Special Report: Cycling

Bike Safety as Social Justice

It's time to get serious about engineering our city for bike safety, not because it's the trendy 'hipster' thing to do, but because so many Hamiltonians of limited means depend on bikes to travel without getting maimed or killed.

By Jason Allen
Published July 08, 2011

A comment on Sean Burak's great column on Bicycle Safety led me to believe that maybe it's time to think differently about the topic, and what compels us to make Hamilton safer for those on two wheels.

HSR bus with a bicycle on the rack (RTH file photo)
HSR bus with a bicycle on the rack (RTH file photo)

In the comment, Daniel Rodrigues refers to determining whether a rider is "responsible" or not by whether or not they wear a helmet. The remark was made that he "can honestly say that I've never seen a cyclist carrying a coffee whilst smoking a cigarette wearing a helmet," although he does express the wish that more such people would indeed wear one.

This led me to wonder if the whole cycling safety argument needs a different slant.

The fact remains that in Hamilton, for nine months of the year, it is possible to cycle daily with relatively little inconvenience from the weather. The snow really doesn't get ugly here until December, and by the end of March, we have usually seen the worst of it.

Note too, that a monthly pass on HSR costs $87.00. For someone working a minimum wage job part-time, this would represent a substantial chunk of their monthly take-home, to say nothing of what it would do to someone earning the $560 maximum for a single person on Ontario Works.

At that point, it becomes an attractive option to spend $20 for a beater bike on kijiji or through a friend. That and a little sweat gets you basically free transportation from April through December.

Don't believe me? Look around the downtown core. If you haven't noticed the steep increase in the number of helmetless riders balancing a cigarette and a coffee since the original gas price spike in 2008, you haven't been paying attention.

I'm not saying all such riders have no choice but a bike, but the increase in their numbers since the economy tanked that fall would certainly suggest it.

Affordable Transportation

It's time to address the fact that for a significant portion of Hamilton's underprivileged population, a working bicycle represents not a lifestyle choice, or a 'statement about ecological commitment', but the only affordable way to get from point A to point B, when said points are too far to walk conveniently.

At that point, doesn't engineering our roads to be safe for bicycles go from being a 'pet project of the enviro-elite' (as some would allege) to being a serious social justice issue about leveling the playing field between either ends of the Code Red spectrum?

But we also need to take into account the already enviable number of bike lanes we have downtown, compared to their relative scarcity on the Mountain. Some downtown dwellers (and perhaps Councillors as well) view the Mountain as a single homogeneous middle-class blur of SUVs and backyard pools. The fact remains, however, that there are pockets of serious economic challenge all across Hamilton.

A person living in a subsidized housing complex near Upper Ottawa will have no easier or safer journey getting to their job near Limeridge mall by bike than will someone near the Centre on Barton getting to Jackson Square.

City-Wide Issue

Any credible tackling of cycling safety from an urban planning standpoint needs also to address the fact that this is not only a downtown or lower city issue, and that for many on the mountain, having a safe way to travel by bike would be an act of financial liberation.

Bicycles parked in front of a grocery store (RTH file photo)
Bicycles parked in front of a grocery store (RTH file photo)

Similarly, for all the talk of food deserts in the lower city, the fact remains that for someone living on stretches of Rymal Road, their neighborhood is just as much a food desert as the downtown core without access to affordable, safe transportation. Especially when the cost of a strip of bus tickets would have to be deducted directly from the food budget in question.

Cycling as an elitist tree-hugger pastime is a straw man I would like to incinerate once and for all. For a great number of Hamiltonians, riding their bike to and from work, shopping, or other locations isn't a choice, it's a necessity, the alternative to which is transit costs they can't afford, or simply staying home.

It's time to get serious about engineering our city for bike safety - separated bike lanes, continuous bike lanes, two way streets, and the like - not because it's the trendy 'hipster' thing to do, but because so many Hamiltonians of limited means depend on bikes to help them get to school or work without getting maimed or killed.

Jason Allen is a chronic hive whacker in the Kirkendall Neighbourhood.

