Special Report: Walkable Streets

My Bike Collision Story: We Need Safe Streets Now, Not Later

We need a cultural shift in Hamilton and we need it now, not after every other city and town has proven that reducing limits is effective.

By Kari Dalnoki-Veress
Published December 31, 2014

We often hear about the importance of complete streets: the benefits to health, the local economy, and the community as a whole. We discuss the merits of inverting the focus on cars-first and pedestrians-last.

Here I would like to give a less evidence-based view resulting from a recent event. On Friday, December 12, on my daily commute home by bike, I was rear-ended by a car.

I will first try to establish that I am a well-seasoned cyclist, familiar with and obeying the rules of the road. I will then discuss the details of the accident and injuries and finish with my wish for our great city.

Let me make it clear that I am not looking for sympathy. I have wonderful family and friends for that. I merely hope that when you read this personal account and think of something similar happening to you, a loved one, or your kids, it might encourage you to write a letter to your Councillor or other representatives.

I have been commuting year-round by bike for about 24 years now in various cities: Guelph, Sheffield (UK), Paris (France), and Hamilton to name those I have cycled in most. My partner and I have toured around Southern Ontario.

After all these years of cycling, I consider myself to be pretty streetwise and safe. Simply put, I love bikes, cycling, and commuting by bike. Cycling provides me a daily respite, a bit of exercise, and a wonderful connection to the weather, the seasons, and the small changes in our environment.

Over the years I have seen the cycling infrastructure improve, sometimes two steps forwards and one step back and never fast, but cycling infrastructure has become much better.

Unfortunately, in my personal case the changes have not come fast enough and may result in some permanent changes to my life.

The Lead-Up

After a long day at work on Friday, December 12, my partner, a friend and I biked home from work at about 6:30 PM. Our friend was visiting from Paris (France) and we were looking forward to some exciting plans for Friday night to show off Hamilton.

Commuting home from McMaster to near Charlton and Queen, we always take the wonderful new bike path over Highway 403, follow Studholme, turn right onto Aberdeen and turn left onto Hawthorne to avoid Aberdeen as much as possible.

Aberdeen is a nasty street to cycle on, especially when travelling eastbound, because the traffic is very fast with so many impatient drivers after having exited Highway 403.

We usually stop in the bike box on Studholme and wait for our light to turn green so that we can turn into the left-most eastbound lane on Aberdeen. The green light provides us with enough time to get to Hawthorne so that about half the time, when there is no oncoming traffic, we can get off Aberdeen immediately.

In addition, the cars stopped by the red light on Aberdeen have plenty of opportunity to see us.

Regardless, we always consider this one of the most dangerous points of our commute when we cannot pull into the side street and have to wait for oncoming traffic to clear.

This is as it was on December 12: three cyclists in a row, all with front and rear flashing lights and with me holding up the back, our hands outstretched to signal our left turn.

As I always do, my road position was slightly staggered so as to ensure that I do not block the other cyclists' lights, thus providing more visibility.

The Collision

As we stood there waiting to turn, there was a loud honk from a car in the rightmost lane trying to warn the driver behind me of what was about to happen.

Unfortunately, the warning was not sufficient to alert the driver and he hit me from behind, even though we were perfectly visible to others.

My friend, alerted by the honk, turned around and saw it happen. Apparently I was lifted by the car and went flying through the air.

The main thing that was going through my head was that we might not have time for drinks at Two Black Sheep, but could still make our reservation for dinner at Rapscallion.

I landed on my back, and in short, it could have been so very much worse. I was lucky.

The Damage

If you are queasy, there is no need to read the next few paragraphs, but since I am not shy to talk about what happened I will give the details.

I was not lifted by the car alone. The force of the collision pushed the bike seat into me and the metal rail of the seat impaled me. Of course it does not take much to imagine where; after all, you sit on a bike seat.

The injury caused quite some damage to the rear and impaled me towards the front - yup, inside towards the manly bits.

It has been a bit over two weeks and I am currently healing at home and healing well. With a bit of luck the injury to the anus will not result in any major permanent issues. It may also be the case that normal function will return to the nether regions. It is all to soon to tell, but we are hopeful.

As I said, I was lucky, actually very lucky: it could have been much worse and I am surrounded by a wonderful partner, family and friends providing support, as well as home nursing, and I received great care at Hamilton General.

Safer Streets, Soon

Why do I bother to share this? As stated, I do not want sympathy. What I do want is safer streets, and soon!

I want kids to be able to walk to school safely or to ride their bikes. A road like Queen street with cars racing with no buffer for the pedestrians is inhumane.

Streets like Main and King have to go: built for cars to speed through, designed on the cars-first and pedestrians-last principle.

