Special Report: Walkable Streets

Stone Church Road East Inhospitable to Human Beings

These environments are not dangerous because of some immutable natural law. They're dangerous because we built them that way.

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 03, 2015

So, my son and I have started a thing where we go for bike rides to get burgers. Not exactly high-concept, but it includes two things we enjoy - bike rides and burgers - and that seems like enough of a narrative hook to justify a fun activity.

Last Friday, we decided to ride out to Five Guys Burgers and Fries in the Meadowlands East Power Centre at Paramount Drive and Upper Mount Albion Road. The trip really showcased the differences between how we used to design streets and how we design streets today.

Off to a Good Start

The first part of the trip, which ran through Kirkendall, Durand and Corktown neighbourhoods, was uneventful. The neighbourhoods' streets aren't particularly well-suited to cycling - the City's continued foot-dragging in implementing protected bike lanes on Charlton and Herkimer is pretty frustrating - but the narrow lanes and slow automobile speeds mean it's not too difficult for a determined cyclist to ride in mixed traffic.

At Corktown Park we jumped on the Escarpment Trail and the going got a lot nicer. Aside from the dangerous and unpleasant road crossing at Charlton/Wentworth, the Escarpment Trail is all kinds of enjoyable to ride on.

Between Charlton/Wentworth and the next road crossing at Limeridge Road East, the Trail runs a good 6.5 km of continuous off-road trail. It's the only reason we were willing to bike to Stoney Creek Mountain.

Escarpment Trail
Escarpment Trail

Past Limeridge, the Escarpment Trail runs through a subdivision and then turns east, dropping downhill past the pond across Mountain Brow Boulevard from Albion Falls.

From there, a right turn on Arbour Road takes you back uphill and over the new multi-use bridge crossing the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway just west of where it turns into the Red Hill Valley Parkway.

Multi-use bridge over Linc
Multi-use bridge over Linc

Arbour Road continues south past the highway where it crosses Stone Church Road East, and it is here that things get really unpleasant.

I found myself wondering, really wondering, whether the people who designed the built environment had ever actually encountered a human being.

Stone Church

First of all, the good news: Stone Church does have painted bike lanes in both directions. That is indeed better than nothing. However, it is not much better.

Anyone intrepid enough to ride a bike on Stone Church has to contend with automobiles passing a few feet away at 60-70 km/h. The driving lanes are wide and intersections have dedicated turn lanes in which the bike lanes disappear, combined with extremely wide corner radii so drivers can make turns without slowing down.

Large corner radii at Stone Church and Pritchard
Large corner radii at Stone Church and Pritchard

The size of the turning radii is really visible from satellite view (Image Credit: Google Maps)
The size of the turning radii is really visible from satellite view (Image Credit: Google Maps)

In addition to allowing faster turns, these large corner radii also increase the distance that people need to walk to cross the street.

But it's even worse for anyone with the misfortune of being on foot. There are no sidewalks on either side of Stone Church until you reach the Power Centre.

Sidewalk in front of Power Centre
Sidewalk in front of Power Centre

Want to walk to the new McDonald's on the south side of Stone Church next to the route of the planned Upper Red Hill Valley Parkway highway extension? You will have to go off-roading on the dirt track beside the road.

McDonald's on Stone Church Road East
McDonald's on Stone Church Road East

If you want to take the bus, you are in luck: there are bus stops. However, you will presumably have to be airlifted to the bus stops themselves, since there are no sidewalks leading to them.

Bus stop island
Bus stop island

You can't even make this up.

Another bus stop island
Another bus stop island

Desire Lines

On our way back, we passed a large group of congregants leaving the Hamilton Mosque after the weekly Friday afternoon Khutbah sermon. It was a stark illustration of just how ill-suited the built environment is for pedestrian movement, i.e. people walking.

No sidewalk in front of Hamilton Mosque
No sidewalk in front of Hamilton Mosque

There are no sidewalks, of course, so lots of people were walking along the bike lanes, having nowhere else to go.

But it's even worse than that: the properties themselves are designed to actively discourage people from walking from one store to the next.

In addition to being set far back from the street behind huge off-street parking lots, the buildings are physically separated from their neighbours by fences, concrete barriers and grade separations.

This goes beyond merely not accommodating walking - it actively gets in the way of walking. In the case of the Mosque, people were walking anyway but were forced to go out of their way to get around the obstructions that were deliberately placed in their way.

We watched as groups of people picked their way around the fences and walls, but the land itself bears the mark of many other such passages through desire lines, so called because they indicate through wear the path that people are trying to follow.