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By bykeryder (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 14:36:31

I completely agree. This year I've seen more bikes on the road than at any point in the past. There is a bike rack outside of my place of employment. For years it has been empty, maybe one bike. Now the rack is full, every nice day from late March until the snow falls. This has happened during the past 2 years. These are not homeless or low income individuals either. Most are post secondary graduates who are young and can't afford to buy a new car, insurance, gas and maintenance not to mention rent and school loans. Even on my way to work, the bike lanes on our local road are well used. Take a look at the HSR buses, most have a bike or more in the rack out front during the day. We need to start making provisions for this type of transportation AND start educating car drivers to watch for bikes. How many people have been hit by cars this year? This isnt' a trend, it's the way of the future.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 14:46:47

Here is a question I would pose to you. Please don't take this as an attack, but when is it enough? When will there be enough concessions to automobile traffic for LRT and cyclists that you personally would say "Alright, that's enough, it's the way we want it." At what point would you personally say "We've reached our goal for cycling in this city"

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 15:09:45 in reply to Comment 65857

when is it enough?

I appreciate you setting the tone for a respectful discussion.

I would say it's "enough" once Hamilton reaches the point of having a truly multi-modal network: when it is as 'normal' to walk or cycle somewhere as it currently is to drive somewhere.

Today's road network is designed to make it as easy as possible to get in a car and drive. (Aside to MyStoneyCreek: yes, car culture also plays a role in reinforcing this.) Drivers get multiple lanes, timed lights, wide streets free of obstacles, on-ramps at intersections, "free" parking at most destinations, and so on.

When we have to go somewhere, we automatically drive - because that is what the network was designed to enable. Hamilton's traffic engineers obey the mantra, "Traffic wants to flow" - where "traffic" means "automobiles".

By contrast, a decision to walk or cycle is a conscious one, a choice not to go by the default, automatic mode.

When you try to walk or cycle, you run into a barrage of obstacles: bottlenecks where the network capacity shrinks, like narrow sidewalks; discontinuities where the network breaks down completely, like unconnected bike lanes or missing sidewalks; barriers like major cross-streets with no safe crossings for long stretches; the friction of having to travel adjacent to dangerous, fast-moving automobile traffic; and so on.

To walk or cycle is to swim against the current while scrambling over jagged rocks and fallen tree trunks.

I will consider it to be "enough" when it is as normal to walk or ride a bike as it is to drive.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-07-08 15:20:27

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By jtford (registered) | Posted July 09, 2011 at 22:20:46 in reply to Comment 65865

Traffic does want to flow. That traffic is the automobile. Transportation should be driven by the market, and the market is primarily the automobile. It is far to costly and dream driven to demand a multifaceted transportation system for the sake of building a multifaceted transportation system.

I drove across the city and back again this morning. I did not see one bike anywhere. Enough said I think.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 10, 2011 at 09:53:12 in reply to Comment 65926

And the market isn't influenced at all by politics, is it? Suburbs with no stores in them, huge shopping plazas with massive "free" parking lots, no bike lanes, no bike racks, lousy public transit...

Essentially a decision was made back in the 20s and 30s to market the car and push very hard to make it the only feasible means of transit for many people, and as long as gas was cheap it was doable. In fact it worked so well that some people think it was just market forces at work.

Gas, however, is no longer nearly as cheap as it was, insurance is getting ridiculous so the cost of cars is rising dramatically, even when you aren't driving it it's depreciating. Never mind time spent sitting in traffic not moving.

Compare that to a bike. For a hundred bucks you get a decent bike, for less than a hundred bucks in maintenance a year you can keep it running and get tremendous health benefits from it. And at what cost to the city? Lanes are repainted all the time, so add a bike lane network. Bike racks aren't that expensive, so instead of forcing businesses to have two parking spots force them to have a bike rack and a parking spot.

The bottom line is that you can't really carp about how the market has decided if one side is heavily subsidized.

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted July 10, 2011 at 13:57:29 in reply to Comment 65933

Wow - That's a fabulous idea. I'm writing my councillor right now to suggest that one way businesses can get around the craziness of parking space requirements is to put in bike racks. I'm sure no one on council could, in good conscience, oppose such a positive suggestion. Really - it's such an obvious modification. Thanks for that insight. Did you just come up with that?

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 10, 2011 at 21:19:26 in reply to Comment 65936

This from a guy claiming that the "market" has spoken, as if there isn't a giant finger on the scale supporting the automotive side of things.

Let the true cost of things be borne by those who use them and I think you'll be surprised at how many people choose bikes over cars.

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted July 10, 2011 at 21:27:23 in reply to Comment 65945

Hmmmmmm. The nesting suggests that you are responding to my comment. Perhaps this was a mistake?

My comment was straight. I thought it was a great idea and I don't think I said anywhere that the market has spoken.

Sorry. I'll curb my enthusiasm in the future. But I have already written my email to McHattie and I still think you offered a great idea.

Crossed wires?

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 07:51:42 in reply to Comment 65946

Apologies, it came across as sarcasm. Particularly based on your earlier comments about the market being cars and the fact that we couldn't afford a multi-faceted system.

The joys of the internet!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2011 at 08:23:41 in reply to Comment 65952

your earlier comments about the market being cars and the fact that we couldn't afford a multi-faceted system.

I think you're referring to this comment by jtford, a different commenter.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 11:47:33 in reply to Comment 65953

Sigh, some days it just doesn't pay to chew through the leather straps. :/

My apologies to d.knox for the confusion.

Comment edited by Brandon on 2011-07-11 11:48:13

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 13:13:40 in reply to Comment 65961

Not to worry. I can see how it could be taken as sarcastic... Anyway, as you can imagine, McHattie has already thought of, and tried, this strategy. Apparently there are some developments going up or just complete that are using several different compromises involving bike spaces as well as bus passes.

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By JasonAAllen (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 15:07:06 in reply to Comment 65857

I don't see that as an attack at all. For me it will be 'enough' when a reasonably competant cyclist can go from one point to another in Hamilton, and not feel under attack by the thousand pound steel objects hurtling all around them.

And I should say - not under attack due to any individual driver - although that is fairly common - but under attack due to a system that forces the two groups to compete for limited resources.

And you may not agree, but I strongly feel that in the competition for limited transport space, the preference should go to those transport mediums that do the least damage to the planet, and the health of individuals and the city as a whole. To me, that is cycling and walking.

Don't get me wrong, I do own a vehicle, but I drive it sparingly, and walk/cycle/take transit as much as possible.

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By bykeryder (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 14:57:51

It will be enough when we can start accomodating people who don't have cars and don't want cars. I'm not against the car (for the record). I own one myself!
I recently went to Toronto to meet with some friends on Queen St. I haven't been in years. I was struck at how pedestrian and bike friendly Toronto has become. There were bikes and bike racks all over Queen Street. There were street cars, outdoor patios and lastly, cars. I say cars last because there were more bikes and pedestrians. Last summer, I was in Ottawa and the same thing- pedestrian streets, open markets with no cars allowed, hundreds of bikes etc. It was acceptable to be a young urban professional and have a bicycle. We need to be more forward thinking in this city.

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By Naturally_Red (registered) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 15:50:54 in reply to Comment 65859

One of the most frustrating things in Hamilton is the lack of bike racks or they are broken or they are put in ridiculous spots (i.e. Fortino's on Mall rode - the bike rack out front is broken and I doubt many will realize the other bike rack is around the side by the employee smoking hut).

Bike racks should be placed out front of stores and there should be more than one.

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By ralph.m (registered) | Posted July 09, 2011 at 13:34:55 in reply to Comment 65873

Naturally_Red, This lack of consideration really hit home for me last night, when after a nice bike ride through Ancaster and Dundas, I stopped off at the pet store at Meadowlands Mall on the way home, and discovered no bike racks or anything to secure a bike to! I had to around back and lock it to a stairway at one of the receiving doors.

This is an area that has bike lanes and at least makes a half-hearted attempt to consider cyclists; so I'm thinking that it has more to do with the mentality of the developers of big box malls, who can only see the car-driving public as their customer base!

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 16:43:21 in reply to Comment 65873

I encourage you to contact the store manager about the bike racks. I phoned the Rifle Range Road Fortino's store manager about the lack of bike racks and he told me he's already had several phone calls and had two more racks ordered. That Fortino's now has bike racks at both entrances to the store.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2011 at 19:40:15 in reply to Comment 65886

I encourage you to...

I do too d.knox and I would like everyone in the RTH community to please welcome two of our five freshest members, Naturally_Red and ralph.m; Hopefully we'll hear much more from the both of them.

And also a heartfelt welcome to DJ, Sarah and wandamesh, I encourage you as well and wish you all the best. (Psst..you only need 40 comments to make the Top 100 list;-)

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By Big Whoop (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 11:16:06 in reply to Comment 65944

Whoop dee do.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 14:58:22

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 16:47:23 in reply to Comment 65860

Captilist opines that ...

cycling will never become popular in Hamilton because of several factors:

  • weather

  • escarpment

  • time (depending on where you live it just takes too long to bike. People have lives you know and time is money)

  • hygine and clothing (people who don't have access to a shower at work or must dress in more expensive clothing will not opt to bike).

Montreal has become a cycling city. It is larger, muggier, snowier and is built on the side of a goddam mountain.

The biggest problem we have is defeatism and entrenched policies which help make cycling difficult.

Comment edited by moylek on 2011-07-08 16:47:45

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 15:12:11 in reply to Comment 65860

Why is it that lefties

Why is it that you have to turn every issue into a political caricature?

All the reasons you cite for why cycling won't become popular in Hamilton are just like the reasons people cited for why cycling wouldn't become popular in every city where cycling has become popular - Like Montreal, Ottawa, Trondheim, Copenhagen, Paris, Lyon, Seattle, Boulder, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and so on - because the city leaders didn't listen to the squelchers.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-07-08 15:14:58

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2011 at 14:33:17 in reply to Comment 65866

>> All the reasons you cite for why cycling won't become popular in Hamilton are just like the reasons people cited for why cycling wouldn't become popular in every city where cycling has become popular

Nice logic.

Of course when the government makes it more difficult to drive (by taking away driving lanes) and less difficult to cycle (by adding cycling lanes), cycling will become more popular.

Instead, why not hire a polling form to ask what the people of Hamilton really want and then let the results direct policy. Would you be in favour of that?

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2011 at 09:21:09 in reply to Comment 65919

Regarding the development of cycling infrastructure, A. Smith asks ...

why not hire a polling form to ask what the people of Hamilton really want and then let the results direct policy. Would you be in favour of that?

I suspect that A. Smith knows the answer to his own question already. But it's an interesting question and worth discussing.

The simplest answers is that we don't poll the populace for every policy decision because that is not how democracy - as we know it - works.

And why don't we do that? Most obviously because hardly anything would get done. People lean strongly toward the status quo and narrow interests, especially when their own money is involved - and that's not always bad. But imagine which of the following improvements to our city and our lives would have passed a referendum or broad poll ...

  • recycling and green-waste composting
  • property tax increases of any kind
  • construction of the bay-front park
  • closure of the roads for the cycling World Cup
  • paving of roads in the late 19th C (following agitation from the Good Roads Movement - led by cyclists, not motorists)

Mind, referenda might well have prevented us from having one-way expressways downtown; from losing the old city hall, the old market and the sunken gardens; from having York Street razed into the bleak boulevard it is today.

The conservative instincts of the unreflecting mob (and that's what a polled population constitutes) are often right. But it's the job of our elected officials and paid staff to sometimes convince us that we need to do things differently so that our city can be a better place to live.

Comment edited by moylek on 2011-07-10 09:53:43

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By Tnt (registered) | Posted July 09, 2011 at 00:43:04 in reply to Comment 65866

I read somewhere about not debating trolls and having healthy discussion instead...

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By Citydweller (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 15:09:11

Capitalist- the weather is worse in Ottawa and it is a huge cycling Mecca. Not everyone climbs the escarpment everyday either. Dare I say that I don't take a shower after every bike ride. A small towel, comb, deodorant and spritz of cologne and I'm good. No one has complained yet and I work in a bank! There are trails up and down the escarpment making transport easier with no cars.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 16:50:17 in reply to Comment 65864

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2011 at 14:39:43 in reply to Comment 65890

They do not switch to cars they skate.

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By Robbie K (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 20:44:50 in reply to Comment 65890

And 100 years ago how many people drove to work? Things Change. Truth Hurts.

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By mike_sak (registered) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 15:22:03

While I for one want cycling to be more accessible in the city, I have a feeling people simply don't want to work to go to work. The lack of motivation and accessible routes ,especially for low income households, is highly related to why hamilton is one of canada's fattest cities

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 16:51:31 in reply to Comment 65868

I have a feeling people simply don't want to work to go to work.

Well, it all depends on what you consider work, I guess. Anything up to a twenty-minute bike ride just doesn't feel like work to me. Taking my bike to work, to the grocery store, to the beer store, to the library is how a turn a chore into ... well, into a bike ride.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 16:31:17 in reply to Comment 65868

I don't know if you can say "people don't want to work to go to work".

Obesity is certainly a complicated societal problem, and it it could be solved easily, it would have been solved already.

Some of the factors that result in a high obesity rate in Hamilton might include: the lack of proper grocery stores in the downtown core, and the prevalence of fast food restaurants in the city.

http://www.thespec.com/news/canada/article/185168--fast-food-helps-put-hamilton-on-obesity-map

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 16:53:46 in reply to Comment 65884

Some of the factors that result in a high obesity rate in Hamilton might include: the lack of proper grocery stores in the downtown core

Honestly, every time I hear this it makes we wonder if the people saying it have ever been downtown. This is just not our problem.

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By jasonaallen (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 15:58:03 in reply to Comment 65868

People with limited financial means being lazy is another straw man that could use a fresh match.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 17:01:26 in reply to Comment 65874

Hells yeah.

Having moved from a relatively high-income part of downtown to a lower one, the rate of hobby cycling (especially featuring spandex) may well be lower, but I've got no doubt that there's more people who use bikes as a way of getting from A to B.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 16:29:09

Great article, Jason - and an important reminder because I don't know that that large part of the cycling population is heard from here or on city cycling committees. I've got some germane comments, but first, I'd like to get one tangential pet peeve out of the way ...

Similarly, for all the talk of food deserts in the lower city, the fact remains that for someone living on stretches of Rymal Road, their neighborhood is just as much a food desert as the downtown core without access to affordable, safe transportation.

Whatever the problems of downtown Hamilton, being a food desert - that popular bugaboo of American urban social activists trying to defend the obese poor from the criticism of the smug and trim - is just not one of them. I routinely go to the poorest parts of downtown to shop for groceries (the farmers market; Food Basics by the Barton Jail; No Frills on Main East near Wentworth; the little grocers on James North).

We do no-one any favours by worrying about solving problems which they don't even have.

Comment edited by moylek on 2011-07-08 16:44:04

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By Get serious (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 17:00:11

Cycling on busy streets should be banned.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 18:57:11 in reply to Comment 65893

As should trolling on busy forums.

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By bykeryder (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 17:03:27

captialist- no one said that you have to cycle all winter. That is what cars and public transit are for. You can however cycle from late March to about Nov 1.

If you've been to the Ottawa/Gatineau area lately, you'd know that it is a cycling community. Trails and bike lanes are everywhere. Public servants- woman wearing skirts and men in suits ride commuter bikes to work wearing helmuts and no one notices.

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By RichardDenOtter (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 22:19:11

Jason, I agree wholeheartedly! What does one do if they have to work a night shift and finish work before the buses start to run?

What we need is a city-wide (or at least Hamilton Core-wide) network of physically separated bike lanes, and bike rental stations along the way. I don't see it being prohibitively expensive or difficult to engineer. The benefits will be immense, and think of what it can do to Hamilton's reputation!

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By RichardDenOtter (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2011 at 22:58:10

Just thought I'd share this photo of a bike lane in Beijing. Note the width, and also the density of the traffic beside it. http://flic.kr/p/a1RVk2

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By Kevcom2 (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2011 at 23:55:36

I'm from Toronto, and I can tell you Hamilton is a MUCH more cycling friendly city than the big smoke. A) There are more bike lanes, and B) Drivers (for the most part) are not snobs who don't give a damn about anybody but themselves.

Thank goodness for road courtesy here in the Hammer. If you don't believe that Hamilton is a bike friendly city, I encourage you to make a day trip to Toronto and ride north along Avenue Road during rush hour. But please be careful.

Hamilton, you have much to be proud of :)

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By ralph m (anonymous) | Posted July 09, 2011 at 13:09:30

Jason, Ryan, I'm new here, just discovered RTH and this looks like a good place to jump in.

I notice that the critical comments are based on the assumption that car culture is going to continue on as it is now indefinitely into the future. If anyone is paying attention to how near we are to Peak Oil, or the increasing costs of building new roads and maintaining existing ones for the privilege of driving a car - I'm thinking that we better start getting ready for the return to the way things were prior to WWII, when most people took public transit to work, and lots of people rode bikes as well. It's not like we have a choice about making the transition to the post-auto era, and we better do it while we still have the resources to do so!

In the U.S., many cities are bankrupt or near bankrupt, and are losing their existing public transit systems. A lot of poorer people are becoming virtually stranded in cities, and even suburbs that have no transit or roads that are safe for cycling - why copy their mistakes?

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By JasonAAllen (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2011 at 09:16:53 in reply to Comment 65916

Like Undustrial said, Peak Oil is a frequent topic of conversation here. Click on the link at the top of this page for Hardy to Zone 6 for some of the discussion - going further back than that, look for "Special Report - Peak Oil" There's lots of good debate stretching back over 5 years or so.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2011 at 15:19:28 in reply to Comment 65916

Peak oil is a very regular topic of conversation on this site, and one of the main reasons we're so critical of car culture.

