By Letter to the Editor
Published November 07, 2013
I'm writing in the middle of the night because, not for the first time, I am literally losing sleep over the problem of pedestrian safety in my neighbourhood.
My husband and I moved to Hamilton from the United States in 2009 and bought a house on Holton Ave South in 2012. We have a young daughter and walk her to Central Day Care, which requires us to cross Wentworth Street near Charlton Avenue. We also walk our dog and jog regularly on the Escarpment rail trail, which crosses Wentworth at the same point.
Charlton Avenue and Wentworth Street (RTH file photo)
It is terrifying. There is no crosswalk on this busy road, and no indication to cars coming down Charlton that there is pedestrian and bike traffic directly around the sharp turn to Wentworth.
Since we moved to this area, I have marveled daily that more pedestrians aren't killed along this stretch. Now, one has been: Zoe Nudell, the partner of one of my graduate students at McMaster, who had just moved here herself.
I understand that in her case the driver was allegedly impaired, but it is also undeniably true that the design of Hamilton's city streets encourages drivers to behave like maniacs in general, speeding through residential areas with absolutely no concept of, much less respect for, pedestrian presence.
Since Zoe's death, I have not been able to sleep, thinking about raising my child in an area with such a prominent death trap. I realize this may sound melodramatic, but I ask that you try to cross Wentworth at the rail trail twice daily for a month or so before you write me off as hysterical.
I am very glad to hear that city council are discussing the problem of pedestrian safety, and encourage them to take seriously the proposed plan to improve Hamilton's street design to protect its residents.
In many ways, my husband (who teaches at Mohawk College) and I have been very happy with our decision to move here. We love Hamilton, and we are engaged residents: we shop at the downtown Farmer's Market, we spend time with our daughter in Gage Park.
But every day that we come home having risked life and limb just to move in and through the city, we wonder whether it was a wise choice. My sincere hope is that we see significant improvement to the city's walkability and bikeability in the next few years, which I would take as a sign that this is a city my family can live in happily.
Eugenia Zuroski Jenkins,
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