Unfortunately, true complete streets take development and time and I view this as the ideal end goal. In the meanwhile, there is a solution that is simple, cheap, and severely reduces the impact and number of accidents: slow down!

Take cities like Paris and New York that have severely dropped their speed limits. Even mid-sized industrial cities like Edinburgh and Bristol are committed to 30 km/h speed limits.

For that matter, look at the 30 km/h zones in Hamilton's North End Neighbourhood, where kids can ride their bikes safely, play street hockey, loaf and kick-the-can.

Enough is enough: let's simply reduce and enforce the speed limit to 30 km/h on residential streets and 40 km/h on major roads.

If you are worried about the time cost, consider this: when you drive through a city you spend significant time accelerating and decelerating and are only at the maximum speed some of the time. As a result, a 20 percent decrease in speed results in less than a 20 percent increase in travel time.

The small time cost for drivers has a massive effect on the livability of our streets. We need a cultural shift in Hamilton and we need it now, not after every other city and town has proven that reducing limits is effective. Hamilton does not have to be last.

Kari Dalnoki-Veress is a Physicist at McMaster University living in downtown Hamilton. Follow Kari on Twitter @KDalnokiVeress.


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By jason (registered) | Posted December 31, 2014 at 15:28:43

Wow. Very scary. Thanks for sharing, and I'm pleased to hear you're recovering and that it wasn't much worse. I have made that same trip many times, and like you, I'm always praying that I can make the left onto Hawthorne before the light turns green behind me.
A street like Aberdeen with it's hordes of students walking and biking from Mac and Westdale, and it's single family homes along the majority of the route, does not need to be a 4 lane highway.
Hamilton MUST get over this idiotic notion that every city street must become an extension of the freeway it connects to. Drivers treat King and Queen like the real entrance to Hwy 403. Why? Because we encourage such behaviour by the way we've engineered it.

Ditto for Aberdeen, and Main, and York. There's no reason Aberdeen can't be 1 lane each way with parking on one-side only, and bike lanes each direction. At Locke and Dundurn, the curb parking can have a few spots removed to allow a left-turn lane onto those streets.
Traffic would still flow fine, yet there would be safer options for everyone.

I hope you would consider sending this to city council and our mayor. They like to spend hours and hours each council term bragging and patting themselves on the back about how McMaster brings educated, world-renowned employees here.
I think they owe it to McMaster, the city, you and all future employees to take a hard look at how far behind much of the world we are when it comes to livability and safe streets. Despite the few councillors who don't care about safety or livability, I believe most do care and want to see Hamilton become a Canadian leader in this regard. Hearing from citizens like you can only help.

Thx again for sharing

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By rrrandy (registered) - website | Posted December 31, 2014 at 15:58:38

I know that route well enough, Aberdeen needs to be tamed, and in the way Jason describes. Unfortunately signs alone won't do it. I wish you a speedy (sorry) recovery, and hopefully we can get some more changes across the city to make cycling and walking something anyone can do with a sense of some safety.

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By why (anonymous) | Posted December 31, 2014 at 16:00:05

Sadly, I really don't think reducing speed limits on its own is going to solve the problem. I think the number #1 problem with the interaction between cyclists and motorists in the downtown is a lack of awareness of the rights and responsibilities cyclists have under the Highway Traffic Act. A very large number of casual cyclists are simply not aware that they are a motorist under the eyes of the law and persist in switching between motorist and pedestrian in their cycling behaviour. Motorists are equally unaware, if not more so, of this fact and refuse to give cyclists the lane they are entitled to. I think any change in traffic infrastructure, including the excellent cycling lanes installed on Cannon St, has to be made in concert with a public awareness campaign, and enforcement, for it to be effective. Billboards, radio/TV spots, and social media HAVE to be used. Rules of the road have to be brought into public discourse otherwise both sides are going to keep pointing fingers at each other not knowing there are already laws in place to keep us safe that aren't being followed or enforced nearly enough.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 31, 2014 at 17:21:40

I realize this doesn't actually help with the problem, but please tell me the driver was arrested for this. They have proven they're not safe to be on the road.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted January 01, 2015 at 17:31:31 in reply to Comment 107457

Unless drunk (or intentional) a driver won't get arrested for an accident, even a severe one. Charged and ticketed is more like it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 31, 2014 at 20:07:40 in reply to Comment 107457

this is another problem here compared with Dutch/European countries where drivers are charged severely for such carelessness. Here, it's a slap on the wrist.

I would think a 30k city-wide speed limit would make sense, then on major streets we can put 40k signs. Currently you enter the city and it says 'speed limit 50k unless otherwise noted'. Then we post signs for 60 on Upper James, 80k on Cootes Dr etc.....

