Special Report: Walkable Streets

Notice of Motion to Put Aberdeen on a Road Diet - Updated

Ward 1 Councillor Aidan Johnson is bringing a motion to review Aberdeen Avenue for a complete street redesign to today's General Issues Committee meeting.

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 18, 2015

This article has been updated.

Ward 1 Councillor Aidan Johnson brought a notice of motion to today's meeting of the General Issues Committee (GIC) to direct staff to review Aberdeen Avenue between Queen Street and Longwood Road for the purpose of implementing a complete street redesign.

I can't link directly to the notice of motion because the city's committee meeting website is broken-by-design, but it's item 10.3 on the agenda.

Normally, a notice of motion must be presented to a committee one meeting prior to the meeting where it is actually introduced for consideration, but Councillors have the option to waive the delay and introduce it immediately. However, the vote to waive the delay failed on a tie vote (votes need 50% + 1 to pass).

Voting with Councillor Johnson were Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr, Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Green, Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla, Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins and Mayor Fred Eisenberger. Not surprisingly, Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead led the opposition.

The vote was not to defeat the motion itself but rather to defeat the request to introduce it without waiting. Councillor Johnson will still be able to introduce the motion next month at the December 2, 2015 GIC meeting.

In support of this motion, Councillor Johnson will be presenting a comprehensive report [PDF] prepared by the Aberdeen Road Diet Community Task Force, a working group of the Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association.

Aberdeen Avenue

Aberdeen Avenue is designated as a minor arterial road that connects the Beckett Drive (Queen Street Hill) Escarpment access with Highway 403, passing Locke Street South and Dundurn Street South along the way.

Aberdeen is 13 metres wide from curb to curb and is currently designed with two wide lanes in each direction, running just inches from the narrow 1.5 metre sidewalks.

The street carries 18,000 vehicles a day, most of it cut-through traffic passing through the neighbourhood. Because there are two lanes in each direction, drivers can pass each other at dangerously high speeds with no physical or space buffer from the sidewalks.

Yet Aberdeen also carries significant pedestrian traffic on those inadequate, unprotected sidewalks. An estimated 234 students walk along Aberdeen to and from Westdale Secondary School each day, in addition to Kirkendall residents walking to the McMaster Innovation Park on Longwood Road.

The road surface is in poor condition, so pedestrians face the additional prospect of getting soaked by splashing water on rainy days.

Aberdeen Avenue on a rainy day (RTH file photo)
Aberdeen Avenue on a rainy day (RTH file photo)

But with just 18,000 vehicles a day, Aberdeen is an excellent candidate for a "road diet" - a street redesign in which some roadway width is repurposed to encourage walking and cycling while still allowing through traffic to proceed at reasonable, safe speeds.

There are a number of possible designs the City can undertake to make Aberdeen safer for everyone without preventing cut-through drivers from using it to get to their destinations.

Streetmix: Aberdeen Avenue with curb parking protected cycle track
Streetmix: Aberdeen Avenue with curb parking protected cycle track

Easy Fix vs. Politics

This should be a no-brainer for the General Issues Committee and Council to approve. The street is terrible for local residents in its current configuration, there is popular local support for a complete streets redesign, the proposed changes are inexpensive to implement, and the street can be made safer for all road users without restricting cut-through traffic. It's a textbook win-win.

However, Ward 8 (West Mountain) Councillor Terry Whitehead has already signalled that he will oppose any change to Aberdeen, because some of his residents use the Garth Street/Beckett Drive/Aberdeen Avenue route to get to Highway 403 and West Hamilton instead of taking the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway, which connects directly to Highway 403.

Whitehead has gone on Twitter on multiple occasions to debate with residents about the need to make Aberdeen safer and more inclusive, claiming that traffic congestion on the route is already unacceptable and that a road diet on Aberdeen would introduce unacceptable delays for his constituents.

However, Beckett Drive is only one lane in each direction and carries over 20,000 vehicles a day - more than Aberdeen. The only slowdowns during rush hour are for turning movements at the intersection of Queen and Aberdeen, and keeping Aberdeen two lanes wide does nothing to speed up those turns.

Queen Street

For northbound traffic, the fact that Queen Street is one-way southbound north of Herkimer forces everyone who wants to proceed northwest to turn left onto Aberdeen.

