Special Report: Walkable Streets

Mohawk Road East Residents Call for Safer Pedestrian Crossing

63 residents have signed a petition for a safer pedestrian crosswalk at Mall Road and Mohawk Road East.

By Ryan McGreal
Published December 16, 2014

Too often, the debate over safe, inclusive streets in Hamilton gets framed as a downtown-vs-suburbs issue. This is unfortunate, since safer, more accessible public space should be a goal that everyone can share. So it's encouraging to see a community organization on the east Mountain calling for pedestrian improvements at a busy intersection near a seniors' residence.

63 residents of the building at 395 Mohawk Road East signed a petition calling for increased police enforcement and a new "No right turn on red" sign on Mall Road at the intersection of Mohawk Road East.

The petition reads:

WHEREAS, We the tenants of 395 Mohawk Road East are concerned for our safety at the south-east corner crosswalk and stop light at the intersection of Mohawk Road East and Mall Road. Many seniors have almost been hit by cars whose drivers don't look both ways at the red light, and who have no respect for pedestrians who are crossing with the light.

We the undersigned, petition the Hamilton Police Services Board as follows:

A) Ticket drivers of cars who turn right without looking

B) Install a "No right turn on red" sign at the intersection of Mall Road and Mohawk Road East.

According to Martin White, manager of Traffic Operations and Engineering in the City's Public Works Department, staff have received a copy of the petition and "are awaiting Council's direction in this matter."

David Ferguson, superintendent of Traffic Engineering, also notes that there are already plans in progress to rebuild the intersection in 2015 "to realign with 396 Mohawk Road and improve crossings and operations."

The petition will be presented to Council at the November 17, 2014 Council Meeting. You can acess the petition and signatures under Item 5.10, Communications.

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.

23 Comments

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By The X Guys (anonymous) | Posted December 16, 2014 at 09:36:41

Personally, I think No Right on a Red Light should be implemented on every stop light. But I think that is an Ontario Highway Traffic Act law?
Even the safest and most unaggressive drivers will sometimes forget, while looking left and waiting for a gap in traffic, that a pedestrian could arrive and cross the road during that time, and proceed with the right turn without checking on the right side again...

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By capitalist,no,piersixbrawler,rths,etc (anonymous) | Posted December 16, 2014 at 10:02:08

Only 63 people? Who cares. Thousands of people vote with their engines every day. They have places to be! Pedestrians suck. These old people should look both ways. We should have a referendum on this. And drivers should get to have one vote per cylinder so they are more fairly represented. I'm tired of this city's ulterior motives and back room dealings trying to take away drivers' legal right to BLAST OFF!!!!

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By RTHS (registered) - website | Posted December 16, 2014 at 11:45:35 in reply to Comment 107109

I don't think this would net me enough votes!

In all seriousness, though, I live in this area (I know, I shouldn't tell people where I live) and while I do occasionally see drivers make a mistake and head right without completely stopping, or without checking the crosswalk a second time, I also see a great deal of seniors, students and othe citizens doing their best Usain Bolt impression against a flashing or solid orange hand.

It's a difficult area, to be sure, at certain times of the day - but overall, I don't think this area needs that red restriction. Limeridge Mall, Fortinos, and other retailers are in that area, and motorists need to clear Mall Rd at that stop light.

In my time writing against (pointedly, in most cases) RTH, I've noticed that the user base seems to be decidedly on the side of "If you're in a car, and I'm not, and we have a conflict, the car and the street and the speed limit and the [you name it] is the problem. Why? Isn't that an unfair stance to have?

Anyways, thanks for the mention. Later, strangers.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted December 16, 2014 at 12:36:27 in reply to Comment 107127

If you're in a car, and I'm not, and we have a conflict, the car and the street and the speed limit and the [you name it] is the problem

The fact that I've successfully jumped out of the way for turning cars that weren't watching where they were going, does not absolve their criminality for moving a multi-thousand pound steel conveyance without watching where they were going.

Everybody is responsible for their safety because everybody makes mistakes.

The difference is a vehicle can crush or kill somebody.

Operating it without due care and attention is a crime for a very good reason, people can die very very easily.

As classes of vehicle get heavier, the requirements and regulation increase.

I don't think anyone has posited that this absolves people (pedestrians and cyclists are people who happen to be walking or biking in that instance) from their responsibility to not run out in front of cars or run out against traffic lights. People ask for risk mitigation initiatives where they live. Shocking.

Everything so bloody polar and dichotomous with some of you.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-12-16 12:46:15

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By RTHS (registered) - website | Posted December 16, 2014 at 12:49:21 in reply to Comment 107132

I understand where you're coming from re: dichotomous - but really, if the comments section is any indication, it's fair to say it does more than lean toward an anti-auto bias than the other way.