We could easily do the same thing - 30k city wide unless otherwise posted. Then, we post nothing more than 40 (except highways obviously).

This is one helpful step, but engineering is the major step and city hall is lost in 50's in that regard.

Look at Cootes Dr as it enters downtown Dundas. 4 lanes, plus turning lane. It suddenly reduces to 1-lane each way, with transit and parking on both sides and functions JUST FINE.
What a complete waste of land and money, building a road 1.5x larger than it needs to be. This same thing is repeated city-wide. Overbuilt streets which only lead to speeding.

We could add a BRT or LRT route extension along Cootes from Mac to downtown Dundas without impacting traffic operations one bit. Correction: without having traffic operations any worse than any other normal city. Yes, things will be slower than the 90-100 people currently do on Cootes, which is a good thing.

Comment edited by jason on 2014-12-31 20:10:50

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By Who Said (anonymous) | Posted January 01, 2015 at 12:48:45 in reply to Comment 107459

The author does not identify velocity as a factor in the collision. Either the geezer was careless, had bad eyesight or just shouldn't have been driving a car in the first place. Cars rear end cars all the time and most often they are traveling well below the speed limit when the collisions occur.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 09:55:30 in reply to Comment 107463

bq. The author does not identify velocity as a factor in the collision.

Are you sure you are reading the right article? Speed reduction is literally the solution proposed by the author.

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 13:29:19 in reply to Comment 107502

he does? read it twice no mention of the cars velocity

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted January 08, 2015 at 12:08:26 in reply to Comment 107508

Unless you are a hopeless pedantic nerd, or writing a newtonian mechanics exam, velocity and speed are considered equivalent in everyday life.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted January 01, 2015 at 17:36:28 in reply to Comment 107463

I've experienced many drivers who are careless, can't see beyond the end of their hood and/or shouldn't be driving. Using a derogatory term, in this case "geezer", to describe them does nothing to further any cause.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 01, 2015 at 14:35:40 in reply to Comment 107463

there's a myriad of reasons cities all over the planet are reverting to a 30-k speed limit. The old saying 'speed kills' is correct.

Along with a host of other affects such as slower response time, less awareness of surroundings, and good old simple science which shows a drastic reduction in severity of injuries and death when one is hit by a car at 30 vs 50.

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By call a lawyer (anonymous) | Posted December 31, 2014 at 18:42:28

I hope you have called a good lawyer.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted January 01, 2015 at 11:29:10

From http://www.hamiltonpolice.on.ca/HPS/News...

Cyclist Struck

On December 12th, 2014 at approximately 6:50 p.m., a group of cyclists stopped at a traffic light in the area of Aberdeen Avenue at Hawthorne Avenue waiting to make a left hand turn. A vehicle traveling eastbound on Aberdeen approached the riders and for reasons unknown failed to avoid them. One of the cyclists was struck and injured. A witness observed the collision and rendered medical assistance. The victim in his 40’s was taken to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries. Alcohol was not a factor in this incident and the driver, in his 70’s was charged with Careless Driving.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 02, 2015 at 01:35:17 in reply to Comment 107461

So, I followed the above Hamilton Police link, and saw something interesting.

All the other paragraphs with descriptions of crimes were entitled with the criminal offence. The headlines were, "Assault Cause Bodily Harm," "Stunt Driving," "Impaired/Collision," and "Street Robbery."

Only where the victim was a cyclist was there any deviation from this headline convention. That headline was not "Careless Driving," which would follow the same pattern of headlining that was followed in each of the other paragraphs. Instead it was "Cyclist Struck."

Don't we just love the way that Hamilton Police does not take crimes of violence seriously when the criminal is a car driver.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 01, 2015 at 16:28:19 in reply to Comment 107461

Two comments:

  1. There is no traffic light at Aberdeen and Hawthorne. Based upon Kari's description, they were not stopped at a traffic light but were turning onto Hawthorne from Aberdeen, which is an unsignalled intersection.

  2. Typical police FIDO undercharging. Based upon Kari's story, the car driver was operating "a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public," and should have been charged with Dangerous Driving Causing Bodily Harm.

I would strongly urge Kari and anyone else who is a victim of police undercharging to make a complaint to Ontario's Office of the Independent Police Review Director.

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2015-01-01 16:29:59

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 01, 2015 at 12:39:49

Why is aberdeen two lanes? in either direction? when the condos were under construction it functioned just fine with one lane.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 01, 2015 at 14:36:25 in reply to Comment 107462

same reason most of our streets are overbuilt: city hall encourages speeding at every opportunity.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 01, 2015 at 13:43:21


I am devastated to hear about your serious accident, but relieved that your injuries were not worse. Thank you so much for sharing your story: people need to know that there are real people behind the unacceptable injury statistics for pedestrians and cyclists in Hamilton. They need to know that being a defensive, law-abiding experienced urban cyclist is not always enough to keep you safe on our neighbourhood streets.

