Dedicated Transit Lane will Exclude Cyclists

By Kenneth Moyle
Published October 19, 2013

Cyclists will be effectively pushed off of King Street West by the city's transit lane pilot project.

Starting October 22, the right-hand lane of King Street West from Mary to just East of Dundurn will for buses only: no cars, no trucks, and no bikes.

I bike from downtown back to Westdale and McMaster at least once a week, and of course I generally take the simplest, fastest, and most obvious route: straight along King Street West.

I could continue to do so by riding in the second lane, I suppose, but the thought makes me very uncomfortable: traffic moves very fast in that lane, and I would find myself riding squeezed between buses on my right and cars and even transport trucks on my left.

Daryl Bender, the Alternative Transportation Project Manager in Public Works, seems to agree:

The other lanes on King Street will continue to be legal for bicycles, but I agree that it is not expected to be an ideal route during peak volume periods.

Where am I expected to ride? Mr. Bender suggests taking York to Bay, walking across Bay and along York to get to Napier, then riding down Napier (with a stop sign at every intersection), crossing Victoria Park, and then taking Dundurn to the 403 bridge.

I can ride from directly from King & James to King & Sterling in about ten minutes - eleven minutes, says google. The suggest route doubles the time - twenty minutes, according to google.

Is this the best we can do? Improving mass transit only at the expense of making cycling in this city even more difficult?

Kenneth Moyle is an analyst at McMaster University, sometime photographer and occasional writer. He has come to love Hamilton. His website is


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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted October 19, 2013 at 17:02:54

The left lane may become the safest place to cycle. Parking is being moved to the left so there will be parked cars the whole stretch of that lane. Cyclists in practice usually ride in the parking lane between the line and the parked cars, even though it's actually safer to take up a whole traffic lane. On the left though, the door zone is less dangerous because less passenger doors open than drivers side doors (average car occupancy is about 1.2). Still, we're debating what sucks less for bikes in the absence of a proper solution.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2013 at 18:39:26

This is why the Cannon bike lanes are more important than ever, and at the same time not enough. We need a second step to #YesWeCannon, a #YesWeMain project. If the big wide westbound truck route can have a bidirectional bike lane, then it only makes sense that the big wide eastbound truck route should have one too. They're far-enough apart that they wouldn't be redundant, and the lack of viable bike-traffic on King would be fine with a bike corridor a block to the South.

Also, the Ward 1 participatory budget project (bug somebody you know in Ward 1 to vote for your desires) includes bike lanes along York Boulevard and Cannon West of Bay Street. Those will hook Cannon to King Street via Dundurn's lanes.

Unfortunately, none of these projects are going to be completed this year, much less this month.

If the City sees Napier as a bike route, they should probably do something about all the stop-signs. Also, crossing Queen sucks. Also, cutting through the parking lot or the walking-path next to the Bay St. Federal building to get to Bay Street sucks. Also, ending at inexplicably 1-way Bay Street sucks.

Napier would work fine as a bike route with a little TLC, but as it stands it's not really adequate.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2013-10-19 18:45:15

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted October 21, 2013 at 00:02:26 in reply to Comment 93420

A bike lane on Main would be great, but one on King would be even better. King is where all the businesses are, and as I always say, cyclists are going places like everyone else. Main has so many car-oriented businesses that a bike lane would be less useful than King, save for through traffic.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2013 at 20:18:01




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By jason (registered) | Posted October 19, 2013 at 23:08:13

Parking in the south lane will be 24-7 which is an improvement over the previous rush hour restrictions. This will allow cyclists to use that parking lane on King. However, for some crazy reason the parking ends at Strathcona instead of going to dundurn. So bikes will compete with car drivers who believe that King and Strathcona is actually the entrance to the 403. Then, since Hamilton is holding out and trying to be the last city on earth with real bike boxes, cyclists will have to switch to the north lane at Dundurn by walking at the light I guess. Then pick up the protected lanes from there. Napier could,be a perfect greenway route with humps, no stopping require for bikes and a light at Queen.

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2013 at 09:03:54 in reply to Comment 93424

"for some crazy reason the parking ends at Strathcona instead of going to dundurn"

Sheer laziness. At the very least, that block deserved the same treatment that the six easternmost blocks got.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2013 at 05:47:42 in reply to Comment 93424

Remember that, for better or worse, it's only a pilot. Appreciate the nominal progress, petition your councillor for the changes you want to see, and know that it could all be temporary.

When in doubt: serenity prayer.

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By Mark-AlanWhittle (registered) - website | Posted October 20, 2013 at 10:25:19

The Bus only lane is 2 Kilometers long, in only one direction. How will this improve service along this route, given the speed limit? The whole corridor proposed for LRT should have had a dedicate bus lane for the total 14 Kilometer route. A real bus rapid transit system. This would be the best way to get ridership up to the level that will support an LRT system. On the mountain we have a contiguous bike lane from Ancaster to Stoney Creek. Cyclists going to and from work are a brave lot, especially in winter. No way I would do it, but recreational biking, in seasons that allow it, is good thing.

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2013 at 00:29:33

I can wait for the transit only lane to go through. Considering that specific stretch of road carries thousands of commuters on local, regional and inter-regional buses, it's about time that the pilot gets going. I can't until transit only lanes are all over the major corridors to keep buses reliable and moving!

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2013 at 00:30:23 in reply to Comment 93442

Ugh- should say 'I can't wait for the transit only lane to go through into service'.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2013 at 13:43:21 in reply to Comment 93443

You get an edit button (and the spam-catcher starts trusting you) if you register an account.

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By Sean Marshall (anonymous) | Posted October 21, 2013 at 12:40:05

It's worth noting that bus lanes in Toronto (such as Bay Street) generally don't exclude cyclists; a big problem with King East congestion are stopped motor vehicles, not bicycles in the way (taxis and DARTS will still be able to stop in the bus lane, BTW).

The best alternate route that I see, without a dozen stop signs, is going south to Hunter Street and go west on Hunter, north on Locke and west on Jackson across to Dundurn then up to King. The trouble of course is getting back onto King from Dundurn in the dual left turn lanes. Google estimates 16 minutes and adds 900 metres to your ride. I find King and Main scary enough as it is to ride on, at least there are decent alternatives east of downtown. But to Westdale/McMaster? It's tough and a cycle track on Main or King is definitely what's needed.,-79.875914+to:43.2581738,-79.8848612+to:43.2602381,-79.8886753+to:king+and+sterling&hl=en&ll=43.256768,-79.873695&spn=0.013955,0.033023&sll=43.256737,-79.879425&sspn=0.013955,0.033023&geocode=FW8LlAIdfUs9-ynbqspjg5ssiDEZDSs5-4IM2A%3BFXkElAIdtjA9-ykjCcaTd5ssiDF19bTBWuKbmQ%3BFT0RlAIdww09-ynh2N_NepssiDF3AcDuY9sn_g%3BFU4ZlAId3f48-ymF5ypeZJssiDGKSw7HMpNaLA%3BFRYelAIdtrY8-yFWVn0E3OY1dCnhKo5lWpssiDFWVn0E3OY1dA&dirflg=b&mra=dvme&mrsp=2&sz=16&via=1,2,3&t=h&z=16&lci=bike

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 21, 2013 at 17:12:59 in reply to Comment 93462

During busy times, bikes often move faster than buses due to the time taken to drop off and pick up passengers. In other words, bikes being in the way of buses should not be a big concern :-)

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By SeanM (registered) | Posted October 22, 2013 at 12:32:03 in reply to Comment 93485

Indeed. Except for the 10 B-Line, the buses seem to stop at every second street and every second light on King West. Since the biggest gain of the bus lane will be to prohibit motor vehicles from stopping in the way of the buses, I don't know why bikes are being pushed off.

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