Desire line between Hamilton Mosque parking lot and neighbouring Leons Furniture parking lot
Desire line between Hamilton Mosque parking lot and neighbouring Leons Furniture parking lot

Desire line between Hamilton Mosque parking lot and neighbouring Splitsville parking lot
Desire line between Hamilton Mosque parking lot and neighbouring Splitsville parking lot

Double Standard

I'm sure that apologists for the city's demonstrated priorities will argue that the sidewalks will be coming eventually, only some of the lots on either side of the street have not yet been developed. Yet I can't help but note that the automobile infrastructure - by far the most expensive part of the street - was completed prior to those properties being developed.

We must also note that the Upper Red Hill Valley Parkway highway extension is going ahead, extending the parkway south to connect with Rymal Road East.

Notice of Construction
Notice of Construction

That project was approved by Council last year and will cost the City $18 million to complete. That $18 million is nearly half of the city's entire Cycling Master Plan budget, which was scheduled to be spent over 40 years, though at the current rate we will be nowhere near finished building it by then.

Again, no one is saying we should wait to develop the properties around the highway extension before building it, and I don't recall the City's fiscal scolds - on Council or elsewhere - making any noise about the huge outlay of money on a piece of infrastructure that saddles the City with decades of maintenance and lifecyle costs.

When You're in a Hole, Stop Digging

Remember that this has all been built in the past few years and that we are going to be stuck with it for the next two or three decades.

Given the huge increase in the visibility of urban land use and transportation issues over the past decade, no one can claim to be surprised at the notion that this is not a healthy or sustainable way to build our city.

We need to do a lot of things in this city to repair the damage from previous bad decisions. But we also need to stop re-making those same bad decisions over and over again.

This is not a downtown vs. suburbs issue: everyone in Hamilton deserves to live in a safe, inclusive, human-oriented built environment. It's no longer acceptable to dismiss the lack of suburban pedestrian infrastructure by claiming people don't want to walk.

At best that line of reasoning is a self-fulfilling prophecy that deters walking by assuming people won't walk. At worst, it forces people to walk and risk their health in inhospitable and dangerous environments.

There is a reason so many people are hit by cars when trying to walk on suburban de-facto highways like Stone Church, Rymal, Highway 8, Cootes Drive and Mohawk Road.

And remember: these environments are not dangerous because of some immutable natural law. They're dangerous because we built them that way.

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.

97 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By slodrive (registered) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 13:42:21

All of the power centres that have proliferated on the Mountain -- Upper James, included -- make driving the ONLY functional and survivable means of transportation. I have to figure, as Future Shop and Target may have indicated, that as online shopping only increases, the desire to drive to a single destination - bordered by acres of paved parking lot - will be a novel trip into history.

I'm more familiar with the Ancaster Meadowlands - which, by many people's accounts, is seen as a burden visit. Navigating by car is stressful, navigating by foot would be exhausting, time-consuming and, depending on where you're going, pretty unsafe.

I want to say I'm the exception, but on any given Saturday, I don't see a lot of smiles when I do have to make the power-centre trip.

Comment edited by slodrive on 2015-06-03 13:50:59

Permalink | Context

By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:19:30 in reply to Comment 111962

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By IanReynolds (registered) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 18:46:37 in reply to Comment 111962

I have to occasionally drive over to that Ancaster Meadowlands, and it's a disaster to navigate. The roads between the buildings and parking lots are so fast that they have names. Forget walking from your car to a few different businesses, because the distance between them is bad enough even if you didn't have to worry about speeding cars.

And in the wintertime? You'll frequently have to either trudge through 4 foot piles of plowed snow to walk directly across the street to the other business, or walk/drive sometimes hundreds of metres around these curving lots and sit in traffic, despite being in a supposed parking lot, and despite the businesses being a stone's throw apart.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By H1 (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 14:57:37

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 08:28:07 in reply to Comment 111964

Because it's bankrupting cities and killing people across the continent.

Permalink | Context

By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted June 03, 2015 at 18:39:09 in reply to Comment 111964

Roads can still be friendly to both cars and humans. But right now it is offkilter for Stonechurch in super-car-friendly-super-ped-unfriendly. It is correct for Ryan to debate the merits of changing the balance.

It can be MUCH more human friendly while only being slightly less car friendly, increasing grand total number of happy car users (very few car users upset by changes) and pedestrian and business users (massive increase of people).

Let me give you a very famous quote,

...."Cities were built for people and not cars. If we are building a transportation system to serve the automobile, the Spadina Expressway would be a good place to start. But if we are building a transportation system to serve people, the Spadina Expressway is a good place to stop."

