The City's mobile radar trailer recorded maximum speeds of 80-90 km/h on every day of the trailer's operation on Herkimer Street.
By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published June 04, 2015
The Durand Neighbourhood Association requested a speed radar to measure vehicle speeds, and the City set up a mobile radar trailer on Herkimer Street next to Durand Park in March 2014. The device measured vehicle speed and also displayed the speed to motorist as instant feedback on how fast they were going.
vehicle measured exceeding the speed limit on Herkimer Street next to Durand Park on Saturday, March 29, 2014 (RTH file photo)
Once the monitoring period was over, the DNA asked the City for the data collected by the radar trailer. Initially the city only released a high-level summary showing the 85th percentile speed, which was 48 km/h. We pushed for the full result set.
After several weeks of delays and thanks to the helpful intervention of Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr, we finally received the a lower-level summary of the results - albeit as a scan of a printout of a PDF of a spreadsheet file.
What they sent was summary data of hourly counts of 85th percentile average speeds, 85th percentile number of cars and maximum speed, rounded to the nearest 10 km/h.
I really wanted the raw data so I could do a full statistical analysis and, for example, see how many vehicles exceeded 65 km/h or 80 km/h. Nevertheless, the results we did receive were shocking: maximum speeds of 80-90 km/h on each day of the radar trailer's operation.
|Mar 25||80||11:00 PM|
|Mar 26||80||6:00 PM and 11:00 PM|
|Mar 27||80||8:00 AM|
|Mar 28||80||11:00 PM|
|Mar 29||80||2:00 AM, 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM|
|Mar 30||90||3:00 PM|
|Mar 31||80||8:00 AM|
|Apr 01||80||9:00 AM|
Many of the hourly maximum speeds were 70 km/h (e.g. 11 hours out of 24 on March 28). And you'll note that many of the highest daily speeds occurred during daytime hours when children would be playing in the park!
Although overall the 85th percentile speed was 48 km/h, meaning roughly 85 percent of vehicles were below the speed limit and 15 percent were above, many individual hours - especially late at night - registered 85th percentile speeds well in excess of 50 km/h, e.g. a 58 km/h at 4:00-5:00 AM on 27 March, based on 23 vehicles.
These results are especially disturbing since the goal of the visible speed indicator is to slow traffic by advertising the vehicle's (illegal) speed. We can expect that recorded speeds would be even higher with a discrete mobile radar that did not display excessive speeds to the driver.
And this was adjacent to a children's playground!
Herkimer Street past Durand Park (RTH file photo)
Then again, maybe it's not so surprising after all that people are often driving 70-80 km/h: these streets (shockingly) are actually designed for 70 km/h!
The results are also consistent with the 2002 Durand Traffic Study, which found that 40 percent of traffic on minor-arterial streets (e.g. Herkimer/Charlton) exceeded 50km/h and 200 vehicles per day exceeded 65 km/h.
With 200 vehicles per day exceeding 65 km/h it seems reasonable that there will be several vehicles each day approaching 80-90 km/h.
Durand has been asking for traffic calming measures for these residential side streets for four decades now but the City continues to respond with excuses and stonewalling.
Even today, a plan to install bike lanes on Charlton and Herkimer is indefinitely on hold because the community had the temerity to ask for safe parking-protected bike lanes instead of painted lines running in the door zones of parked cars.
By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 07:59:53
This situation is insane. And yet not surprising at all.
I live on a residential street in mid-Hamilton between a main arterial road, and what I refer to as a secondary arterial road...and yet drivers regularly speed. I also hear honking at least a few times each day when speed contributes to near-collisions. Another stop-sign would help, but I believe that the speed limit should be 40km/hr. I also believe that this will never happen.
I stand by the notion that the neighbourhoods through which cars travel should be able to contribute to discussions about their road. And by 'contribute', I mean genuinely be part of the decision-making process, not merely paid lip-service to. Mountain Councillors be damned. (When this topic comes up re: downtown roads, they're habitually up in arms about their constituents being 'inconvenienced'.) If we want people to feel pride-of-place, something that leads to more civic engagement, which leads to more fruitful collaboration with City Hall, which leads to increasing the odds towards Hamilton being able to bring its declared vision to fruition, then they need to be empowered, not patronized.
So I salute the DNA and everyone else striving to change our default mindset regarding road speeds. Well done Nicholas, for highlighting this situation.
