, please don't bring up his ramblings on RTH comment threads, everyone knows such things don't count in real life.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2013 at 08:48:42

Matthew - thanks for putting together such a thoughtful piece. I'm one of those RTH'ers with opinions about my city. In this case, as I'm not a cyclist although I support spending money to create an integrated, cycling infrastructure, I'll focus my comments on your "change doesn't happen overnight" premise.

Some change can happen overnight. Literally. The one way conversion of our streets literally took place overnight decades ago. Admittedly, the work-up to the change took longer. One of my concerns with how my city operates is the overwhelming evidence I see of timidity, particularly as it relates to all matters progressive. You hear Councillors talk this way, with perhaps Tom Jackson being the most obviously timid ("As long as it has an exit ramp."). You hear staff propose this way, possibly because the masters they serve prefer timid to bold. ("We're not committed long term and you can change your mind at any time.") You hear it in conversations after decisions have been made about a development, or a civic change. "Hey, it's better than nothing."

Timidity continues to slow us down, in my view, at least civically. I think doing the very limited (distance not time) pilot on Cannon as configured currently is nuts. Pilot what? The idea that we should be multi-modal in our transportation offerings? Or, are we testing the paint on the pavement? The flower box dividers, if we're lucky enough to get them? The usage of the bike lanes themselves by cyclists?.

The problem is, if it's the latter, then your very premise risks limiting the expansion of the cycling infrastructure. I agree, change can take time. For the sake of argument, let's say that the one-year assessed usage of the bike lanes on Cannon is moderate at best. What do we conclude? That bike lanes are an expensive amenity for a very few citizens and that we shouldn't add more until more people say they want to use them? If we measured the sidewalk usage along Upper Wentworth around Limeridge, we'd conclude that sidewalks were a waste of money because very few pedestrians use them and that we could save a ton of money not building and not maintaining them.

In the case of the Cannon bike lanes, I say to hell with the pilot numbers. Gather them if we wish, but don't base expansion on the numbers. Like you say, change takes time. The more we implement, the greater the likelihood of usage, therefore the greater the likelihood of change happening faster. Can't we think, and plan, and implement boldly in Hamilton? EcDev just released a promo video with the theme of "The Ambitious City". Really? This kind of incrementalism by our municipal government represented by the bike lane pilot on Cannon, and the no cyclists allowed on the bus lane on King (pilot), for projects that are well-proven around the world frustrates and worries me. It's weak. It's short-sighted. It's timid. It's anything but ambitious.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2013 at 08:49:59 in reply to Comment 93555

I apologize for the length of my comments. I got on a bit of a rant. Shorter next time. Promise.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 09:48:40 in reply to Comment 93555

well said Graham.

The Hunter bike lanes are a great example. We have a simple solution to install the entire route without disrupting any GO Station parking, but instead we are going to do a tiny piece east of Catharine, then a tiny piece west of Bay and then the centre section 'at some point in the future'.

http://raisethehammer.org/article/1976/m...

Imagine if we rebuilt the Queen St hill like this? Bottom 1/3 now, top 1/3 later and the middle section whenever.

Cities like Portland are actively looking at upcoming road construction projects to see where they can add traffic calming, narrower lanes, new bike facilities, speed humps etc.... That was the thinking behind the suggestion for Hamilton to re-think King St from the Delta to Wellington since they were completely re-paving it anyhow. We could have added a great complete street through that entire stretch instead of simply repainting a 4-lane freeway.

West 5th was rebuilt and was supposed to get bike lanes. Instead we ended up with lanes wider than the 401, unnecessary turning lanes, where 3-way stop light sequences would have done the trick, and no bike lanes. Just sharrows.

From what I've been told, the Queen St hill is also just being repainted as it was, even though the lanes will be narrowed. We completely rebuilt a road-deck with the intent of narrower lanes, yet couldn't find a measly 4-feet on either side for bike lanes?? We could have, but nobody thinks to suggest it because it's not a priority.

Cannon was a huge win, for sure. And I know they are looking to connect them to the approved bike lanes on York, which hopefully will come soon. But again, it was almost entirely citizen-driven. Ditto for all tactical urbanism, safer crossings, new pedestrian lights etc.... City Hall is still operating like it's 1965 when it comes to streets, traffic, quality of life etc.... citizens, and several engaged councillors, deserve the credit for even the minor improvements and changes we are seeing.

Comment edited by jason on 2013-10-23 09:50:29

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 09:55:32

Part of the issue that many commenters have been involved in these issues for over a decade and have grown frustrated with Hamilton's "one step forward, two steps back" approach to cycling and pedestrian infrastructure as well as recognizing what streets need to look like to be successful economically and residentially.

At the same time we've seen other cities make massive strides in a very short time: think of cycling infrastructure in NYC, Montreal, Vancouver, or Paris. Does the fact these are large cities with complex transportation needs make it easier to implement massive change? The opposite should be true.

As Graham pointed out, timidity and refusal to commit have also led to skepticism, distrust and impatience. And its important to recognize that the tactical urbanism initiatives led quickly to important shifts and changes on the street. Just waiting patiently for studies to complete and "attitudes to shift" didn't produce results.

A good example is the 30km/h zone in the North End.

This took over a decade and a huge amount of community pressure to make a reality. It wouldn't have happened if residents just asked politely and waited.

At the Durand Neighbourhood Association meeting last night the community police officer told us that it has already been very successful in reducing speed and aggressive driving and that we "should look into it for the Durand".

However, what the police officer didn't know is that the city has insisted that we "monitor" this pilot project for FIVE YEARS, during which time there is a moratorium on any other 30km/h zones! Why can't we continuously monitor and decide to end the pilot early if the success is obvious? In any case, a full year should be more than enough to assess the impact.