-- Bill Davis, June 1971

...And hereby cancelled the Spadina Expressway which would have decimated a lot of the west edge of Toronto downtown. We also now have monuments of the old Gardiner near Carlaw Ave, that woukd have fmerly cut across many areas including a nice Beaches area that would have been destroyed, and all the growth along the Kingston highway 2 corridor.

Other world cities and surrounding municipalities has built massive rail and metro systems, includi light rail components. We are far behind. The GO expansion and all the new Ontario LRTs will really help, as will some readjustment of pedestrian-unfriendly streets to increase number of peiole (cars+pedestrians combined) using the road. GTHA has a transit deficit compared to many cities, even Los Angeles has been installing several light rail systems alongside their much vaunted freeways.

GTHA's huge mistake is having too few freeways AND too few rapid transit options. Fir the first time in our lives, we are finally seeing a gradual 20-year big catchup in transit (massive 13.5 billion dollar GO electrification + 7 LRTs funded or under construction). The GO RER electricifation (15-min all day GO trains everywhere eventually) as well as all the seven new Ontario LRTs, all connect to at least one GO or VIA railroad, and to their respective muni rapid transit such as TTC, MiWay, HSR, OCTranspo, and more.

To attract many times more people to a rapid transit station a couple blocks away, streets need to be more pedestrian friendly. It is observed it really massively helps -- just simply look at Calgary C-Train, first year moved less people (under 10,000 per day) than today's Hamilton B-Line -- and now moves over 150,000 people per day on that original line, with over 300,000 per day LRT-network-wide. They made surrounding roads much more pedestrian friendly in many areas over the years, and it has worked magically over time, as a combined multi-pronged effort.

Optimizing a toad to be 5 percent faster and faster for cars can destroy far more than 5% of existing pedestrian traffic, causing the road to end up moving less grand total number of people.

Careful use of expressways is fine. I own a car. But Stonechurch ain't the place to kill the golden goose (reduce number of total car+ped people) by making it as fast as possible for cars. And ending up people not wanting to walk to rapid transit or local businesses. And ending up reducing the total number of people using the road, even if cars increase a little, you short-sighted buddy...

Bill Davis agreed in 1971. But we then dropped the ball big time in screwing up rapid transit and pedestrian-friendliness in Ontario.

Let me give you another example. A TTC subway train holds 1000 people including standees, and a single GOtrain holds nearlt 2000 sears, or up to 4000 people when including standees. A single freeway lane only moves about 1700-2200 cars per hour. The eight peak-period Lakeshore West trains move more people between 4:45pm and 5:45pm than eight lanes of Highway 401. Trains are amazingly efficient at moving large numbers of people using less land, even if there is a big gap between the trains. But we cannot get as many people to walk to the brand new Hamilton LRT if a lot of downtown roads are very pedestrian-unfriendly. We have done a great job on some roads like James St, but not as good a job with John St (which has less revitalization potential than Main/King)

Roads, especially most city roads, are for people (cars+bikes+pedestrians).

Cars contain people.

Many downtowns in North America have died (flight to the suburbs, and uglification of city cores) in part because of excessive optimizations only towards the car for too many roads. We can't do that for every single road, we must optimize for people, move more people on roads, by increasing grand total number of people in cars and non-cars.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-06-03 18:59:15

Permalink | Context

By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:34:25 in reply to Comment 111978

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted June 03, 2015 at 21:13:49 in reply to Comment 111978

Apologies about typos. Typed the whole thing on a tablet!

Permalink | Context

By John Neary (registered) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 23:32:37 in reply to Comment 111981

That's OK. I enjoyed the bit about optimizing the toad.

Permalink | Context

By H0 (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 15:26:57 in reply to Comment 111964

We've had roads for 10000 years and cars for 100 years. Try again, troll.

Permalink | Context

By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted June 03, 2015 at 21:42:53 in reply to Comment 111968

We've only had antibiotics of any use for less than 100 years. What's your point?

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 08:31:08 in reply to Comment 111983

You're joking right? The biggest concern right now about anti-biotics is that they are becoming ineffective through over-prescription. Kind of like our roads.

Comment edited by AnjoMan on 2015-06-04 08:31:29

Permalink | Context

By H1 (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 15:33:36 in reply to Comment 111968

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 08:36:07 in reply to Comment 111969

"We can't stop building roads only for cars 'cause we build roads only for cars!"

Permalink | Context

By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted June 03, 2015 at 18:24:10 in reply to Comment 111969

Not Hamilton, but roads for vehicles (horse drawn...) are an invention of mankind over 10,000 years old, elsewhere in the world. See the ancient ruins on your next vacation...

