Special Report: Cycling

Hunter Street Bike Lanes Are Not Good Enough

Should we cheer for the fragmentary, half-broken, mediocre implementation of what is increasingly understood to be essential urban infrastructure?

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 04, 2014

this article has been updated

I know the Hunter Street bike lanes aren't perfect - far from it - but shouldn't we just be grateful that we're getting anything at all?

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

After a year in which hardly any cycling infrastructure was built and Council actually clawed back part of the cycling budget, shouldn't we be glad that the Hunter Street lanes, due in 2013, are finally being (partially) built?

Are we being greedy when we complain that there is no physical barrier or other protection between the two-way bike lanes and the adjacent lane of automobile traffic?

Are we being churlish when we point out that a two-way bike lane is vastly less useful when it is interrupted by a 460-metre discontinuity that spans four blocks and runs right past a regional transit station?

Maybe we should just count our blessings and stop being so damn demanding. I'm sure that's how the City staff who designed the lanes feel.

City workers started installing the bike lanes on Monday
City workers started installing the bike lanes on Monday

And yet ... the more I think about the Hunter Street bike lanes, the angrier I get. I'm angry about the missed opportunity to do something properly.

It would not be difficult to get this right. We already know what works. The "atypically wide pavement marking" separating the bike lane from the adjacent automobile lane could easily accommodate knockdown sticks and rubber cycle lane curbs.

Do you know how much a knockdown stick costs? $80 a pop.

Cycle track protected by knockdown sticks and rubber curbs (Image Credit: District of Columbia Department of Transportation)
Cycle track protected by knockdown sticks and rubber curbs (Image Credit: District of Columbia Department of Transportation)

Not only are cyclists more at risk from automobiles, but also the bike lane is more likely to end up playing host to illegally parked cars, like the cycle track on Sherbourne Street in Toronto.

How much fun will it be for eastbound cyclists to have to swerve into a westbound automobile lane to get past a parked car?

I'm not sure what's more frustrating: that a two-way cycle track is being built in 2014 with no physical separation from automobile traffic, or that almost a third of this 1.5 kilometre lane isn't being built at all.

A cyclist trying to use the Hunter Street bike lanes to go eastbound will have to turn left at MacNab, go up to Jackson, ride in mixed traffic for four blocks, then turn right on Catharine and go back down to Hunter to pick up the bike lane again.

A 460-metre ride in a bike lane becomes a 650-metre ride in mixed traffic. For people who aren't already willing to ride a bike on Hamilton's streets, we may as well be asking them to ride across a river of fire.

Apparently staff haven't figured out how to run the bike lanes past the Hunter Street GO station. However, an urban planning student interning at the City actually designed a route earlier this year.

Rendering of Hunter Street bike lanes at GO Station, overhead view
Rendering of Hunter Street bike lanes at GO Station, overhead view

And that's not all. The bike lanes look extremely narrow, whereas the automobile lane is still nice and wide. So not only will cyclists going in opposing directions have to squeeze past each other, but they'll have to contend with automobile traffic flying by at full-speed in the middle lane.

Between the narrow width, lack of physical protection and nearly half-kilometre discontinuity, these bike lanes might as well have been set up to fail.

So should we cheer for the fragmentary, half-broken, mediocre implementation of what is increasingly understood to be essential urban infrastructure?

Whatever happened to best practice? Heck, whatever happened to excellence? It's not like the City hasn't been made aware of this stuff on multiple occasions over the past couple of years.

But in the end, the Hunter Street bike lanes have defaulted to Hamilton's unofficial motto: 'Good enough for the likes of you.'

with files from Jason Leach


Update: this article originally stated that knockdown sticks cost $160 each. That is the retail price for a single knockdown stick. Because the City of Hamilton buys them in bulk, they actually pay a fraction of that price. You can jump to the changed paragraph.

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.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 13:57:41

I think if there is a two way bike lane there has to be at least knockdown sticks (don't know why they cost $160.00) When you mix one way traffic with two way traffic you are bound to have an accident. I expect the day will come when someone is seriously injured at Hess and Markland and it will not take a genius lawyer to argue that it was an accident waiting to happen. Could be worse on Hunter which is a much busier street.

The City should be very worried about liability and spend the money on the barrier.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 22:17:54 in reply to Comment 102022

KnockDown sticks cost a 160 because the government purchases them and not much anyone else.

If this figure includes installation it actually seems cheap.