The design of the streets and the attitude of many drivers unfortunately makes dangerous collisions like this inevitable, and pedestrians and cyclists are especially vulnerable. The statistics show clearly that Hamilton is one of the most dangerous cities in Ontario for cyclists and pedestrians.

'The risk to cyclists can be as much as 81 per cent higher than the provincial average.'


Our streets need to change NOW!

This intersection is used by many commuting cyclists as a way to get off Aberdeen as soon as possible when travelling East, but it is dangerous. The intersection is close to the 403 exit which means traffic is still travelling fast and motorists are not entirely adjusted to the urban environment.

Two years ago I wrote about an extremely unpleasant run in with a driver while waiting to turn at that same intersection.


In this case the driver basically tried to run me off the road and threatened that I would die if I persisted in cycling on the streets! After that incident I decided to change my route to avoid turning at Hawthorne; I'd had too many unpleasant and dangerous incidents with impatient or careless drivers. Now I take the newly completed path through the golf course, even though it involves an extra 200m (and going up and down the hill).

This shouldn't be necessary. Aberdeen is indicated as an un-signed cycle route, shown on the City of Hamilton bike route map, and actually has a (very narrow) cycle lane just west of this location travelling west. And, more importantly, our urban streets should not be so dangerous and unpleasant that experienced and rule-abiding cyclists have to carefully plan their routes to avoid being killed or maimed. Given the severity of the injuries speed was a factor. Remember that cyclists and pedestrians are far more vulnerable even at speeds that are considered 'low' (for motorists!).

This situation is unacceptable. We know what we need to do to build safer complete streets. Other cities are already doing it. We MUST too.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 01, 2015 at 14:38:08 in reply to Comment 107464

Yep, it's frustrating living in a city who's experts, staff and councillors willfully ignore world-wide best practices decade after decade.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 01, 2015 at 17:19:39

Kari, thank you for sharing this. Writing this cannot have been easy. It must have been painful to relive being the victim of such a serious crime of violence. Please accept my best wishes for your recovery and sincere prayer that there is no permanent injury.

Although 30 km/hr speed limits are part of best practices for residential neighbourhoods such as Aberdeen, in the absence of engineering enforcement or law enforcement they will be ineffective.

A good example of this ineffectiveness can be seen where I live, near Durand Park. On the notorious "Herkimer Racetrack" by the park, violent and dangerous criminal car drivers know that when they see the traffic light change to green at James Street they have to travel at 70-100 km/hr to "beat the light." And they do. Terrorizing children going to school and everyone else in the neighbourhood who would like to use the street.

Although I have not measured car driver speeds on this part of Aberdeen, I travel on this street fairly often. I would be willing to wager that car drivers are not obeying the speed limit right now. So changing the number on a sign that is ignored to a new number...

Best practice in accordance with the CROW traffic design engineering standards for residential streets such as Aberdeen is to use permeable filters to remove cut-through car traffic and use street designs that encourage safety.

Where this has been done systematically to virtually all residential streets, the result is the safest roads in the world.

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2015-01-01 17:20:27

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 01, 2015 at 20:49:15 in reply to Comment 107469

Great video here on proper intersection design


If Aberdeen was 1 lane each way with a centre turning lane, we could do this easily.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 10:13:56 in reply to Comment 107475

From the video:

This design aims to make mistakes less dangerous and certainly not lethal, because people are fallible and road design should take this into account.

So its not really about making drivers or cyclists 'infallible' through training and enforcement, but making sure that when they make mistakes, those mistakes are not costly to themselves or to others.

The difference between rear-ending someone in your car or not can be as little as checking your blind spot at the wrong time --- you don't need to be incompetent to make this kind of split-second error. No amount of education can stop road users from making mistakes, and no level of prosecution or enforcement can undo these mistakes when they happen.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 02, 2015 at 01:23:01 in reply to Comment 107475

I love Mark Wagenburr's videos!

They are so inspirational. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. In his videos, one can see what Hamilton's future will be, if only we have the strength and courage to claim it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 02, 2015 at 11:31:50 in reply to Comment 107478

the good news, and at the same time most frustrating, is that we have ample road space to work with to add these simple raised bike lanes like they use in Denmark/Holland etc.....

I sent a suggestion way back when St Joes was building the West 5th hospital to put a sidewalk level two-way bike path around the entire property from the Mountain Brow around to the stoplight on Fennell halfway to Garth. There, we could work with Mohawk and Hillfiled to continue the bike path to Garth and south to the end of Hillfield's property.

What does St Joes (and the city) do instead? Add a new sidewalk around the entire hospital site with no biking provisions, then widen West 5th to 5 massive lanes with still no bike lanes. Thankfully there is still ample space for such an endeavour due to the large, useless grassy areas around the perimeter of the site.

Anywhere we can add these sidewalk-level bike lanes we should be. Some other perfect candidates for such bike infrastructure:

  • south side of Main St from Longwood to Haddon. Not a completely wide open green space, but there are no buildings. It's mostly empty green space or surface parking lots that the city could shave 8-10 feet from for a bike path. At Haddon it could transition to N side of Main which is literally a wide open corridor of institutional lawns and greenspace all the way to the Cootes Dr crossing where the off road cycle track begins. At Haddon, one of the two 1-way lanes connecting to Westdale could become a 2-way cycle track. We've now connected the Cootes Dr path with new off-road paths all the way to Main/Longwood.

  • Upper Wentworth from roughly Franklin Rd to the southern end of Upp Wentworth. A two-way off-road cycle track can be housed on the west side of Upp Wentworth along the edge of the large city park all the way to Mohawk. At Mohawk the lanes separate and can be accommodated on each side of Upp Wentworth. A few light poles may have to be moved closer to Mohawk, but much of the portion between here and the Linc has ample grassy space for bike lanes on both sides. Over the Linc, the new 3rd lane that appears as an entry to the Linc can be shortened to allow bike lanes to cross the Linc. Then the entry ramp lane can begin and bike lanes veered out where bridge meets the grassy 'other side' of the bridge:


South of the Linc there is a massive empty grassy right of way all the way to the end of Upper Wentworth. A connecting trail along the edge of the Hydro Corridor at the end of Upp Wentworth could connect to Turner Park, the YMCA and Library.

This is a massive, long Copenhagen style bike path through the heart of the Mountain where most young people travel. It encompasses schools, Limeridge Mall, Turner Park and tons of residential neighbourhoods and parks.

  • Garth Street from Twenty Road to Limeridge Road can have the same treatment due to it's huge empty grassy space on both sides of Garth.


  • Limeridge Road itself is way overbuilt from back when it was a busy 4-lane road. It can be rebuilt with elevated bike lanes each direction.

  • Rymal Road is slated to be 'urbanized' in the near future and should include bus lanes both ways and sidewalk level bike lanes across it's entire length. The space is there.

We published a piece with further ideas along the hydro corridor that the city should actively explore. Again, this is common in Dutch cities: https://raisethehammer.org/article/2108/... A few examples of how these bike facilities would look:

Garth/Upp Wentworth/Main/Fennell example:


Hydro Corridor: http://i2.wp.com/westsideaction.files.wo...


EDIT: I was recently in Toronto and saw an entire new bike path network through a hydro corridor in the east end. I did some reading online and found out they are in the process of looking to establish multi-use pathways like this through all hydro corridors. Just adding this to the discussion as I know the automatic response to anything in Hamilton is "we won't be allowed to do that".

Ottawa is also now looking at possibly doing the same on hydro lands.

Comment edited by jason on 2015-01-02 11:37:02

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 02, 2015 at 12:17:41 in reply to Comment 107481

In the rectangle formed by Upper Wentworth, Upper Ottawa, Stone Church Road and the Linc, there is a very interesting network of land set aside for off-road cycle paths.

Of course, this being Hamilton, they are unpaved and therefore unused. Another in the category of "great idea, lousy implementation."

Still, if they were paved and used, we could get a very high mode share of students going to school in those neighbourhoods.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 02, 2015 at 23:08:03 in reply to Comment 107482

you're right. Upper Ottawa also has these massive unused areas of grass. Wow. Staggering potential from the Linc to the hydro corridor south of Rymal on each of these streets, and two great east/west spines along Rymal and Limeridge.

EDIT: was just browsing a google street view map for something unrelated in the Chedmac, Rice, Redfern, Santorium, Scenic Dr area and every single one of these streets has gobs of unused grassy space next to the road for bike paths. In one area (Redfern I think) there was already an off-road path cutting through a huge park that would connect into the rest of this network. Rice/Sanatorium had space for bike paths from Mohawk Road all the way to Scenic Drive. Scenic westbound from this point has space for a bike path off road on the north side. Redfern and Chedmac have space for bike paths off the road all the way through this neighbourhood around the park/hockey arena.

Comment edited by jason on 2015-01-02 23:30:02

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 03, 2015 at 17:24:04 in reply to Comment 107485

Every through street has room for protected cycle infrastructure. If they can do it on narrow medieval streets in Dutch city centres...

