Queensdale Construction an Opportunity to Extend Bike Lanes

By Ryan McGreal
Published August 19, 2013

this blog entry has been updated

Earlier this summer, the City installed bike lanes on Queensdale Avenue between Upper Wellington and Upper Wentworth, an 850 metre east-west stretch on the East Mountain.

Queensdale Avenue bike lanes
Queensdale Avenue bike lanes

The lanes were installed as a "pilot project to assess whether to continue bike lanes easterly to Upper Sherman Avenue", according to Daryl Bender, the city's manager of alternative transportation.

It is not clear what the terms of reference are for the pilot project, or how the City will determine whether the bike lanes are successful enough to warrant retention and/or extension.

Just this morning, the City began major road work on Queensdale between Upper Wentworth and Upper Sherman, to replace the water system and resurface the street. The first phase will go to East 24th Street and be complete in November, with the second phase completed by next summer.

What an excellent opportunity, I thought, to extend the new Queensdale bike lanes when the road surface is rebuilt! It would extend the bike lanes from 850 m to 1.7 km, and there are plans to add bike lanes on Upper Wentworth so it would be part of a larger network.

Bike Lane Extension Still Undecided

For now, it is not yet decided whether the road will be rebuilt with bike lanes, and ward 7 councillor Scott Duvall may or may not decide to support extending the bike lanes as far as Upper Sherman some time in the future.

According to Duvall, the community is split on whether to support the bike lanes. In an email response to RTH, Duvall wrote, "I circulated a questionnaire to all households on Queensdale, the response was about 50 percent, some indicating a great idea and some said no as it would affect parking and was a waste of money."

Duvall clarified that the bike lane may yet be extended after the road work. If the pilot project "is accepted, we will continue to Upper Sherman." He adds that the road work is "perfect timing whether to proceed or abandon the bike lanes."

Duvall further clarified that the pilot will be evaluated "based on complaints" and that he will have to reconsider the lanes "if many complaints are forwarded."

So far, Duvall has received one complaint and three positive comments. He is "trying to be open minded and find a compromise that will benefit all."

Missed Opportunities

Of course, we know that the bike lanes will definitely not be extended further east past Upper Sherman, since that is ward 6 and its councillor, Tom Jackson, has already vetoed the bike lane for his ward.

Jackson argues that bicycles are "recreational" vehicles and that if people want to ride a bike, they should use one of the city's off-road trails. (I am still waiting for a Councillor to respond to someone asking for a new road that if they want to drive around, they can always go to the Cayuga Speedway.)

We also missed the opportunity to add bike lanes on Barton Street East between Nash and Centennial, which is also being torn up to replace water mains and having the street, curbs and sidewalks rebuilt.

There is no way to widen the road to make extra room for bike lanes, and of course it's unthinkable to remove any automobile lane capacity, so there's just no room to install bike lanes.

Update: updated to add response from Councillor Duvall clarifying that the bike lane extension has not yet been decided. You can jump to the added paragraph.

Update 2: updated to add Duvall's comments on the evaluation criteria. You can jump to the added paragraph.

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 Kevin Love (anonymous) | Posted August 19, 2013 at 16:10:32

The Queensdale bike lane goes from nowhere to nowhere. It has zero protection. It is situated in the door zone of parked cars so that the most dangerous place on the entire road to ride a bike is in the bike lane.

My crystal ball is telling me that not too many people are going to use this bike lane. Would you send your 8-year-old child to school in this lane? I sure would not. My 75-year-old mother's opinion about this sort of crappy sub-standard infrastructure with zero protection from car drivers is "At my age, I am not going to play tag with two-tonne lethal weapons."

To me, this look like an attempt by cycle-haters to set up a pilot project to fail.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted August 19, 2013 at 16:17:19

I've seen cyclists riding on the road on Queensdale after installation of the bike lanes and I've seen cars driving in the parking lane, and driving over the bike lane, seemingly oblivious to it.

I was a big supporter of the bike lane before it was implemented, but now that I see it in practice, it does not seem to be working for anyone - cyclists, motorists, or pedestrians. I hope it's just "teething pains" and that people will get the message.

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By Kevin Love (anonymous) | Posted August 19, 2013 at 17:29:09

It occurs to me that in addition to writing about what is very, very wrong about the Queensdale bike lane, I should also provide an alternative of what it could be.

Here is a video of a bike path in a similar suburban environment. It goes by shops, a school and lots of suburban housing.

Unlike the Queensdale bike lane, this is a success, with more traffic being carried on bicycles than in cars.


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By jason (registered) | Posted August 19, 2013 at 22:10:10 in reply to Comment 91041

fantastic video and so much of what is wrong here is highlighted in that clip.

Speed limit of 30k on ALL residential streets. Here, city hall fought the north end plan for 30k and then called it a 'pilot project' (not sure what we're piloting as the last city in the country to use 30k limits) just so they could avoid doing this in other neighbourhoods for 5 years. I love the city of Hamilton signs leading to the north end now - a safe family, child friendly neighbourhood. They forgot the rest of the sign that says "and we'll fight like heck to make sure it's the only one".

protected lanes - again, we drop the ball continually - new lanes into Westdale are lousy, Queensdale is lousy etc.... City Hall has been trying to sound good lately, but I always watch for real work on the ground and the day to day operations. From this view, nothing has changed. I was just in TO and they are ripping up Queens Quay and when it's all rebuilt they will only leave HALF of the roadway for cars. 3 total lanes. The rest will be streetcars, protected cycle track and huge pedestrian promenade. And that's a major thoroughfare right off the Gardiner.

Heck, Port Dover has a protected bike lane. I've been on vacation this week and every GTA city/suburb and Southern Ontario small town and farming community has zebra crossings at intersections. And we're celebrating like it's opening day of an LRT system because our city is finally (begrudgingly) painting some.

Small towns and big cities are revitalizing old neighbourhoods and downtowns by calming traffic, adding parking, trees, bike lanes, wider sidewalks, and we still have King, Cannon and Main roaring by like 1950's freeways.
Even Toronto is improving streets that were already a zillion times better than all of ours - Roncesvalles etc.... - to make them EVEN better!

I've been digging around online and I can't find a city anywhere that is still clinging to 5-lane, one way freeways like grim death. If society ever returns to car-centred, dead-retail zones, boarded up storefronts and dangerous places to raise kids and live generally, we'll be the cats meow.....

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted August 19, 2013 at 22:19:25

As a cyclist, I'm glad I don't live in bicycle unfriendly councillor ward 6. I live in Ward 3. My councillor hasn't vetoed bike lanes but as far as I can tell he doesn't support them either. A shame because there are a lot of cyclists in this ward.

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By Kevin Love (anonymous) | Posted August 20, 2013 at 04:28:34 in reply to Comment 91051

When was the last time a single Councillor got to veto a major car transportation route?

I don't remember any of them saying "Part of the Red Hill Expressway goes through my ward so you can have six lanes of car-only expressway before and after my ward, but not through it."

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted August 21, 2013 at 13:46:00

I wish they put bike lanes onto governors road instead of the oversized medians. I've personally witnessed two cyclist almost knocked off there bikes and have personally been brushed by a SCHOOL BUS of all things, passing me at the median. Not to mention the road condition is one of the worst I've ridden on. Big fail to whomever came up with the planning of that stretch of road. Still haven't seen one person cross at one of those medians either and I'm up and down that road ten times a day at least.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 21, 2013 at 22:19:00 in reply to Comment 91151

it's the typical smokescreen of "we're doing this for pedestrian safety" without actually fixing any of the problems that make that street horrible for pedestrians.

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By wcj (anonymous) | Posted August 22, 2013 at 17:54:45

We need a critical mass of bicyclists to slow traffic down until things change, preferably doing this on major streets (King, Main, Cannon, any other major one-ways). Yes, impractical, unrealistic, and utterly self-defeating and polarizing, but what a way to get that blood a-thumpin'!

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By wcj (anonymous) | Posted August 22, 2013 at 17:56:55 in reply to Comment 91262

And, oh yes, Ward 7's my ward. The councillor was happy to relay that Queensdale Avenue was being amended for bicycle lanes. Fennell Avenue could use them, next.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted August 25, 2013 at 11:52:47

I'm up for a peaceful bike ride down the middle of main or king or........ Anyone else??

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted August 27, 2013 at 15:13:38 in reply to Comment 91356

While I think it is an interesting idea, if you do a "critical mass" ride down king or main, have everyone occupy the left or right-most lane. That way we are simulating the actual goal - removal of one lane of traffic for a protected bike lane. It will demonstrate that a very large number of bikes can ride in a standard lane width, leave buses and cars unimpeded thus demonstrating that a road diet won't really hurt Main Street, and generally show more of a spirit of cooperation and demonstration of a request (sort of like the guerrilla bump-outs), without being douchy/dangerous/illegal. However, a large number of riders taking to the streets - that is what we need!!

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 28, 2013 at 22:30:16 in reply to Comment 91442

fantastic idea! I'm in. And for what it's worth, I'd suggest the left lanes. Right lanes can be for transit, middle for cars and left for bikes (eventually protected by parking).

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By bikehounds (anonymous) | Posted August 28, 2013 at 11:40:44 in reply to Comment 91442

Agreed. I see no benefit to anyone when cyclists try to clog an entire road. There is enough space for all of us on Main. It would be cool to do a regular critical mass style loop - maybe main/victoria/cannon/queen - all overbuilt one-ways. Just take one full lane to demonstrate we can afford wider sidewalks and bike lanes. It would be amazing if we could create a single file bike snake long enough to eat its own tail!

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted August 27, 2013 at 21:53:13

I'm in.

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By Kevin Love (anonymous) | Posted August 27, 2013 at 22:37:27 in reply to Comment 91455

Me too. How about Critical Mass on the last Friday of each month. Which would be this coming Friday.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 28, 2013 at 22:33:26 in reply to Comment 91457

I like it. I'm out of town this weekend, but generally that works. Simple ideas like this can sometimes be what it takes to show the risk-averse folks at city hall that it's really a no-brainer to do this. Main Street was down to 3 lanes at city hall today and was still flying. We should leave Main with 3 live lanes, have 24-7 parking on the north side, and a 2-way bike path between the parking and sidewalk. Even then traffic will still be fine, but the street suddenly becomes much more usable for other people.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted August 30, 2013 at 14:34:26

I'm out of town as well. A few weeks notice would be better for a larger gathering I think.

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