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-06-03 18:24:48

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By mayornot (registered) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 14:58:50

You probably, speaking of Red Hill extension, saw the current article from CATCH that all councillors should study & RTH folks might get some real good info from--Ryan should make a proper link because are we allowed? RTH should anyway. it is about the talk to make expressways wider & how much they are already and still costing in debt payments for the big roads Hamilton already has got for still many years to come. Spectator Dreschel mentioned in one line couple days ago about 'paid by 2025' or some comment like that, like that's soon and who cares anyway. Like Spec is afraid if people know? http://www.hamiltoncatch.org/view_articl...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By highasageorgiapine (registered) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 15:19:01

i used to take the escarpment trail to work in the morning on stone church and upper ottawa, and i just rode on the sidewalks because i felt it was so dangerous. cars just fly by and even at intersections, walking my bike across, it wasn't uncommon to nearly be run over.

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 08:33:20 in reply to Comment 111967

Yeah, the one bonus of this design pattern is that no one walks and sidewalks become de-facto separated cycle paths.

But then you come to an intersection...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By H1 (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 15:37:03

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By thelaw (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 16:56:52 in reply to Comment 111970

It still is illegal.
Section 144 (29) HTA forbids riding in crosswalks. The law makes no distinction between crosswalks at bike path/roadway intersections and crosswalks at regular intersections. Therefore cyclists using bike paths should be dismounting at intersections and walking their bicycles in the crosswalk. Few do.

Permalink | Context

By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 17:23:22 in reply to Comment 111971

I believe there is a distinction between the crosswalk and the intersection itself. A bicycle is allowed to share any city road - intersections included. The crosswalk is akin to the sidewalk and is for pedestrians only. It would seem that provided the cyclist remain outside of the crosswalk they would be fine riding in the intersection.

Permalink | Context

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 17:44:07 in reply to Comment 111973

Of course! Bicycles are treated as vehicles and are allowed to ride on the streets. It would obviously be ridiculously impractical if a cyclist riding on the street had to dismount and walk their bike across each intersection. You might as well ask motorists to push their cars through each intersection ... it would make no sense!

But of course, cyclists should not be riding their bikes through the crosswalk, along with the pedestrians. Pedestrians must dismount and walk their bikes (like a pedestrian) if they are using the crosswalks to cross the street.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-06-03 17:45:24

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 03, 2015 at 17:20:52 in reply to Comment 111971

You're misunderstanding H1's question.

This isn't about places where an off-road bike trail crosses a road with a marked crosswalk, which is the case you describe. H1 is discussing riding in the style that we teach children to ride - that is, they are taught to ride on the sidewalk and then, at every intersection, dismount and walk them across.

He's under the impression this was the law under the HTA in the 1970s.

I'm thinking that's he was taught to ride as a child back in the 1970s and he had the mistaken impression that this is the law. But I'm perfectly willing to accept evidence to the contrary.

Permalink | Context

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 17:32:16 in reply to Comment 111972

It is actually illegal to ride any bicycle on any sidewalk in Hamilton unless explicitly allowed. It is also dangerous to ride on sidewalks, both for cyclists and pedestrians.

As far as I know, there is officially no exception for children in Hamilton, although other municipalities (e.g. Toronto) do allow children riding small bikes to ride on the sidewalk. On the other hand, Burlington does allow anyone to cycle on the sidewalks. Each municipality sets its own rules regarding sidewalk cycling.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-06-03 17:33:07

Permalink | Context

By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:41:51 in reply to Comment 111974

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 18:38:04 in reply to Comment 111974

Burlington allows sidewalk cycling anywhere except in downtown, which is an interesting wrinkle.

In Waterloo Region they recently amended the bylaw to allow a parent to ride on the sidewalk while directly supervising a child.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 18:43:57

I used to ride to a job at the Meadowlands East centre from Upper Ottawa and Stone Church (after taking the 22 bus up from D/T). I can't recall ever having any serious problems, although going eastbound to home the bike lane transition to continue straight through where the on-ramp to the Linc and RHVP turns off is always hairy and requires more than a few shoulder checks. The sidewalk situation is pretty appalling especially given that they just reconstructed the road around the time the Esso and McDonalds appeared. It seems the developers were not required to install sidewalks as part of their site plan agreements. But there may be more to the story (the Upper RHVP construction perhaps) and the sidewalks are coming later, as Ryan suggested in his article. I wonder what the City's response to that particular question would be.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted June 03, 2015 at 21:40:01

Try riding your bike down the runway at Mount Hope. Can't get through security and even if you could it doesn't go anywhere. Bummer.

