Special Report: Cycling

Snow, Ice Still on Bike Lanes Two Days After Snowfall - Updated

Two days after this week's light snowfall, the city's bike lanes are still covered in ice.

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 19, 2014

this article has been updated

The snow that fell on Hamilton from Sunday, November 16 through Monday, November 17 didn't stick around on city streets. Between getting squashed by tires and melting from road salt, the driving lanes were already clear by Monday in late afternoon. The city's bike lanes were another story.

Snow and tire tracks on the Hunter Street bike lanes, November 17, 2014
Snow and tire tracks on the Hunter Street bike lanes, November 17, 2014

Note the tire tracks: it turns out that people do ride bikes in winter - even in snow. On Monday, I snapped this shot of several bikes parked on James Street South at Jackson Street, in front of the YMCA.

Bikes parked on James Street South and Jackson, November 17, 2014
Bikes parked on James Street South and Jackson, November 17, 2014

On Tuesday morning, the driving lanes were still clear - and the bike lanes were still covered. However, by this time the snow had frozen into treacherous ice, the tire tracks frozen in place.

Cyclist Ryan Janssen sent this photo to RTH after falling off his bike into oncoming traffic. Fortunately, he was not seriously hurt.

Hunter Street bike lanes covered in ice, November 18, 2014 (Image Credit: Ryan Janssen)
Hunter Street bike lanes covered in ice, November 18, 2014 (Image Credit: Ryan Janssen)

By late afternoon on Tuesday, the eastbound bike lane on Hunter between Park and MacNab was still covered in ice, rendering Hunter impassable for eastbound bike traffic.

Hunter bike lanes looking west from MacNab, November 18, 2014
Hunter bike lanes looking west from MacNab, November 18, 2014

Hunter was already less-than-useful for eastbound cyclists, given that the bike lane ends abruptly at MacNab, but at least cyclists could turn left onto MacNab and continue east on Jackson. Good luck with the bike lane ending at Park.

Of course, the situation was no better for westbound cyclists. Past Park, both bike lanes on Hunter were still covered in ice.

Hunter bike lanes looking west from Park, November 18, 2014
Hunter bike lanes looking west from Park, November 18, 2014

On Wednesday, with fresh flurries falling, there is less ice on Hunter but it still isn't clear.

King Street Multi-Use Track

Other cycling infrastructure isn't doing much better. On Tuesday, November 18, cyclist Dave Kuruc took this photo of the protected multi-purpose track on King Street West crossing Highway 403:

Ice-covered protected multi-purpose track on King Street West, November 18, 2014 (Image Credit: Dave Kuruc)
Ice-covered protected multi-purpose track on King Street West, November 18, 2014 (Image Credit: Dave Kuruc)

As of Wednesday morning, according to this photo by cyclist Martin Zarate, the track was still covered in ice.

Ice-covered protected multi-purpose track on King Street West, November 19, 2014 (Image Credit: Martin Zarate)
Ice-covered protected multi-purpose track on King Street West, November 19, 2014 (Image Credit: Martin Zarate)

By Wednesday afternoon, according to Abram Bergen of The Hammer Active Alternative Transportation Co-Op, a city crew was on hand to salt the multi-purpose track across Highway 403.

This seems to be related to the fact that it is used by both pedestrians and cyclists. So far, we're not aware of any other bike lanes that have been cleared.

Of course, last winter the City did not maintain its cycling network. From the first heavy snowfall to the spring melt, the city's bike lanes served as a dumping ground for snow removed from the driving lanes.

Dundurn Street South bike lanes covered in snow windrows, December 2013 (RTH file photo)
Dundurn Street South bike lanes covered in snow windrows, December 2013 (RTH file photo)

This is despite the fact that there was apparently a bike lane winter maintenance pilot project underway.

RTH was never able to get a response from the City on what streets were included in the pilot project and what, if anything, was done.

City Response

According to Kelly Anderson, communications manager for the Public Works Department, the City does not deploy snow plows for light snowfalls like this week's. Instead, they apply de-icing material - salt and/or sand.

In the case of bike lanes, sand is not practical to use since it creates a mess for cyclists.

Anderson advised that City workers did apply salt to the Hunter street bike lanes. However, "due to the extreme cold temperatures and the limited activity in that lane, the salt didn't activate very well."

Staff have since been re-deployed to Hunter Street and other areas to "provide additional service ... as part of their usual winter maintenance re-inspection protocols".

In addition, the City is "currently reviewing other ways to maintain bike lanes during the winter season when plows are not deployed and salt may not work effectively due to the conditions."

Update, November 20

Yesterday late afternoon, the Hunter Street bike lanes showed clear evidence of having been salted again. The hill between MacNab and Park was finally more or less clear and ice-free.

Hunter Street bike lanes, looking west from MacNab
Hunter Street bike lanes, looking west from MacNab

Alas, this was done just in time for a fresh coating of snow to cover the lanes again.