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2014 at 14:06:54

I'm having a really hard time finding an example of a 2-way cycling facility on a one-way street that features absolutely no physical separation. Kent Avenue in NYC, but it's almost all painted green and has a foot or 2 of cross-hatched pavement markings as well. It also has parking protecting it in some spots.

It seems to me that the value of this project is completely lost without the connection in front of the Go Station. I'm certainly hoping to see changes come to this stretch very quickly, even if it has to be in the PB process.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 18:46:09 in reply to Comment 102023

King St between Macklin and Paradise, unfortunately.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 06, 2014 at 13:56:58 in reply to Comment 102042

There are knockdown sticks there now. Knockdown sticks aren't much, but they're better than what Hunter is getting - they seem to encourage drivers to give it a wider berth.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted June 06, 2014 at 15:48:09 in reply to Comment 102121

Knockdown sticks are a great start, they will at least mitigate drivers buzzing cyclists, nearly clipping them with mirrors. They also prevent parking in the bike lane. Drivers do encroach into bike lanes, not aware or not caring. In fact, on York Blvd, one day there was a traffic jam because the 403 was closed for its' daily pileup, and a few vehicles were driving stop and go on the bike lane. Including an HSR bus. Clueless people. Knockdown sticks at least prevent physical encroachment.

Snow removal seems to be up in the air still, I share the intuition that this is likely a big factor in trying to keep the bike lanes paint only.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 06, 2014 at 15:58:35 in reply to Comment 102125

In general the city seems to space knockdown sticks far-enough-apart that I see cars pulling over into the King lanes routinely for pick-up and drop-off. For folks in that narrow strip of houses just east of Macklin this seems to be a necessity.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 23:46:32 in reply to Comment 102042

I don't understand, half assed approach. 4 of us went to have lunch at the downtown promenade today, and we all noticed the same thing with only half of Gore park being included. We all wondered why are they even cars allowed on the south side of King between Hughson and John? It was weird, and just not right.

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2014 at 19:37:15 in reply to Comment 102042

That's a pretty short stretch, though, and one with a few turning movements to worry about as well. Hunter, on the other hand, has so few egress points along it it's kind of ludicrous. This COULD be done right very easily, and it very much should.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2014 at 14:38:22

I don't live or bike in that part of town so I'm not an expert, but it really feels like one of those half-assed projects that just eats into the tiny cycling budget and accomplishes nothing. It's been completely neutered by design compromises.

Cycling in this city is under constant scrutiny. Bike lanes are lambasted for being wastes of money and space - taking away driving lanes and tax dollars for a perpetually-empty bike lane.

Terrible projects like this feed ammunition to those complaints, because this bike lane will be underused for many obvious reasons. Imagine a useful, proper bi-directional lane on Main getting torpedo'd because it's a block away from the unused (because un-useful) Hunter lanes.

It might be better if it weren't built at all. But again, if there are cyclists who do have use for this, I'll be happy to hear it.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-06-04 14:38:50

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 15:05:33 in reply to Comment 102024

strangely enough, I saw 3 cyclists on the lanes while crews were still painting today. Makes you wonder how many people would use them if they were more than 3 blocks long.

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By Brandi Lee (anonymous) | Posted June 05, 2014 at 09:15:40 in reply to Comment 102031

I was getting my haircut at Walnut and Hunter as they were painting the lines and within in an hour I saw 13 people using the new bike lane. It was awesome! Too bad it has these other problems because it looks like it would see much use.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 05, 2014 at 10:02:55 in reply to Comment 102072

make no mistake, there is a huge pent-up demand for good cycling infrastructure in Hamilton. The fact we have cyclists braving our ridiculous streets at all is testament to that. Done properly, Hunter would be a very heavily used route. Let's hope it can be fixed quickly, not in 5 years.

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted June 05, 2014 at 10:55:51 in reply to Comment 102075

Given some Councillors are "tapped out" and others have an aversion to ANY "push back" I am not optimistic that change/improvement will be coming any time soon.

Hate to sound cynical, but, this just seems to have been built to fail in order to placate the "I told you so crowd" whose definition of gridlock is anything that causes a driver to remove their foot from that skinny pedal on the right.

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By UrbanMom (registered) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 14:41:05

I wonder if part of the reason for not putting down knock-down sticks, bollards, rubber curbs, etc to physically separate the cycling lanes is the fact that in winter those barriers present problems in regards to snow removal.

