Kevin Love will be leading a Jane's Ride on May 8, 2016, 1:00 PM touring the alleyways of Durand and Kirkendall Neighbourhoods.
By Kevin Love
Published March 23, 2016
Hamilton has a comprehensive network of alleys which connect much of the city. On Sunday, May 8 at 1:00 PM, I will be leading a Jane's Ride through the alleys of Kirkendall and Durand.
Route of Jane's Ride (Image Credit: OpenStreetMaps)
As I did in my previous article, I will begin by naming the alleys. Giving alleys a name is not only an act of respect, but makes it much easier to describe the route.
The north-south alley directly west of Bay Street I call Central Alley. This is because it forms part of a safe route to Central Public School.
The east-west alley between Herkimer and Charlton I call Church Alley. This is because no less than three churches are directly on the alley, with another church half a block away.
The north-south alley between Queen and Hess I call Ryerson Alley, because it forms part of a safe route to Ryerson Elementary School.
Finally, the alley between Herkimer and Markland/Stanley I call Durand Kirkendall Alley because it stretches all the way between Dundurn Street and (almost) Bay Street.
We will start at the SoBi station in Durand Park at 1:00 PM. For those who have never seen me before, I am 203 cm (6'8") tall. Or you can see a photo of me leading a Janes Ride in 2012.
The first thing we will do is walk our bikes half a block on the sidewalk to Central Alley just west of Bay Street. We will do this because Herkimer is one-way the wrong way. Before we travel north on Central Alley, we will take a minute to look south and see how Central Alley goes all the way south to Aberdeen Avenue.
Central Alley at Herkimer
After travelling half a block north on Central Alley, we will turn left onto Church Alley at an alley/alley intersection.
Intersection of Central Alley and Church Alley
We will then travel west on Church Alley past Central Presbyterian Church and First Christian Reformed Church.
Alleyway entrance to Central Presbyterian Church
At First Christian Reformed Church, we will turn right onto Ryerson Alley. We will go past another alley/alley intersection with some nice raised flower beds in the back yard on the alley/alley corner.
Raised flower beds at alley/alley intersection
This takes us to Robinson Street, where we will again walk our bikes half a block on the sidewalk to Ryerson School - again, walking since this is the "wrong" way on this one-way street.
From Ryerson School, we will travel through the HAAA Grounds to rejoin Church Alley half a block south on Kent Street. Travelling west on Church Alley, we go directly past St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church and half a block away from St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church on the bustling Locke Street.
Church Alley ends at Dundurn Street, where we will travel on the Dundurn bike lanes one block south to the beginning of Kirkendall Durand Alley.
Kirkendall Durand Alley goes through the Mansion District, so we see some rather nice mansions with swimming pools and children playing in the alley with basketball nets.
St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Elementary School is on Kirkendall Durand Alley, with a rear gate providing a direct entrance to the school.
Entrance to St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Elementary School on Kirkendall Durand Alley.
At Queen Street there is a short discontinuity in Kirkendall Durand Alley, so we have to travel half a block along Herkimer before going back into the Alley.
There is an error in the Open Street Map which shows the Kirkendall Durand Alley ending at Caroline Street. Not true! The alley continues behind the Shoppers Drug Mart and ends in a T-intersection with Central Alley. We will turn left on Central Alley and end the Jane's Ride where we started in Durand Park.
This Jane's Ride is being conducted on public streets and alleys which every citizen of Hamilton has a right to use. However, I would like to gently encourage people to foster cycling safety by encouraging the safety in numbers effect. This involves branding and promoting cycling as an utterly normal, mainstream activity of ordinary citizens travelling from A to B.
Success is when we look like these commuters in Utrecht or these Japanese mothers picking up their children.
By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted March 23, 2016 at 07:03:03
As an aside, that fence around St Joseph's is pretty bad...
By moylek (registered) - website | Posted March 23, 2016 at 19:54:43 in reply to Comment 117171
"My firm belief is that we need to make helmets acceptable and not scary. Can't do that when active cycling advocates shun helmets"
My firm belief is that we need to make cycling acceptable and not scary. Can't do that when active helmet advocates shun cycling without unnecessary and not especially useful protective gear.
By Tecumseh (registered) | Posted March 23, 2016 at 21:40:35 in reply to Comment 117205
If I'm riding somewhere from home I'll wear my helmet, because really, why not, it's no trouble. But if I happen to be out walking and decide to hop on a Sobi to get somewhere quicker, then fine, I ride without a helmet. It seems like we all have the goal of cycling being more widely adopted, which will in itself make it safer for everyone. But being judgemental about people who choose to wear helmets doesn't help win over new cyclists. If there are folks who want to start cycling more regularly, but won't do so without a helmet, how does shaming them help the cause?
By Older rider (anonymous) | Posted March 23, 2016 at 21:08:46 in reply to Comment 117205
By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted March 23, 2016 at 09:55:37 in reply to Comment 117171
I never wore a helmet when I was a kid. I rode my bike with no shirt, no shoes and the idea of a helmet wasn't even on the radar. I always had oily scabby ankles from catching myself on that cog that runs the chain. Still here to this day. I did wear a helmet for a brief period just as an example to my kid who is being brought up in this bubble wrap culture but I've since forgone it. It's not comfortable, annoying to carry around and yes it makes you look like a six year old with a beard. Actually, it makes you look like a six year old with a beard that's scared of the world.