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2015-06-03 21:41:18

Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 16:21:42 in reply to Comment 111982

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 08:39:52 in reply to Comment 111982

try driving your car underwater, not gonna happen. therefore no more roads for cars, we only accommodate boats now

Permalink | Context

By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:45:07 in reply to Comment 112004

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 09:08:50 in reply to Comment 112004

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 09:21:05 in reply to Comment 112009

I have no trouble breathing on a boat but cars can't travel where boats do therefore we should not make any accommodations for cars. Boats can go anywhere - they don't even need lanes. How efficient! Boats have been around for way longer than cars, in fact it seems like the planet was designed for boats.

Permalink | Context

By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 09:35:44 in reply to Comment 112015

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 09:42:44 in reply to Comment 112018

Yes now you are thinking... jobs! The economy relies on us making sure that boats can go anywhere! People in boats spend money. They have jobs to do. All of these people in cars are just joyriding around listening to music - we should stop building infrastructure for cars until cars pay their fair share. Boaters pay license fees!

Permalink | Context

By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 09:56:00 in reply to Comment 112020

Can't bike underwater either though. Maybe with tanks.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2015-06-04 09:56:12

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 13:38:27 in reply to Comment 112022

no pedestrians no bikes no cars - just boats!

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 14:29:20 in reply to Comment 112048

ALSO NO TANKS! unless they are amphibious! http://www.defencetalk.com/pictures/data/3531/TYPE-63_61106A.jpg

Permalink | Context

By readytobeheartbroken (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 07:00:08 in reply to Comment 111982

What is your point? This isn't an airport runway IT'S A CITY STREET. Why do you think it's so strange that someone would want to be able to get to a restaurant on a street?

Permalink | Context

By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 09:49:02 in reply to Comment 111994

I am guessing his point is that there is a time and place for everything. In some traffic systems, walkable street are irrelevant. In the downtown the arguments for reduced speed limits etc. make a lot of sense. Not so much around a car centric power center. They are purpose built. You may not like them, so don't go there. If you want to shop in a pedestrian friendly environment - go there.

Whether you like it or not, a lot of people who build their lives around private transportation, love it and love efficiency and privacy and don't want to walk all the time. They will go to a park when they want to walk. So leave them be.

Is there no sense of live and let live here at all. Must everything be one way with none of the other?

I lament that I need to go to Ancaster to buy a bolt. But since I have to go because no one built a Home Depot downtown, when I go I want to get there and back as easily as I can.

If you want to do me a favour, build a Home Hardware on Dundurn and I will happily bike over there for my toilet parts.

I have said this on this site before, it is regrettable to me that the Limeridge Mall and the Meadowlands were ever built. People have answered that by saying that my view is too harsh of a postilion to take and that both of these modern abominations serve a good purpose. OK. I accept that. So now that we have them, lets use them in the way for which they were designed. I don't want to be punished further by not only being forced to drive to Ancaster, but now being forced to drive more slowly, more expensively and with more pollution.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2015-06-04 09:50:22

Permalink | Context

By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 11:38:29 in reply to Comment 112021

I agree in the sense that we should let the economic principle of supply and demand guide how commercial zones are developed. If you don't like a commercial zone then don't use it. That is an action that the tenants in those areas will take note of. Perhaps changing attitudes regarding cycling and walking will spur more user-friendly commercial development and it may encourage places like the Meadowlands (biggest car crunching nightmare in Hamilton) to retrofit to attract more customers on foot/bus/bike. BTW have you ever tried Steel City hardware on Dundurn? It's a lot like a Home Hardware and I've walked or biked to it lots of times to get tools, light bulbs, paint brushes you name it.

Permalink | Context

By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 14:01:43 in reply to Comment 112039

Yeah, because letting the free-market dictate government policy has done so amazingly well.

Permalink | Context

By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 14:43:20 in reply to Comment 112049

If your desire is to have draconian government policies implemented that will result in a loss of profits for developers or businesses then you are in for a long wait. The more practical tack would be to convince developers and businesses of the business case for providing greater access by bike/foot/bus/(LRT :)). A lot of people do not go to the Meadowlands because they spend an hour just in traffic and there are a lot of places like that. How many more customers could they bring in to the area with a more advanced transportation infrastructure? How much easier would it be to sell new houses and condos if you could advertise 'short walk to school and library', 'bike safely to parks and shopping', 'steps from LRT'. These are pluses that are noticed by young home buyers and they should be exploited by developers.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 14:05:41 in reply to Comment 112049

In terms of how we build new developments, the free market has very little to do with it. Between the huge subsidies to sprawl, the unfair penalties to infill, the highly specific roadway design rules, minimum setbacks, parking requirements, etc., it is effectively illegal and artificially cost-prohibitive to build anything other than sprawl.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2015-06-04 14:06:36

Permalink | Context

By KevinLove (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 23:02:46 in reply to Comment 112050

There is a huge market demand for living in car-free neighbourhoods. Look at how many people pay big fees to apply for the lottery to live in the car-free Toronto Islands.

