Hamilton 2nd Most Dangerous City in Ontario for Pedestrians

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published November 06, 2013

To those who claim there are no problems with our road network, CBC Hamilton has published a new report that may be of interest:

Hamilton pedestrians and cyclists are at higher risk of getting hit by cars than the provincial average, and Hamilton has one of the highest rates of pedestrian deaths in the province.

The numbers come from new data from the Social Planning and Research Council, which is looking at the number of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 pedestrian and transit commuters.

Sara Mayo, a social planner with the council, found that Hamilton is second only to Windsor for the number of pedestrians who die while walking, usually by getting hit by vehicles.

She also found that Hamilton pedestrians are as much as 42 per cent more likely to be injured compared to the Ontario rate. The risk to cyclists can be as much as 81 per cent higher than the provincial average.


Looking at multiple years, she found that vehicle collisions are down in Hamilton, but pedestrian and cyclist injuries have stayed roughly the same since 2001.

As we've pointed out many times, in this City we have prioritized the convenience of motorists at the expense of every other road user.

The result is that our roads are getting safer for motorists, but are just as dangerous as they have ever been for pedestrians and cyclists - and we're doing badly compared with other Ontario cities.

As I pointed out in a comment two years ago, even much larger cities with much higher numbers of pedestrians have pedestrian death rates that are minuscule compared to Hamilton.

In fact, even the absolute numbers in Hamilton are not lower than cities many times our size with pedestrians everywhere!

For example, Paris, with a population of 2.2 million and sidewalks crammed with pedestrians, had only 18 pedestrian deaths last year (no children).

In fact, the figure of 2.2 million (more than four times Hamilton) underestimates the actual pedestrian traffic, as the population increases greatly during the day when people come in from the suburbs (population total 10 million) to work. For example, 800,000 passengers get off or on at the Les Halles subway station alone each day.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.


View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 12:23:38

And the immediate reaction online is, of course "OMG I saw a cyclist run a red light and pedestrians step out onto the road away from a crosswalk, it's all their fault".

Permalink | Context

By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 13:59:18 in reply to Comment 94348

Yeah clearly they need to get us cyclists under control. We're killing everybody. Even the number of roadkilled squirrels and raccoons will go down if we restrict bikes. And of course license and insure them.

Oh, wait, nothing whatsoever was killed by bicycles. Except maybe a couple of insects. Dead people, dead animals, all caused by motor vehicles. Driving dangerously - lightly punished if at all. Causing a fatality - lightly punished if at all.

It gets exhausting, but let's keep working on changing, or at least adjusting, this death culture of motordom!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 12:37:28

Looking forward to this SPRC report. Have to wonder what the data would look like without the census black holes.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By simonge (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 12:55:12

Don't fret Hamilton. Our Mayor has a plan to get us to number 1!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Keith (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 14:43:31

I'm not questioning the results but what are the actual rates?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 15:08:33

Some numbers are given in this detailed traffic safety report from 2010:

In particular, p 12 gives pedestrian and cyclists injuries and deaths.

There were an average of 269 pedestrian injuries and fatalities per year from 1991-2010 and an average of about 6 pedestrian fatalities per year.

There were an average of about 150 cyclists injuries and fatalities per year from 1991-2010 and 1.5 cyclist fatalities per year.

There were an average of about 20 total traffic fatalities per year, so pedestrians and cyclists make up 38%, which is a big over-representation.

Figure 1.8 shows a fairly significant decline in pedestrian injury rates from 1985 to 1991, followed by a levelling out (overall a decrease by about half). Note that the rate is based on total population, and might be skewed by decreasing rates of walking during this period especially to massive suburban development.

However, in figure 1.6 the total personal injury rates (i.e. dominated by motorists) has gone down by a factor three and continues a downward trend.

A big part of the problem is shown by table 1.10: only 37% of drivers (and 15% of passengers) involved in a collision are injured, compared with 86% of cyclists and 89% of pedestrians. So the key for pedestrian and cyclist safety is to avoid collisions in the first place. Because pedestrian and cyclists are so vulnerable, road design and regulations should be shifting risk away from these users, rather than onto them. Motorists, because of vehicle design, are obviously much safer in a collision, especially at urban speeds.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2013-11-06 15:36:40

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By movedtohamilton (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 22:44:01

This is a verbatim quote from a Councilor to CBC on this issue:

It’s important that any decisions the city makes don’t add to commuting time for motorists, Coun. Terry Whitehead of Ward 8 on the Mountain.

“The challenge for my constituents is gridlock,” he said.

Gridlock? Commuting time? These are more "important" than pedestrian safety. Is this di**head councilor living in an alternate universe where it's always 1965. I am so angry I'm sputtering.

Permalink | Context

By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 07, 2013 at 08:03:59 in reply to Comment 94412

I have lived on Hamilton mountain for 20 years (whoa time flies) and the only thing even resembling "gridlock" occurred on days of multiple accidents in major intersections, linc or 403 closures, access closures - basically just outlier events that are infrequent. And even on those occasions, it was congestion and backlog, not "gridlock". That is hyperbole even on the worst traffic days. Rymal Road maybe needs the gravel shoulder paved to twin it. The closest thing to actual gridlock I ever saw was the declaration of a snow emergency and a request to stay off the streets so plows could work.

On a typical day - speeding, aggressive driving, honking at cyclists, flooring it when the hand starts flashing - these are the norm. I used to drive this way sometimes when I was younger. It was immature and sociopathic of me to do that; I've changed. Others can too.