Hunter Street bike lanes, looking west from Park
Hunter Street bike lanes, looking west from Park

After yesterday's respectable snowfall, most arterial roads were already clear early this morning. Hunter Street was freshly plowed, including some coverage of the bike lanes.

Hunter Street bike lanes, looking east from Bay
Hunter Street bike lanes, looking east from Bay

The westbound lane is reasonably clear, while the eastbound lane is partially covered. The lanes were still a bit icy, though, so an application of salt would also help.

East of Park Street, the bike lanes were cleared around the knockdown bollards for a fairly smooth ride down the hill to MacNab.

Hunter Street bike lanes, looking east from Park
Hunter Street bike lanes, looking east from Park

According to John Popham, the multi-purpose track on King Street West across Highway 403 was also plowed this morning.

King Street multi-use track plowed, November 20,2014 (Image Credit: John Popham)
King Street multi-use track plowed, November 20,2014 (Image Credit: John Popham)

This was nice to see: I was afraid the City would not be able/willing to clear the snow inside the bollards. Kudos to the City for clearing the bike lanes at the same time as the automobile lanes.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 19, 2014 at 18:09:49

Anything worth doing is worth doing right. Good luck to snow removal crews this year! It's snowing now and during the time it took to read this article, at least three bikes rode past. They are efficient tools, those bikes, to be sure.

That buildup of irregular flash frozen ice is so unbelievably dangerous. A bobcat should be zipping through whenever needed imo. But I'm not sure what else to advocate for ... salt and salt spray is awful, sand doesn't help much, beet sugar de-icer is expensive. Will brush up later on current Scandinavia/Northern Europe methods, and what the "other ways" are the city is exploring.

Fellow winter cyclists, get a pair of winter tires, especially if you ride regularly during a harsh winter.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 19, 2014 at 18:11:07

Dundurn is un-rideable Cannon is filled with small snowbanks (now ice) from the sidewalks around Sir John A. Both bike lanes are sheets of mounded ice from Bay to Hess.

Saw the salters clearing the car lanes on York, but leaving the bike lanes, EVEN though every prior year, those were active car lanes.
So no 'extra' cost to keep these bike lanes clear. No cars = no bother from the city.

Victoria Park sidewalks were completely unwalkable the past 2 days. Parents walking little kids to school were falling and risking injury.

Like we saw all last winter, I've encountered many people walking on the roads this week. In Hamilton, that's the only option.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2014 at 21:23:44 in reply to Comment 106323

Really? I found that Cannon was great - it was 2 inches of snow, but soft powder and barely slowed me at all. But yeah, York and Dundurn were unusable. Too many balls of ice hidden in the powder, especially dundurn - I gave up and walked the bike there. York was almost okay but there were some patches that caught me by surprise - I don't want to wipe out next to that kind of traffic.

And yeah, even after its supposed mid-day clearing, the King/403 bridge was nasty. There was a six-inch-wide groove in the ice cut by bikes. That's a tense ride.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2014 at 21:13:23

Biking home from East-bound from McMaster this evening, I stayed out of the bike lanes as they were full of snow, and one just doesn't know what's under there. And while it might have been a little bit annoying for the motorists who had to move around me to pass, that was nothing like the annoyance that they would have felt if I'd wiped out in the bike lane and fallen in front of them.

I must note that the drivers moving through Westdale were perfectly decent, as they usually are. And my biggest annoyance was waiting for drivers to take their turn at four ways while they in turn waited for me to blow jump the queue. :)

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted November 19, 2014 at 22:28:54

Yes, there was light snow all day here in Hamilton. Sort of like on this day in Utrecht. Take a look at the video and see the difference between Utrecht and Hamilton.

https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2010/...

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2014-11-19 22:29:23

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 09:42:55 in reply to Comment 106329

the separation from traffic is so nice. No reason we can't start building new streets or re-built streets like this ASAP.

Also, no reason we can't do this with a new treed-boulevard between the bikes and traffic on streets like Wellington, Victoria, Main, Bay, Birch, Stonechurch, Limeridge, West 5th, Centennial etc......

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 22:16:35 in reply to Comment 106333

No reason we can't start building new streets or re-built streets like this ASAP.

Sure there is. A huge budget deficit where we can't afford what we have, let alone your pipe dream of rebuilding all our streets or building new streets (which you seem to be so vehemently against outside of the lower city!)

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 07:01:45

In related news, most city streets on the mountain have not been plowed or sanded, and the snow has stuck around.

Maybe it's an above the mountain/below the mountain thing. Last night, the 403 westbound was clear and moving freely from about highway 6/york road to aberdeen. Heading up the escarpment, it turned into very dangerous road conditions - lots of snow, low visibility and unplowed streets. All in the span of about 10 minutes.