Somehow the market is not meeting this demand. Wonder why?

Permalink | Context

By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted June 17, 2015 at 11:49:18 in reply to Comment 112076

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 10:31:56 in reply to Comment 112021

That is the worst kind of cop-out. There is absolutely no reason why we can't build suburbs that allow people to choose how to get around for a given trip.

Most Ontarians consistently say they would rather live in more walkable neighbourhoods so that they can be more physically active and healthier, but city building regulations persist in incentivizing and mandating places that force everyone to drive (or be driven) everywhere.

As a result of the artificial scarcity of new walkable neighbourhoods, they are at a sharp premium compared to prices for comparable non-walkable sprawl houses, which are cheaper because there are so many more of them. As a result, many people who would rather live in walkable places are forced to buy affordable houses in non-walkable places.

Permalink | Context

By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted June 17, 2015 at 12:00:05 in reply to Comment 112028

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 10:58:55 in reply to Comment 112028

I don't see it as a cop out. I have advocated here for a complete ban on greenfield development. It is a sin that we allow any new building below the escarpment in Niagara. The Liberal provincial plan to expand the QEW is abominable. There should be a mid penn highway built in conjunction with a reduction in traffic on the QEW.

The advocacy should be entirely centered on planning. We really don't need more suburbs - at least not yet. There is tons of vacancy in Hamilton.

The real problem isn't traffic design, it's letting developers build massive suburbs. But this is a provincial problem.

If your statement that Ontarians want what you say they want is true, (if that isn't I want my cake and eat it too) then building more livable environments will draw people. But sadly people are continuously drawn into the suburban environment. I don't know if it because that is all that is available or because that is what people want. To me the answer is a moratorium on suburban development. And that requires extensive provincial lobbying.

But for that which we have, hindering private vehicular traffic is a mistake and punishes those stuck with it.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2015-06-04 11:08:18

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 12:34:05 in reply to Comment 112035

hindering private vehicular traffic is a mistake and punishes those stuck with it.

So putting up concrete barricades between big box parking lots somehow facilitates vehicular traffic and making it easier to walk from one store to the other would hinder it? Stop with the false alternative.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 10:46:46 in reply to Comment 112028

With the scarce supply of walkable neighborhoods, particularly ones made with new low-maintenance housing stock (not everybody wants a hundred-year-old fixer-upper), I've often wondered how much the city could get for replacing the Chedoke golf course with high-density townhouse developments. Get some mid-rise commercial development along Studholme and Aberdeen and fill the interior with houses.

But then, I'm not a golfer (build a new course on disused north-end industrial lands!), nor do I drive along Aberdeen often, so it's easy to for me to suggest this not having to suffer any of the downsides.

Permalink | Context

By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 11:01:28 in reply to Comment 112034

I don't golf, but having a downtown golf course is a fabulous thing for a City.

We can easily develop a lot the unused tax arrears brown fields into parks.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2015-06-04 11:09:26

Permalink | Context

By notcharleslloydball (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 09:57:20 in reply to Comment 112021

Funny how notlloyd and Charlesball keep answering for each other, almost as if they're the same person

Permalink | Context

By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 10:20:52 in reply to Comment 112023

Well, that is not exactly what I meant. I only meant that just because something can be done does not mean that it should be done.

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2015-06-04 10:23:25

Permalink | Context

By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 10:00:54 in reply to Comment 112023

Seen this before. Maybe some people agree with each other. Like Chip and Dale.

Don't know about keep. But I have agreed with him (or her) a few times. Haven't seen him (or her) post here that often though.

Great contribution to the debate BTW.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2015-06-04 10:08:58

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 22:31:42

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By nobrainer (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 08:50:45 in reply to Comment 111988

No worries, we'll just get mom to drive us to mcdonalds http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/n...

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 08:48:26 in reply to Comment 111988

Taking a look at Google Maps Earth view, there's no housing around until Winterberry on the east, a few homes on Upper Mount Albion to the south, Upper Ottawa on the East, and the far side of the Linc on the North.

These are all reasons why the place shouldn't have ever been built. A McDonald's in a city, but with no-one around to buy food from it, and you defend it as if that is a selling feature. How is this place going to support itself? How will it ever generate enough tax revenue or economic value to justify the sewer, water, electrical and road services that have been built out to support it?

