Comment 93555

By H+H (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2013 at 08:48:42

Matthew - thanks for putting together such a thoughtful piece. I'm one of those RTH'ers with opinions about my city. In this case, as I'm not a cyclist although I support spending money to create an integrated, cycling infrastructure, I'll focus my comments on your "change doesn't happen overnight" premise.

Some change can happen overnight. Literally. The one way conversion of our streets literally took place overnight decades ago. Admittedly, the work-up to the change took longer. One of my concerns with how my city operates is the overwhelming evidence I see of timidity, particularly as it relates to all matters progressive. You hear Councillors talk this way, with perhaps Tom Jackson being the most obviously timid ("As long as it has an exit ramp."). You hear staff propose this way, possibly because the masters they serve prefer timid to bold. ("We're not committed long term and you can change your mind at any time.") You hear it in conversations after decisions have been made about a development, or a civic change. "Hey, it's better than nothing."

Timidity continues to slow us down, in my view, at least civically. I think doing the very limited (distance not time) pilot on Cannon as configured currently is nuts. Pilot what? The idea that we should be multi-modal in our transportation offerings? Or, are we testing the paint on the pavement? The flower box dividers, if we're lucky enough to get them? The usage of the bike lanes themselves by cyclists?.

The problem is, if it's the latter, then your very premise risks limiting the expansion of the cycling infrastructure. I agree, change can take time. For the sake of argument, let's say that the one-year assessed usage of the bike lanes on Cannon is moderate at best. What do we conclude? That bike lanes are an expensive amenity for a very few citizens and that we shouldn't add more until more people say they want to use them? If we measured the sidewalk usage along Upper Wentworth around Limeridge, we'd conclude that sidewalks were a waste of money because very few pedestrians use them and that we could save a ton of money not building and not maintaining them.

In the case of the Cannon bike lanes, I say to hell with the pilot numbers. Gather them if we wish, but don't base expansion on the numbers. Like you say, change takes time. The more we implement, the greater the likelihood of usage, therefore the greater the likelihood of change happening faster. Can't we think, and plan, and implement boldly in Hamilton? EcDev just released a promo video with the theme of "The Ambitious City". Really? This kind of incrementalism by our municipal government represented by the bike lane pilot on Cannon, and the no cyclists allowed on the bus lane on King (pilot), for projects that are well-proven around the world frustrates and worries me. It's weak. It's short-sighted. It's timid. It's anything but ambitious.

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