Special Report: Walkable Streets

Salvage Something from Bus Lane Removal

We can't go back to a five-lane highway west of Locke. It is simply too dangerous.

By Jason Leach
Published January 24, 2015

I want to start by acknowledging the fantastic advocacy of our lower city councillors: Aidan Johnson in Ward 1, Jason Farr in Ward 2, Matthew Green in Ward 3 and Sam Merulla in Ward 4.

But like so many Hamiltonians, I am distraught at the selfish behaviour of their colleagues. It was sickening to hear some of the other Councillors go on and on about all the public support they heard for the bus lane and how we need more bus lanes, only to turn around and vote against the bus lane we had.

I am concerned about what King Street may look like once the bus lane is removed again. I stopped walking on King many years ago after too many close calls with almost being hit by cars speeding in the curb lane. Since the bus lane was put in, I've walked and cycled on King more in the past year than the previous ten years combined.

I suspect I'm not the only one, as we've seen a real uptick in business during the last year - notwithstanding the legitimate complaints of some business owners about losing the north curbside parking.

With the bus lane being removed, I propose that we look at adding all-day curbside parking back to the north curb again, but that we also make two other changes:

Following are some illustrations to show what I have in mind.

Bay to Locke

Staff will need to verify the width of King from Bay to Locke but it seems to be around 42-44 feet wide on the roadway. The north curb lane is hugely oversized.

King Street from Bay to Locke (Image Generated with Streetmix)
King Street from Bay to Locke (Image Generated with Streetmix)

This suggestion requires them painting the 24-7 parking lane on the north curb, similar to what they did on Cannon east of Victoria. Parking does not require a full ten-foot lane. 7-8 feet is industry standard, and it's what we did on Cannon. I'm going with 8 feet on this illustration.

I've added a bike lane next to the parking, then THREE car lanes. However, I'm suggesting that off-peak hours we have curb parking allowed on the south curb. We do NOT need an open curb lane outside of rush hour. It simply creates a dangerous situation around here for those who live here 365.

Locke to Strathcona

This is King from Locke to Strathcona:

King Street from Locke to Strathcona (Image Generated with Streetmix)
King Street from Locke to Strathcona (Image Generated with Streetmix)

Please note: King widens here to around 50 feet on the roadway. We can and should have 24-7 parking on both sides of King. This still leaves three full car lanes 24-7.

It also maintains south curb parking for businesses that have opened there and enjoy their parking, and it maintains parking and the bike lane right past Victoria Park on the north side.

I can't be more strenuous in my insistence that we do not go back to having a live car lane next to this sidewalk. It has been such a horrible danger for our neighbourhood for decades. The buffer of parking and a bike lane would be tremendous for this stretch.

Strathcona to Dundurn

If for some crazy reason staff refuse to allow parking next to a park, I would suggest this final cross-section, which is the proposal for Strathcona to Dundurn:

King Street from Strathcona to Dundurn (Image Generated with Streetmix)
King Street from Strathcona to Dundurn (Image Generated with Streetmix)

Again, it maintains three car lanes 24-7, but also maintains south side curb parking. I remember the owner of the cycle shop at King and New Street being vocal about his displeasure that the south curb parking didn't extend to his block. The curb parking can end just before the KFC parking entrance.

The bike lane connects seamlessly to the bike lanes over Hwy 403.

We Can't Go Back

With this entire cross section from Bay to Dundurn, we have added parking back on the north curb, opened the south curb for an extra vehicle lane during rush hour and have used the extra wide roadway to add a bike lane by painting these parking areas like we did on Cannon.

What happened at Council is a big loss to the entire city. But I firmly believe that if staff would slow down and take input from those of us who live along this corridor and have studied it to death over the years, we can turn a rotten situation into something that still maintains the sense of a safer street.

We can't go back to a five-lane highway west of Locke. It is simply too dangerous. It is also potentially an opportunity to salvage something from the Metrolinx Quick Wins money we wasted putting in a bus lane and then taking it out even though it was working.

I'm not sure how much repainting the city will do but I would recommend we line up the left three lanes east of Locke with the centre three lanes west of Locke. That would enable us to maintain three car lanes during rush hour west of Locke, while retaining parking on both curbs west of Locke.

Curbside parking is good for business and a safety buffer for pedestrians. This is a huge concern and I hope we can at least get this done now that we've lost the transit lane.