The fact that sidewalks are not built to a restaurant in the city are a tacit acknowledgement that it is not expected to succeed long term. Its an infrastructure liability.

Its a McDonalds. Cheap food that is at hand, except its hard to get to and you need to own a car to get to it. It makes no sense

Permalink | Context

By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted June 17, 2015 at 12:04:51 in reply to Comment 112006

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 16:15:11 in reply to Comment 112006

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 08:41:13 in reply to Comment 111988

Here's a question. Who is walking from the power centre, to, well, anywhere nearby?

You hit the nail right on the head. Nobody. Because the design makes it impossible.

Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 16:16:40 in reply to Comment 112005

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 10:03:53 in reply to Comment 112005

See my comment above.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 08:53:04 in reply to Comment 112005

It's even worse than that. People are still walking despite our best efforts to deter it - and they're disproportionately being hit and killed in collisions with dangerously fast automobiles.

Permalink | Context

By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted June 17, 2015 at 12:11:23 in reply to Comment 112008

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted June 17, 2015 at 13:02:47 in reply to Comment 112311

Someone didn't take their meds today!

Permalink | Context

By powerless (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 07:13:15 in reply to Comment 111988

Yeah it's not like, I don't know, a group of teenagers would ever want to walk from seeing a movie to McDonalds to then head home afterwards.

I feel bad for older kids and teens that have to grow up in sprawl. It must be awful for them to almost be a grownup but still not be able to get anywhere without having mom and dad chauffur. Who ever thought living in a place that you're stranded and powerless without a car in would be a good place for a kid to grow up?

Permalink | Context

By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted June 17, 2015 at 12:15:47 in reply to Comment 111995

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 16:17:28 in reply to Comment 111995

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By DownerInHamilton (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 17:13:41 in reply to Comment 112063

"It worked out just fine" yeah I'm not so sure about that.

Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 06, 2015 at 07:01:05 in reply to Comment 112069

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 06:07:35 in reply to Comment 111988

How about we don't build ridiculous monstrosities like this in the first place instead? The only real solution here is demolition, maybe turn it into a park.

Permalink | Context

By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted June 17, 2015 at 12:16:48 in reply to Comment 111993

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 16:23:47 in reply to Comment 111993

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 23:37:14 in reply to Comment 111988

perfect summary of the real problem: horrible, lousy, un-walkable development that wastes tons of valuable land for acres of parking instead of generating much needed tax revenue to offset the massive public outlay of roads/infrastructure to make the development possible.

If the city is going to shell out hundreds of millions on roads to 'open up' the lands for these builders, we need strict guidelines as to what is built. A good place to start is the first ever master-planned community in Canada: Westdale Village.
Start developing properly, and balanced like that again, and watch how many more millions in tax revenue the city reaps when acres of parking aren't needed.

Permalink | Context

By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted June 17, 2015 at 12:24:22 in reply to Comment 111992

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 16:18:38 in reply to Comment 111992

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By DownerInHamilton (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 17:17:33 in reply to Comment 112064

Or maybe Westdale proves you can build a suburb that is relatively dense and makes good use of land and is easy to walk and bike in, which is the GP's point. Not that you have any real interest in an honest discussion.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 23:09:23 in reply to Comment 112070

exactly. It's a quiet, beautiful 'suburb' loaded with businesses, people and cyclists everywhere....design matters and impacts how our communities function.

Permalink | Context

By Did You Know (anonymous) | Posted June 05, 2015 at 00:23:47 in reply to Comment 112078

When Westdale was built there were restrictions on title prohibiting sales to Blacks, Asians, Eastern Europeans and Jews. Great planning principles indeed.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted June 05, 2015 at 07:46:29 in reply to Comment 112081

Yes, because that's exactly what I was suggesting we do in all new developments. Thx for adding such helpful dialogue to the discussion.

Permalink | Context

By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 05, 2015 at 07:24:02 in reply to Comment 112081

When Westdale was built there were restrictions on title prohibiting sales to Blacks, Asians, Eastern Europeans and Jews. Great planning principles indeed.

Don't forget foreign-born Italians and Irish Catholics.

But also, don't confuse the built form and road design with the - very quickly meaningless - restrictions on individual deeds.

Permalink | Context

By John Neary (registered) | Posted June 03, 2015 at 23:31:59 in reply to Comment 111988

Personally, I'd shop at the power centre more often if it wasn't designed so that I'd have to drive from each store to the next. Even walking from store to store within a single development is often oppressive enough to make you want to drive within the same parking lot.

Permalink | Context

By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted June 10, 2015 at 22:50:29 in reply to Comment 111990

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 16:19:21 in reply to Comment 111990

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2015 at 07:46:49 in reply to Comment 111990

Exactly. Why can't suburban car-oriented development look like University Plaza? Yes, it's set back behind a massive parking lot... but a strip of stores extends close to the street, and the sidewalks are super wide and continuous and covered with a massive awning.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted June 05, 2015 at 07:47:31 in reply to Comment 111996

another good example is the new Outlets in Niagara on the QEW. Parking around the perimeter with pedestrian corridors throughout the stores.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Corporate Power (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 11:19:28

Good Question. It is more cost effective for the developer to buy the land, build-to -suit individual disposable stucco boxes, and immediately externalize the maintenance costs to vendors and the servicing costs to taxpayers. Solution. Don't let them build this garbage.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By durander (registered) | Posted June 04, 2015 at 13:13:24

I completely agree that the City seems to have missed some key connections in this area for pedestrians and cyclists. That being said, a lot of the area is under construction, so hopefully once the final work is done, some additional sidewalks and bike lanes will be implemented. The off-roading you mention is clearly because the construction is not completed, which is evident in the fact that at least one more coat of asphalt needs to be applied. As for the turning radii at Stone Church and Pritchard, I suspect it's for truck traffic...not to increase speeds of right-turning vehicles. Not saying it doesn't promote that, but I don't think that was the purpose, as is suggested.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Mark-Alan Whittle (anonymous) | Posted June 05, 2015 at 14:43:29

If you walk to the Power centre, you can't buy much, as you have to carry it all the way home. A vehicle has the room to load up. Even Ryan has a car, for obvious reasons.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 05, 2015 at 15:05:12 in reply to Comment 112098

You're right. There is no way you could carry home the stuff you buy from the movie theatre, or the shoe store, or the eyeglass store, or one of the three coffee shops, or the bank, or the running shoe store, or one of the clothing stores, or the juice bar, or one of the restaurants, or the massage therapy service, or the aesthetician, or the family medicine office, or the travel agent, if you didn't have a car. Better to just force everyone to drive, otherwise anyone who has a deep emotional identification with their automobile might feel threatened by other people being able to make a choice.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2015-06-05 16:52:48

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Join the future (anonymous) | Posted June 05, 2015 at 16:08:43

All of the commerce you are talking about can be negotiated electronically. The shopkeeper economy is so 17th century.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 05, 2015 at 20:22:27 in reply to Comment 112100

I'd argue that the supermarket, the small business or the large wholesalers are the only ones relevant in the 21st century - for purchases too big for mail, Costco is good. For smaller purchases, if you're knowledgeable you can shop online and if you're not then the teens at Walmart or best buy or crappy tire aren't any help to speak of - that's when you want the expertise of an owner-shopkeeper, something much harder go glean online.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted June 06, 2015 at 14:54:55

Was just up there today. There are curb cuts at the Esso / McDonalds and a sidewalk connection from the front of the McDs to where the sidewalk will eventually be. That doesn't excuse the past several years of no sidewalks, but I'm not surprised that the city waited for development to take care of the sidewalks.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted June 09, 2015 at 21:51:12

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

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By RTHS (registered) - website | Posted June 12, 2015 at 14:42:40

First, wicked job cherry picking those pictures, Ryan - not everyone can twist the argument like a piece of licorice to fit the narrative you're pimping, well done. You're a true artist.

Second - even with the cherry picked photos, you're unable to hide a fairly obvious problem with your claims: there are no homes in any of the pictures (save for one, which has a regular sized turning corner, and a bike lane), of course - but also, the buildings in the area are actually places that require a fair amount of transport truck traffic. Know what that means? Wide turning lanes, for access that doesn't block other vehicles on those corners. It's a necessity. Even closer to Upper Ottawa, you start to see bakeries, a fire services building, etc that all see larger-than-normal vehicles, it's pretty obvious that the roads have to have widened turning lanes for this reason.

Third: Honest question for you: What's wrong with sharing the bike lanes with pedestrians? I'm genuinely curious, and I'm surprised no one has brought this up. In a lot of your other comments and articles you are more or less demanding the city make room on it's roads for cyclists - some of them warranted demands, others not - so I'm wondering, why the objection here?

Permalink | Context

By JimmyS (registered) | Posted June 12, 2015 at 14:54:19 in reply to Comment 112212

Congratulations on your TWO followers after a year in business. Well done.

Smart how you decided to just come and post here. I would too if nobody was reading my site.

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