Comment edited by DowntownInHamilton on 2014-11-20 07:04:57

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 22:17:18 in reply to Comment 106330

Update: Our arterials are still waiting for plowing and sanding. Good thing we have so many cars and buses in our area to pack the snow down!

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 23:59:10 in reply to Comment 106387

if you live in Hamilton, no they aren't. I was on the Mountain late last night and first thing this morning and every single arterial was plowed, salted and completely snow-free. Just wet.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted November 21, 2014 at 20:23:01 in reply to Comment 106388

Come over to off of Garth and Mohawk. Streets are still unplowed. Most of it's gone due to traffic, but it has yet to be plowed. It also has certainly not been salted, it's a sheet of ice with no sign of rock salt anywhere. Don't be cute. You hate the mountain, we know, get over it.

Comment edited by DowntownInHamilton on 2014-11-21 20:30:31

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 21, 2014 at 23:55:17 in reply to Comment 106403

you said 'arterials are still waiting to be plowed'. Not side streets. The small amount of snow we got was enough to let melt away on side streets IMO.

My downtown street saw a plow 3 times last winter. Yes, last winter. Worst in 20 years. No complaints here.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted November 22, 2014 at 15:34:31 in reply to Comment 106409

Arterials _are_ side streets. Didn't realize we had to nitpick like that.

If I were you, I'd be calling up my councillor asking why the streets aren't plowed with any regularity. My parents have been screaming about that in Dundas since amalgamation, since all the plows (which were brand new) were taken and redistributed throughout the new supercity. They are lucky if they get a plow 3-5 days after a snowfall. They've called to complain but have been told both by their councillor's office and by a former town of Dundas plow driver that the area Dundas is in now has more arterials as their plows are now responsible for an area from the Ancaster/Dundas border to Dundurn. That's insanity.

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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 08:38:47

I fear this is going to be a long, frustrating winter for cyclists. Tempers will flare, resentment will rise, curses uttered...and then the 'dialogue' will begin. Cyclists demanding their due, motorists dismissing them, pedestrians complaining about sidewalk-clearing, Councillors attempting to placate all, rationalizing at every turn, publications using all this as grist for the mill...

Yeah. A bad winter ahead. But I suspect the spring will prove even more volatile.

Comment edited by ItJustIs on 2014-11-20 08:39:37

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By rednic (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 09:28:26

Well i just got back in from walking the dog, this morning, didn't take my camera BUT the cannon st bike lane seems to have been cleared. Certainly cleared between Wentworth and Victoria...

Comment edited by rednic on 2014-11-20 09:29:09

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By Steve (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 19:02:04 in reply to Comment 106332

Yes, cleared nicely this morning, though there was a property owner, or two, who cleared their sidewalks into the bike lanes on the eastern end. Not a big deal with the little amount of snow this time, but I can see it''s going to be a problem this winter.

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 09:56:41

The Dundurn bike lanes still looked pretty treacherous this morning, but there were cyclists in them. Many sidewalks abutting city-owned property were not cleared earlier this week, along with those in front of a lot of private property.

It can’t be overstated how important it is for sidewalks to be kept clear, and it’s a shared responsibility in Hamilton. Even “just” a few properties not keeping their sidewalks clear can be the difference between some people (particularly older and younger ones) being able to go out and be part of their communities, and feeling unsafe leaving their homes because of the sidewalk conditions.

The municipality’s bylaw complaint form (http://www.hamilton.ca/CityDepartments/CorporateServices/ITS/Forms+in+Development/Municipal+Law+Enforcement+Online+Complaint+Form.htm) is an easy way to communicate to the City when snow isn’t being cleared fast or well enough. My understanding is that this is more about education than enforcement as such, allowing City staff to target certain property owners who might not be aware of their responsibilities and the importance of fulfilling them. If property owners can be made aware of this early in the season, it will be make for much better conditions for people trying to get around on the sidewalks.

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By Fake Name (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 10:38:26

The Cannon Cycle Track really demonstrated how critical those little rubber barriers are. Every other lane was full of treacherous balls of ice making them unusable and dangerous. The Cannon track had nothing but snow, thanks to the barriers keeping the errant ice-balls safely away.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 11:01:14

Annual maintenance of 3.3km Cannon Street Cycle Track was estimated at $240K, or about $73/m. Isn’t this kind of line item budgeted for maintenance of all on-road bike lanes?

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By The 99% (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 11:01:22

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

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By Fake Name (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 11:50:10 in reply to Comment 106341

In the case of the King Street bridge, it's also the only pedestrian access. If I let my sidewalk become a sheet of ice, I'd get fined or sued.

Now, I'm going to go ahead and assume you oppose the LRT as well, with similar justification.

So what, exactly, is your plan to cut air pollution from cars, besides providing green alternatives to driving?

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By The99Percent (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 12:50:37 in reply to Comment 106345

The LTR won't be a substantial greenhouse reducer - here's why:

The LTR patron will be a consumer of that service when it is more convenient for them to take the light rail than their own personal vehicle. The primary goal for riders will be convenience, not pollution reduction. If this is difficult to understand, consider it akin to the HOV/Car pool lanes.

