Special Report: Cycling

Council Asked to Approve Cannon Street Cycle Track

We have an exciting opportunity to join a movement across North America and around the world of cities recognizing the tremendous economic, social and environmental value that comes from investing in high quality cycling infrastructure.

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 17, 2014

this article has been updated

At this Wednesday's General Issues Committee meeting, Councillors will be asked to approve the implementation of a planned three (3) kilometre cycle track on Cannon Street. The three-year pilot project for a physically separated two-way bike lane will run between Sherman Avenue and Hess Street and could be built this Spring.

You can read the staff recommendation [PDF] and consultant report [PDF]. Update: somehow the City has managed to make the way it stores reports even worse, and it doesn't appear possible to link directly to document files any more. You can access the reports via this clumsy links page.

The cycle track, designed by IBI Consulting, will cost $867,200 to build. The capital will come from the Ward 2 Capital Infrastructure fund ($333,600), the Ward 3 Capital Infrastructure fund ($333,600) and the Red-Light Camera Project Reserve ($200,000).

The operating cost over the three year pilot is expected to be around $728,000. Some of this simply replaces the existing operating costs for the north curb lane of Cannon Street, while $180,000 of it is a high estimate to clear snow windrows (the piles of accumulated snow pushed to the side of the road after plowing).

The cycle track will run in the south curb lane of Cannon with a physical separation/buffer between the bike lanes and the automobile lanes. East of Victoria, the north curb lane will have all-day curbside parking to physically protect the north sidewalk. West of Victoria, the curb lane will only allow curbside parking outside of AM and PM rush hour times.

The physical barrier still needs to be finalized in the detailed design, but it will include a painted buffer strip with "flexible delineators" (knockdown sticks), portable curbs bolted to the pavement, and planter boxes where the buffer is wide enough to allow them.

More Details

East of Victoria, the cycle track will be 3.0 metres wide. The separator between the track and the adjacent automobile lane will be 0.85 metres, wide enough for planter boxes. The adjacent automobile lane will be 3.0 metres wide, and the next automobile lane will be widened to 3.25 metres. The all-day north curbside parking lane will be 2.5 metres wide.

Typical mid-block cross-section east of Victoria
Typical mid-block cross-section east of Victoria

West of Victoria, the cycle track is narrowed to 2.8 metres, which will "require cyclists to ride near or over the catch basins and rough pavement near the edge of the road when passing each other". The physical separator will be only 0.5 metres wide, and the other three automobile lanes will be 3.0 metres wide.

Typical mid-block cross-section west of Victoria
Typical mid-block cross-section west of Victoria

The cycle track will not be painted green in full or at potential conflict areas, but IBI is recommending a "green lane line" along the border of the cycle track to increase visibility "and make it more distinctive from conventional bike lanes".

Green bike lane line on Sherbourne Street, Toronto
Green bike lane line on Sherbourne Street, Toronto

Traffic Flow Trumps Best Practice

It is unfortunate that the decision was made to ban curbside parking during rush hours. According to the IBI report, total AM rush hour driving time will increase from 7.6 minutes to 7.9 minutes, while PM rush hour driving time will increase from 6.4 minutes to 7 minutes.

The daily traffic volume of 16,700 automobiles (at Mary Street) would amount to just 8,350 automobiles per lane - a very reasonable volume for an urban minor arterial - if all-day curbside parking is allowed on the north curb lane.

Since one of the objectives of a complete street design is to slow automobile traffic and make the street safer and more comfortable, this is a missed opportunity to maintain best practices along the full length of the cycle track.

A narrower curbside parking lane would free up an additional 0.5 metres to widen the cycle track and the buffer. The report notes that the narrower cycle track width of 2.8 metres is "acceptable for a pilot project". There will presumably be an opportunity to revisit this decision over the course of the three-year pilot.

Increased Cycling Connectivity

The staff report also recommends implementing bike lanes on York Boulevard between Hess Street and Dundurn Avenue, which are part of the Strathcona Transportation Master Plan.

Those bike lanes would connect to the existing bike lanes on York west of Dundurn, as well as the lanes running on Dundurn north of York. The Dundurn lanes, in turn, connect to the cycle track on King Street West that crosses Hwy 403 into Westdale and West Hamilton.

The track also goes a long way toward connecting downtown Hamilton - and specifically the James North GO Station - with the new stadium in plenty of time for the 2015 Pan Am Games.

Combined with the Hamilton Bike Share, which is also expected to launch this spring, the Cannon Street cycle track is a major investment in high-quality cycling infrastructure that will vastly improve east-west cycling connectivity across the lower city.

It is very much to the credit of the Yes We Cannon campaign that thousands of Hamiltonians were able to speak up in support of this project and Council was inspired to unanimously approve the planning and design of the route.

Now Council must take the next step and approve the implementation of that design. We have an exciting opportunity to join a movement across North America and around the world of cities recognizing the tremendous economic, social and environmental value that comes from investing in high quality cycling infrastructure: safer streets, healthier citizens, cleaner air, improved local business and increasing property values.

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. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and 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. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

36 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted March 17, 2014 at 12:14:51

According to the IBI report, total AM rush hour driving time will increase from 7.6 minutes to 7.9 minutes

I guess everyone is going to be 18 seconds late for work from now on

Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 20:43:32 in reply to Comment 98512

Wait, a report from a company building the cycle track said it will only increase by .3 minutes? Whoa, let me catch my breath there!

Will we also be wasting more money and paint using subpar material that will come off in the next rainfall/windstorm/traffic/snowfall?

Permalink | Context

By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted March 17, 2014 at 12:15:38 in reply to Comment 98512

GRIDLOCK

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted March 17, 2014 at 12:14:55

Great article, Ryan - thanks for going through the report and putting this together. I'll take a second to say that while I don't think the design is perfect - I'd really love to see green paint in conflict zones and intersections - it's certainly looking to be the best piece of infrastructure for cyclists that Hamilton has installed in a long time.

A couple things of note - the track will be more than 2.8 m wide MOST of the way west of Victoria - Cannon actually fluctuates quite a bit in its width (something that was news to me going in to this), so it shouldn't be too bad.

The traffic modelling that IBI did looks at rush hour volumes, and it wasn't the vehicular delay that was a problem going to 2 lanes west of Victoria, it was the added delays to the HSR. I was informed that the Cannon St. route already has notoriously low flex times built into it, so adding delays would make it run late, and put drivers in jeopardy of missing breaks, potentially leaving them driving for hours at a time without time for a rest - not a great situation. So it's a bit of give and take - I hope that with annual reporting on the project, we'll see traffic moving a bit more sanely down Cannon and perhaps in a year or 2 when everyone realizes that the sky hasn't fallen, we can examine the possibility of making the north side all-day parking the entire length of Cannon.

Foe now, however, let's take the victory as we have it - however imperfect it might be, and ride the hell out of it.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 14:54:03 in reply to Comment 98513

With all due respect, the HSR is the LAST organization in the city we should be allowing to impact decisions or ideas to move the city forward. They can't even be bothered to synch their transfers or adjust their James/John routes to reflect the new two-way operations on those streets (it's only been a decade. I'm sure they'll get to it soon enough).

Permalink | Context

By Dave S (anonymous) | Posted March 18, 2014 at 22:59:28 in reply to Comment 98529

Increased service will go into affect if this slows transit times.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Sara (registered) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 12:34:08

FYI a curious coincidence, the #3 Cannon bus will probably be at the top of the list, when Council looks at eliminating low ridership routes later this month.

Permalink | Context

By Noted (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 12:56:42 in reply to Comment 98515

Unexpected. IBI's 2010 review of the HSR showed Cannon with 50% of buses over capacity at peak and a cost-recovery/service productivity level comparable to York and higher than a third of low-performing HSR routes (ie. 4 Bayfront, 6 Aberdeen, 7 Locke, 11 Parkdale, 12 Wentworth, 16 Ancaster, 18 Waterdown, 22 Upper Ottawa, 41 Mohawk, 43 Stone Church, 44 Rymal, 52 Dundas Local and 58 Stoney Creek Central). Granted, that study is coming up on four years old and crosstown ridership (which was cited for 2007) may have declined in the last seven years.

Permalink | Context

By Noted (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 12:56:28 in reply to Comment 98515

Unexpected. IBI's 2010 review of the HSR showed Cannon with 50% of buses over capacity at peak and a cost-recovery/service productivity level comparable to York and higher than a third of low-performing HSR routes (ie. 4 Bayfront, 6 Aberdeen, 7 Locke, 11 Parkdale, 12 Wentworth, 16 Ancaster, 18 Waterdown, 22 Upper Ottawa, 41 Mohawk, 43 Stone Church, 44 Rymal, 52 Dundas Local and 58 Stoney Creek Central). Granted, that study is coming up on four years old and crosstown ridership (which was cited for 2007) may have declined in the last six years.

Permalink | Context

By Sara (registered) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 13:19:47 in reply to Comment 98518

Thank you for the correction and additional context. You are correct that other routes are lower performing, I was going by IBI's bottom line reccomendation which was to discontinue the #3 entirely. Hopefully that won't happen.

Permalink | Context

By Noted (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 14:18:21 in reply to Comment 98521

The HSR has been so poorly managed over the years that nothing would surprise me, but it seems like a stretch.

I suspect that such a recommendation has less to do with ridership (which is probably still passably strong) and more to do with reallocating resources without compromising the service parameters (ie. 400m walking distance to a transit line.

Because Cannon is roughly 400 meters from both Barton and King, the 3 doesn't technically serve any population that isn't already served by the 1 or the 2. The HSR can axe the 3 and move the route's 3 buses anywhere else in the system (eg. increasing frequency on B-Line corridor or on the Mountain) and characterize the move as a service enhancement.

Permalink | Context

By Noted (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 14:24:34 in reply to Comment 98525

The 400m theory goes a bit flat east of Rosslyn, when routes on King/Main are around 600m from Cannon, but since it's "400 meters for 90% of the population," it may not make any difference.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 17, 2014 at 12:39:54

Wait, we're getting knockdown sticks west of Victoria instead of planters? Not concrete bollards or jersey barrier? I was kind of looking forward to biking downtown without the looming threat of death.

As for the parking thing, while I appreciate that it would be nice to get the traffic away from the pedestrians, I can't recall ever seeing anybody actually park on Cannon.

edit: PDFs are 404.

Also, I can't help but notice the "comfortable .... at 50km/h" as if the traffic on Cannon goes only 50. And semi-trucks will be in that adjascent lane, as it's a truck-route. So I can expect to be cycling 1 meter away from trucks going 60kph, protected by "knockdown sticks".

I want concrete.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-03-17 12:45:08

Permalink | Context

By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 22:03:37 in reply to Comment 98516

I'm with Pxtl. Knockdown sticks do not provide any safety whatsoever. As far as I am aware they are unknown in The Netherlands.

Here is a video of the type of bollards that I want:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2Xn7y5DL...

The sort of bollards I want used are manufactured right here in Ontario. See:

http://www.superiordoorandgatesystems.ca...

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 14:56:13 in reply to Comment 98516

actually, there are many concrete barriers west of Victoria. In fact, it's mostly concrete barriers based on the cross-sections shown in the city's PDF's. Planters are at Hess as well, but yes, the rest of the planters appear to be east of Victoria.

EDIT: I just noticed that my two comments here aren't showing up where I'm replying. They are simply being dropped to the bottom of the list.

Comment edited by jason on 2014-03-17 14:56:45

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 17, 2014 at 16:17:59 in reply to Comment 98530

They're showing up properly. You have probably clicked to view comments in Flat view. Click Nested (just above the main comment box) to see the comments the way you are accustomed.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 17:21:47 in reply to Comment 98536

Yea, I must have switched it accidentally. Thx for the reply

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 17, 2014 at 13:49:43 in reply to Comment 98516

edit: PDFs are 404.

ARRGH. Somehow the City has managed to find an even worse way to store staff reports. I've updated the article to fix (sort of) the document links.

Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 20:44:27 in reply to Comment 98523

It's almost as annoying as the spam filter and commenting system on this site.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 17, 2014 at 14:40:29 in reply to Comment 98523

It seems like copying the pre-redirect link works.

Cannon Street Bi-directional Cycle Track Pilot Pro - PW14031AppC.doc

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By randomguy (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 12:40:23

With regards to the operating costs, wouldn't long term there would be savings from not having to repave the cycle lanes as often as the driving lanes?

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 18, 2014 at 10:54:11 in reply to Comment 98517

I would think yes, but I'm not sure that the difference would amount to much over the course of a 3 year pilot project.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 17, 2014 at 13:50:20 in reply to Comment 98517

I don't know the exact numbers but a paved lane for bicycles will certainly last many more years than a paved lane for cars and transport trucks.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Fyi (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 16:04:12

Your spam filter sucks.

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 18, 2014 at 10:52:25 in reply to Comment 98533

If you make an account, all your problems will go away.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 17, 2014 at 16:14:54 in reply to Comment 98533

Spam sucks, and the deluge RTH gets means our filter needs to be very strict. However, if you register an RTH user account, your comments will no longer be filtered for spam. You don't have to worry about your email being sold to a third party since RTH has no business model to earn money, and you can even delete your email from your profile once you are confirmed.

Permalink | Context

By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 16:08:41 in reply to Comment 98533

It sure works effectively, but I agree it is frustrating.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Vincent (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 16:53:08

This is a huge step forward for Hamilton!

Thank you everyone who has helped to make this a reality.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 20:01:30

I would really like to see Hamilton get on board with the North America wide trend of having street lanes down to 2.75 meters, or 9 feet. Buffalo, Toronto, LA and scores of other cities have realized traffic is still safe to move about with 9 foot lanes, but it frees up more space for other uses like curb parking and protected bike lanes. Also, the narrower lanes act as a bit of a traffic calming device. Drivers instinctively go slower in narrower lanes.

I was just in LA and 9-foot lanes appear to be the norm now. And this is on very busy streets with 4-8 lanes of traffic. Curb-side parking is provided 24-7 on most of these major thoroughfares too, and bike lanes are being installed all over the LA area.

Even if the city felt it was so important to save the .3 minutes by restricting parking during rush hour, those lanes could have all been in the 2.75-3 meter range and allowed plenty of space for an appropriate buffer next to the bike lanes.

It's a great step forward for Hamilton for sure. Hopefully we'll become more accustomed to adding this type of much-needed infrastructure city wide even if it delays auto trips by a few minutes here and there.

Let's hope to see more cycle-tracks, city-wide quickly.

Permalink | Context

By rgenie (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 22:49:56 in reply to Comment 98542

Jason, do you have any links to reports stating 2.75 meters has been implemented on major arterials. In Burlington we have asked MTO to consider 3.0m lanes on the overpasses over the QEW so we could add bike lanes. MTO are very resistant to change & are demanding a minimum 3.3m. Perhaps if they are aware that other cities are utilizing 2.75 without an increase in collisions, they would re-consider their stance on the overpasses.

Thanks

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted March 18, 2014 at 08:56:09 in reply to Comment 98550

Some info here:

http://streetswiki.wikispaces.com/Lane+W...

The MTO are always resistant to change. One of the reasons the horrid Main/King interchanges along the 403 aren't being rebuilt and made safer. The MTO actually likes it as they are if you can believe it.

3 meter lanes equal roughly 9.8 feet. I see no reason why you couldn't have these used at your location in question. 3 meters is a very good width. You can see that is proposed in sections along Cannon. 2.75 still isn't common in Canada, but 3 is very common. 3.3 is not necessary unless the street is loaded with trucks.

Comment edited by jason on 2014-03-18 08:58:47

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 18, 2014 at 09:49:46 in reply to Comment 98555

For point of reference, does anybody know how wide the Main Street lanes were during the construction on the bridge over the 403? I remember that was a fiasco where there were 3 drawn lanes but everyone ended up driving like there were 2. That seemed to demonstrate what happens when lanes are too narrow, but now I'm wondering how narrow was too narrow?

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-03-18 09:50:29

Permalink | Context

By alley cat (anonymous) | Posted March 19, 2014 at 02:47:07 in reply to Comment 98556

too narrow for what speed is the question. i can drive a very large truck down an alley 6 inches wider than the vehicle. doesn't mean i'm going to try it at 70km/h. but it was what happened on the 403 overpass. traffic gets used to the race track and finds it easier to ignore the lanes than slow down. which is of course why narrow lanes are so important; it makes drivers WANT to slow down.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 19, 2014 at 06:19:24 in reply to Comment 98586

Another thing that helps de-velocitize drivers coming off the highway is hitting an intersection at the end of the exit ramp. In Hamilton, we favour exit ramps that merge right onto our arterials so drivers never have to come to a stop.

Permalink | Context

By Frustrated (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 20:24:17 in reply to Comment 98542

It's not okay to give cars a bit less space in the lane so they have to drive at a safe speed but it's okay to squeeze cyclists so much that there's only room for stick barriers instead of curbs or planters and they have to crowd into the gutter. Ridiculous!!

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted March 17, 2014 at 20:53:08 in reply to Comment 98543

Yea, it's going to be a long, slow climb in Hamilton to doing these things with excellence. But at least we're getting our first protected lane. Most cities would set a goal of intentionally trying to slow down car traffic after decades of dangerous high-speed freeways ripping through residential and retail neighbourhoods. I assume Hamilton will also see the value in safe, sustainable streets and neighbourhoods someday too.....

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds