Comment 89717

By Noted (anonymous) | Posted June 25, 2013 at 10:25:59

Councillor Farr lives just east of Gage Park, so he would appreciate this tactical incursion.

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"Like what you see?"

Blue-and-white posters posing that question are tacked to hydro poles near the King and Main intersection in central Hamilton.

Graham McNally, a local architect, put them up. They're part of a project called Walk the Delta, which emerged from a "tactical urbanism" charrette — a brainstorming session held to solve a design problem — organized by the Hamilton/Burlington Society of Architects.

"It's pretty clear that it's very car-oriented," McNally said, noting that the traffic lights are pedestrian activated, and the concrete triangle that sits in the middle of the Delta's gateway intersection, connecting pedestrians to King and Main streets, is narrow.

The Delta stretches from Gage to Kenilworth, and the Mountain to Main Street.

But while he and other architects and planners might look at the area and come up with their own ideas, McNally is most curious to know what residents think.

That's why he hopes to hear from neighbours through the Walk the Delta blog, the hashtag #walkthedelta and the posters that offer the thought, "I would walk the Delta, but …" with an empty space below for passersby to give feedback about the area's walkability.

Since the posters went up at the end of April, the response has been minimal. But one in particular stood out to McNally: "I don't know what the Delta is."

His response: "It's just not a place for people."

Walk the Delta isn't just about posters and a social media presence — it's about getting the public out and encouraging them to think about their communities.

"Short-term action for long-term change" is one way McNally explains tactical urbanism.

It's about trying things out cheaply and quickly to allow for testing and learning, he said.

Mary Bowness, who lives in the Crown Point area near Main Street East and Kenilworth Avenue North, believes in the philosophy "it's all about the neighbourhood."

Having lived in the Delta for three years, she thinks it would benefit from traffic calming, which could be done visually — inviting motorists to engage with what's going on outside of their vehicles, so they're thinking about their whole journey and not just the destination.

Maybe it's a banner, reading: "Welcome to the Delta."

Whatever form it takes, Bowness, who sits on her community's walkability committee, wants it to remind drivers that there's more to the street than cars.

Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla said that while awareness of what's needed is growing within the community, there's a lot of work that needs to be done to make Hamilton pedestrian-friendly.

Being an older city, Hamilton inherited a lot of car-first infrastructure, but over the past decade, the planning focus has shifted to ensure every mode of transit is seen as a priority — pedestrians, cyclists, vehicular traffic and public transit, he said.

"We are moving in the right direction."

Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr said he knows the pedestrian experience is a selling point for any successful city, and he's looking forward to the city's pedestrian mobility plan, which has been in the works for several years.

The plan looks at how pedestrian mobility factors into infrastructure plans for Hamilton — "bumpouts and crosswalks and all those things that make streets safer and more pedestrian friendly," he said.

"It's like a road map to the future."

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