I'm with you, MotM, that jumping out of the way of a car is definitely unacceptable - it shouldn't happen - I'm just trying to remind folks that it's not always the pedestrian, it's not always the motorist. That's all.

I appreciate your level response.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted December 16, 2014 at 13:50:07 in reply to Comment 107134

does more than lean toward an anti-auto bias than the other way

On this site that is probably true; the demographic is likely self-selecting. I could make the opposite argument, with citations, about the comments section of a site such as The Spec. That is the go-to place for vitriol and brain damage, in my opinion.

We are definitely in agreement that polar absolutes are harmful to any position in a debate. Perhaps with the exception of a well placed sarcasm that identifies a clear point or fallacy (which may be why comedy talk shows are having good success drawing attention to controversial news). But, indeed, I know both environmentalists and motorists that are so opinionated they would curdle milk.

It looks like any discourse is a bell curve, with the most passionate about an issue being the most vocal, and most people falling somewhere in a quieter middle ground.

What you are experiencing, this perceived "backlash" against motor culture, is the result of real people, that really do exist, getting tired of constant anxiety attacks and uncertainty. Having no alternatives, frustrated spending so much money on their car, frustrated at the anxiety and uncertainty that comes with getting around some other way. These are people that don't post here, they're that quieter middle ground, but I hear them wish for better GO service, express envy at my courage to bike on roads, moan about how car repairs stole their paycheck ... Specific disagreements on policy aside, I think more of that "bell curve" of our fellow citizens wants choices than some narrow minded folks are willing to accept, frustrated at watching other places bring in modern best practices to strike a balance of quality of life and transportation.

Most of those places have faster highways than ours, but much nicer cities to live and shop in. And they still have their suburbs and rural where you can spread out and have a bit of room for a big backyard at the trade-off of a longer commute - but that costs land, money, time, and roads that urban centers don't necessarily want to succumb to.

The dichotomy that I'm actually refering to, is the veiled but present misconception that the suburban built form must be applied to all zones, urban and rural. And that a campaign for something better is some kind of totalitarian polar opposite to a wide merciless sprawl format. These, never stated outright but apparent myths, that if the new subdivision past Rymal Road can't have an LRT, the city's core shouldn't either. That if a road past a farm beside the airport doesn't have sidwalks, the downtown core therefore doesn't deserve a bike lane. That the non-driving public being a minority, therefore deserves no consideration whatsoever.

This is only a "war" in the minds of those who fall on the extremes of the bell curve of opinion. For most of us multi-modal, hard working, tax paying, productive individuals, these initiatives are a needed modernization of our transportation options in response to a growing population.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2014-12-16 14:01:18

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted December 16, 2014 at 12:18:53 in reply to Comment 107127

"Isn't that an unfair stance to have?"

No. No it's not. Because despite your dismissive characterization of drivers "occasionally" making mistakes, while those rotten seniors, students and other pedestrians run across the street "a great deal", the facts just simply don't bear your argument out. All you need to do is take a look through the Ontario Coroner's Review on Pedestrian Deaths, or pretty much any document highlighting the circumstances under which a group of pedestrians died, to see that the "great deal" of lawlessness you speak of is responsible for many fewer incidents than the "occasional" errors made by drivers. Drivers turning without looking, whether it's a right turn or a left turn, strike more pedestrians in intersections that have the right of way than don't. Simple as that.

What Many RTH commenters and contributors, myself included, are saying, however, is that while some individual accountability must exist for one's actions while behind the wheel, it's unfair to place the entire burden on the shoulders of an individual who makes a mistake while they're using a piece of infrastructure that is, in effect, designed to fail. We know from looking at experiences in other cities and other countries that there are alternative designs available which minimize the conflict between all road users. We know that with a little bit of work (narrowing traffic lanes, tightening up curb radii, installing more signalized crossings etc), we can reduce the severity of damage that occurs when a human being does what humans do, which is make a mistake.

The RTH user base is not anti-car. In fact, most of us who contribute regularly, like most people, have a car. We drive when it makes sense (and even sometimes when it doesn't), so it's not like we fall on the militant, "One Less Car" type side of things. What we ARE militant about, however, is making decisions about our infrastructure based on the best available evidence, not just using "it's always been done that way" and "Because cars want to go fast" as justification. And when you start looking at the evidence, RTHS, the case becomes pretty clear. We're paying a tonne of money to build and maintain infrastructure that is removing the choice in how people move around because they don't feel safe walking or biking next to cars travelling at 70km/h. We then pay even more in health care costs due to inactivity, to say nothing of the costs to our system resulting from the people killed and injured by human error on our roads. We're militant about instituting policies and designing projects so that when people make a mistake - and that's when, not if - there's a better chance that everyone involved gets to go home to their families, and without a death on their hands and conscience.

We have these tools available to us - we know that they work, and we know what the consequences are if we don't use them - so why is it so much of a problem for you that people advocate safety over speed?

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By RTHS (registered) - website | Posted December 16, 2014 at 12:56:42 in reply to Comment 107129

There are a lot of points in your response that I didn't/don't make in my own posts. That aside, just think about maybe removing the part where you said I call seniors "rotten" - I didn't do that, and it hurts the legitimacy of your post. Also, I like seniors - they're really nice pretty much all the time.

I'm not suggesting that we abandon traffic safety in favor of traffic speed. More along the lines of "maybe if cars took more care, and pedestrians opted to wait for the next break instead of crossing at the flashing hand, we reduce the number of fatalities more drastically than by only implementing one or the other." I don't think that's a terrible stance to have.

Comment edited by RTHS on 2014-12-16 12:57:41

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By STHS (anonymous) | Posted December 16, 2014 at 12:13:52 in reply to Comment 107127

Ah, I see.

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By arewemonteal? (anonymous) | Posted December 16, 2014 at 13:00:57

No right on red at this intersection? This sounds like a Montreal solution to me. What are the impacts on traffic because of this? If the analysis shows that it's fine, then by all means, but driving and walking through that area a lot, I can't imagine they would be good.
Once again...the bigger issue...residents should be telling staff there's a problem, and council should be directing staff to investigate the problem and develop possible solutions. Residents shouldn't be dictating what traffic control is best and council just saying 'yay' or 'nay'. We pay fair wages to professionals who work at the City, let's let them use those skills...

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 16, 2014 at 13:58:41 in reply to Comment 107139

Lots of professionals have given the city lots of advice and the city doesn't listen. This isn't stuff just made up by bloggers.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 16, 2014 at 14:01:51 in reply to Comment 107150

I would love a no-right on red in the entire lower city and along all major arterials on the Mtn. The city is dangerous enough as is without also giving cars full permission to run red lights constantly.
Cars come with brake pedals for a reason.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted December 16, 2014 at 13:47:52

Me thinks you put too much faith in the Prodessionals who often make decisions from a desk without ever attending the area, or after driving around an area once in the middle of a workday.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted December 16, 2014 at 13:49:07 in reply to Comment 107147

My comment above was in response to @arewemontreal?

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By NortheastWind (registered) | Posted December 17, 2014 at 09:42:26

I am all for safety but I can see it now, if there's no right turn on red from Mall Road, there will be traffic congestion all the way back to the mall's ring road during busy times, like during the Christmas shopping period.

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By i can see it now (anonymous) | Posted December 17, 2014 at 10:02:05 in reply to Comment 107180

Oh sure,we'll save a few lives but MILLIONS will be late!

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 17, 2014 at 09:48:58 in reply to Comment 107180

So, we should keep pedestrians in danger while crossing on their own green all year round to avoid a few minute delay for folks sitting in a warm, comfortable car once or twice a year?

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted December 17, 2014 at 15:31:24

No right turn on the red is only an inconvenience to good drivers. Bad drivers the ones who don't look out for others will just turn on the red anyway. This will in turn leave the pedestrians more vulnerable as they will now assume no one will be turning.
A few years ago Henderson Hospital staff asked for extra police enforcement for drivers running the red at the pedestrian controlled crossing on Concession street. The police responded and placed an officer there. The officer handed out a few tickets to drivers and about ten times that to pedestrians for j-walking. So be careful about asking for the police to enforce laws in your neighbourhood. They will enforce all the laws, not just the ones that you want.

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By OLDBETTY (anonymous) | Posted December 17, 2014 at 17:42:16

What do these thing have in common:

People who complain about right turns on reds;
People who complain about leaf blowers;
People who complain about personal water craft;
People who complain about water skiing;
People who complain about speed limits;
People who complain?

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted December 17, 2014 at 17:45:27 in reply to Comment 107190

People who complain about complainers.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 30, 2014 at 09:17:17

That we have councillors opposing safe, complete streets is mind-boggling.

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/523517...

NOTE: all the crazy, nutty cyclists at fault in these horrific crashes.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 30, 2014 at 13:45:10 in reply to Comment 107446

You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone, on council or elsewhere, who would profess not to support safe streets. As Sara Mayo points out, it's a quintessential motherhood issue. The problem, as I argued here, is that it is surprisingly difficult to get people to support all the specific things that need to happen to achieve the safe streets that everyone supports.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 30, 2014 at 17:55:50 in reply to Comment 107447

Whitehead and Collins are actively pushing for King Street to be reverted to a 5-lane expressway through the west end neighbourhood where I live. Apparently a 4-lane freeway isn't dangerous enough for them.

Then there's this: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rd834wfp28cut...

This developer obviously wants to sell NO units. Why on earth would he photoshop a two-way, green painted cycle track and zebra crossings in the final photo in this brochure. Hasn't he listened to CHML? Nobody wants that garbage in their neighbourhoods.....

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