This is a good example of how positive change can be used to block further improvements. Pilot projects are supposed to be short and flexible, and lower the threshold for change and experimentation. Not be used as an excuse to block improvements for half a decade!

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 10:54:47 in reply to Comment 93555

Thanks for that not-too-long comment Graham.

You're right to say that timid action is not good enough. However I think you are conflating timidity with incrementalism in this case. They are not one and the same. Bold individual decisions are a big part of incremental change. So are less bold, smaller scale decisions. Pilot projects are a great way to ease less decisive and dedicated members of the community and members of council towards incremental change. Each decision to improve cycling infrastructure is a part of the bigger puzzle, but is rarely the piece that completes it. Each is necessary, but not sufficient.

With that said, I think Cannon should be celebrated on one hand, and pushed further for more on the other hand. I would just hate to throw the baby out with the bath water.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 11:17:11 in reply to Comment 93561

I was cheered by the Yes We Cannon campaign, but am reluctant to celebrate as a "huge win" a proposal still swaddled in unknowns. There are no shortage of cycling proposals, most cited on RTH, all with varied strengths and weaknesses. What they have in common is that they are almost all still hypotheticals. My concern is that Cannon will join that roll.

I'm sure this will strike some as unduly harsh, but even a compromised real-world bike lane is superior to an as-yet-unfunded treatment that is still conceptual.

Do we have costing for dedicated bike lanes on Cannon? Earmarked capital? An implementation timeline? Or are we still idled at the part where council makes encouraging sounds?

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2013 at 11:39:09 in reply to Comment 93562

It's gone to consultant, and I've talked with staff that are as senior as you can get at the city, and they are as eager to get the lanes on the ground as any of us are. Trust me on this one. I'll keep people updated as the lanes progress, but for now the news is all good, and it looks like they should be installed by 2014.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 11:43:02 in reply to Comment 93557

Thanks for your thoughts Jason.

A couple of points. First, you invoke Portland and their planning process and contrast that with Hamilton's. But you presuppose that Hamilton staff are not going through a similar process. I mentioned Portland in my article for a reason. After 30 years to achieve 10% mode share, there are still plenty of gaps, spare infrastructure in the downtown business district, and even in Portland sometimes the answer to cycling projects is "no". The caricature of Portland that is so often used is not particularly useful.

Second, I again am struck by the conflict between two of your positions. On one hand, you push for bime lanes to nowhere on King St while complaining about a non-continuous facility on Hunter. Which is it?

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 11:54:13 in reply to Comment 93558

Nicolas, I think you have hit on a key element. Citizen engagement and the political process are vital in any city. To a certain extent I think people get frustrated at the very notion that they are forced to be involved in the planning process. But implicit in some of your comments is this sense that Hamilton is unique in the fact that citizens are the drivers. Or perhaps, the democratic process is the driver. When you reference NYC, Vancouver etc, do you imagine that the improvements they have seen are purely the result of staff initiative? Surely not! Up until very recently, NYC was absolutely not a cycling friendly city. I don't know how completely friendly it is now. But it is changing. The primary factor? A mayor making cycling a priority. Further, do you imagine that there is no grassroots citizen participation that has likely been working hard for as many or more years as Hamiltonians? Surely not!

This to me is a case of seeing the grass greener on the other side and of viewing improvements in other places without context.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2013 at 11:59:33 in reply to Comment 93561

Matthew, I take your point about the risk of conflating timidity and incrementalism. They aren't the same thing.

The point I was trying to make was that timidity can lead to incrementalism. Timidity is a feeling or an emotional condition. Incrementalism is the comfortable action that timidity too often engenders. In my view, too often this has been the case in Hamilton. A feeling of timidity (perhaps triggered by a concern about re-election or worse, believing, as did Death of a Salesman's Willy Loman, that the goal in life is to be well-liked) causes support for half-steps or less. Tom Jackson's "exit ramp" term, which he uses with shocking frequency, is perhaps the best local example that illustrates my point.

I acknowledge that if the change is gigantic in scope and potential impact, even bold thinkers may have to accept incremental change as the path forward. But, when the change is a bike lane, I think wasting time breaking the change into incremental steps is absurd.

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By bikeist (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:23:24 in reply to Comment 93566

You're contradicting yourself. NYC has made HUGE strides in cycling (quadrupled in ten years) because they have a mayor who strongly supports it who appointed a transportation director who also strongly supports it. Strong informed leadership - that's what NYC has and what Hamilton lacks. Citizens need to be involved but you can only go to so many meetings, sign so many petitions, write so many letters, roll so many boulders uphill. At some point the people who's job it is to do this stuff need to take over and do their jobs. That hasn't happened in Hamilton yet and we won't see NYC type improvements until it does.

Frankly Portland used to be progressive for cycling but has fallen behind other cities that started later but are moving faster. We're later still, so we need to move even faster still.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:32:39 in reply to Comment 93563

I'm encouraged by your upbeat attitude and hope to be dispensing high-fives in 2014.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:38:25 in reply to Comment 93566

Actually, based on the cases I know best, Paris and Vancouver, these changes were almost entirely the result of strong support from the Mayor together with active buy-in from staff. These cities changed quickly because the change was supported politically and financially by the Mayors of these cities (Delanoe, Bloomberg, Robertson ...) and staff followed.

And I lived for five years in Paris and 23 years in Vancouver and 15 years in Hamilton, so I've had lots of opportunity to see the grass up close to find out where it is in fact greenest ;)

There was definitely some community support in both cities, but the changes were controversial, and were implemented because the Mayors wanted them and staff actively supported the changes both at the policy level and in day-to-day trade-off decisions in infrastructure.