But you are right that there is a lot of space that currently has zero use that could easily be repurposed for cycle infra.

And every residential street should not be a through street for car drivers.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted January 01, 2015 at 17:35:26

I've experienced many drivers who are careless, can't see beyond the end of their hood and/or shouldn't be driving. Using a derogatory term, in this case "geezer", to describe them does nothing to further any cause.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted January 01, 2015 at 17:38:40 in reply to Comment 107472

I just learnt that when you post and don't answer the skill testing question the prompt to go back to your comment, changes where the post is displayed. In this case from a reply to someone, to the end of the comment section.

Where I come from that's a bug. Just saying/pointing it out.

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By Fake Name (anonymous) | Posted January 01, 2015 at 21:46:03 in reply to Comment 107474

If Ryan misses it, email the bug-report to him at editor at raisethehammer. I've noticed that bug before but hadn't properly characterized it - you're right, the behavior is that if you screw up the captcha or get flagged as a spambot it moves your response to the bottom - probably a hold-over from teh days when this site had no nested comments.

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By SylviaNickerson (registered) - website | Posted January 01, 2015 at 23:05:51

After the death of the jogger at the Wentworth/Charleton intersection, I see that through Participatory Budgeting, finally a new, hopefully safer, crossing will be implemented there, for pedestrians and cyclists (https://raisethehammer.org/article/2248/ward_2_residents_vote_for_safe_crossing_at_charlton_and_wentworth). This part of Wentworth was a classic Hamilton infrastructure "fail", where the rail trail and Wentworth staircase, recreational treasures, were thrown together with the trail crossing Wentworth at a blind turn with no marked intersection - a toxic mix of cyclists, pedestrians and cars waiting for an accident to happen.

The crossing of the bike path at King Street over the 403 is the same thing - great cycling infrastructure except for the place where you have to cross the on-ramp to the 403, where everything from tractor trailers to cars crossing multiple lanes of traffic at accelerating speeds, are coming at you. In 2008 I attended a city-led community consultation regarding cycling infrastructure. This spot was identified by everyone as toxic. But nothing has been done about that since.

Add to these classic Hamilton cycling infrastructure fails, the newly completed and beautiful bike lanes across the 403 on the rail bridge near the CN rail yard and golf course. Its wonderful cycling infrastructure, until it dumps you out at Aberdeen, with no way of connecting the cyclist to the rest of the city safely. If anyone had taken a global view of the thing, surely they would have realized that building this path would bring more activity here, and that a safer crossing should be included in that planning.

Thanks for writing this article and making a call for lowering the speed limit. It's only by speaking up and bringing attention to accidents like this that people will change their attitudes and make this a political priority. Watch our news media - we're fed the message that our daily commute took place by car and that we must have experienced hardship in our commute by being help up by traffic congestion. That is the dominant narrative of our Hamilton culture. To get something else done politically we have to start undoing that narrative and telling another one, especially on classic media outlets such as CHCH and CHML, the Spec etc. I think your story could help with that. I don't know where your outspokenness will or could lead, but if a story about safer cycling infrastructure, inspired by you, could be covered by the Spec, CHCH or CHML, I think it would help change the dominant attitude that just ignores cyclists. The fact that these media sources don't give any airtime to these issues keeps these very grave concerns politically marginal at city hall. No one but us kooky cyclists are worked up about it.

In my limited experience councillors pay attention to media coverage, mainstream and Raise the Hammer.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 02, 2015 at 13:48:37 in reply to Comment 107477

I've always been frustrated by these insane small gaps. It would take so little to fix them. A way to get from Bay at York to Napier. A light at Queen and Napier. A way to turn left from York onto Dundurn. Continue the Victoria Street bike lane down to the Cannon track.

So many small things interrupting some otherwise-great bike infrastructure.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 02, 2015 at 23:19:41 in reply to Comment 107483

yes, we are so close, yet so far. Dundurn and York is really frustrating because there is tons of road space to have green bike turning lanes connecting the bike lanes in all 3 directions: south onto Dundurn and east/west onto York from Dundurn.
In Dutch nations they pay extra attention to intersections and conflict zones by making bike lanes coloured or protected, even if they were nothing more than painted bike lanes on the prior street. Here we simply eliminate the bike lanes altogether and create no visible connections.

Victoria and Wellington should have buffered bike lanes like York (except without the stupid right turn for cars encouraged in the bike lanes).

You're correct on Napier/Queen. On York at Bay, they could sign/paint bike symbols on the wide walkway next to the Federal Building from Napier to Bay.

