Comment 72038

By MarieAnge (registered) | Posted December 08, 2011 at 23:20:56

The post makes credible reference to other cities who have cycling lanes that work. Other than Montreal, which by the way is insane traffic-wise, you literally take your life into your own hands cycling in Montreal, most of the cities in the list are all European.

What people forget is that the majority of those cities are all very old, their streets are very narrow, a lot of them still have cobblestones. All this means that parking is at a premium since there is very little parking available. Because of this, people leave their cars at home, hop on the tram, the metro, bus, train, whatever mode of transportation will get them to their destination. European cities also have another thing in common that we don't have. As one commenter stated earlier, they are very tightly packed. Also, Europe in general has never been car-centric as North America has been.

We have all grown up with the car being the ultimate status symbol. If you could afford a car, you had it made! And this has nothing to do with the baby boomers or the hippies, it has to do with the marketing of the automobile in North America. All those slick ads that showed beautiful shiny bullet shaped vehicles, racing down paved straight roads, high speeds, hair blowing in the wind. That is the ideal we have all grown up with. Today's reality is that most of us cannot afford one of those slick shiny vehicles and that creates envy. I gave up owning a car 7 years ago, not by choice but by necessity. I did not have the money to keep a car on the road and pay for day parking and night parking and gas and insurance and and and.. The ands just became too numerous. I have been using the city transit system since then. It's not the greatest by a long shot, it could use some improvements but it still gets you from point A to point B, although by a circuitous way at times, but you eventually get there. You just can't be in a hurry.

We live in a society that is used to having everything instantly. Instant internet access everywhere and anywhere, email access, shopping convenience, drive thrus, everything now now now and now. We are totally disgusted that we may have to wait 2 minutes at a grocery store line up. If we actually stopped racing everywhere, reduced the level of activities we are involved in, be more selective about what we want to be involved in, we might find that there is no more need to race around and having everything at our fingertips instantly.

Now looking at Hamilton, we have a population of half a million people, so definitely enough inhabitants to justify more public transportation. Although, compared to the population of Chicago which is well over the 6.5 million inhabitants, we are nothing. Watching the traffic in downtown Hamilton is like watching an accident waiting to happen. We have vehicles of all sizes and shapes barrelling down the street at top speed and we expect cyclists to use those same streets? It's already a crap shoot crossing the street as a pedestrian...!

City of Hamilton planners need to stop paving over land that has become available to build on in the downtown core. Take a look at a google map of Hamilton, switch to terrain view, zoom in to the downtown area and count how many parking lots cover vast areas to the east and north of downtown. Build over these parking lots and suddenly you will have a lot of commuters wanting to use transit instead of fighting for the few parking spots left. But in order to get those drivers out of their cars and using transit, there has to be a transit system in place that is fast and reliable and doesn't require you to hand over your first born as payment for using it.

I agree we need more cycling routes, but until we see a distinct change to the downtown core, that we see less and less parking available, that we see new businesses building on those paved lots, that we see new businesses opening in those boarded up buildings, that we see the city stop encouraging building owners to keep their buildings boarded up, we will not get the Utopian city that we all wish for. One that continues to be green, that has public transit from end to end, that LRT runs both in the core and on the mountain, with people happy to walk around in the downtown core to get their shopping done, or just to hang out even.

So all this to say that I support the cycling lanes even though as a disabled person I will never use them. I love what Chicago has done and I could see this approach as viable for Hamilton, but only after we reduce the heavy traffic coming through the downtown area.

Comment edited by MarieAnge on 2011-12-08 23:29:02

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