This ties into another comment I made, and others here have made, about the issues with entitlement. Drama queens sometimes consider stopping at a red light to be "gridlock". Or having to line up behind other cars at an intersection is "gridlock". Or having to slow down because the person in front is not doing 80kph on Mohawk Road like they want to. At the cost of everything else that makes a city safe and pleasant. What a bunch of bull.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2013-11-07 08:15:39

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted November 07, 2013 at 08:26:27 in reply to Comment 94425

Whose ward are you in? Please, please, please send your comments to your councillor!

Permalink | Context

By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 07, 2013 at 10:47:02 in reply to Comment 94428

I used to live in Ward 6 but presently live in Ward 8. Terry Whitehead's ward. He and Mister Ford must be smoking buddies. Ward 8 gridlock? How are people in ward 8 complaining about gridlock? Did he get a flood of complaints when the Linc closed? Is he including the 403 backups - if yes - why don't these retards push for more GO trains to push some bedroom commuters onto them? Perhaps an LRT to speed them downtown to the James North train station with its' new all day GO train service?

He must be talking about rush hour backups affecting 403/Mohawk/Linc. There is nothing else even remotely plausible for consideration as gridlock. Maybe his constituents complaining are not being specific? Hampering city walkability improvements because of that? Good God this really does feel like Idiocracy.

I'll work on a letter and share it here. Consider that a way of holding me to it :)

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2013-11-07 10:59:23

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted November 07, 2013 at 12:05:15 in reply to Comment 94459

Thank you! Please copy his colleagues as well so they are aware that there is more diversity of opinion in his ward than he is letting on.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted November 07, 2013 at 00:13:01 in reply to Comment 94412

Gridlock?? The entire west mountain is a freeway. I've been told more than once that his office gets barraged with complaints about dangerous traffic and speeding. Where is there an ounce of gridlock?

I personally hope that we add a little to commuting times. How else do we slow down cars and make streets for safer, but not add a bit to our driving times. Don't the laws of physics automatically mean slower, safer speeds = a bit longer driving time?

Permalink | Context

By New Here (anonymous) | Posted November 10, 2013 at 12:15:46 in reply to Comment 94415

Not according to the Spec. Recent headline says the city slowed down the traffic on Barton and safety decreased (that's a paraphrase.) I think if you get hit by a car doing 30k v. 100 k you are still dead.

In Belgium and the Netherlands they have higher population density than us. But they have more high speed vehicular roadways, higher speed highways and more bikeways and bike use than we do. There has to be a comprehensive solution.

Focusing on the demon car will get you nowhere I suspect. Punishing those who have at this stage no choice but to commute is likewise a by my view a mistake. It is lamentable that the ring roads and expressways that were in the master plans of the 50's 60's and 70's were never built. But the anti urban sprawl people have a point. In Europe there is no more room to expand and so highways do not necessarily promote sprawl. But here they do because we have more room. Stop the outside development, build more, better nad safer troads. Increase trains and subways dramatically, etc. etc. But I fear that focusing only on drivers and taking theiur time away from them as the solution is counter-productive.

Permalink | Context

By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 10, 2013 at 12:54:44 in reply to Comment 94607

In the Netherlands and Belgium, which I have had the privilege of touring and biking across extensively, create much greater separation between high speed traffic and the bike network.

How did they do this? By taking lanes away from cars, and using that room for comprehensive bike and pedestrian networks.

That is what we are trying to communicate here. Taking lanes away from cars is not "demonizing cars". It is drivers who think they are being demonized by even one lane being repurposed.

I think if you get hit by a car doing 30k v. 100 k you are still dead.

That is absolutely false.

Permalink | Context

By New Here (anonymous) | Posted November 11, 2013 at 18:50:22 in reply to Comment 94608

I tried to post a reply here but the board thinks it is spam. Sorry.

Permalink | Context

By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 11, 2013 at 19:44:25 in reply to Comment 94653


I would love to hear your thoughts - try again! No idea why your reply failed to post.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 08:06:26

Strange how as the city makes more and more changes to the streets and traffic flow it gets more dangerous. Strange but true.

Permalink | Context

By LOL@LOL (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 09:12:04 in reply to Comment 94522

Strange how as the city goes year after year without making changes to the streets and traffic flow it doesn't get safer. Strange but true.

Fixed that for you.

Permalink | Context

By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 08:57:15 in reply to Comment 94522

Are you referring to information in the cycling dangers article on the spec front page today?

Ryan over the years has posted tons of data on this site from other cities that worked on complete streets, walkability, increases in cycling, and saw accident rates fall as users went up. Even Toronto! (Jarvis Street saw a decline in accidents when it had bike lanes).

We're missing a piece of the picture here ... if our data mismatches that of countless other cities there must be some missing factor we (or they) overlooked.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Noted (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2013 at 11:03:09

Ontario’s first WALK Friendly Community designations awarded today at provincial healthy communities conference in Toronto

(TORONTO - NOVEMBER 13, 2013) – Five Ontario municipalities have been recognized by an expert panel for their walkability.

Canada Walks, a national organization dedicated to encouraging municipalities to be more pedestrian friendly, today named the City of Ottawa, City of Hamilton, Town of Richmond Hill, City of London and Town of Wasaga Beach as the first recipients of WALK Friendly Community designations.

The awards were given at HC Link’s conference, Linking for Healthy Communities: Collaborating for Change, where more than 150 participants from across Ontario gathered to learn new strategies and strengthen networks that support healthy communities.

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

There are no upcoming events right now.
Why not post one?

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools