Special Report: Cycling

Designing a Network of Neighbourhood Greenways

Neighbourhood greenways are an affordable and extremely effective way to make cycling accessible to a lot more people. Here's how we could implement a network in Hamilton.

By Jason Leach
Published June 19, 2013

I've written a couple of times about the potential to establish a network of neighbourhood greenways in Hamilton.

If you haven't already, please watch the following video by Streetfilms explaining what Greenways are and how they work:

Toward the end of establishing a network of greenways in Hamilton, RTH editor Ryan McGreal and I have created a map of proposed greenways.

The green lines are proposed greenways, and the blue lines are current existing bike lanes or off-street trails. (Note: we excluded signed on-street bike routes on the grounds that they're not real bicycle infrastructure.)

Neighbourhood greenway in Portland (Image Credit: City of Portland)
Neighbourhood greenway in Portland (Image Credit: City of Portland)

Here's a guide to the proposed greenways and connectors.

Lower City

Magill/Pearl/HAAA/Kent - this north-south line west of downtown connects the rail trail with Ryerson, HAAA, the French school at Main and Pearl, Strathcona neighbourhoood and will eventually connect to the new pedestrian bridge planned for north end of Locke to the waterfront.

Hunt/Head/Vic Park/Napier - this east-west line would connect the King West lanes over Hwy 403 to Bay Street near York, and to the current York bike lanes.

Ainslie Wood Hydro Corridor - this would run from Cootes north-south through Cootes and turning east to cross Alexander Park and join up with Hamilton-Brantford Radial Trail just west of the Hwy 403 overpass to Studholme.

Dalewood/Churchill, Glen - proposed by RTH reader "Continuity", this would connect the King Street bike lanes over Hwy 403 with the Sterling Street bike lanes to McMaster.

Longwood/Aberdeen Protected Bike Lanes - The city already plans a protected bike lane on Longwood through the McMaster Innovation Park district. It should be extended east on Aberdeen to cross the Magill/Kent greenway out to the top of James Street South at James Mountain Road.

MacNab North - With MacNab now a calm two-way street, once Bay opens again MacNab could be a greenway connecting the York bike lanes to the Waterfront Trail, providing safe bike access from downtown to the north end.

Cannon/York Protected Bike Lanes - this spine, proposed by the Yes We Cannon campaign, could connect the London Street greenway with the York/Wilson bike lanes and everything between.

Ferguson to Escarpment link - extend the bike lanes on Ferguson south to where the Escarpment Rail Trail begins at Corktown Park.

Cumberland/Gage Park/Montclair/London/Central - this east-west line would connect the rail trail that starts at Corktown Park and has an access to Cumberland at Wentworth all the way to the RHVP edge. Plenty of parks, schools and urban neighbourhoods along the route.

London/Carlisle - this north-south line would run from Lawrence Road to just south of Barton, one block east of Ottawa. Again, a low-volume route connecting to Ottawa, schools, Centre Mall and the diagonal off-road bike path which runs NE from London at Main all the way to Barton and Strathearne.

Crown Point East - speaking of which, the diagonal multi-use path would be an excellent greenway with some more consideration to its street crossings.

Bicycle-only speed hump in Vancouver (RTH file photo)
Bicycle-only speed hump in Vancouver (RTH file photo)

Dunsmure Road from Holton to Reid Ave - this east-west line is a great direct route in the centre of the city, allowing residents to come all the way across town without using King or Main. It connects the Red Hill Trail to the Birch Holton greenway, crossing the London/Carlisle greenway and the Crown Point East trail.

Birch/Holton - north-south link through the entire central city connecting with the Cumberland greenway, and Cannon Street bike lanes. This one is off-road, but if you start at the Rosedale Arena you'll see a hydro corridor between Malta and Cochrane Road. It runs north all the way to Barton. Other cities (including Toronto) have been putting in multi-use paths in their hydro corridors, and this one would be a beauty.

Rosedale Railway Bike Path - This would run next to the railway like the trail from Studholme to west Hamilton and connect the bike lanes on Lawrence Road at Graham Avenue through Rosedale neighbourhood to the Escarpment trail.

Upper City

E24th, South Bend, Bendamere - east-west across the central mountain turning north on E 24 from Concession Street to Chedoke Hospital. Plenty of schools, parks and neighbourhoods would benefit from this route. It includes a connection to the Upper Paradise bike lanes, which lead north to Scenic Drive and the rail trail or south to Stonechurch Rd bike lanes.

Hadeland, Bonaventure, Limeridge - east-west from Upper Paradise all the way to Mt Albion Falls.

Brucedale - east-west greenway across the north mountain from the Escarpment Rail Trail connecting to Mohawk and the Juravinski Centre. This is a quieter street a block south of Queensdale, which Ward 6 Councillor Tom Jackson vetoed in 2010 because he believes cycling is for recreation only.

Thorner, Bishopsgate, E27th - north-south on the centre-west mountain that connects Limeridge Road to South Bend/Bendamere.

Manning/Luscombe/Hayden/Terrace/Mitchell/Warren - currently a signed bike route that runs north-south from Limeridge to Sam Lawrence Park, this would make a great link to connect to the east-west greenways.

Limeridge - east-west across south-central mountain on Lime Ridge connecting the Escarpment Rail Trail to the Upper Paradise bike lanes.

Burkholder, Dallas, Huntington - east-west across the central east mountain connecting the Escarpment Rail trail to Thorner, Bishopsgate E27th and E24, South Bend, Bendamere.

Arbour - greenway incorporating the pedestrian bridge over RHVP could connect the Stone Church bike lanes to the Escarpment Rail Trail and the Red Hill Trail.


We already have a cycling master plan, Shifting Gears, which defines a bike network for the City. However, the state of the art in cycling infrastructure is always changing as we learn from experience how to build the most effective infrastructure.

Shifting Gears was approved in 2009 and its implementation schedule is extremely slow - 40 years at least. Even worse, Councillors get to exercise a veto over bike lanes in their wards. We need to do better, and cities like Portland and Vancover are proving that neighbourhood greenways are a better way to get more people riding bikes safely and happily.

with files from Ryan McGreal

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 19, 2013 at 15:12:04

It should be noted that the entire proposed greenway network - 67km - could be built for between $4-$10 million based on cost estimates from various cities that already have this type of infrastructure.

Nowhere else could you gain 67km of transportation infrastructure, safer streets and more livable neighbourhoods for that price.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted June 20, 2013 at 09:02:58 in reply to Comment 89623

Just a quick calculation of the livability factor - if making it easier to bike and walk adds just 10% to the value of 70,000 locations within 500m of one or more "greenways", we're talking an easy $1 billion in increased value.

I can't imagine even Capitalist being opposed to spending $4 to $10 to realize an additional $1,000 in market value.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 20, 2013 at 09:54:56 in reply to Comment 89633

Great point....and in other cities property values and neighbourhood investment has definitely gone up along greenways. That's one of the reasons neighbourhoods in other cities are vying to have their area next on the list of new greenways.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted June 19, 2013 at 16:24:35 in reply to Comment 89623

What sort of standards are we talking about? Can you supply links? (I've found that some US cities only account for the municipal portion, and omit the state and federal components.)

Also: Where did the City arrive at Shifting Gears' $40m ($43m 2012), and how much of it has been implemented to date?

As for the ward-specific veto, it's less than ideal, but from a lower-city standpoint, if a mountain or suburban councillor doesn't want his piece of the funding, that's more for the rest of the city, no?

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted June 19, 2013 at 16:27:05 in reply to Comment 89625

My bad: $51.5m ($55.5m 2012)

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted June 19, 2013 at 16:42:29 in reply to Comment 89626

Found the TLC link to a GoogleMap of Shifting Gears network and project status: http://goo.gl/maps/rkm0o

As The Spec's Nicole MacIntyre noted on June 15, 2009: "The investment, which would be staged over numerous years, would more than quadruple the city’s designated bike lanes to 566 kilometres."

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/2248346-should-hamilton-spend-51-5m-on-cycling-network-/

Too bad we don't have video of that Council meeting!

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By The X Guy (anonymous) | Posted June 19, 2013 at 16:47:03

Well done Jason, very impressive.

I’d like to suggest a couple of more routes to link some gaps.

Link Stone Church (Existing on street Bike lane) to McQueston Park.

Pottruff Rd (link Barton St to King St on the East Side of the RHV Expressway). Somehow have to safely link east and west using Queenston and King St (Barton st Bridge has a very wide sidewalk but not sure if cyclist can legally use this?)

This may not really qualify as a greenway, but what about mountain brow?....while stair climbing / jogging the east mountain rail trail, I see a ton of people commuting on bikes using the Kenilworth Stairs to get up the mountain. Many people will then use the upper stairs portion that takes you to Mountain Brow at Margate.....I notice about 25% will go west along Margate (already proposed brucedale path), and 75% of them will then continue south along Mountain Brow, which has a very wide shoulder and has the potential to become an official bike lane. That takes you past Broker (proposed greenway), and continuing south will eventually take you to Limeridge Rd (proposed greenway). The rail trail is great, but some people will not use it because it may go too far south for them, it’s too secluded, or they are worried about their thin tires on the rough patches.

I also find it pathetic that when they built the mount albion bridge over the RHV expressway, they never considered a bike lane to link east and west. Even the sidewalk is extremely narrow!

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By SCRAP (anonymous) | Posted June 19, 2013 at 23:02:53

Very interesting, it would be very nice. Cars create pollution, dependancy on oil is a huge issue, which must change and this is just one small step toward that goal.

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted June 20, 2013 at 11:56:44

It should also be added that by building a cycling network like this, we would place ourselves in an elite group of cities who are prioritizing cycling and livability. We would see creative professionals flock to Hamilton, would see new jobs created and would generally see a much more prosperous city.

It's also worth noting that in Waterloo, they estimate that a 1% modal shift from car to bike will save them $30 Million over 10 years in road maintenance costs. A network like what is being proposed would, in all likelihood, result in a much more significant modal shift than 1% - the payback time would likely be 15-20 years, and the benefits to our city, our health, our neighbourhoods and our economy would last for generations.

We need to start pressuring Council NOW to make this a priority - to start attracting skilled, creative individuals to Hamilton, to making it a safer place for all road users, to moving towards truly becoming "the best place in Canada to raise a child" - before other municipalities in our region leave us in the dust.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted June 20, 2013 at 22:59:09

Bike lanes are going in on part of Queensdale as a trial (I believe between Upper Wellington and Upper Wentworth this year, and perhaps east of Wentworth next year).

So I think given that, it would be the superior choice to Brucedale. That and of course the fact that Queensdale has lights at major intersections, while Brucedale does not.

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