The automobile age will end one way or the other. But we can't assume the end of cheap oil will miraculously entail the birth of a vibrant and walkable urban life. Many of the changes needed involve enormous amounts of time and funding (ie: LRT). They won't just appear because Ford and Toyota declare bankruptcy.

If the potential for another spike toward $150/barrel weren't enough to kill our chances of paying for these changes, there's the fact that our leaders, at current, are working as hard as possible and spending every dime we can find to move us in the wrong direction. New highways, sprawl and parking lots aren't just costing us billions, but they're also raising the price of any eventual shift toward sustainability.

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By DanielRodrigues (registered) - website | Posted July 09, 2011 at 17:18:10

Many thanks to Jason for the well-written article. You've touched on a number of key concerns regarding the increased use of the road network by cyclists.

However, there appears to be a gap in reaching a concensus on what policies and practices are needed to ensure that the growing number of cyclists are protected from injury or harm...other than the expansion of bicycle lanes on the road network. The assumption being that if Hamilton was to create a utopian cycling network, that collisions with automobiles will no longer exist...or rather that any cycling collision would garner a healthy outcome.

A portion of my earlier comment which Jason refers to in his post, was to highlight the fact that cyclists are no different than motorists when it comes to responsible driving (or riding) habits. Or, rather "assumed" irresponsible driving/riding. A driver who is involved in a collision and was found to either not have had their seatbelt on, or was talking on the phone, or was eating or drinking a coffee, is generally viewed as acting in a careless manner. Cyclists by nature of the current law are governed under the HTA, and as such appear to be viewed in a similar vein.

Recognizing that cycling is becoming more commonplace in our society, furthers the need to have a governing body overseeing the cycling transportation network. Certainly most other modes have such a body in place (air, marine, rail, cars, and transit). The aforementioned representative organizations carry significant weight in determining best practices and laws regarding their corresponding industry.

Vehicular traffic is not going away anytime soon, despite assumptions that fuel prices will drive the automobile into the same demise as the betamax. Electricity or other fuel-cell development will continue to see vehicular movement on the road networks. Planning and construction of current/future road classifications require the cycling industry to lobby as a whole...not as the current piece-meal representative fashion they do today.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2011 at 22:19:35 in reply to Comment 65923

there appears to be a gap in reaching a concensus on what policies and practices are needed to ensure that the growing number of cyclists are protected from injury or harm

The gap is in reaching a consensus on whether the goal of increasing the number of cyclists is a) desirable and b) achievable. Given that goal, the way to achieve it is straightforward and well-understood.

The assumption being that if Hamilton was to create a utopian cycling network, that collisions with automobiles will no longer exist...or rather that any cycling collision would garner a healthy outcome.

I haven't heard any pro-cycling arguments that made such absolutist claims. What the evidence tells us is that as the number of cyclists goes up, the number of casualties goes down - and that this phenomenon persists even when the cycling modal split grows to the 30, 40, 50% range, as it does in places like Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Trondheim.

No one is expecting a "utopian" cycling network in Hamilton - but a functional one would be nice.

a governing body overseeing the cycling transportation network

That's an interesting idea, and I'd be interested to hear more about it. Are there any other examples of cities that established cycling governance bodies which were able to achieve sustained improvements in cycling infrastructure, usage and safety?

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By Advocacy Hamilton (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 09:07:45

Food for thought:
Toronto used to have a bicycle sub-committee of city council before Mr. Ford saw fit to disband it. The councillor on the committee refused to give up and created his own group. Why can't Hamiltonians create their own group?
Form the group and hash out your top 3 objectives to start. Research the studies already out there that support it, check costs, develop implementation plans and present it to council.
We obviously have some passionate citizens out there on the topic. Join together!

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 11, 2011 at 11:47:01 in reply to Comment 65955

Well for starters there are these guys:

http://tlchamilton.blogspot.com/

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By Neph (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2011 at 15:56:41

I have been hit by careless bicycle riders as a walking pedestrian. When will we see fit to make cyclists responsible legally for their own actions?

I believe that we need to have people with licenses to drive a bike on city roads, not sidewalks, and have them tested for competence before we can cater to them. If these people want the same, or similar, privileges, it's time we see to it that hey are competent before they are allowed to use our streets. This is all in he safety of our citizens, both in vehicles, on bicycles, or even on foot.

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