We had knock-down sticks put up at Bold and Bay as bumpouts to help make walking to and from school (Central elementary on Hunter and Bay) safer. Over the winter, snow removal crews destroyed many as the sheer weight of plowed snow either knocked them over and or ripped them out of the ground completely.

I wonder if a barrier-less cycle lane will mean less maintenance cost in the long term and a clear lane for winter commuters?

Thoughts?

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By UrbanMom (registered) | Posted June 06, 2014 at 14:15:03 in reply to Comment 102025

Walking past the area the next day the I remembered the Bobcats that do the sidewalks. Of course, from a management pov, that just means there are extra routes that the Bobcats will have added duties which equates into added expense.

And, I want to clarify that by pointing out these issues, I'm not excusing them and saying that less safety precautions are justified by increased costs. I'm just saying that there are a lot more factors to making the bike lanes separated spaces than we may be considering here. I may be wrong, but I suspect the issue of snow removal may be an issue City Hall is thinking about but the general public has not.

We all know that regardless of how things are handled elsewhere, Hamilton seems to have it's own prejudices, philosophies and fears it must grapple with that often produce half-arsed results on these kinds of projects.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 14:52:06 in reply to Comment 102025

bobcats bomb all over town doing city sidewalks and parks after snowfalls. I see them regularly zipping along with the plows up as they head for the nearest park. They can do bike lanes. I wish council would worry so much about snow removal impacts the next time they are going to approve yet another massive road widening, or new highway project.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2014 at 14:46:23 in reply to Comment 102025

I haven't counted, but based on walking and cycling past the Bay/Bold area on a daily basis I'd say only a couple of knockdown sticks failed to survive what was an exceptionally long, cold, hard and snowy winter.

Do we cripple the functionality of a bike lane for 10 months a year to avoid the risk of losing a couple of $160 knockdown sticks the other two?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2014 at 14:45:10 in reply to Comment 102025

You are, of course, right. Ploughing cost was the chief point of contention in the Cannon Street bike plan. Ryan is being a bit unfair when he points to $150 unit-cost for knockdown-sticks.

The problem is that other cities do manage to have fully separated bi-directional bike lanes. You can't tell me that they don't have winter in Montreal.

And even here in Hamilton, we've put up knockdown sticks in the (very short) bi-directional bike-lane connecting King/Macklin to King/Longwood - it's part of my daily commute and it's great.

So what gives with Hunter?

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By bill n (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 15:54:17

My daily commute to Aldershot starts at Hunter & Ferguson, so i have been watching this develop with interest. I usually ride west on jackson, but today headed out along Hunter (not on the lanes though, there are pylons up). The lanes are quite narrow. I ride a recumbent trike, and it's going to be a tight squeeze. I'm afraid I am predicting chaos where westbound bikes leave the lane into mixed traffic at Catharine, particularly in view of the ever-present phalanx of jockeying taxis and kiss-and-ride drop-offs. It's already a no-rules zone there-funneling cyclists into the area with no seperation is just dumb.

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By reuben (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2014 at 15:57:03

This project as implemented will make Hunter more dangerous for both cyclists and drivers. It really is unacceptable.

Comment edited by reuben on 2014-06-04 15:57:40

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By Brundle_Fly (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 16:18:27

If this is the plan they have for Cannon...

PEOPLE WILL DIE.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2014 at 16:22:11 in reply to Comment 102034

The Cannon plan is budgeted and approved as a separated path. It will be a mixture of knockdown sticks, curbs, barriers, etc. as appropriate. Unfortunately the western half is going to be primarily knockdown sticks because of width constraints, which really disappoints me since I'll be biking in there.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2014 at 17:12:59 in reply to Comment 102035

Staff said they had to keep a full lane's width on the north lane of Cannon west of Victoria to allow its use as a rush-hour driving lane. (East of Victoria, the north lane will be parking-only and hence narrower than a full driving lane.) The reason given was that there's no slack in the rush-hour bus schedule for the buses to get slowed by rush-hour traffic. So the cycle track is less protected because they couldn't figure out how to adjust the bus schedule. Sigh.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 17:50:57 in reply to Comment 102037

this is the same transit system running their buses as though John and James are still 1-way streets. It's only been what, 14 years?? I'm sure they'll adjust the routes by 2055.

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By idriveacar (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 17:00:58

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

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By z jones (registered) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 19:34:52 in reply to Comment 102036

Translation: I don't care that the project I don't care about sucks.

