Letter to Council: Help Hamilton Develop a Top-Notch Cycling Network

By Jason Leach
Published June 24, 2009

Dear Hamilton City Council,

I am writing to ask for your support in helping Hamilton develop a top-notch cycling infrastructure tonight.

I live downtown and regularly use all four modes of transportation - transit, car, walking and cycling. My family of five gets along fine with one vehicle, but with small children we are very reluctant to walk or cycle with them to local destinations such as Locke South, Hess Village, the Library/Market and more.

I cycle quite often on my own to work and almost all of the major streets downtown are very scary to ride on. It has been proven all over the world that people will use bike infrastructure when it is properly built. We need a cohesive system of on-road lanes to link our city together.

I've long believed that Hamilton could become one of Canada's best cycling cities. Our urban area is the third most densely populated urban area in Canada and one rarely needs to travel more than a few kilometers to reach major destination points due to the small, compact nature of our city. Our weather is much more pleasant than Montreal, which is one of Canada's great cycling cities.

With hopeful plans for LRT in Hamilton and future two-way street conversions, it is vital that we develop a great cycling network sooner than later. I believe that we can undo decades of poor planning that has led to our current situation, where all transportation modes, other than the automobile, are second rate, difficult to use and inconvenient.

Balanced transportation planning is needed in Hamilton so that folks from all walks of life and income levels can move around the city safely and efficiently in harmony together. I work with young people and am saddened by the constant struggle that takes place in their lives by trying to find work, only to have to reject a potential job because it requires a car due to a complete lack of cycling or transit options.

There are several reasons why Montreal is a magnet for young people and Hamilton has struggled to keep its youth. Transportation options play a huge role in this. If we are to realize our potential as a city, we need to become a city that is livable, safe and exciting for everyone.

Bike infrastructure is the cheapest form of transportation infrastructure available to cities. This incredible network of bike lanes can be developed for $50 million. There is absolutely no other form of transportation that can be developed from one end of the city to another in a safe, efficient manner for this amount of money.

Please think of the future and find a way to develop the urban portion of this cycling plan in the shortest amount of time possible.

For some inspiration, here is a short video from Portland, Oregon. Once a run-down city with a crummy downtown and booming suburbs like most of America, today the scene is quite different. It's a short, yet very insightful video.

Civic leadership and good decision-making were absolutely responsible for the transformation of Portland. Please use your leadership position here in Hamilton to create momentum and transform our image, just as your counterparts in Portland have.

Jason Leach

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By Really? (registered) | Posted June 25, 2009 at 14:20:08

My response from Mayor Fred: You do raise some interesting points with regards to current global crisis in natural resources and the need to shorten the time frame to implement the Cycling Master Plan. Please realize, if this does go through, it will be an enormous endeavour and would actually be more of a burden to local traffic if everything were done in a shortened time frame. We are trying our best to accomodate where we can such as the installation of bike racks on all HSR busses. The goal is to one day have a community that is less car dependent, active and environmentally friendly. In other words, like you said, "The best place to raise a child".

Thank you for your support, Mayor Fred

* "would actually be more of a burden to local traffic" *

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 25, 2009 at 15:11:14

absolutely. It doesn't get more local than bike traffic. What he means is "it will become more of a burden to all the suburban traffic that uses our local neighbourhoods and downtown core as a shortcut to somewhere else".

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By JM (registered) | Posted June 26, 2009 at 09:32:25


Great attempt at reaching council... in fact, I always appreciate you trying to get their attention.

However, there will always continue to be this problem: council doesn't care - and never will (especially when they give you responses like that one).

What we need is a complete renewal - a council full of new, young members who understand the challenges of today and the "road ahead" (mind the pun) and not those who still wish they were in the 1950's... Have you (or any of your RTH colleagues) ever thought of running for council?

A revolution is seriously needed here.... or everything will just continue on the way it is.


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By Frank (registered) | Posted June 26, 2009 at 15:44:22

JM, I thought about it... not sure whether it's something that can be done one at a time though. Haven't had time to really look into it. I'd like to be a councillor alongside Ryan and Jason lol!

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 26, 2009 at 23:59:49

sorry. I'm out.
No chance. LOL.

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