Also, there is TONS of road space next to the left turning lane from York onto Bay N to add a westbound bike lane from Bay to Hess. In fact, in this entire stretch there is a huge hatched-off area of the road that is just unused. Move the curb parking along York there out into the hatched-off area and have a westbound bike lane run in between the parking and the sidewalk from Bay to Hess.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 03, 2015 at 17:55:31 in reply to Comment 107486

Hah, sounds like your commute is similar to mine, because I've noticed all those same things and fantasized about the exact same solutions. York Boulevard west of Bay contra-flow bike-lane, and the same business at the Federal Building.

What's funny/frustrating is that Victoria North actually has a York-style bike-lane... but it predates the Yes We Cannon lanes so it starts at Barton instead of Cannon. And for some reason it lacks a mirrored counterpart on Wellington. The omission of that extra 1-block to Cannon is ridiculous.

Another big one is getting from the York Eastbound lane to Cannon... I do a left turn at Hess. Bike box would be nice there.

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By HamiltonBrian (registered) | Posted January 03, 2015 at 12:31:55

It's a lousy situation that we have to continually see repeated. Sorry to hear of your injuries Kari and hope the recuperating goes well. Why does this continue to be an issue? At least the driver was charged. When I was hit, the investigation was a characterization of "he said she said," no witnesses were canvassed (or wanted to come forward), and that was that.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 03, 2015 at 18:41:35 in reply to Comment 107487

Why does this continue to be an issue?

Look no further than city hall.
When a few citizens email and complain about no water fountains in the stadium, councillors jump all over it like they just uncovered a presidential assassination plot.

When a few citizens don't want to slow down when the weather is bad, they email councillors and ask for more lights on the highway and council jumps all over it.

When citizens email councillors tired of being run over by cars on their commute to work or school and ask for safe stress and protected cycling infrastructure those councillors call them 'whiny urbanists'.

Comment edited by jason on 2015-01-03 18:42:21

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 03, 2015 at 17:16:38 in reply to Comment 107487

So sorry to hear that you were struck by a car driver. I sincerely pray that you were not injured. I would be willing to wager that, if the same degree of injury (hopefully zero!) had been caused by a bullet fired from a gun, Hamilton Police would have canvassed for witnesses.

This kind of discrimination is totally unacceptable. We need to keep complaining to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director every time Hamilton Police treat traffic violence less seriously than gun violence. That discrimination is wrong and must end.

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2015-01-03 17:18:01

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted January 04, 2015 at 13:26:04 in reply to Comment 107488

caused by a bullet fired from a gun

In 1987 the average weight of a new car was 3200lbs; in 2010 it was 4000lbs.

Just for fun here are some kinetic energy calculations done using Wolfram Alpha:

110kg bicycle (~250lb total weight) at 7 m/s (~ 25 km/h) = 2.7 kJ

44 gram (12 gauge) shotgun round at ~ 500 m/s = 5.5 kJ

1800kg vehicle at 14 m/s (~ 50 km/h) = 176 kJ

A moving vehicle has two orders of magnitude more energy than a bullet. That is spread out over the volume of the car, of course. However, in a direct collision, much force will be transmitted to the rider through the bike seat. Even allowing for losses in the crumpling of both vehicles and getting thrown into the air, the vehicle has SO much more kinetic energy to transfer, that it still leaves a lot of energy to do damage and impale.

So my most heartfelt empathy to the involved riders and the author. Doing everything by the book and still getting hit from behind is my worst nightmare. From the description, it sounds like it was almost or as bad as actually getting shot in the arse. Recover quickly! And we can all sleep easy knowing the driver is very likely already back on the road after having paid a small sum of money.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2015-01-04 13:44:53

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By Really (anonymous) | Posted January 04, 2015 at 12:48:49 in reply to Comment 107488

A bullet fired from a gun of a hunter who trips does not result in criminal charges.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 04, 2015 at 15:22:26 in reply to Comment 107493

What about a bullet from the gun of a Hunter who knows he's in a no-hunting zone with people and animals all around and he must exercise utmost caution and be aware of his surroundings??

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 17:31:42 in reply to Comment 107498

Anyone who is in a no-hunting zone hunting is in the wrong. Anyone who has a firearms in their hands, loaded or not, has to have the upmost respect, awareness, and understanding of the implications of having it in their hands. Anyone who is driving in a no-driving zone is in the wrong. Anyone who is using a vehicle, motorized or not, has to have the upmost respect, awareness, and understanding of the implication of having it in their hands.

It goes both ways. The driver is in the wrong here, no question. Jason's analogy makes no sense as the driver was not in a no-driving zone, but failed to stop for whatever reason. A more apt analogy would be in a legit hunting area, but on land that has posted "no trespassing" signs, going onto the property, and then shooting someone who is out there.