Compare and contrast Vancouver's website http://vancouver.ca/streets-transportati...

with Hamilton's http://www.hamilton.ca/CityDepartments/P...

to see what I mean by active staff support (both were the top hits from "Vancouver/Hamilton traffic engineer"). You'll notice that Vancouver's site is called "streets and transportation" (recognizing the fact that complete streets are the goal), while Hamilton still thinks of streets as infrastructure for motor vehicles.

Paris is an extreme example: as far as I know there were no significant grass roots campaigns pushing for bike rentals or protected cycle lanes ... largely because there were almost no cyclists in Paris 10-15 years ago! As is usual in France, the Mayor decreed it, the engineers implemented it, and they ignored the complaints of drivers and merchants. The same thing had happened earlier with pedestrianized streets.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2013-10-23 12:46:50

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By bikeist (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:38:52 in reply to Comment 93569

Sorry, I meant to post this as a reply to matthewsweet.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:51:11 in reply to Comment 93565

Fair enough Ryan. Cheerfully withdrawn. As for the GO station, I strongly suspect that the City is not the party involved which is responsible for holding things up.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2013 at 13:08:44 in reply to Comment 93564

Part of the problem is that we are drowning in lip service. We have a huge cycling master plan with a build-out projection of something like 20 years or more. We are told that bike lanes will be installed (or at least considered) at every repaving project. And then we spend half our yearly budget on roads and install 1km of bike lanes at a time. All talk, no action.

The "lane to nowhere" on King could just as easily be viewed as "a perfect opportunity to start". As you said, change is incremental and we obviously can't expect the city to plunk bike lanes down on every street overnight. But when huge swaths of pavement are being repoured - that is precisely the time to implement new designs. King east remains a nightmare - worse now that it's smoother than a formula 1 track. And how much did we pay for that? And how much will we pay to repave all four lanes all over again in 15 years?

I'm not a fan of disconnected bike lanes but I'm even less of a fan of wasting resources by having to do things twice - and of missed opportunities by not doing it right the first time.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2013 at 13:09:26 in reply to Comment 93556

I always thought the "R" in RTH stood for rant.... Have I been doing it wrong all these years?

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By Kevin Love (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 13:12:16

Portland, Oregon is not "everyone's favourite example." My favourite example is Groningen in The Netherlands. And yes, that didn't happen overnight either.

There is a legitimate debate on quantity vs. quality and pace of implementation. Here is my take:

Infrastructure should be constructed to the CROW bicycle traffic design engineering standards. Why? Because if we don't have design engineering standards then what gets built is all-too-often worthless, dangerous crap.

Having said that, bicycle infra is dirt cheap. Particularly compared to the cost of building and maintaining car infrastructure. A tiny fraction of what was wasted on building the Red Hill Expressway would CROW-ize all of Hamilton. So it is really not about money.

Fundamentally, it is about bigotry. But with my own two eyes I have seen bigots change. For example, I used to have relatives whose opinion about homosexuals was changed by knowing people like that. All the rational arguments in the entire world had zero effect. It was personal knowledge that changed this bigotry.

It is the same with transportation infra. When the sky doesn't fall when downtown becomes car-free on a "trial basis only," and things become much nicer, then the bigots will change their minds.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 13:27:11 in reply to Comment 93578

Tip: They tend to be more receptive to change when you call them "skeptics".

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By bikeist (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 13:34:12 in reply to Comment 93580

Another tip: calling bigots skeptics makes bigotry look respectable.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 14:02:04

"By the 15-year mark of the RTP, as much as $300 million will have been invested in new walking and cycling infrastructure across the region, creating up to 4,500 kilometres of new, dedicated, on and off-road facilities, including new facilities to overcome barriers such as 400-series highways, rail corridors and major rivers, and missing sidewalks on major roads. New policies and programs will have created environments that encourage walking and cycling throughout the GTHA."

http://www.metrolinx.com/thebigmove/en/lookingforward/5_2_first15years.aspx

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 14:09:29 in reply to Comment 93584

I'd imagine the taxi industry is pushing back hard on it.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 14:24:07 in reply to Comment 93586

Have you seen the parking structures going up at GO stations across the region? Their mandate is getting drivers parked in convenient locations to get on the train / bus. In the midst of all of those improvements, how many good cycling connections have you seen installed to get bicycle commuters safely to the station building?

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 14:27:00 in reply to Comment 93576

I agree about the missed opportunity on King, it would have been a great starting point. This I think is a case where other plans hinder opportunities. LRT on King trumps everything until a decision is finally made, so other opportunities get wasted. I'm frankly amazed the road was resurfaced with LRT still in limbo.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 14:35:19

I wouldn't call King Street all the way from the east end to downtown a 'bike lane to nowhere.' It would serve many origin - destination pairs over its 3.1km length. It would connect to many residential side streets that are quiet enough not to need bike lanes. It would connect the calmer two-way sections of Main and King east of the Delta to the calmer International Village section with two lanes and parking on either side, effectively bridging the most terrifying stretch of King. In other words, that 3.1km stretch needs the bike lane much more than what surrounds.

A 'bike lane to nowhere' more aptly describes the lanes on York because of the conditions where the lane ends at Bay. There is nowhere safe and legal to cycle once the lane ends except north on Bay Street, which is still fast one way at that point. Most westerly destinations past Bay Street are to the south, i.e. along King Street and into Westdale. There is no safe and legal way to cycle in that direction from York.

