Comment 52087

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 20:55:57

Here in the Durand we've found it extremely difficult to convince the City to do any pedestrian improvements in the five years I've been on the board on the Durand Neighbourhood Association.

This is despite having hosted a pedestrian workshop in February 2009 at the request of the City whose purpose was to recommend feasible changes! The report by Walk and Bike for Life (now 8-80 Cities) made detailed recommendations that were ignored for over a year, and then finally rejected en masse in a brief letter to the DNA. The report is available at http://www.8-80cities.org/Projects.html

Regarding crosswalks, this will be a difficult fight in any Hamilton neighbourhood for the following reasons:

  1. Policy: unlike other Ontario cities Hamilton now has a policy of only putting crosswalks at "signalized intersections", i.e. at a stop sign or traffic light. This is ostensibly for safety, but the fact that the City removed the signs from existing crosswalks and simply let the road markings fade suggests safety was not the main concern. This policy also drastically reduced the number of available crosswalks.

  2. Limited resources: the only type of crosswalk the City will now consider is a pedestrian activated traffic light (like that at Queen and Duke). Since they only budget for two or three per year over the whole City, new crosswalks are necessarily extremely rare (hence the unreasonably high standard).

  3. Priorities: the traffic department considers smooth and fast movement of motor vehicles as the primary goal of the road system (despite having signed the "Pedestrian Charter"). Pedestrians and cyclists are usually accommodated only inasmuch as they don't slow down or otherwise inconvenience motorists. Since road space is finite and controls slow traffic, pedestrians and cyclists will generally lose out (unless, for example, there is space for a cycle lane without removing a motor vehicle lane or if the road is obviously under capacity).

One of the most serious examples of a "missing" crosswalk in the Durand is on Hunter at the MacNab pedestrian underpass. Obviously this is intended to be a high pedestrian activity area, since it is between the pedestrian underpass and the YWCA and is a major route from the Durand to downtown. In fact, there used to be a crosswalk here, but the signs were removed (and the road markings allowed to fade) several years ago when the policy changed. This crossing point is heavily used by pedestrians, but is dangerous due to the high speed traffic moving up one-way Hunter street from the light at James. We requested a signalized pedestrian crossing, but even this intersection didn't make the cut (in fact no intersections in Durand were deemed worthy despite having the highest population density in the City)!

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