We have these issues at the in-laws' house in Selkirk. They live in a remote area, an area which is hunted on all the time during hunting season, but they have posted no trespassing signs everywhere. They still get hunters who come through because it's easier. All they have to do is ask, but they'd rather just wander through. Whenever people go for a walk back there, we wear bright orange safety vests and hats because we don't want to get shot by someone who shouldn't be there in the first place. We shouldn't have to, but we do.

This is just like what's happened here. We don't know why the driver didn't stop. Cyclists shouldn't have to armor up and be treated like they don't belong. Everyone should be expected to follow the rules. It doesn't happen and I'm sorry to hear about the extensive physical injuries you've sustained.

And KevinLove, our impressions and ideas rarely coincide, but I agree with you on the absolute lack of seriousness taken on legitimage car vs bike hits. The police need to do more than just take a report and mark it as an accident or so forth. It's also why the police tend to use the word "collision" rather than "accident", as accident implies nobody is to blame and nobody is at fault.

Please, get well and let us know how you make out, as well as what happens with this incident.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 12:21:19 in reply to Comment 107498

I think he might be charged.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted January 04, 2015 at 12:53:01 in reply to Comment 107493

Yes it does.

Another one

Another one

Firearm operators are completely held responsible for any discharge, period.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2015-01-04 13:00:59

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 12:12:12 in reply to Comment 107494

BTW - non of your referenced cases were trips or falls. One was Stan Jonathan who, rightly so, was charged after recklessly firing his gun from a moving car. The second one doesn't reference the circumstance of the firing and the third was a father traveling with a loaded gun uncased on the seat of his vehicle traveling down a very bumpy road killing his 12 year old daughter which, if proven, would be criminal negligence.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 11:55:59 in reply to Comment 107494

Just because some people are charged with careless operation of a vehicle or a firearm doesn't mean that all collisions or accidental discharges of firearms are actionable. You will not find an article in a newspaper about any case that was not investigated, where an investigation was turned down as unnecessary or where one was conducted and nothing came of it.

Firearms operators are responsible for every discharge of their gun, but that responsibility is no different than any other responsibility.

In law, in Canada, there is a thing called absolute liability. That is a level of responsibility where, regardless of explanation, you will be held to be liable for the consequences of the action. That does not apply to firearms or motor vehicles and for good reason.

There is a famous case from Hamilton from the 1990's where two teenage friends were in a basement and a gun went off and one was killed and the other was not even charged. I will try to find a reference for you.

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By J (registered) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 13:30:50 in reply to Comment 107505

Jason's analogy is correct, the point is that a traffic accident is all too cavalierly cited by police as a pure accident without contribution by the city, whereas other types of accident are not so simply explained away.

Here, the city contributes to the accident by virtue of allowing a status quo that is known to cause harm. The blameworthy driver is only one additional contributing factor.

Even wholly condemned acts like drunk driving or street racing, in which drivers are more readily held blameworthy, still results in fairly negligible charges - loss of license for a year for example, or loss of your vehicle. Judges regard these as serious sentences. I would argue that a single act of speeding 30 kph over the limit should be an automatic loss of license. Yet in our country you can get caught driving drunk 3 times before your license is taken away for good. We all know these actions directly cause immense risk, yet we allow it to continue.

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By I agree (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 14:00:18 in reply to Comment 107509

I agree. As Mr. Ball says above, Jason's analogy is correct. But Mr. Love's is wrong.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted January 04, 2015 at 11:02:56 in reply to Comment 107488

You could also make a deputation to the Hamilton Police Services Board

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 04, 2015 at 19:44:15 in reply to Comment 107492

No actually, I cannot. A quote from the link you provided:

"Public Complaints made to the Independent Police Review Director which outlines a process for the public to lodge a complaint related to the policies of or service provided by the Police Service, or about the conduct of a Police Officer. Therefore, the Police Services Board cannot receive a delegation if the subject matter relates to a complaint."

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By Neary (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 10:32:15 in reply to Comment 107500

Thanks for the correction.

You could still try to make a deputation, as long as it's not framed as a complaint but rather as a request for increased attention to the problem of traffic violence. I recognize that in effect it's the same thing, but it might still work. Worst thing that could happen is they would refuse your request.

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By walter (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2015 at 23:58:10

I had a similar experience but gladly was not injured. I was at West 5th and Mohawk, around 10pm with an extremely bright red rear light. I was waiting at a red, in the middle of the lane, when a guy hits me from behind. His excuse? "I was talking to my girlfriend," who was in the passenger seat. I called the police right away and went through his insurance for the damage to my bike. Thankfully I was not injured. Best of luc

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