Enough is enough. It's time to stop using endless plans and studies as an excuse to keep delaying necessary action to make Hamilton safer for everyone.
By Ryan McGreal
Published December 03, 2015
Yesterday, it took two hours of passionate citizen delegations and heated debate for Councillors at the General Issues Committee to agree to study one street next year for possible traffic calming, once the Transportation Master Plan review has been completed and not before.
A mother walks her young children inches away from traffic lanes on Aberdeen Avenue
Again, the vote was not to implement traffic calming, but rather just to study it a year from now.
Claremont Access from Southam Park (RTH file photo)
According to a November 2013 report from the Social Planning and Research Council, Hamilton has an injury risk for people walking that is 42 percent higher than the provincial average, and an injury rate for people riding bicycles that is 81 percent higher than the provincial average.
This is appalling, and it should have been enough to galvanize fast, decisive action. Instead, we continue to crawl at a snail's pace through a backlog of un-funded street conversions that date back to 2001, almost 15 years ago.
The Claremont Access carries 25,000 cars a day on five wide, median-separated lanes. A sixth lane, the outside downbound lane on the south side, was closed years ago after a rockslide and has had absolutely zero impact on traffic volumes.
That in itself tells us we can easily dedicate an upbound lane for a protected multi-use path that connects the upper and lower city safely.
At the bottom of the Claremont, it splits into Wellington and Victoria Street. Between them, they are nine lanes wide and carry a total of 25,000 cars.
Victoria Street (Image credit: Google Street View)
Think about that for a moment: it's utter insanity.
We are paying more than we can afford to maintain more vehicle lane capacity than we need, which directly results in both dangerous speeding and a lack of safe, protected space for people to walk or bike.
More expensive and more deadly - that's a pretty terrible bargain.
And we can keep going:
Sherman Avenue North is four lanes wide to carry less than 5,000 cars a day.
Sanford Avenue North is three-to-four lanes wide and carries a trifling 3,500-5,000 cars a day. There is a reason for those bollards on the sidewalk in front of the Catholic Children's Aid Society building.
Sidewalk bollards at Sanford and King (RTH file photo)
Birch Avenue is three-to-four lanes wide and carries just a trickle of cars - less than 2,500 a day.
Birch Avenue (RTH file photo)
Wentworth Street only carries between 2,500 and 5,000 cars a day. Council did the right thing last week in approving Councillor Green's motion to convert it. If anything, the street will still need traffic calming measures even after two-way conversion.
Instead of being contentious, the debate should have taken as long as it took to read the motion - and it should have happened years ago.
Wentworth at Delaware (RTH file photo)
Hamilton's shameful status as the second-most dangerous city in Ontario for walking is the predictable result of our steadfast commitment, decade after decade, to an overbuilt, cars-first transportation system that leaves almost no safe space for anyone who is not in a car.
Enough is enough. It's time to stop using endless plans and studies as an excuse to keep delaying necessary action to make Hamilton safer for everyone - and particularly its most vulnerable residents.
How many more people have to die before we decide this is a crisis worth taking seriously?
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