No one (almost no one, to be safe) car pools because they want to take the car pool lane or reduce emissions - they car pool first and foremost out of convenience, while other consequences are secondary and often unintended. I suspect the LRT will operate and cater to customers in much the same fashion.

Overall, the reduction will be a drop in the bucket.

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By Fake Name (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 13:26:44 in reply to Comment 106351

You're seriously arguing that a massive electric public transit system will have no substantial impact on greenhouse gases.

Seriously.

I think I'm done with this conversation.

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By The99Percent (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 12:47:32 in reply to Comment 106345

There must be a character limit on posts, my apology for the delayed response.

The reduction in emissions (this is the Spark Notes version obviously) is going to come in the next decade from KMPL/MPG legislation on new vehicles, a reduction in weight stemming from new mag and aluminum alloy mixes, and finally a production efficiency that makes it cost effective to produce these materials when compared to their steel counterparts. I can expand in another post if you like.

LTR up next.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 11:55:09 in reply to Comment 106345

http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/regs/en...

The City is largely immune from lawsuits so long as they comply with minimum maintenance standards. IOW they can largely ignore ice and snow issues without fear of lawsuits.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2014-11-20 11:56:24

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By voiceofreason (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 11:21:20 in reply to Comment 106341

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By F il tered (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 11:11:00

Sn ow D ay A ctiv ity: Create #Ha mOn t by l aw a pp, au tomating th e City 's on line fo rm.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 20, 2014 at 12:48:58 in reply to Comment 106342

There already is one: Drop the Gavel. If I'm not mistaken it's also available as an app in the iPhone App Store and the Android Play Store.

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By The99Percent (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 11:46:18

It's honestly not difficult to see how this "we need plowed bike lanes" thing borders on insanity.

Think of these points as well:

  1. The bike lanes in a large majority of the city are adjacent to pedestrian walk ways - a plow would push that snow from the BL to the sidewalk. It's not a feasible plan.

  2. If it is at all up for debate which is more cost effective: purchasing winter bike tires for every cyclist who uses the bike lanes in all weather/seasons, or running the city's plow and snow removal equipment/peripherals through the bike lanes after each snow fall, then the idea is probably bonkers.

  3. Do we not generally follow the "share the road" sentiment in this city, for better or worse? I wouldn't trample a cyclist in my car on Main, or King, or the like, why would I trample them on a street where bike lanes weren't accessible? Use the road when it's the only option, as you normally would.

  4. Consider what other <1% causes the city might have to dedicate resources to if they continue to pander to cyclists. It's a very dangerous precedent to set, and the next initiative may not be as convenient for you as a plow in the bike lane.

  5. The city has dedicated a great deal of resources to bus and bike lanes on some of it's busiest arteries. These arteries are more congested, more dangerous and more time consuming to navigate in the winter. The bike lanes being "restricted", even if unofficially by weather, is a measure to reduce issues for motorists that the cold season brings.

This blog, from the looks of this post as well as some of the others, is an echo-chamber for different niche groups. It's fine, and every group needs a space like this to connect and share ideas, but suggesting that the city should cater to your needs is very, very close to padded-room mental instability.

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By thtutter (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 14:46:52 in reply to Comment 106344

Your obsession with this rounding error in the city's budget is cute. You don't like cyclists, we get it. Stop pretending this is about saving money.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 20, 2014 at 13:15:50 in reply to Comment 106344

This is pure post-hoc rationalization.

The bike lanes in a large majority of the city are adjacent to pedestrian walk ways - a plow would push that snow from the BL to the sidewalk.

On most lower city streets, the sidewalk directly abuts the curb lane so this is exactly the same issue whether the curb lane is for automobiles or bikes. I don't see anyone recommending that we stop plowing curb lanes.

If it is at all up for debate which is more cost effective: purchasing winter bike tires for every cyclist who uses the bike lanes in all weather/seasons

The cost of plowing bike lanes is the same no matter the number of cyclists and in most cases is negligibly more expensive than the cost of restricting plowing to automobile lanes, whereas the cost for buying winter tires is a direct function of the number of cyclists.

Since the quality of cycling infrastructure influences the rate of cycling - there are more cyclists when the network is better - the former will tend to become more cost-effective over time whereas the latter will tend to become more expensive.

In any case, we don't have good numbers for either the cost of plowing bike lanes or the cost of outfitting winter cyclists with tires, so your thought experiment is entirely inconclusive.

And even so, there would be no effective way to distribute winter tires to people who would actually use them, so the issue is moot.

Do we not generally follow the "share the road" sentiment in this city, for better or worse?

The "share the road" sentiment is a complete and total failure as a strategy to increase the rate of cycling. We have been following it for the past 40 years and it has not worked. What does work everywhere it is applied is to build a continuous network of good cycling infrastructure. When cities do this, they succeed in dramatically increasing the rate of cycling, with all the myriad net benefits that follow.

Consider what other It's a very dangerous precedent to set, and the next initiative may not be as convenient for you as a plow in the bike lane.

Done properly, a city plans and invests its scarce resources to encourage what it wants more of and discourage what it wants less of. Since the overall net benefits of increasing active transportation are unambiguous and well-documented, it only makes sense for the City to make at least a marginal investment in encouraging more active transportation.

These arteries are more congested, more dangerous and more time consuming to navigate in the winter

The evidence clearly indicates that streets which are redesigned to provide for more active transportation - more walking, more cycling, more transit use - become significantly safer for all road users. When automobile traffic is moving at 30-40 km/h rather than 50-70 km/h, everyone on that street is at drastically lower risk of collision, injury and death - including the people in cars.

It's not healthy for a dense, mixed urban street to carry free-flowing automobile traffic at above the speed limit during rush hour. It's economically harmful, socially detrimental, physically dangerous and negative for public health.

The city has only one bus lane - the 3 km dedicated lane running from Mary Street to just before Dundurn on King Street - and it carries more people every day than the other three to four lanes combined. If we want to talk about equitable allocation of scarce public resources, the bus lane is a no-brainer - it is more than three or four times as efficient at carrying people as the automobile lanes with which you want to displace it.

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By Howabout (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 13:57:08 in reply to Comment 106354

"The city has only one bus lane - the 3 km dedicated lane running from Mary Street to just before Dundurn on King Street - and it carries more people every day than the other three to four lanes combined."
See the website athamilton/NR/rdonlyres/82525E9C-331B-46E0-999D-B13A807AF732/0/TrafficVolumes1999.pdf says that about 39,000 single vehicles cross the intersection of King and Dundurn every day.

Is there data as to how many actual public transit users cross that intersection every day? Even subtracting for buses and assuming only one person per vehicle, I would be surprised that that many people cross that intersection by bus every day given that only about 57,000 people use the bus in Hamilton every day.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 14:28:24 in reply to Comment 106360

The average weekday HSR ridership is higher, at 70,000, but given that the total ridership for the Main/King bus lines was about 25,000 per day (averaging weekend with weekday) in 2007 it seems unlikely the bus lane would carry more riders than all the other lanes on Dundurn and King (or even King alone if 20,000 or so of the 39,0000 at the intersection were on King). However, it seems likely that the bus lane is carrying more people than two or three vehicle lanes since there are a total of 10 vehicles lanes at that intersection (so an average of 3900 vehicles per lane).

Don't forget that the bus lane also services GO Transit and Greyhound, and other coach lines whose ridership is not included in the HSR figures. GO transit alone would likely add about another 2000 weekday passengers based on frequency and capacity.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-11-20 14:29:28

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By Howabout (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 14:48:52 in reply to Comment 106367

There are about 21 million HST riders per year in Hamilton. Dividied by 365 that is about 57.5 thousand.

The data is that 39000 vehicles per day travel on the King street lanes at Dundurn. They pass westward over the intersection from the east on the 5 lanes (now 4 just before Dundurn)

If 25000 riders use the Main/kin lines,12,500 riders go on King a day on the HSR. If you add 2000 for Go you get about 15,000 people on the bus on King crossing Dundurn every day v. more that 39,000 people crossing in privatre vehicles since more than one person will be in some cars even if you subtract the buses.

Where are the numbers to support that the dedicated bus lane caries more people a day than the rest of the street combined?

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 15:06:44 in reply to Comment 106370

Thanks for clarifying that it was 39,000 on King only (the previous poster just said "the intersection"). It also has to be remembered that this data is from 1999 and traffic volumes have declined (Main at Dundurn has declined by 9.5%), so the actual volume now is likely to be closer to 35,000.

Note that the average volume for King West of Bay is much lower, 25000 per day, and one could also use this figure rather than the figure just at Dundurn. http://www.raisethehammer.org/article/17...

We are actually interested in weekday capacities (since that is when demand is heaviest), so we can estimate that (15)(70)/56 = 18750 HSR passengers + 2000 or so Go is about 20,000 bus passengers at that intersection each weekday compared with 35,000. Since there are four non-bus lanes, that is about (8750)(1.1) = 9625 car passengers/drivers per lane (assuming 1.1 people per car) compared with 20000 bus passengers. So the bus lane seems to be carrying as many people as two (or three using the "King West of Bay" data) regular lanes at this location. Not as many as all other lanes, but far more than necessary to justify its existence!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-11-20 15:21:30

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted November 20, 2014 at 18:46:29 in reply to Comment 106371

If I may, I am interested in this as it touches on the principal of fairness that is important to me.

I looked up the stats as best I could. The best I found are these. http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/2790...

They don't break down the numbers tight enough to be accurate on the dedicated bus lane route. But I think they are good enough to say this.

The University line is almost completely dedicated to the route in question and so if 7,000.00 riders use it, 3,500 would be on the dedicated lane. King and Delaware have about 11 or 12 thousand each but they travel the length of the city. So if we say half those go beyond downtown, then the numbers would be about 3,000 each. So about 10,000 HSR riders use that particular route each work day and about 2000 Go users do. That means 12,000 bus riders go down the dedicated bus lane each day.

If there are 36,000 cars using 3 lanes that's 12,000 a lane. (There are only two lanes most of the way but why quibble because hardly anyone parks on King between Queen and Dundurn and at rush hour the lanes are free.)

That seems to justify the bus lane all on its own. at least from James to Dundurn. It doesn't support the contention that the bus lane support more users than the other lanes, but it does seem reasonable to me.

Frankly I was surprised by the numbers. I did not know that many cars drove down that street and I thought the bus numbers would be lower as well.

What I wonder about is what would happen if the space available for vehicular traffic is reduced significantly.

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2014-11-20 18:47:19

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By Fake Name (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 12:45:17 in reply to Comment 106344

> If it is at all up for debate which is more cost effective: purchasing winter bike tires for every cyclist who uses the bike lanes in all weather/seasons, or running the city's plow and snow removal equipment/peripherals through the bike lanes after each snow fall, then the idea is probably bonkers.

You have never ridden a bike in winter, otherwise you'd know how silly the "use winter tires" comment is.

Winter tires will help with snow and slush, but they will do nothing for the bumpy blocks of ice that effectively turn the bike lane into patches of disastrously unsafe *rocks*.

And either way, *today* there are no snow-banks. No massive piles of snow that have to live either on the bike lane or the sidewalk. There are tiny ridges of snow, in the *middle* of the bike lanes (if not the left side) and not the right-hand side of the bike lane where you would probably argue they belong.

Seriously, look at York Boulevard. They ploughed and salted the car lanes, they didnt' plough and salt the bike lanes *right next to the car traffic lanes*. The ploughs are already driving up and down york boulevard, but one extra pass along the edge (which is also the car turning lane) was not done. Because of that the bike lanes are full of giant rocks of ice under a thin layer of snow that makes them impossible for a cyclist to see or avoid.... and how did those rocks of ice get there? The bikes didn't put them there, I can assure you.

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By The99Percent (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 12:59:17 in reply to Comment 106348

I think you're writing to my points here, not opposing them.

The winter tires bit is intended to draw a laugh, but if we were going to seriously consider it, I'm sure there are winter riding peripherals intended to make snow travel easier. We can substitute something of that nature for the purposes here, if you like.

As far as "one extra pass", the costs of taking that extra pass need to be accounted for, you know? It's not just some kind of abstract event that takes place without consequences, there are dollars and cents in equipment maintenance costs, man hours, additional street repairs, etc that all total some tangible figure as time passes - it's a number I suspect is much greater than you think, both in a vacuum and when included in the next tax hike/fee for the average resident.

The "today" paragraph is not really worth disputing, but I'll humor you and the readers. Snow generally accumulates as the season progresses, which I'm sure you know. Not having a giant pile of snow "today" is not a reason to put off a plan to combat the issue until a later day. Simply put, you would not use this logic in any other problems that may arise in your life, why use procrastination here?

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 17:52:36 in reply to Comment 106352

As far as "one extra pass", the costs of taking that extra pass need to be accounted for

This doesn't wash for York Boulevard. It was 6 full car lanes and received full snow removal service since it's construction. Making 'one extra pass' will actually save the city money now that 2 of the 6 lanes aren't in use by cars.

Instead, they do nothing.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 13:28:30 in reply to Comment 106352

So your argument against plowing bike lanes is to compare it to doing something stupid? Hey, instead of spending $22M to plow our roads, let's give each driver enough money to upgrade to a jeep with snow tires, then they can drive through the snow. Did I just make some kind of point? No, it's just a dumb idea that doesn't prove anything. Go back under the bridge.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 13:23:45 in reply to Comment 106352

Hamilton spends about $22M to clear snow and ice from our streets for motorists each year. Even if we dedicated only 1% to cycle lanes, that would still leave us $220,000 per year.

Hamilton has a total of 6200 lane-km of roads to maintain, so on average each lane km costs about $3500 to clear each year.

Now, a bike lane is about 1/3 the width of a regular lane, so it would cost about $1200 per cycle lane km to keep clear for a winter (probably less as it can be cleaned at the same time as the rest of the street).

So, even spending just 1% of our winter maintenance budget on cycle lanes, we could keep 180km of cycle lanes clear all winter.

This is many times Hamilton's current amount of cycle lanes (even Toronto has only 112km), so there is no excuse not to maintain them in the winter even if "only" 1% of of road users are cyclists. Cyclists pay property tax too!

And, don't forget that if the cycle lanes were properly maintained we would see a lot more winter cyclists. And the coming bike share scheme will be running year round ... further adding to demand.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-11-20 13:30:40

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By Fake Name (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 13:00:40 in reply to Comment 106352

That extra pass was perfectly reasonable and expected last year when it was a car lane.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 13:41:07

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By DissenterOfThings (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 15:12:36 in reply to Comment 106358

...and someone is clearly brain damaged

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By Awesome! (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 14:30:41 in reply to Comment 106358

Yeah, stupid bratty Ryan.

"Whaaaa! Mommy! The city isn't fulfilling its legal responsibility to clear ice and snow from urban transportation infrastructure and its negligence is going to result in serious injury or death!"

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 14:07:05 in reply to Comment 106358

I expect you wouldn't understand climate vs weather even if it was explained to you, which it has been.

However the reason I'm replying to your attempt at a schoolyard taunt, is that I did imagine an "adopt a bike lane" program, just never worth mentioning the idea til you brought it up. The downside to it is reliability, but yeah I would put on an orange vest and shovel/snowblow a hundred or two meters of bike lane on the street I live on. I'm guessing that would be considered "guerrilla" and disallowed for safety and union reasons. It's also silly, moving the giant mound by hand is unrealistic. But as a thought experiment, I'd volunteer to adopt a segment of bike lane I use.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-11-20 14:12:19

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 13:44:33

The photos show me that most of the bike lanes have been cleared. The lanes used by cars remain clear due to the overwhelming use by vehicles. The traffic itself keeps it clear and wet. The bike lanes are snow covered due to their lack of use.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 19:01:19 in reply to Comment 106359

The photo clearly shows bike tire tracks in the bike lane. Bike tires are quite a bit thinner than car tires so it would take an awful lot of them to compact all the snow.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted November 20, 2014 at 17:17:22 in reply to Comment 106359

The photos show me that most of the bike lanes have been cleared. The lanes used by cars remain clear due to the overwhelming use by vehicles. The traffic itself keeps it clear and wet. The bike lanes are snow covered due to their lack of use.

Speaking as a cyclist who rides on streets with bike lanes every day of the week, I can tell you that I do not ride in the bike lanes when there is snow in them. And I see other cyclists who behave the same way.

Which is to say that a lack of tire tracks in the bike lanes only means that bike aren't riding in the bike lanes, not that bikes aren't riding on the road.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 21, 2014 at 11:02:31 in reply to Comment 106379

Yes, can confirm, on road bike lanes are covered and not in use over here. I'm riding in-lane this week; others I see riding are on the sidewalks.

In the absence of this, taking the lane is much better; excerpted from a Calgary blog:

Unfortunately the best place to ride in the winter is right on the street. Cars are natural snowplows. The busier the street, the clearer it is. This is a double edged sword in that in order to ride on the clear path, you have to ride amongst the cars. If you are riding on the road do not compromise by trying to ride on the snow covered shoulder. Riding there can be very tricky and it is easy to lose your balance and veer into the lane you have left open for cars (or worse, crash). Instead, it is your right to take the lane, and you should. On heavy snow days you may have no other option but to use the sidewalk in places (legally, you are required to dismount on sidewalks, of course). Citizens are generally better at clearing snow from sidewalks before the city does the street -- side streets and many “designated bike ways” may never get cleared.

The irony that all the waste heat of ICE vehicles is a bug, not a feature, yet acts as a feature in this context, is not lost on me.

Also it should go without saying that just like there are days where it's smart to leave the car at home, there are snow days where it's smart to leave the bike at home too.

Also it should go without saying that the suggestion of winter tires for bikes was not intended as a substitute for snow removal, no more than snow tires on a vehicle substitute for snow removal. You put snow tires on your car, you put boots on your feet; some riders will notice a benefit and risk mitigation, especially given black ice and surprises even on the best plowed roads.

Finally, as long as lane sharing is tolerated while the nice wide bike lanes sit under snow mounds, I am okay. But I'm at the risk accepting end of the riding fear spectrum. To the end of increasing use and ridership, I believe a maintenance program will help to the extent we want and agree on one.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-11-21 11:16:44

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 16:46:44 in reply to Comment 106359

Don't tell Ryan and Jason this. They live in a world of unicorns and pigs that fly.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 20, 2014 at 14:24:11

Just dusted off my links to what Northern Europe does. Naturally, it's sweet and successful.

We've blown all the money on sprawl, and as a result falsely believe we can't afford high quality over quantity in any ward or locale.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted November 21, 2014 at 01:16:56

sorry but i was a bike courier in Toronto for 10 years.

If you feel unsafe on the amount of snow shown in the latest pictures of hunter. I have a suggestion WALK.

You obviously don't really know how to ride a bike in these conditions.

Im all for cycling infrastructure but it does NOT supersede everything else.