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

32 Comments

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By strackj (registered) | Posted January 24, 2015 at 12:07:53

I was recently looking back at Google street view from before the bus lane and I had forgotten how wide the north parking was at some points. I was having similar thoughts that they could definitely fit a bike lane in there:

http://i.imgur.com/kOaugJk.jpg

Living at this section of King, it would greatly simplify a bike commute to Westdale. I usually end up detouring up to Napier, through the park and Head St to get to Dundurn. Safely being able to take King straight there would be fantastic.

Comment edited by strackj on 2015-01-24 12:24:25

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 24, 2015 at 16:16:18 in reply to Comment 108344

Honestly, I'd rather see the Napier detour developed properly - bike-exemptions for all-way stops, straight-through traffic allowed on Queen/Napier, a path along the Federal building, contra-flow lane on Bay, stuff like that. And signage at Bay/Cannon and Bay/Wilson saying "Bike Road to McMaster" or something so cyclists know where they're going.

I won't bike on King or Main unless they get a Cannon-style treatment.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted January 24, 2015 at 12:11:07

Would solve a lot of problems from an urban, non-automotive point of view.

Have you conferred with any of the core 4 to see whether there's an appetite at the moment to work toward bringing something like this to council ... a good opportunity to re-mobilize and get 150 pairs of eyes watching at a council meeting again.

Comment edited by RobF on 2015-01-24 12:11:22

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted January 24, 2015 at 13:17:59

I stopped walking on King many years ago after too many close calls with almost being hit by cars speeding in the curb lane.

'Close-call' is a good way to put this. When cars are travelling at speed less than one metre from pedestrians, its always a close call.

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By Wondering (anonymous) | Posted January 24, 2015 at 21:32:15 in reply to Comment 108348

There's probably some Traffic Act reason why we can't but I've always thought, if we have to have the multi-lane one-ways, it would be great to make the outer lanes for turning only. I'd propose making travel of more than, say, two blocks in either before turning worth a hefty fine.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted January 25, 2015 at 18:09:24 in reply to Comment 108358

I don't know. This seems like the hard way of doing the obvious thing, making main and king two way streets. That's how most roads encourage through traffic to stay in the middle. Enforcement is the most resource intensive way to do what can be done more effectively with normal street design tools.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 25, 2015 at 00:27:50 in reply to Comment 108358

No reason why we cannot do this. In fact, this was a key part of the Toronto proposal for a King Street Transit Mall.

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By Wondering (again) (anonymous) | Posted January 24, 2015 at 21:34:42 in reply to Comment 108358

Oh yeah, with bicycles excepted, of course. :-)

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 24, 2015 at 22:12:25 in reply to Comment 108359

You've basically described the new bike lanes the city built on York Boulevard and on Victoria North. They go dotted whenever there's a right-turn and specifically show the right-turn markings when they approach an intersection.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted January 24, 2015 at 18:32:25

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By sanctimony guy here again (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2015 at 21:19:38 in reply to Comment 108351

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By AP (registered) | Posted January 25, 2015 at 13:02:52 in reply to Comment 108351

I am loving the irony of using the "your way or the highway" expression from someone arguing against complete streets design concepts.

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By fool (anonymous) | Posted January 24, 2015 at 21:23:32 in reply to Comment 108351

You continue to be an idiot.

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted January 24, 2015 at 19:58:36 in reply to Comment 108351

You have a reading comprehension problem.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted January 25, 2015 at 11:29:14 in reply to Comment 108353

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By Fan of LOL guy (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2015 at 21:22:21 in reply to Comment 108365

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted January 25, 2015 at 20:32:59 in reply to Comment 108365

I think you have a problem with your own nonsense.

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By huh? (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2015 at 19:14:13 in reply to Comment 108365

so why exactly do you continue to read this site?

if you have a real concern with the ideas shared in the article why don't you form a fact based criticism organized around recognized best practice as illustrated in other cities?

but i guess that is way less fun than just walking into a discussion, farting loudly, and calling everything shit.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted January 29, 2015 at 06:37:42 in reply to Comment 108369

It becomes an echo chamber - well it is now, actually, since most of the people who agree with some but not all of the policies advocated here on this site have moved on due to the lack of inclusion and openness. You can also see it in the few authors who recite the same articles about "why LRT is good", "our one-way streets are bad", "why we need to do XYZ to our streets to 'fix' them", and so on.

Go back and read the "about" section of this webpage. It says this:

"Raise the Hammer is a group of Hamilton, Ontario citizens who believe in our city's potential and are willing to get involved in making the city a more vibrant, livable, and attractive place to live and work.

We are non-partisan and our members come from diverse political backgrounds. Our common interest is revitalizing our city, a goal that benefits everyone.

About the Site

Raise the Hammer is dedicated to providing a variety of views and approaches to the goal of making Hamilton a great city. Towards that end, we encourage readers to contribute feedback, letters to the editor, and article submissions. Please feel free to contact us with your comments and ideas."

We already know the site doesn't take kindly to dissenting opinion - hence the removed and downvoted comments. Also, take a look at the principles page. They don't fit with the "about" page at all. The vision of this site has changed. If it continues to be a bunch of people feigning interest in a discussion, but only as long as it is THEIR discussion, we end up with a lot of whiny people wondering why their small voice is not heard nor followed in our city's leadership.

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By TLDRDIH (anonymous) | Posted January 29, 2015 at 12:58:01 in reply to Comment 108531

Shorter DowntownInHamilton: "I hate it when the people on this site call me out on my BS."

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By this site makes me LOL (anonymous) | Posted January 30, 2015 at 01:53:06 in reply to Comment 108542

IS that what you got out of that post? LOL

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 29, 2015 at 10:47:14 in reply to Comment 108531

If only the Internet had another site you could enjoy then. Maybe someday the World Wide Web will have more than just this site.

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By sanctimony guy (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2015 at 21:23:37 in reply to Comment 108369

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 25, 2015 at 00:36:28

Jason,

Thank you for this article. I would like to make a suggestion about the cycle lanes shown in your photographs that are next to car parking. This works better if one simply switches the lanes so that the parked cars have the effect of protecting the cycle lane.

Here are two videos showing how car parking protected bike lanes work in New York. The first video is a two-minute overview showing several examples. See:

http://vimeo.com/20302720

The second video is a 4 minute in-depth look at one particular car parking protected bike lane. See:

http://www.streetfilms.org/the-taming-an...

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By JWilbur (registered) | Posted February 02, 2015 at 23:02:00 in reply to Comment 108364

I agree completely with Kevin Love and was going to post the same comment. Let the parking float, not the cyclists. He makes the point so much better with his backup. Great video's!

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By AS (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2015 at 00:37:58

Here's hoping Mayor Eisenberger champions LRT with Ms. Wynne tomorrow. He hasn't been a champion so far, promising not to use his political capital in advance of the bus lane vote, but maybe he'll change gears tomorrow?

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By loves bikes and cars (anonymous) | Posted January 29, 2015 at 08:00:16

Everyone complains about the cars going fast, but the bus drivers were easily going 25-30 over the speed limit.

Several of you are speaking without ever walking on king and or living on king.

The buses drivers were very inconsiderate and always sped.

this is fact.

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By TrainTheDrivers (anonymous) | Posted January 30, 2015 at 01:57:26 in reply to Comment 108532

HSR drivers regularly speed, run red lights, only slow at stop signs, move over without fully checking, horn their way in, etc. Saw one this afternoon at the loop near lower lion's club rd just cut out into traffic, nearly hitting a car, because he was sick of waiting, or was late, or whatever. There's not a lot of courteous drivers left. But then again, we did see one polite driver wave our car in onto James St. tonight :)

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 30, 2015 at 09:01:26 in reply to Comment 108562

Highway Traffic Act, Section 142.1:

Every driver of a vehicle in the lane of traffic adjacent to a bus bay shall yield the right of way to the driver of a bus who has indicated his or her intention, as prescribed, to re-enter that lane from the bus bay. 1994, c. 27, s. 138 (12).

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 12, 2015 at 17:35:26

Noticed today that parking meters are back on the north side of King from Bay to Locke. Prior to the bus lane, parking was 24-7 along here. Now, there are 'no parking 4-6pm' signs on both the south and north side of King. So we've not only removed our only bus lane, but gone even further backwards by removing what used to be 24-7 parking on one side. Now it's a 4/5 lane full-fledged expressway from 4-6pm.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 12, 2015 at 21:47:57 in reply to Comment 109092

Who decided on that policy change?

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 12, 2015 at 22:13:23 in reply to Comment 109098

Probably Chad Collins, champion of all the small biz along there that needed to get rid of the bus lane for more parking. So we get rid of the bus lane and give them less parking and for less hours per day. Sounds about right for Hamilton. Gotta love the 1970's

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