I recognize that not all bike lanes can be built at once. However the safe continuation of a bike lane should at least be planned for. A two-way Bay Street or a bidirectional separated bike lane on Bay between York and King would give cyclists more options to continue, but that wasn't even discussed in the planning for York.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 14:36:18 in reply to Comment 93578

With respect, I also take issue with the use of the term "bigot". There was a reason I mentioned the hard working people who use our current auto-centric infrastructure in just the manner it was designed by driving to and from a distant workplace to put food on the table. I don't blame any one of them one bit for doing what the design of our cities tells them they should do. I also don't blame them for thinking it works just fine. As for decision makers, that is a different story. There is plenty of evidence that should convince any decision maker to support active transportation. The thing with decision makers, though, is that they can be voted out if you disagree with them. Example after example has been given in these comments about cities with political leadership that supports cycling making significant investments. These leaders don't emerge out of a vacuum. Enough people vote them in and that gives them a mandate to pursue those cycling investments. If you want the pace of change in Hamilton to increase, the best way to do so is to get involved in the democratic process and find people willing to or planning to run for municipal / provincial / federal office who believe cycling infrastructure is a vote-getter.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 14:51:35 in reply to Comment 93569

I find making a distinction between citizens and leaders is a bit off. The decision makers are put in place by citizens through the democratic process! And there is a massive opportunity in municipal politics to make big changes through the ballot box, since such a small percentage of eligible voters actually participate! Staff serve at the will of council (to borrow a phrase from senior Hamilton staff overheard at a council meeting or two). Council serve at the will of the people. Make cycling a vote-getter and maybe it will get more of a priority.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 14:57:59 in reply to Comment 93582

Legit bigots? Have at.

But as a broad descriptor, perhaps a bit heavily salted -- and arguably tendentious in its own right.

Some drivers who are thoughtless/selfish/conditioned by existing traffic infrastructure could become potent and persuasive allies.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 14:58:16 in reply to Comment 93591

I agree: but I think this gets back to the timidity and and incrementalism of our leaders, who set the example to staff.

In each of the cities I mentioned, the changes were hugely controversial and required leadership to push forward (they were not necessarily "vote getters" before the fact). It also requires politicians whose goal is to make a big and lasting positive impact on their cities (i.e. some ego and long term view). The recent campaign to have begin to have Hamiltonians embrace the slogan "The Ambitious City" recognizes this.

Hamilton is by no means unique (Toronto has similar issues), but examples like the road tolls in London and Stockholm have shown that decisive leadership in implementing apparently unpopular decisions is possible. Polls actually show that people are more receptive to progressive solutions than most politicians give them credit for.

And as far as "vote getting" goes, we have a mayor who actively campaigned on getting LRT for Hamilton and who supported (at one point) a new stadium in the West Harbour but who, upon election, did everything possible to denigrate LRT and reduce Hamilton's chances for getting LRT and gave the TiCats a rotated stadium right where it was. Many people voted for him because of these progressive stances, only for his position to change after the election. Instead, his main goals have been keeping taxes low and maintaining Hamilton as the "20 minute city" (if you're driving).

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By RobF (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 15:01:14

I could live with an incremental approach to building cycling infrastructure if i saw a commitment from the mayor and council to do it. Yes the Cannon bike lanes are a big win, and i look forward to being able to bike safely from James to Ottawa, but the city still isn't going to be particularly bike-friendly. The trouble starts at council which ranges from indifferent to hostile toward bike lanes and other changes to our roadways (outside a few councilors, of course). City staff advises council, it doesn't lead. If you want the city to be more aggressive (re: establishing a real, functionally adequate network of bike lanes and shifting toward a "complete streets" philosophy) it starts with the mayor and council. If you don't think Mayor Bob and council are providing leadership on this file then now would be a good time to begin strategizing for the next municipal election.

Comment edited by RobF on 2013-10-23 15:03:13

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By Jay Robb (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 15:08:11 in reply to Comment 93578

Great post Matthew.

If I got the conversion right, unleaded gas is currently selling in the Netherlands for $2.49 a litre (it's around $1.20 here). Suspect a lot of us would hop on bikes if the price at the pumps doubled. My sister's currently overseas and is riding a bike everywhere not by choice but because gas, tolls and parking are prohibitively expensive and beyond her budget.

Will be interesting to see what happens to parking fees in a gentrifying downtown Hamilton as the condos go up and big brands move in. Right now, parking is dirt cheap and readily available (aside from Springsteen concerts and convocation ceremonies at Hamilton Place, when was the last time you couldn't find a parking spot downtown?).

And while the focus is on an east-west light rail transit system, north-south bus rapid transit would go a long way in giving more options to all the surbanites who currently drive into the core to work at some of Hamilton's largest employers.

Watch the rush hour traffic on any of the Mountain access routes. Almost all of it is going down in morning and up in the early evening.

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By Kevin Love (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 18:39:58 in reply to Comment 93570

I hope to be using the Cannon bike lanes every day to get to work. It will be a big improvement, if the lanes are properly constructed in accordance with the CROW traffic design engineering standard.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 18:49:44 in reply to Comment 93571

We need a progressive mayor, not one who can just sound progressive for a Toronto newspaper article.

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By Kevin Love (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 19:02:34 in reply to Comment 93605

I absolutely agree 100%. People will travel in the way that is fastest, easiest and most convenient. What makes walking, cycling and public transit the fastest, easiest and most convenient way of travel is supportive infrastructure, proper land use policies and all the other things Ryan mentioned.