If it's that important to put a freaking plow on your bike.

Im not ready to say what I thinking about you .... but I'm getting close

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2014 at 10:35:42 in reply to Comment 106389

sorry but i was a bike courier in Toronto for 10 years.

I'm sorry, too, I guess.

If you feel unsafe on the amount of snow shown in the latest pictures of hunter. I have a suggestion WALK.

It's not the snow. It's what's might be under the snow: ice; sloping ruts at bus stops; sloping ruts from lousy patch jobs after gas-line work. You must know what happens when your tire hits a slippery bit of angled road or ice, right?

As for walking ... why? I can share the lane with the snow-slowed traffic.

You obviously don't really know how to ride a bike in these conditions.

What the heck ... I'll bite. How do we bike in these conditions?

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By Ms Me (anonymous) | Posted November 21, 2014 at 07:40:21

To all commuter cyclists...when it snows take transit until it's cleared!

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2014 at 10:30:58 in reply to Comment 106390

To all commuter cyclists...when it snows take transit until it's cleared!

Why?

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By why not? (anonymous) | Posted November 21, 2014 at 11:43:22 in reply to Comment 106391

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 21, 2014 at 12:29:20 in reply to Comment 106395

So Minneapolis, MN and Copenhagen are living in the fantasy world?? Or perhaps they've just chosen to move on from the hillbilly 1960's

https://twitter.com/jen_keesmaat/status/...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2014 at 11:55:15 in reply to Comment 106395

I'm trying to figure out who, other than the strawman in your head, has called for bike lane clearing to get "the highest priority". All we're asking is that bike lanes be cleared in addition to automobile lanes.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2014-11-21 12:03:16

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted November 21, 2014 at 20:34:26 in reply to Comment 106397

Take a look at jason's post below. Here, in case you didn't see it:

same time is a start for this backwards city, but see my above post. Cities that 'get it' are plowing bike lanes first. I would happy as a pig in mud if Hamilton cleared sidewalks, roads and bike lanes at the same time.

So, apparently, cities that 'get it' put the highest priority on the bike lanes, since they get plowed first. Is it a strawman? Or is this just some sort of "bait the baiter" thing going on here?

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By strawman (anonymous) | Posted November 21, 2014 at 17:58:07 in reply to Comment 106397

A day after the snow you were complaining....lots of roads weren't cleared by then.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted November 21, 2014 at 20:35:29 in reply to Comment 106402

... and lots still aren't! I guess I grew accustomed to seeing plows regularly when I was at the base of the escarpment over the past 5 years because I've yet to see my new street on the mountain plowed or salted yet.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 21, 2014 at 12:30:33 in reply to Comment 106397

same time is a start for this backwards city, but see my above post. Cities that 'get it' are plowing bike lanes first.

I would happy as a pig in mud if Hamilton cleared sidewalks, roads and bike lanes at the same time.

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By Ms Me (anonymous) | Posted November 21, 2014 at 10:46:17 in reply to Comment 106391

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted November 21, 2014 at 13:23:40

I was listening to this issue on CFRB who interviewed the City department head on snow clearing. He said that there was not enough snow to warrant plowing and that they could not salt in advance as salt needs fluid to stick.

Based on current snow clearing technology and funding, there is no way to clear bike lanes in a snowfall situation like we had this past week without a significant investment in new technology.

There are minimum maintenance standards that the City has to comply with by law. Apparently, those standards do not require that they plow when the snowfall is below a certain amount. Since they were not required to plow, they do not plow. They were required to salt. However, without significant vehicular traffic the salting will not clear a bike lane.

It would seem to me that the best way to advocate for a change would be to approach the Province asking them to change the legislation and the regulations making the minimum standards that apply to roadways different than those for bike lanes.

Trying to force the City to do it would be useless in my view because they will simply say that they do not have the budget to plow bike lanes when they are not required to do it for roadways.

For years the Municipalities aggressively lobbied the Province to put these minimum standards in place to reduce their liability and to reduce the stress on their budgets. If they cannot be forced to clear snow for pedestrians at major intersections surrounding hospitals, they will never clear bike paths.

Look at the regulations. http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/regs/en...

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2014-11-21 13:26:32

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 21, 2014 at 16:26:01 in reply to Comment 106400

I'm assuming this interview was TO-based. And that could very well be accurate. We got close to 10cm in Hamilton, where TO got very little.

However, even with dustings in Hamilton we always see these spinning sweeper things doing sidewalks and parks. In fact, one was in Victoria Park today.

http://www.snowsystems.com/wp-content/up...

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted November 22, 2014 at 15:44:16 in reply to Comment 106401

That's nonsense. Both areas had snow. Hamilton had 10cm, Toronto had 5cm. That's enough for the first real snowfall of the year, and it blew in quick. Not sure if Hamilton actually had 10cm though. Felt like it but it might not have been that much. Regardless, Charles' point stands.

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