A bike box on Cannon at Hess would be an easy, inexpensive change that would significantly improve the westbound connectivity for cyclists transitioning from Cannon to York.
By Ryan McGreal
Published April 29, 2016
I generally love the Cannon Cycle Track, Hamilton's first extended piece of continuous, physically protected, two-way cycling infrastructure. However, one aggravation I encounter whenever I'm using it to get to the west end is the awkward connection between the end of the cycle track at Hess and the start of the York Boulevard buffered bike lanes.
Looking south across Cannon at the northeast corner of Cannon and Hess
The Cannon Cycle Track is a two-way set of bike lanes on the south curb lane of Cannon (the left side if you're heading west), whereas the bike lanes on York are two one-way lanes on the respective curb lanes. As a result, to transition from Cannon to York on a bike, you need to get across four lanes from the left lane of Cannon to the far-right lane of York.
The City's current setup to do this is with a small satellite "bike box" on Hess. The idea is to make a two-stage transition: first, hop from the end of the Cannon cycle track to the box on Hess; then, wait for the traffic signal to change and make the left turn from Hess onto York.
This is slow and cumbersome, and I always feel exposed on the tiny Hess Street bike box island. Also, if there are more than one or two cyclists trying to make the same turn, the box gets crowded very quickly.
More often than not, I end up just merging with motor vehicle traffic before the intersection, lane-changing on Cannon to the far-right lane, and then picking up the bike lane on the other side of Hess. This is faster, but it means I have to leave the safety of dedicated cycling space and I know the vast majority of people are quite reasonably unwilling to do this.
The good news is that there is a very easy fix for this situation, and it's one that the City has already implemented at several other intersections: just put a bike box and an advanced stop line right on Cannon at the intersection.
You can see how it works at Cannon and Victoria. The bike box is the green painted area of asphalt on Cannon just east of the intersection.
Advanced stop line ("bike box") on Cannon at Victoria (Image Credit: Google Maps)
Victoria is a one-way street northbound, and the bike box provides safe space for cyclists on the cycle track to get in front of motor vehicle traffic, cross the other three lanes of Cannon and make the right turn.
The green box has a stop line - a wide, solid white line - in front of it, so vehicles need to stop. But cyclists on the lane can proceed around the stop line, turn right inside the bike box, cross the three lanes, and make the right turn onto Victoria.
Bicycle right-turn movement from Cannon onto Victoria, using the bike box (Image Credit: Google Maps)
We can use the same technique at Cannon and Hess: it will allow cyclists to get across the lanes so they can either turn right or proceed west on York.
Here is a satellite view of the intersection at Cannon/York and Hess (note that the satellite image predates the Cycle Track and buffered bike lanes, so they are not displayed).
Cannon/York and Hess (Image Credit: Google Maps)
Here is the current two-stage method of proceeding west from Cannon to York using the small satellite bike box on Hess:
Current westbound bicycle route from Cannon to York via Hess (Image Credit: Google Maps)
Instead, let's add an advanced stop line and bike box on Cannon:
Advanced stop line and bike box added to Cannon at Hess (Image Credit: Google Maps)
Here is how a cyclist can use the bike box to proceed west from Cannon to York more directly than the current route and more accessibly than the way I usually end up going:
Proposed westbound bicycle route from Cannon to York via bike box (Image Credit: Google Maps)
This arrangement would be both simpler and safer than the current setup at this intersection, and it would deploy a piece of cycling infrastructure that is already in use at several other intersections in Hamilton, including several intersections on both Cannon and Hunter Street.
In terms of the capital cost, the three-year Cannon Cycle Track pilot project was approved for an $867,000 budget and has come significantly under that budget as of last year's information report:
|Street modifications (markings, signage and signals)||$430,200||$263,000|
|Consultant design work||$216,000||$82,000|
|Contingency and administration||$180,000|
That's $390,200 under budget! Even counting the additional bike counter installation, pavement markings and intersection changes the City implemented last summer, which were budgeted at around $225,000, the project is still $165,200 under budget.
In addition, the winter maintenance costs have so far are expected to be significantly lower than projected. They will be published in another information report to come out in June or July of this year.
A bike box on Cannon at Hess would be an easy, inexpensive change that would significantly improve the westbound connectivity for cyclists transitioning from Cannon to York. I urge the City to consider implementing it.