Special Report: Cycling

Last Chance to Comment on Cycling Master Plan

The city is accepting public input on its revised cycling master plan until April 30, 2009.

By Ryan McGreal
Published April 22, 2009

In 1999, the City of Hamilton published the impressive Shifting Gears [PDF link] cycling master plan - and then largely neglected to follow any of its recommendations.

In the past year, however, the city has demonstrated a renewed interest in cycling and supporting infrastructure. City staff have revived Shifting Gears and undertaken a comprehensive review toward updating the cycling master plan to establish a coherent, consistent, and continuous cycling network throughout the city that is accessible year-round and prioritizes the steps to achieve it.


The first public information centre was held in November 2008, and a second centre is being held this month to summarize feedback from the first plan, announce revisions to the proposed plan and gather more public input. The final plan will be presented to Council in June.

Feedback from the November information session suggests that around 60 percent of cycling occurs downtown and on recreational trails, with about ten percent each on the Mountain and in Dundas.

Respondents preferred reserved bike lanes and multi-use paths. This is not surprising, since fear of drivers is a major disincentive to would-be cyclists.


Support among respondents was split between putting bike facilities on all major streets and putting them on a select network, though the former option was preferred two to one by stakeolders the city has consulted.

City staff are recommending the latter option, as it satisfies the plan's objectives more affordably than the former.

Bicycle facilities include:

The study concludes that an effective cycling network will comprise a combination of all four facilities where appropriate.


The major priorities are:

The entire proposed bike network [PDF link] was split into 500 segments and grouped based on recommended facilities. Of the total, 357 segments are some form of on-street facility: bike lanes from narrowing existing lanes, bike lanes from removing a lane ("road diets"), bike lanes from existing on-street parking, bike lanes from street widening, shared on-street with signange, shared on-street without signange, paved shoulders, bike gutters on existing escarpment stairs, bike gutters on new escarpment stairs.

246 of those segments will use some form of bike lane, 32 segments will use some form of lane sharing, 75 segments will use paved shoulders, and four will use stairs (three retrofits and one new stairway).

Network Segments by Recommended Facility
Facility Type Facility Recommendation # of Segments % of Total
Shared Shared on-street (signed) 12 3.4%
Shared on-street (not signed) 20 5.6%
Bike Lane Bike Lanes with special widening of asphalt or with reconstruction 95 26.6%
Bike Lanes with road diets (taking away a traffic lane on a street) 50 14.0%
Bike Lanes on existing asphalt by adjusting or removing on-street parking 60 16.8%
Bike Lanes on existing asphalt by adjusting or narrowing lane widths 41 11.5%
Stairs Establish a new escarpment stairway 1 0.3%
Retrofit a bicycle facility for existing stairs 3 0.8%
Paved Shoulder Paved shoulders by widening the asphalt 75 21.0%
Total 357 100.0%

The study includes a table of all the projects by order of priority ranking [PDF link].

The final part of the cycling master plan is education (for cyclists, drivers, children, local businesses, city departments) and marketing of Hamilton as as a cyclist-friendly city.


If you want to comment on the proposed plan, this is your last chance to do so. The city will take feedback until April 30, 2009. You can communicate using the following means:
  1. Email: daryl.bender@hamilton.ca
  2. Mail: Daryl Bender, City of Hamilton, Public Works/Traffic, Suite 320, 77 James St N, Hamilton L8R 2K3
  3. Fax: 905-540-5926 (c/o Daryl Bender, City of Hamilton, Public Works/Traffic)

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By Gearhead (anonymous) | Posted April 22, 2009 at 15:14:09

No question, Daryl Bender's done a great job at bringing this document back to life and into the 21st century! Hopefully City Council will give Shifting Gears the support and commitment it deserves.

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By Hopeful (registered) | Posted April 22, 2009 at 17:08:54

Some nice work here but it brings up a(nother) beef I have with the City. Why can't someone at the City (I assume that is who the "proposed bike network" pdf link is from) come up with a better way to present information than this. pdf's are great for books, reports or pamphlets but City maps??? It seems every time you want to look at City plans you've got to download a whale size image file and then fight to get it work for you. Why not have the map and routes presented as layers on the City's GIS to let their servers do the work and provide some flexibility, legibility and coherence to what is being shown? When is it ever a good idea to replicate poster boards from a public meeting as pdf's and post them as the only way to see what is happening with an issue? What century are the communication team working in? There's better options out there now. Sorry for the rant.

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By (anonymouse) (anonymous) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 04:26:25

I'd encourage everyone to take a moment to browse the proposed plan and send their feedback to the city before April 30, and perhaps enlist interested friends and family members to do the same. It's important to demonstrate public will for these projects if we want to see them pushed forward, and now is the time to do it. A supportive majority can't be a silent majority.

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By Arienc (registered) | Posted April 30, 2009 at 11:18:58

A cyclists dream...build it and they will come.


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