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By Thanks for your 2 cents. (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 22:05:53 in reply to Comment 102045

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 17:52:33 in reply to Comment 102036

So we should all be giddy that brand new bike lanes will double as car/van parking? Interesting. We should try something. Let's fill all 4 lanes of the Linc with parked bikes tomorrow morning, and then accuse all the drivers of being greedy when they complain.

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By Go ahead and try it. (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 18:00:10 in reply to Comment 102039

I'll be keenly watching your flashmob appear tomorrow morning.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 22:23:42 in reply to Comment 102040

i guess you mean like this. http://torontoist.com/2008/05/critical_m...

first you'll have to get the (male)20 something year old, hoodie wearers off the sidewalk.

Comment edited by rednic on 2014-06-04 22:45:15

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By Aww, too bad it didn't happen (anonymous) | Posted June 06, 2014 at 19:38:38 in reply to Comment 102055

Aww, I didn't see the flash mob appear. Shame, I was really hoping to hear about it. That wouldn't be an indicator of all the talk on this site, would it? Puffing out your chest and pretending to be the little general, but then never actually doing anything.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted June 06, 2014 at 22:46:58 in reply to Comment 102128

You sound deeply bitter. You should try talking to someone about it instead of acting out online.

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By tee hee (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2014 at 07:58:58 in reply to Comment 102135

Nah. I like to act like a big man behind a keyboard, just like you, friend.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted June 07, 2014 at 23:32:46 in reply to Comment 102147

your bitter general actually organized the first critical mass in toronto ... http://www.cybergeo.com/courier/REDNIC.H...

Im sure if you want to continue this we can do so in person.

I've riden more miles than you've driven.

some of us actually know how to ride a bike.

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By DissenterOfThings (registered) | Posted June 07, 2014 at 21:48:25 in reply to Comment 102147

I think you like to act like a sociopath behind a keyboard

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 07, 2014 at 22:00:19 in reply to Comment 102163

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/s...

  1. a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

  2. another name for psychopath

It sounds like neither. Try again?

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By nick (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 19:26:53

I totally get where you're coming from, Ryan. It seems so strange that the city would implement this type of design when best practices all around the world show that physically separated infrastructure improve safety and therefore the appeal and usage of the infrastructure.

However I must say it: can we just look at what we've accomplished and applaud it? Hear me out! Recently I've been taking a little break from RTH because of the anger, pessimism, frustration, and sarcasm that drips from almost every single planning and urban design related article RTH has published of late. This is not to say that these concerns aren't valid. As a planner myself, I get caught in the negative spiral that can happen when you're working in a non-responsive, backward political climate. But I think it's imperative that we strike some sort of balance, both personally and in our public writing. I've been doing a series of public consultations around the province related to transportation and we designed the charettes in such a way that we got people to first identify the assets/strengths, followed by the gaps which inevitably flow, and once that is established, we move on to opportunities or the "so what." I find the approach sandwiches the negative tenancies in all of us between what we have and where we can go now. This article, and many more in this area, are firmly in the gaps camp with some opportunities (but mostly gaps) and frankly it's exhausting and soul sucking and certainly doesn't inspire action.

My two cents. Maybe a comment for the editors too.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 05, 2014 at 08:27:53 in reply to Comment 102044

Nick, I totally appreciate your comment. Perhaps surprisingly, I don't actually like to be negative and I really struggled with whether or not to publish this piece. What convinced me is the simple fact that we engaged in loads of positive, solution oriented communications with staff and councillors over this bike lane project and it was for naught.

These bike lanes manage to get almost everything wrong: they're narrow, have no separation from traffic - not even a space buffer! - aside from a white line, and have an almost half-kilometre gap in the middle because staff couldn't figure out how to run it past the GO station, even though someone actually working for the city designed a great solution.

This is despite us repeatedly pointing out these issues and recommending a variety of cost-effective solutions - including using a line of parked cars as a physical barrier, as many other cities are doing - to absolutely no effect.

Believe me, we love to celebrate victories, like the vastly better Cannon Street Cycle Track, due to be installed this summer. We would love nothing more than to celebrate the Hunter Street bike lanes as well, but the contrast between the two projects is stark.

It's still not too late to fix these issues, but there is no reason on earth why they should have been allowed to flow into implementation in the first place. At some point, there needs to be accountability for the design decisions and the time for mincing words has passed.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 22:57:47 in reply to Comment 102044

I have to agree with Nick ... It's time to stop complaining and celebrate the small victories. Your not going to transform a city from Moscow style cycling infrastructure to Seattle overnight.

Instead of an article about how bad the new bike lane is, an article about how high usage will convince the city to improve the Hunter Street bike line would likely have a far more positive effect.

You may be able to argue about the need and benefits of cycling infrastructure, but if we don't use it, it's too easy for people to say ...'waste of money'. I know in the real scheme of things it's not money (compared to a nice 4 way clover leaf), but people see new 'stuff' and can only assume it cost 'money'. Bizarrely since they don't use it they assume it cost 'their money'.

The mantra should not be 'Not good enough' but, small victory but we can show we need better.

As always I'm willing to contribute a 5 gallon pail of green paint to make it better.

Comment edited by rednic on 2014-06-04 23:10:39

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted June 05, 2014 at 09:56:50 in reply to Comment 102056

but if we don't use it, it's too easy for people to say ...'waste of money'.

So we have to use it even thought it is not that safe and doesn't make sense for us to use, in order for its uninformed critics to think that it is a success..when it is not? That's not logical. When critics look at this project and say "we don't need bike infrastructure because cyclists are not using this" They will be wrong. Being positive about the negatives here will not change that.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 05, 2014 at 08:31:53 in reply to Comment 102056

about how high usage will convince the city to improve the Hunter Street bike line would likely have a far more positive effect.

The problem is that the bike lanes, as currently designed, are extremely unlikely to attract high usage. They're directly next to fast automobile traffic with no space buffer or physical barrier, and they are totally discontinuous at the exact destination that would otherwise attract a lot of riders.

If you're heading west, you need to ride in mixed traffic through the discontinuity, which we already know more than 99% of potential cyclists are unwilling to do. If you're heading east, the bike lanes are completely useless since you need to leave the street altogether and ride down a different street in mixed traffic.

I would love nothing more than to celebrate this as a small victory, but this project will be worse than useless if it does not attract new cyclists and is used as an excuse not to build more (and better) infrastructure.

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2014 at 19:56:55 in reply to Comment 102044

Further, no separation means a VERY high likelihood that cars will encroach, whether it be for parking or just because they feel like using that lane still. When that happens, an eastbound cyclist is forced into a live westbound lane - I don't think you need to be a genius to figure out how incredibly bad that is. When the stakes are that high, there absolutely must be something done to ensure no encroachment.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2014 at 09:45:23 in reply to Comment 102048

I was riding my bike west on the Hunter bike lane west of MacNab yesterday afternoon and observed a pickup truck driving very fast in the next lane veer about a foot into the bike lane around Park Street.

I also observed a pedestrian trying to cross MacNab at Park, but not a single car stopped for her (I stopped). I see this happen on an almost daily basis. Park is a high-traffic route for pedestrians, a huge proportion of them senior citizens, to walk downtown to the Farmers' Market through the City Hall grounds.

Hunter and Park really needs a pedestrian-activated crosswalk with zebra stripes to make it safer for the many pedestrians who regularly use it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 27, 2014 at 10:00:51 in reply to Comment 102903

Rode through there a few times this week and saw the exact same thing every time.

Also, I was almost hit crossing Wentworth at the Rail Trail. Scary part? It literally was nobody's fault. I had no traffic either way when I began to cross (was headed east). Thankfully the driver coming north onto Wentworth was driving a safe speed and had time to stop as did I. We both politely nodded with this mutual look of 'wow, that's not a very safe corner for anyone'.

But at least we have a sign up now with a yellow 'ped crossing' picture. Or is it still laying on the sidewalk from the last time it was run down by a car?? Im no expert, but I'd hazard a guess that a corner is very dangerous when the sign meant to warn of pedestrian traffic gets knocked down by a car within a week of being installed.

You would think people being killed here recently would be enough to get city hall to do more than slap up a sign.

Comment edited by jason on 2014-06-27 10:02:43

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2014 at 10:29:22 in reply to Comment 102905

It seems the answer to, "Does someone have to die before we make significant changes?" is: Actually, someone dying is still not enough.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 27, 2014 at 11:12:06 in reply to Comment 102906

browsing through the Ward 2 participatory budgeting results, a pedestrian signal was approved for Wentworth at the Rail Trail. Thank goodness for citizen budgeting process. The city won't watch out for us, so it's nice that citizens have this opportunity to do it themselves. Kudos.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2014 at 13:01:02 in reply to Comment 102908

That's good to hear. I tried to make an absurdly expansive request for 2-way conversions across Ward 1 and it got nixed... probably because it was a "boil the ocean" problem.

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2014 at 19:52:50 in reply to Comment 102044

nick, I'm very firmly in your camp MOST of the time. That said, this is a project that is a year late, 2/3 done, and done with at the absolute lowest design standard possible.

This is an opportunity to provide safe, effective cycling infrastructure to a key transit node in our city. It's a perfect place to showcase our city's growing commitment to cycling, to have them WANT to jump on a SoBi bike and ride around our city. Not only is it a great opportunity, but its a piece of SUPER low hanging fruit. TONS of pavement space, very little traffic and perfectly situated to be the alternate route to riding on the Highway 40Main.

Now I'm a very firm advocate against the type of whiny, you're-doing-everything-wrong style of advocacy that has dominated cycling discussions up until about the last 8 years in North America. The padded-shorts-helmet-mirror crowd, as I heard them called at a summit I was at recently, didn't really get much done, but they did get things on the agenda, paving the way for more positive, results-oriented advocacy.

This type of results-oriented advocacy is EXACTLY what RTH has done with regards to Hunter Street. Sure, it can sometimes drift into the negative and the "we never do anything right", but I would argue that on Hunter, that has not been the case. In fact, for over a year now, folks on this site have been working very hard to advance effective solutions for Hunter Street. Hell, people even went so far as to do a detailed design for the City FOR FREE! The suggestions that have been put out there over the past year that this project was delayed are not out there, they're not coming from wackos who just want to put bike lanes everywhere, they're coming from a very well researched position, and from a point of view that recognizes that having a 2-way bike facility just end on a one way street is a recipe for either complete disaster or sidewalk cycling all over the place. They also recognize that some degree of physical separation, no matter how slight, provides a huge boost in perceived safety, which is the #1 thing that gets more people to ride.

This is a half-measure delivered a full year late, in spite of several reasonable suggestions from the community to improve it. There's no good reason for it to be so incredibly poorly designed, and I think that's what frustrates people here, especially when the project should have been done in 2013.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 23:28:49 in reply to Comment 102047

well said. I agree with Nick and am actually excited to try out these new lanes (still not sure what I'll do from MacNab to Catharine mind you). A look back through the RTH pieces on Hunter St has shown a slow progression from excitement to what we see today. A completely unresponsive staff for 2 years certainly has that affect. Even with all other flaws and complaints one could find with these new lanes, it would be easy to give them a pass had they simply left the parking on the south side as was suggested numerous times and used the parking to protect the lanes.
But to see city hall actually spend more money having to move the parking signs, meters etc... is quite frustrating. Having said that, I would be happy with a combo of knockdown sticks and rubber or concrete curbs. Let's get the central section built next spring and we've got a useful two-way bike track downtown.

Based on design drawings and info I've seen, I suspect the mood will be downright euphoric when Cannon opens. Nobody is looking to be overly negative. But let's be honest, no other media outlet is going to call out the city on a sub-standard design. The others will all complain about the cost and 1.7 seconds added to their car trip. RTH has a bit of niche here, so I can appreciate hearing the frustration combined with practical solutions.

Seeing green bike boxes will be a big moment in Hamilton, and will receive praise here I suspect.

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By Got a Question (anonymous) | Posted June 05, 2014 at 10:53:33

For eastbound cyclists, until the central section is in place, what is the comparison of time and anticipated aggravation between walking the bike 460m on the sidewalk between MacNab and Catharine vs. the 650m ride in mixed traffic to take the Jackson detour to Hunter and Catharine?

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 05, 2014 at 13:09:34 in reply to Comment 102076

When are we going to get infrastructure that requires car drivers to get out and push their car?

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By We Have That Already (anonymous) | Posted June 06, 2014 at 19:39:32 in reply to Comment 102089

With the condition of Burlington street, you'll do that after 1 too many potholes! ZING!

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By reuben (registered) - website | Posted June 05, 2014 at 10:59:05 in reply to Comment 102076

or how about riding on the sidewalk - or just plowing through against traffic anyways? many cyclists will do this. it is what happens when infrastructure is designed to fail.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 05, 2014 at 12:09:02 in reply to Comment 102078

I plan to.
The next critical mass should take the whole group eastbound and take up the south curb lane from MacNab to Catharine.

Comment edited by jason on 2014-06-05 12:09:36

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 05, 2014 at 13:11:21 in reply to Comment 102082

Next critical mass? Please, tell me more.

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By lakeside (registered) | Posted June 06, 2014 at 23:53:34 in reply to Comment 102090

I've been trying to connect with Critical Mass for the last several years now. Does anyone know what became of it? There are more cyclists now than at any time in the past several decades, no? With so many riders now, wouldn't this be a good time to get it going again?

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By reuben (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2014 at 16:27:04 in reply to Comment 102137

critical mass is at 6pm last friday of each month. meets at king william and ferguson.

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By lakeside (registered) | Posted June 08, 2014 at 02:26:18 in reply to Comment 102156

This could be why I can't seem to find it. I was going to Hess and George, which seemed like an odd departure point, at around 5:30 IIRC.

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted June 05, 2014 at 21:19:43

I don't often have radical thoughts, but the Hunter bike lanes have brought out the worst in me.
I consider myself a careful, safe, and legal rider. I signal my turns, stop at stop signs, almost never ride on sidewalks, wear reflective clothing, have flashing lights front and back etc. I've had thoughts of purposely riding the wrong way on Hunter east of MacNab and on the sidewalk. Doing it continuously until getting a boatload of tickets (or hopefully not getting hit).
I haven't worked this part out yet but somehow, getting the press involved. I can see the headline "65 year old cycles the wrong way because he has no choice". BTW, I am over the moon excited about the Cannon Street lanes, so I'm not being completely negative. I am shocked and saddened that the Hunter St lanes (that fit into my cycling plans) have brought me down to such dark stupid thoughts.

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By AP (registered) | Posted June 05, 2014 at 21:59:49

I took my first ride in both directions today. The installation isn't finished, but I could see what was coming. For some parts of the ride I was excited; it felt great. Other parts I was optimistic of what was to come. And other parts just left me scratching my head. The amount of detouring required by the discontinuity of the eastbound route is really quite laughable...and at the same time very fitting in a city of one way mazes / streets. It's progress for sure, but that didn't save it from feeling real goofy. Still, I look forward to testing out the finished product.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 05, 2014 at 23:25:44 in reply to Comment 102094

I think I've figured out why staff continue to resist the common, logical solution in front of the GO Station. It will leave one lane for cars instead of two. The rest of the route they are painting in such a way to have 2 traffic lanes. Urban traffic lanes can carry 10,000 cars per day. And as we all know, it will be sheer pandemonium if we don't provide a service level of 20,000 cars per day for the 7,000 that actually use Hunter.

Comment edited by jason on 2014-06-05 23:26:24

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 06, 2014 at 06:11:57 in reply to Comment 102097

At yesterday's Economic Summit we learned that Wilson Street in Ancaster, a "complete street" with bike lanes, wide sidewalks, street trees, and so on, carries 20,000 cars a day on just one lane in each direction.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 06, 2014 at 09:30:13 in reply to Comment 102105

Of course. They get to enjoy safe streets out there. Their councillor is the first to yell and scream against safety improvements or complete streets happening downtown.

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By HamiltonBrian (registered) | Posted June 05, 2014 at 22:03:02

So this was my first day with the possibility of using them. Call me a newb, or whatever. Travelling west, I got on Hunter at Catherine, then hung a right on to Hess. In my mind, it made the most sense to go all the way to the right. I looked at the lanes, and if I wanted to turn right onto Hess...? It seems I would be trying to cross across the cars that are travelling west. Do I get off my bike and wait? Do I haphazardly list right across the lane so I can connect with Hess?

I don't get it, and I hope I'm not the only one...

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 05, 2014 at 23:27:55 in reply to Comment 102095

there are supposed to be green bike boxes painted at all stop-lights. This would allow you to turn right in front of the stopped cars from the bike lanes.

I'm disappointed that they aren't painting zebra crossings as part of the project. Today they painted the normal looking crosswalks back on.

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By reuben (registered) - website | Posted June 09, 2014 at 20:02:21

When riding Hunter today westbound, there was a service vehicle parked across the lanes. I road around it. On my return trip eastbound, there was a utility truck parked across the lanes. I had to choose between riding on the sidewalk or passing into oncoming traffic.

It is pretty simple. No physical barrier = free parking. This will happen all the time if it is not rectified. Fortunately the solution is cheap and easy to install. How long before the city gets a clue?

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