Comment edited by ItJustIs on 2015-06-04 08:00:29
By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 08:18:52
Why do we have to fight for this data? Why bother collecting it if it isn't going to be shared? If the city is embarrassed of the results, the correct way to handle it is to change the street design to curb speeding, not hide the data.
This could be solved overnight with bollards blocking the street halfway between Queen and Herkimer. Through traffic should be on Main.
For whom does Herkimer "have to" be a through street? Coming down queen hill and going to st.joe's - that's it. And those drivers should actually be on james mountain road. For just about every other use case, eastbound cars should be on main.
Comment edited by seancb on 2015-06-04 08:20:21
By jason (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 08:19:40
not a surprise whatsoever. I've said for years that cars go 80+ every single day on our downtown streets. Nice to have evidence to back it up (not that that'll stop the trolls from trolling).
Contrast our situation with that in Buffalo. A child was killed last week when a car veered off the 198 and hit the boy, sibling and mother walking home from soccer. I've been to Buffalo twice this week on that expressway and they've started installing barriers (long overdue, sadly) and dropped the speed limit to 50km/hr Yes, 50, on an expressway.
Here we won't dream of doing such things, so when people are getting killed on Red Hill the solution is never to slow down drivers, but add more lanes.
Main/King/Queen/Herkimer/Charlton etc... all with dangerous travel speeds on residential/commercial streets, not expressways. Yet city hall could care less 4 decades and counting.....
Comment edited by jason on 2015-06-04 08:20:32
By DBC (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 09:09:32
These results are no surprise to anyone who lives in Durand. The fact the city seemed reluctant to part with the data really seems par for the course. With speeds like these being recorded in a residential neighbourhood one would expect some level of enforcement from the Hamilton Police Service. But no. None. Ever. However they do seem to conduct almost daily speed enforcement on the elevated sections of Burlington Street where there are not any pedestrians. Public safety or revenue generation. You decide what motivates their allocation of resources.
I suspect if the speed monitor could have been located further west on Herkimer during morning rush the results would have been even more dramatic. With the absence of northside curb parking, slip turns at Queen; the speeds are jaw dropping in a lot cases.
Parking should be allowed on both curbs all day everyday. Taking away the ability to pass would provide near instant relief from those that think they can blast on through.
Comment edited by DBC on 2015-06-04 09:10:50
By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 09:09:51
I live on a street south of Main that is entirely residential except where it meets more major streets. As a direct result of all five of Main’s lanes traveling eastbound, we see significant westbound rat running. And the motorists who do this treat our street about as they would treat Main: they go as fast as they possibly can, which is pretty darned fast. I don't think the situation is nearly as bad as on Charlton/Herkimer, but it's not good.
It is worst on Charlton and Herkimer, but other streets in Durand and Kirkendall are pretty bad, too, from what I can see. This through-traffic should not be on these residential streets since we have an effective grid of arterials…except we don’t. If a motorist wants to go westbound, it’s a kilometre from Charlton to King. I understand why someone would just take Charlton all the way from the access instead: to a motorist, it probably looks like a through street, and there’s only a few areas with token traffic calming. Same with Hunter: if you’re downtown, there’s not that many impediments between James and Dundurn to going as fast as you want, even though that’s by and large a residential street. Since Main is not an option, Hunter probably seems pretty sensible. The obvious solution is to let vehicles take Main either direction, and make streets that are not arterials less hospitable to through-traffic. I’m not optimistic about either happening.
I don’t trust myself to accurately gauge the speeds at which cars travel, but I can say that it’s a common occurrence on my purely residential street to see vehicles traveling at speeds that would give them no chance to stop for a child chasing a ball, and of course that generate a tonne of noise. 90km/h at 3:00pm on a Monday next to a park should be a real eye-opener. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how that behaviour will eventually end in tragedy. Even after that happens, I will remain unoptimistic that anything will be done about it.
By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 09:11:05
85 percent of vehicles were below the speed limit and 15 percent were above
By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 06, 2015 at 06:38:49 in reply to Comment 112012
By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 12:56:32 in reply to Comment 112012
If you lived on Herkimer with your kids you would want it to be 0% above. As a resident of Herkimer St I routinely see cars speeding literally like they are racing. We NEED traffic calming. Herkimer is full of young families and I really hope city council doesn't have a tombstone mentality when it comes to implementing improvements. In my mind the best we can hope for is a parking protected bike lane that would narrow the street enough to slow traffic. That is between Dundurn and Queen mind. East of Queen should be a two way bike lane on the order of the Cannon lanes. Aiden Johnson has been fairly silent on this. Kind of missing McHattie at this point...
Oh, and as far as the 15% goes you have to account for the observer effect since the sign indicated to the subjects that measurements were being taken. I'd like to see the same study done with no speed display visible to the drivers.
By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 06, 2015 at 06:41:30 in reply to Comment 112046
By durander (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 14:28:12 in reply to Comment 112046
By fool (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 23:09:54 in reply to Comment 112051
Move st joes
By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 14:58:51 in reply to Comment 112051
You should probably also ask that question of the 15 other families with young kids on Herkimer. It's a beautiful spot close to everything. I live between Dundurn and Queen so the speeders we have are cutting through to avoid the traffic lights along Aberdeen. I've heard that argument before that Herkimer is an ambulance route or something but I've lived there 11 years now and probably have seen an ambulance go by twice - no joke. I've never seen any evidence that this road is somehow earmarked for ambulances - do you have any?
We need to narrow the road between Dundurn and Queen. East of Queen, one lane for bikes, two for cars. If an ambulance needs to get by the cars will have a lane to pull over.
By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted June 09, 2015 at 21:58:17 in reply to Comment 112056
By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 09:29:49 in reply to Comment 112012
That was the summary data staff released initially.
However, for safety it is the extreme speeds that matter most: you really want no one driving at dangerously fast speeds which is why physical traffic calming is so effective. The street should be designed so that it is physically impossible to drive at dangerously high speeds for a normal driver (it should also feel uncomfortable to drive fast). As I mentioned in the article Hamilton has done the opposite: designed the street for dangerously high speeds of around 70km/h.
Over the 8 days of the study roughly 7000 vehicles exceeded 50 km/h, that's 875 per day even with the "traffic calming" visible speed indicator in place! I had hoped to be able to get the data to count how many were exceeding 65 km/h (extremely dangerous) or 70km/h. With 875 vehicles per day exceeding 50 km/h we definitely have a serious speeding problem and extreme risk to the users of the playground.
Over the past few years there have been several serious accidents at Park/Charlton that have led to car crashing into the berm!
And that's considering the posted 50 km/h limit.
In many places the speed limit on this sort of street past a children's playground would be 30 km/h ... even 50 km/h is far too fast right next to a playground (with no crosswalks adjacent to the playground).
Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-06-04 09:33:38
By durander (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 14:30:18 in reply to Comment 112016
By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 14:56:50 in reply to Comment 112053
Your tone and words are pretty sarcastic, but I'll assume you are asking the question in good faith.
There are a number of simple things that can be done to slow speeds:
Reduce the number of lanes.
Narrow the lanes throughout.
Add parking (all day).
Add more bump outs to narrow lanes at intersections to the minimum width.
Add speed humps.
Add protected bike lanes (already in planning).
All these things make it less comfortable to drive quickly.
Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-06-04 14:57:25
By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 15:53:57 in reply to Comment 112055
I forgot to add:
By durander (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 16:03:29 in reply to Comment 112058
It was sarcastic, but I do appreciate the suggestions you provided. I agree that some of those measures would be beneficial for Herkimer (i.e. marked ped crossings, protected bike lanes, parking), but I'm not entirely sure how much they'll affect operating speeds. In principle they should, but I'd be surprised.
By jason (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 23:02:27 in reply to Comment 112060
I guarantee you it will work. Design Charlton and Herkimer like this:
By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 09:33:21 in reply to Comment 112016
Reduce the speed limit to 40.
By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 09:20:18 in reply to Comment 112012
That doesn't sound too good, especially when the speed limit is too high for the neighbourhood the street is passing through.
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 10:31:47
This is why I'd much rather see Charlton and Herkimer converted to 2-way.
And (here's where I part company a bit with others on RTH) I'd like to see John South optimized for more through traffic. It would take some of this away from Charlton and Herkimer. Much of the traffic on Charlton/Herkimer is going to the Jolley Cut or St Joe's - John could serve this similarly. Get a second lane going up the Jolley Cut, block some left-turns, etc. It's far more appropriate for through-traffic to run on a commercial street than a residential one.
By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 10:37:26 in reply to Comment 112027
The proposed cycle lanes on Herkimer and Charlton will provide some traffic calming, a buffer to pedestrians, especially if it is parking protected and continuous from James to Dundurn. That is another reason why it is so frustrating that the project has got bogged down and somehow dropped drastically in priority since the community became engaged on this project.
By Jimmy North (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 10:37:46
How do we get one of those radar trailers on Cannon?
By K Garrett (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 10:39:47
On Locke, between Main and King (basically right in front of my house), many drivers treat that inbetween strip before the lights at King as the on-ramp to a highway (which King largely is). I can't count how many times I've seen or heard drivers trying to beat the light and (probably? it's hard to tell) doing in excess of 60 or 70. This, on a street that has sidewalks on either side, and where I routinely see cyclists and skateboarders going the wrong way south down Locke.
Are there are any accidents on this stretch that have been recorded? I'd be interested to know. To be perfectly honest, I'm surprised a pedestrian hasn't been injured or killed in this stretch.
By Tybalt (registered) | Posted June 05, 2015 at 11:20:17 in reply to Comment 112031
Request the info! Here's how:
How do I make an Access Request?
If a formal request is required, applicants must:
complete an Access/Correction Request Application
submit the completed Access/Correction Request Application and the mandatory $5.00 application fee by mail or in person to:
Manager, Records and Freedom of Information City Clerk's Division City Hall 71 Main Street West, 1st Floor Hamilton, ON L8P 4Y5
Payment can be made in the form of cash, cheque (made payable to the City of Hamilton), VISA, Mastercard, Debit Card, certified cheque or money order. Please do not send cash in the mail.
The $5.00 application fee must accompany your request.
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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted June 05, 2015 at 11:21:21 in reply to Comment 112091
Consarnit, the link for the application didn't work. Here's the address:
By credmond (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 11:30:20
I have a hunch that the the overall speed numbers (48 km/h as the 85th percentile) were heavily impacted by the stop light. Those speed radars do not discern whether a car was stopped at a light or travelled through the Herkimer and Bay intersection without being impeded. The radar, as the photo shows, was set up maybe 20 or 30 metres beyond the stoplight, so I would guess it clocked a lot of the drivers as they were only beginning to accelerate after the light turned green. If the radar was set up maybe another 20 or 30 metres down the road near the southeast corner of the park I bet the 85th percentile speed would have been much higher than 48 km/h.
The one thing that I don't understand is why there has never once been a 'speed trap' set up on this stretch of Herkimer (Park Street would be a perfect location to catch speeders), yet there are speed traps set up at the top of the escarpment where it is needed least. Or in the stretch of King Street coming over the highway heading into Westdale. Police have spent nearly two years patrolling the speed there, but never once on Herkimer, or even Queen for that matter.
By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 12:06:14 in reply to Comment 112038
Speed traps are set up where it's easy to catch speeders, not where they're needed. The police need a good hiding spot and a good place to pull drivers over.
By DBC (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 12:34:24 in reply to Comment 112042
You mean like Burlington St. and Wilfred where they regularly park on Wilfred and stand (hide) behind the hydro pole. That looks a lot like Herkimer and Caroline or Park.
Where there is the will to do enforcement there is a way.
I am willing to bet that if they were pressed to perform enforcement on Herkimer the HPS would park a nice shiny fully marked cruiser in the south curb lane, stand in view wearing their bright yellow reflective vests and then say, "What's the problem here? No one is speeding."
Comment edited by DBC on 2015-06-04 12:37:05
By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 06, 2015 at 06:47:38 in reply to Comment 112044
By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 11:52:34 in reply to Comment 112038
Others have commented that the nearby traffic light has an effect (and the visible speed indicator itself is designed to slow traffic).
That is why it is really the maximum speeds that are most significant, since they would normally be associated with the "free flowing traffic" phase of the light and dangerous inconsiderate drivers who don't care that everyone can see them exceeding the speed limit (by as much as 40km/h!).
It would have been interesting to follow up this data (which was really about trying to calm traffic rather than measure actual traffic speeds) with unobtrusive speed measurements which would be more representative.
But, of course, even 50 km/h is far too fast for this sort of street!
By fmurray (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 12:55:33 in reply to Comment 112041
Yes, 50 is FAR too fast.
A couple of Saturdays ago, I had an errand on Kenilworth and then drove up the Kenilworth access. I discovered Kenilworth between King and the escarpment is marked at 40 k and there are flashing speed indicators along there. I'm not an expert on the definitions of streets as major arterials, arterials, etc., but nobody can tell me that Kenilworth is a lower-volume street than Herkimer (or Charlton).
All downtown cut-through streets should have speed limits lowered to 40 and enforcement by the police. Ongoing enforcement. Mountain streets need this treatment too, I'm sure.
The latitude given to car drivers is absolutely ridiculous.
By Dan3 (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 17:53:35
The really insane part of this is that since this stretch is relatively short, the time it takes to travel going 50km/h is only 20 seconds slower than going 80km/h. And even then the 20 seconds savings is a mute point because you will often get a red light at James so there is no time savings at all.
The city could install speed bumps that would make it much safer and have ZERO impact on traffic flow ...
By sbwoodside (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 21:29:58
I wonder if any of those 80s and 90s were police cars or ambulances going to St Joes? I lived just off that stretch of Herkimer on Park Street for 5 years, and it's a very popular route to the ER for emergency services.
Nicholas I think you've nailed it on the head, that street has every visible attribute of a highway, so naturally people drive at highway speeds on it. As a wise man once said, if you give someone a hammer, everything looks like a nail. If you give someone a highway, they nail the throttle.
By Fed up (anonymous) | Posted June 05, 2015 at 01:13:34
I don't understand why we can't lower speed limits to 40km/hr and introduce some common sense measures to slow traffic on non arterial roads. Our city government's job is to design a city that works for the people who live in it. They get this in Toronto - try to rat run east west in the old city. You can't do it. You're forced onto an arterial road, which by and large is two way. In a city of 3+ million, kids can safely play street hockey on residential streets. Why can't we have that here? People tear past my house going 70-80 km/hr (my street is not an arterial but is used as a shortcut).
Also, this talk about ambulances is bogus. I work in EMS. Paramedics are well trained and resuscitation (when needed) is started long before patients get to the ER. I would guess a 5 minute delay to ER arrival would have close to no effect on any real patient outcome. A quick search confirms my suspicion. In trauma patients there is no association between time to ER and any patient centered outcome.
This is a talking point I think I've heard Terry Whitehead use.
The roads are a much bigger (and proven) threat to public safety than any theoretical delay in getting to the ER. How many pedestrians have been killed or seriously injured on our roads? We have the second most dangerous roads in the province and interestingly have one of the best EMS response times in the province
By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 05, 2015 at 19:42:52 in reply to Comment 112082
Car-free zones in densely populated Dutch downtowns also have excellent EMS response times.
By Tybalt (registered) | Posted June 05, 2015 at 11:17:10
Terrible data on the release. Why would they round off the 100th percentile speed so dramatically while giving us such in depth data on the 85th percentile? Sloppy.
Still, thanks to Councillor Farr for going the extra mile to secure the release of the data. The neverending battle against city staff for information collected in the public interest is getting very, very old.
By Borrelli (registered) | Posted June 05, 2015 at 12:01:37
I wanna get that radar thing for John N. on the stretch by Bennetto & St. Lawrence schools. Some days it's a drag race there.
My experience living in the north end, with a house directly in front of a 30km/h sign is that speed limits don't matter. The only thing that will actually change driver behaviour, even in a so-called "Family and child friendly neighbourhood" is physical design changes to the streets--i.e. more parking, extending concrete curbs or sidewalks to narrow intersections, and bike lanes.
I think the best thing residents of downtown hoods have done is to take an attitude to own our streets. Drivers from in and out of our 'hoods can whine all they want, but local health and safety should trump getting from A to B 45 seconds quicker.
Comment edited by Borrelli on 2015-06-05 12:02:42
By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 05, 2015 at 19:45:19 in reply to Comment 112095
Who needs radar? Measure off a distance on the street, get a watch with a seconds hand and you are ready to measure car speeds.
By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 05, 2015 at 13:26:58 in reply to Comment 112095
Agree completely. Forget the posted speed limits, people will drive as fast as they can get away with. Changing the street will change the traffic.
By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 08, 2015 at 10:38:01 in reply to Comment 112114
Cool, would you like to see data on how many motorists roll through stop signs too? Or would you prefer to admit that none of that is relevant to this conversation?
By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 08, 2015 at 16:39:38 in reply to Comment 112117
By jason (registered) | Posted June 08, 2015 at 16:46:18 in reply to Comment 112118
Let's look and see who was at fault in the last 1 million traffic fatalities in Canada.
By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 08, 2015 at 18:39:21 in reply to Comment 112119
By durander (registered) | Posted June 07, 2015 at 19:25:32 in reply to Comment 112114
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