Take a look at this video to see what happens when things are done right.

http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2013/10/excellent-video-from-streetfilms-in.html

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2013 at 19:17:28 in reply to Comment 93566

When you reference NYC, Vancouver etc, do you imagine that the improvements they have seen are purely the result of staff initiative? Surely not! Up until very recently, NYC was absolutely not a cycling friendly city. I don't know how completely friendly it is now.

I cycled for a day in NYC last month, from the bottom of Central Park down into the Lower East Side and back up - I used the riverside path, separated bike lanes, painted bike lanes, and rode in open traffic. "Friendly" is not the first word which comes to mind. I had to stare down taxis and cars a number of times when my right of way was challenged, and some of those times I lost. Mind, that's true if you are driving or walking in NYC.

But it felt safe. And there were lots of people on bikes, not just the road-warriors of five years ago. And, of course, those to statements go hand in hand, as Ryan has so often pointed out.

Here's a chart showing risk of injury from cycling in NYC falling precipitously as the number of cyclists increases ... Images: RTH

See this Business Insider article for details.

And coming back to the point? The cycling infrastructure in NYC happened hard and fast - there were basically no bike lanes in NYC ten years ago. They have put in hundreds of miles of bike lanes. We can't even manage Hunter Street properly.

Comment edited by moylek on 2013-10-23 19:20:14

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By Kevin Love (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 19:19:03 in reply to Comment 93594

Let me describe some of the examples of particularly vicious bigotry that I have encountered.

I'll start with the hate slurs thrown at me on the street by car drivers. How dare I actually exercise my legal right to use the roads that my tax dollars paid for!

From hate slurs, the next step up is vicious acts of violence. Yes, this includes being threatened and intimidated by a multi-tonne lethal weapon. Threatening or intimidating someone with a weapon constitutes the Criminal Code of Canada offence of "Assault With a Weapon." Reckless and negligent car driving constitutes the Criminal Code of Canada offence of "Dangerous Driving."

Yet when I make criminal complaints to the Hamilton Police, what happens? That would be a whole lot of nothing. I would be willing to wager that in each case if the violent, dangerous criminal used a gun instead of a car as the weapon, a little bit more than nothing would have happened. This shows a pattern of systematic discrimination and bigotry on the part of the Hamilton Police.

Last night at the Durand Neighbourhood Association meeting, the police representative was asked when the Hamilton Police would start enforcing the law and laying Criminal Code charges of "Dangerous Driving" against reckless and negligent car drivers. He responded by talking about provincial laws and tickets as if he did not even know that Dangerous Driving was a Criminal Code offence. And this was a Hamilton Police sergeant!

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2013 at 19:27:08 in reply to Comment 93612

Yet when I make criminal complaints to the Hamilton Police, what happens? That would be a whole lot of nothing.

I was hit by a car as it made an illegal right-hand turn two weeks ago; no real damage, though I still have a mark on my shin. But I decided to call the HPS bad-driver hotline the next day, having thought more about a driving instructor pulling a boner like that (did I mention that it was a driving-school car?).

Never heard boo back from HPS, I am disappointed to say.

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By Kevin Love (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 19:45:23 in reply to Comment 93611

Thank you for the graph. This is the famous "safety in numbers" effect. Cycling has to be promoted as a safe activity for everyone. See, for example, the excellent article here:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/may/07/cycling-safety-york-calderdale

Here is an excerpt from the article:

"If you really want to have a lot of people cycling, one thing that people need is to feel safe cycling. It is the perceived safety that is so important," said Hans Voerknecht from Holland's Fiets Beraad, or bicycle council.

"It shouldn't be a fringe sub-culture, just for the cyclists you could call the urban guerrillas. You'll never have ordinary people cycling if that's the image they see."

Voerknecht points out that only a tiny minority of Dutch cyclists wear helmets, and while a few enthusiasts take to the roads in full Tour de France gear they are overwhelmingly outnumbered by people pedalling to work, school or the shops in everyday clothes, even formal business suits.

The CTC's Peck, who accompanied the MPs to the Netherlands, agrees that the image of cycling in Britain needs an overhaul.

"Helmets and things like that do give this impression that cycling is inherently dangerous, and this whole urban warrior image is not very helpful"

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By Kevin Love (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 19:48:35 in reply to Comment 93613

Suppose that the weapon was a gun instead of a car. Same outcome: the bullet merely grazed your shin leaving only a scratch and no real damage.

Would there have been the same "Nothing" reaction from Hamilton Police?

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By Steve (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 20:20:58 in reply to Comment 93588

When I worked in Toronto, I rode my bike to the station every day and took it to Toronto on the bus, as well. I often wondered why Hunter did not have a bike lane because it's wide and not particularly high traffic.

Eventually, I switched to walking to the station and riding Bixi in Toronto, but I still wondered about something which seems to make good sense.

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 20:27:16 in reply to Comment 93590

With regards to bike lanes to nowhere on the recently repaved King.
Bike lanes from Delta to Sherman. Head down Sherman and we connect to the new Cannon bike lanes.
I would say it is more like a bike lane to somewhere.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 22:04:03 in reply to Comment 93605

In Denmark, taxes on automobile purchases are approximately 100% of the purchase price. I think that makes a difference in how people choose to get around.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 22:07:06 in reply to Comment 93608

For the record, there are lots of good design manuals based in North America to which we can turn. NACTO, TAC Bikeways, the upcoming OTM Book 18 to name a few.

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By Kevin Love (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 23:26:20 in reply to Comment 93621

Sure. Instead of using the proven success of international benchmark engineering standards, it is possible to use something else.

Hint: This might not be a good idea.

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By DM (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2013 at 00:06:09

Looks like congestion on king can happen overnight.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 24, 2013 at 08:25:57 in reply to Comment 93564

I presuppose Hamilton PW aren't going through a similar process because they aren't. Even streets that were supposed to get bike lanes like West 5th, don't. I don't consider turning a massive stretch of King - from the Delta to downtown - into a complete street to be haphazard. I do consider breaking up a straightforward bike lane project on Hunter into 3 slivers to be.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 24, 2013 at 08:44:07 in reply to Comment 93623

ya - total gridlock, city has been basically shut down for the past 24 hours.. I heard a bunch of people died cause the ambulances couldn't get through

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 24, 2013 at 09:28:01 in reply to Comment 93623

... did we drive on the same King Street? I went home at 5:30 pm last night and it was completely unremarkable.

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2013 at 09:41:45 in reply to Comment 93623

Really?

I work in the Standard Life Building at King and Bay. Walked out of the office last night around 5:30. There were about 5 cars waiting for the light westbound on King at Bay.

Got into my car in the Municipal Lot at King and Bay, exited on to King and drove to Queen.

Not a hint of congestion or gridlock at what should be "rush hour". Admittedly traffic was moving slower than usual (read: at the speed limit), perhaps this is the congestion that you and all the other Chicken Littles are referring to.

Also, as an aside, the sun once again rose in the east today.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 24, 2013 at 09:55:33 in reply to Comment 93634

Yeah. Some of the sentiments I'm reading are "I'll never drive through the core again".

I don't even know what to say to that. In what other city do you drive through the core to save time?

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted October 24, 2013 at 10:30:13 in reply to Comment 93590

I agree with you wholeheartedly. But at the ends of that proposed bike lane, where would cyclists go? The bike lanes would end, there would be nothing for them to connect to. Cyclists, particularly one's riding contra-flow, in the case of King St eastbound, would be dumped into limbo at the Delta at a complicated intersection. These are the sorts of things that generally drive this forum crazy, and they are absolutely correct to be driven crazy by it. So I found it odd that those things did not enter the discussion when the King St proposal was made. Yet when the City installs facilities with no clear continuity beyond its scope, everyone cries foul.

ps I'm trying really hard not to be an apologist here!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 24, 2013 at 11:05:31 in reply to Comment 93638

Delta is a mess. But if you are eastbound on King to the Delta in these imaginary bike lanes, with some fancy footwork you can continue east on main or king as they are both two way there. The delta is a more reasonable "end point" than many of our bike lanes have right now. For the record, I think that king east of the delta should be one lane in each direction with centre turn lane and bike lanes on both shoulders. now would be a good time to implement it while there is zero traffic due to the closure at kenilworth. minimum disruption and then when it all reopens, the lanes are just - there. and it could literally be done with JUST PAINT

Comment edited by seancb on 2013-10-24 11:05:57

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By DM (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2013 at 13:02:30 in reply to Comment 93634

Interestingly enough, the same rhetoric comes from cyclists regarding stop signs.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 24, 2013 at 13:04:48 in reply to Comment 93647

And motorists at stop signs. And every driver on the 400 series highways... Going 100 may save a few lives but MILLIONS will be late!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 24, 2013 at 13:09:26 in reply to Comment 93647

The obvious solution is to put a stop sign every block on King Street, since that's apparently good enough for cyclists and therefore good enough for everybody.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 24, 2013 at 13:42:41 in reply to Comment 93647

Spoken like someone who has no clue what cycling is actually like, nor a clue what the ideas that were articulated actually are.

Is it possible you just skimmed the conversation we had earlier about some ideas to create greenways (to divert bikes onto quieter routes), and somehow concluded that cyclists were asking to be exempt from traffic laws? If so, a most inaccurate and dishonest conclusion.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 24, 2013 at 14:51:22 in reply to Comment 93647

Physics 101 is a good place to start.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 24, 2013 at 14:51:58 in reply to Comment 93636

Shake their hand and pat them on the back when someone says that. Hopefully they mean it.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 08:59:22

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/michael-laxer/2013/10/it-time-war-on-car

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 25, 2013 at 09:16:50 in reply to Comment 93706

Thank you for that - a fantastic piece

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By ViennaCafe (registered) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 16:55:23

Well, it was me who has accused the city of half-measures and I stand by it.

I find it fascinating that you would criticize some of us for proposing a half-measure, adding a bike lane to King St. from the Delta to Wellington when you yourself, who is arguing for "incremental change", would instead have us fight for a full length bike lane? You're confusing me and I'm not sure of your point.

The repaving of King St. provided an excellent opportunity to add a bike lane on a stretch of road heavily used by cyclists all the way into the downtown. That would not be a half-measure it would be bloody fantastic and it would be well used.

As I said, I am fully supportive of the Canon lanes, but I'm not likely to use then and nor, I bet, are most of the cyclists currently using King and Main. Ryan has often made the effort on this site to impart the idea that we should plan and design for what people do rather than what we'd like them to do. And people cycle on Main and King because, just like for automobiles, it is often the most direct route to wherever they are going. Too much planning for cyclists is to push them out of the way. As I said previously, I pay the same taxes and I am equally entitled to share the same road. And let us keep in mind that the Canon St. project, too, is a "pilot project". Which means that it has all the permanence of a municipal Master Plan.

And further on half-measures, consider the "pilot-project" for the dedicated bus lane on King St. It is as though there was a concerted effort to anger every single demographic that shares that stretch of road. There was no warning that one day this week we would all wake up to a new bus lane angering motorists including supporters. Cyclists were told to find another way and provided with a maze of a route that included dismounts, walks, and possibly even portages. Even transit users complained because routes hadn't been adjusted so buses would sit to make up time. And where was the education component to prepare drivers as to proper road etiquette when making right turns or having to cross the bus lane? It was all so haphazardly done and now one councillor has already said perhaps the project will need to be reconsidered sooner.

It is all half-measures.

I am sorry if that offends you, but it didn't take much time for Rob Ford to tear up a bike lane on Jarvis and it won't take this council much time to paint over a dedicated bus lane on King St.

I am all in favour of incremental and steady change if there is a plan, visible progress, and light at the end of the tunnel. I don't see that here. Not at all. I see, instead, a plan, a very good one, gathering dust, limited progress won not through the implementation of the plan but through citizen activism, and no light at the end of the tunnel.

And there is Longwood. Like so many other projects, that too began with plans that are heartening and is ending with more of the same. Yes, there will be a cycling and pedestrian crossing at some point in an undefined future assuming the environmental assessments pass and the money is available. Until that sunny, sunny day, no bike lane for you!

So, yeah, I appreciate your efforts, but I'm not sold. And do you know why I come off as uncompromising and failing to see the background machinations working tirelessly to bring about the urban change we can all believe in? Because when I look at the projects and plans taking place in our city each and every day, I just see more of the same: planning for automobiles. Compromise is about meeting halfway and I would happily settle for continuous bike lanes along half of Hamilton's continuous thoroughfares. Give us Main St. and let the cars have King.

Comment edited by ViennaCafe on 2013-10-25 17:04:01

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 26, 2013 at 08:59:48 in reply to Comment 93748

hear, hear!

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 26, 2013 at 11:56:16 in reply to Comment 93748

Nicely put, your comment sums up many of the frustrations I share but didn't know how to articulate well.

And where was the education component to prepare drivers as to proper road etiquette when making right turns or having to cross the bus lane?

I'm lucky enough not to have to travel that stretch, but from what I did see the road paint is a bit sloppy and ghetto. Some much more effective road markings could probably have been designed, even arrows. Some thought and care could have resulted in beautiful road markings that are easy to follow.

Both in planning and construction, much of the work done reeks of a lack of passion and lack of care. My impression is that nobody in city hall or on the work crews really has a passion for their work, nor feels pride in a job well done. I could be wrong, don't mean to speak presumptuously, but it's definitely how it comes across. From all the half measures Vienna described above, to the holes in the road smashing my bike to pieces, to little things that escalate a passage from already difficult to treacherous, the whole thing still feels a bit ghetto. For example all the guys fired recently for stealing time instead of doing road work, meanwhile there's some dangerous potholes and ruts not getting any attention.

Recently the culture seems to have just begun to change. This is beautiful to see and hopefully it is just the beginning of a culture of results, caring, and pride in the planning and work that gets done.

Matthew, it is encouraging to hear young engineers such as yourself coming into the field, that actually commute multi-modally and can appreciate a city from various perspectives that people experience it. As you mature in your profession don't forget where you came from, stay active! We need progressive people making our cities better, safer, and cleaner!

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:10:54 in reply to Comment 93748

Oh, one more thing:

There was no warning that one day this week we would all wake up to a new bus lane angering motorists including supporters.

I'm not formally proposing a conspiracy theory or anything like that, but noticed something odd:

The spec had an article talking about slow driving down King Street after the lane took effect; how 12 minute drives were now 45 minutes. Yet here on RTH people were saying King was moving normally. Were there other parts of King blocked for construction at the time? (I think by Wentworth there is some road work?) Was the spec article blaming on the transit lane a bottleneck that was actually caused elsewhere? Was the article trying to make the lane look bad on its first day? Are RTH comments exaggerating to the downside?

Anyway the point of this is, the lane may have been meant to fail and be annoying, in order to set a precedent for reverting it back and never messing with King or Main in the future. They seem to want to cancel LRT. Maybe this is all a part of manufacturing support for leaving these streets status quo?

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By ViennaCafe (registered) | Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:40:06 in reply to Comment 93770

I'm not suggesting a conspiracy either, but the lane was opened on a Wednesday. Do you know what also happens on Wednesday, during the morning commute, along that two lane stretch from Wellington? Garbage collection. It may not have been a conspiracy, but the timing couldn't have been better if it were one.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted October 26, 2013 at 16:20:20 in reply to Comment 93775

It was stated that rain delayed the painting. There was indeed a fair bit of rain the last few days.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted October 27, 2013 at 00:29:29 in reply to Comment 93748

Thanks for your detailed reply Sean. Let me respond to some of your points in order.

I find it fascinating that you would criticize some of us for proposing a half-measure, adding a bike lane to King St. from the Delta to Wellington when you yourself, who is arguing for "incremental change", would instead have us fight for a full length bike lane?

This was not my point. In fact, in the article I said that I liked the King Street proposal that Jason made. My point was that it is contradictory for those of you who criticize the city for half-measures to then turn around and propose what some would also describe as a half-measure. It is an inconsistent position to take and smacks of cherry picking to score points. In subsequent comments others have suggested that the King proposal was not a half-measure at all and they made some excellent points about connecting communities etc. All of which I agree with. But a bike lane with no connections of any sort at either end is the sort of project that typically gets lampooned here. I also think the LRT plan supercedes any other proposals for King, which deserves some due respect and attention from contributors here considering RTH has been such a strong proponent of the LRT plans. (Sidenote, my first involvement in matters transportation in Hamilton was to attend Hamilton LRT meetings back in the day, where I first met Ryan, Nicholas etc).

As I said, I am fully supportive of the Canon lanes, but I'm not likely to use then and nor, I bet, are most of the cyclists currently using King and Main.