If I was riding in all kinds of traffic or speeding on a super bike with nice tight pants that showed off my massive manhood then sure maybe I would wear one but my bike goes squeak.....squeak......squeak....so no helmet. If I need a helmet to ride that I need a helmet to walk.
As a disclaimer this is coming from a guy that rode a motorcycle with no helmet on the freeway in the US so hey as Forrest Gump says...
By z jones (registered) | Posted March 23, 2016 at 08:45:52 in reply to Comment 117171
Allan Taylor, is that you?
By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 23, 2016 at 08:39:37 in reply to Comment 117171
Take a look at the videos. These people are in two of the safest cycling environments in the world. Let's benchmark success.
Here is another video of parents and children in one of the safest cycling environments in the world. See:
Infrastructure is by far the #1 determinant of safety. But let's not ignore #2, the safety in numbers effect.
Branding is important, which is why companies spend a lot of money on it. Part of increasing cycling safety is to promote cycling as a normal, mainstream activity. This is why to promote the safety of transportation cycling I gently discourage the use of body armour, helmets, or the sort of cycling racing clothing that makes the wearer look like a garish tropical parrot. All these things send a negative branding message of "weird, not mainstream."
For more information, see:
By Tecumseh (registered) | Posted March 23, 2016 at 21:58:26 in reply to Comment 117173
Respectfully, I don't think there are many people who think helmets make cycling weird. I cycle to work every day. Most people I talk to would love it if they could cycle to work. But they don't, for a variety of reasons, the most basic of which is that driving is so built into their lives that cycling just could never fit in in a meaningful way. They live in the suburbs, then they have to go to some big box store, then take their kid to hockey, etc. For the past 60 years we've built cities that preclude cycling, and as a consequence people have built lives that could never include cycling. The perception of safety is important, but the issues are a lot bigger than that.
So if one of those folks says "hey I think I'll give this cycling thing a shot" and chooses to wear a helmet, I will not discourage them.
By moylek (registered) - website | Posted March 24, 2016 at 12:31:48 in reply to Comment 117208
"So if one of those folks says "hey I think I'll give this cycling thing a shot" and chooses to wear a helmet, I will not discourage them."
Nor would I discourage them. But neither will I tell that person that they need a helmet, special shorts, special shoes, etc just to try getting out on a bike ... the sorts of things that the cycling industry and media in general have been saying since the early 90s.
Cycling has been portrayed and sold as a sport for the past twenty or thirty years: sport bikes, sport cycling clothes, and sport helmets (the shape and style of 99% of helmets comes from racing, pure and simple). I maintain that this makes cycling look just as exceptional "(weird, if you will) as driving would look if most cars were dune buggies and drivers were encouraged to wear coveralls and crash helmets.
Comment edited by moylek on 2016-03-24 12:35:26
By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 24, 2016 at 09:39:32 in reply to Comment 117208
Absolutely right! Infrastructure and the built environment is by far and away the #1 determinant. This is precisely why about 98% of my effort and writing is devoted to this area.
But branding is important. That final 2% should not be completely ignored.
By Older rider (anonymous) | Posted March 24, 2016 at 13:22:10 in reply to Comment 117210
By Crispy (registered) | Posted March 24, 2016 at 14:30:12 in reply to Comment 117219
And make sure you have a sensible bike.
By EER (anonymous) | Posted March 23, 2016 at 08:28:32 in reply to Comment 117171
I must have missed the part of the story about helmets...
By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 30, 2016 at 19:17:03 in reply to Comment 117172
It's in his other post. https://raisethehammer.org/article/2880/...
What not to bring: please leave at home body armour, helmets or anything else that makes cycling look weird or dangerous.
I guess he felt that trying to tell people what looks "weird or dangerous" is subjective and limits who can or can't come. He'd rather just avoid having to justify his thought process this time.
But back to the topic at hand ...
I cycle all over the lower city, and I never take the alleys. Yet the alleys make for convenient and safe cycling routes, Kevin tells us. I'm inclined to believe Kevin.
So I am led to ask myself again: why don't I ever take the alleys? I think that it's because: 1) I don't know where they go; 2) I don't know what the surfaces are like; 3) I don't know what the rules are; 4) google maps ignore them; 5) they seem weird :)
In particular, I'm quite intrigued by the idea of giving the alleys name: you can more easily talk about things with names; things with names seem real and more friendly; I can call the city as say "Alley X" has some terrible pot holes.
I'm quite looking forward to riding the alleys at the two events ... and maybe exploring a bit on my own.
So, this was an interesting tour.
I knew that some - though not all - of these alleys existed, but I never really ventured down them, for a number of reasons ... * I didn't know how far they went * I didn't know the surface conditions (the alley behind my own house is almost unridably bumpy) * I didn't know if I would find myself trapped at the end on a one-way street going the wrong way (a problem with many of the side streets in those neighbourhoods, too)
All of the alleys we rode on were just fine, with surfaces ranging from smooth concrete to patchy gravel.
I was surprised to find myself at intersections of alleys - something that made quite clear the network that the alleys form.
I was also surprised to note how hard the alleys can be to see from the road - they often look like driveways until you are right in front of them.
Names and signs would make all the difference in the world. What would it take to have the city take on this rather small project?
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