By Kevin Carmona-Murphy
Published December 19, 2011
The following was sent as a letter to Ward 1 Councillor Brian McHattie and the City of Hamilton Traffic Engineering department.
I would like to express my discontent regarding the management of the work being carried out to rehabilitate several of the bridges crossing highway 403, between Aberdeen Avenue and York Road.
I am a student pursuing my Engineering degree at McMaster University, and am a resident of the Westdale neighbourhood. While I do enjoy a safe commute to school and back, my cycling travels bound for downtown are not very safe. The construction on Main and King Streets has made traveling east into the city from Westdale a dangerous proposition for any cyclist.
Please allow me to elaborate and offer suggestions for improvement.
Heading east on Main Street near Macklin Street, the two north-most lanes are the only two vehicular lanes that currently continue onto the 403 bridge. The third lane from the north, which carries a high volume of traffic, merges suddenly with the other two lanes without any formal indication that the lane is ending. As a result, vehicles are forced to merge suddenly and at high speeds.
Occasionally, a vehicle unable to merge properly will be forced into the bike lane to prevent a collision with another vehicle. A cyclist could be hit and injured in such a situation. My suggestion is to block the third lane from the north with pylons at Macklin, so that dangerous merges are avoided.
Another dangerous situation for cyclists occurs on the King Street bridge heading west over the 403. I frequent the Fortinos at King and Dundurn, and worry about making it home safely with my groceries.
First, traffic travels way too fast past Dundurn. Traffic calming measures in this section should be researched and pursued.
Second, there are currently no cycling facilities on the King Street bridge. Cyclists are forced to ride with 60km/h+ traffic in two lanes, or else share the narrow sidewalk with several other pedestrians. I dislike both options, as they are show a lack of thought regarding the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.
I believe that the dual-direction bike lane should be reinstated as soon as possible on King Street despite the construction. Traffic is never backed up as a result of the lane reduction, and I would hypothesize that due to the speed of the traffic, the bridge would still not be a bottleneck even if it was reduced to just one lane westbound.
The dual direction bike lane offered a safe and convenient way to get back to Westdale using King Street, but now it is gone in the interests of traffic movement and expediency.
Please consider my arguments and suggestions as one representing the experiences of many cyclists traveling across the 403. I really enjoy cycling in the city, and make frequent trips downtown. I feel as though making it dangerous for cyclists to cross the 403 is keeping many from using their bikes to access many of the interesting places outside of Westdale.
I would really appreciate your thoughts on the issue, and welcome any inquiries.
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