You hit on something here which I don't think you intended. You are already riding on King and Main! So frankly, it sounds as if you fall into the "Strong and Fearless" category of cyclists. I give props to anyone who has or is cycling in conditions which are unfavourable, ie in mixed traffic on a street like King or Main. But folks in the "Strong and Fearless" category are not my target demographic, as I mentioned in the article. I want to provide facilities that will encourage folks in the "Interested but Concerned" crowd. Lines on the pavement on King or Main would not be enough to get folks to consider cycling regularly. Separated two way cycle tracks on Cannon just might. Which leads to my next point.

Ryan has often made the effort on this site to impart the idea that we should plan and design for what people do rather than what we'd like them to do. And people cycle on Main and King because, just like for automobiles, it is often the most direct route to wherever they are going. Too much planning for cyclists is to push them out of the way.

A point that Ryan has also made on several occasions in the past is that when modelling or anticipating travel behaviour, there is much more to consider than just the most direct route. Indeed, auto trips appear and disappear depending on the network characteristics of the roadway. New freeways generate new trips which were not previously seen in the network through latent demand. In much the same way, a separated two-way cycle track on Cannon will most likely a) generate new trips, and b) steal trips from other less favourable routes. While you state your belief that cyclists currently using King and Main will continue to do so, I do not think that will be the case if the Cannon proposal goes through.

I am sorry if that offends you

I am not offended at all. I simply felt as though there were inconsistencies in message emerging and wanted to chip in my two cents. I have enjoyed every moment of the debate that the article has generated.

As far as Longwood, the Transit Only lane, and other projects go, I have thoughts on all of those but I have gone on long enough in one reply.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted October 27, 2013 at 13:08:38 in reply to Comment 93807

As far as Longwood, the Transit Only lane, and other projects go, I have thoughts on all of those but I have gone on long enough in one reply.

Sounds like time for another article. :)

Yes, please. :)

I realize that you've sort of been jumped on for parts of your article, Matthew, but it was thoughtful and generated discussion. I'd like to hear your thoughts about Longwood, too.

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By ViennaCafe (registered) | Posted October 30, 2013 at 23:29:04 in reply to Comment 93798

Let me return the favour:

"My point was that it is contradictory for those of you who criticize the city for half-measures to then turn around and propose what some would also describe as a half-measure."

But it is not contradictory and inconsistent for you to champion incremental change and then turn around and oppose incremental change?

But you're also wrong, IMHO. A King St. lane from the Delta to the downtown would be very different from the lane that just starts and stops intermittently along York St., for example. Because it would stop and start at natural points: Where King and Main meet to the gates of the downtown. It would, in fact, be much closer to a complete route than any other I've had the privilege to ride so far.

"You hit on something here which I don't think you intended. You are already riding on King and Main! So frankly, it sounds as if you fall into the "Strong and Fearless" category of cyclists."

No, really, I'm the old and tired. I have tried to cycle Canon, the Chedoke Trail, and through the downtown. But mine is an 8k commute along King. King is actually safer than Canon which has very poor pavement, fast drivers, and what I refer to as "Hamilton parking" in the right lane. Hamilton parking is the habit of parking a foot or more away from the curb forcing cyclists to move into the next lane over.

The simple fact of the matter is that after trying numerous routes I failed to find a better one than King across the city. The Chedoke Trail carries me way out of my way and there is no good access from Ottawa St.(or to Ottawa St.). Through the downtown adds time to my route and forces me to contend with sometimes more aggressive drivers coming out of Corktown much of which wants to turn right forcing me to stay back and costing me yet more time.

" Lines on the pavement on King or Main would not be enough to get folks to consider cycling regularly."

And you base that on what? The number of cyclist currently using King and Main without the benefit of "lines"?

"A point that Ryan has also made on several occasions in the past is that when modelling or anticipating travel behaviour, there is much more to consider than just the most direct route."

Did he say that about cyclists? If he did, I missed it. Cars, if they want a different route, turn the wheel and press on the gas. The human piloting a car uses no more energy to drive 10k as 8k. But, guess what, when your cycling, it makes a difference. It makes a difference in time, sweat, and energy, and maybe the difference as to whether it is really worth it.

"a separated two-way cycle track on Cannon will most likely a) generate new trips, and b) steal trips from other less favourable routes."

I agree that's true for people who live along the route but I truly doubt it is true for others. If you're suggesting that I'll be happy to brave Cannon from Ottawa to Sherman just to lose the lane and have to face the hill to Dundurn and race for my life while checking over my shoulder for the truck or car bearing down on me as I cross from curb lane to left turn lane, you're wrong. It is faster, safer, and more direct for me to just continue on King as I do now. And I think you would need to provide something other than warm and fuzzy feelings to support your contention.

"I also think the LRT plan supercedes any other proposals for King, which deserves some due respect and attention from contributors here considering RTH has been such a strong proponent of the LRT plans."

A transportation plan that fails to accommodate along the same routes all alternative means of transportation is not a plan at all.

RTH has consistently supported "compete streets", streets that are welcoming and safe for pedestrians, cyclists, transit, and cars. To argue for a transit lane that will force other users off the road onto less desirable routes is simply failure in the making.

Let's be clear about who I am. I am an avid supporter of transit, cycling, walking, safe streets, placemaking, and the urban environment as a place for people. And if I am to understand that to have a form of rapid transit in Hamilton I, as a cyclist, am to be excluded from the routes I use which are best suited for allowing me a safe, convenient, and timely commute, then it doesn't have my support. And if a transit plan begins without the support of someone like me, then it is in big trouble already.

I'm glad you're enjoying the debate, as am I.

Comment edited by ViennaCafe on 2013-10-30 23:44:46

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