The traffic signals on Queen are synchronized, so "platoons" of high-speed traffic roar south at regular intervals, interrupted by stretches of emptiness. I took the following photo of Queen last week during afternoon rush hour:

Queen Street South during afternoon rush hour
Queen Street South during afternoon rush hour

This is a profound waste of scarce and expensive roadway.

It is ludicrous to suggest that converting Queen to two-way would somehow produce an unacceptable level of service for people driving vehicles.

If Queen was a normal two-way street, drivers heading northwest on Beckett would have the option to proceed north on Queen, alleviating the backup in the left turn lane onto Aberdeen.

Stanley Avenue

It would also alleviate the cut-through traffic roaring down residential Stanley Avenue, the last street before Herkimer that allows left turns off Queen for northbound vehicles.

Stanley Avenue speed hump (RTH file photo)
Stanley Avenue speed hump (RTH file photo)

The City has had to implement a No Left Turn during morning rush hour and install speed humps on Stanley to try and control the rat-running, which is an avoidable side-effect of keeping Queen one-way.

Garth Street

Meanwhile, at the top of the Escarpment, Garth Street is such a racetrack that Hamilton Police Service routinely sets up speed traps to try and deter speeders.

I was on Garth last week during afternoon rush hour and marvelled at how fast and free-flowing the traffic was. I took the following photo:

Garth Street during afternoon rush hour
Garth Street during afternoon rush hour

Instead of trying to block Ward 1 from making one of its streets more safe and inclusive, Whitehead should be focusing his efforts on improving the safety and inclusiveness of his own ward streets. The biggest problem on Garth is not congestion, it's dangerous speeding!

Harmful Expectations

Hamiltonians have an unreasonable expectation that we should be able to race above the speed limit in free-flowing traffic at all times of the day, even during rush hour. Pampered by the synchronized Green Wave, we are outraged when we encounter a red traffic signal. Having to take a foot off the gas pedal is denounced furiously as "gridlock!"

It would be adorable if it wasn't also responsible for so much harm. Hamilton is the second-most dangerous city in Ontario for pedestrians, and particularly the most vulnerable pedestrians - children and senior citizens.

That in itself should be enough to galvanize our leaders into action. This is substantially the same council, after all, that voted to make "the best place in Canada to raise a child" a core part of its Vision Statement.

Another part of the Vision is to be "the best place in Canada to engage citizens", so it will be interesting to see whether Council supports this community-driven initiative to make Aberdeen a better street for everyone who has to use it.

Text of the Motion

Here is the text of Councillor Johnson's notice of motion:

NOTICE OF MOTION

General Issues Committee: November 18, 2015

MOVED BY COUNCILLOR A. JOHNSON

Full Review of Aberdeen Avenue from Queen Street to Longwood Avenue, respecting the Safety and Operational Characteristics of the Roadway

WHEREAS, concerns have been raised by area residents with respect to pedestrian and bicyclists safety along Aberdeen Avenue from Queen Street to Longwood Avenue;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:

That staff be directed to undertake a full review of Aberdeen Avenue from Queen Street to Longwood Avenue, respecting the safety and operational characteristics of the roadway; with a focus on improvements to meet the request for a more Complete Street and pedestrian friendly design, including consideration for a road-diet, and the recommendations put forward by the Kirkendall Neighbourhood Association Working Group regarding Aberdeen Safety and Road Improvement, and report to the Public Works Committee.


Update: updated to add a link to the report [PDF] prepared by the KNA Aberdeen Task Force.

strong>Update 2: Normally, a Councillor needs to submit a notice of motion 30 days in advance (i.e. a notice this month to bring the motion forward next month), but Councillors can vote to waive the waiting period and consider the motion right away.

At GIC today, the vote to waive the 30 day delay was defeated on a 6-6 tie, which means Councillor Johnson needs to wait until next month's GIC meeting to introduce the motion itself.

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 kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 09:14:49

Over two years ago the Wards 1 and 2 councillors sponsored a resident-led survey of Queen Street to identify any issues that might arise in converting it to 2-way. This was in response to council pushback on various inclusive streets initiatives in the wards:

https://www.raisethehammer.org/article/1...

It would be great to include this work in the Aberdeen request so we look at the streets as a network, rather than piecemeal. The fact that it is now 2.5 years since this work (and even longer since the original councillor-led attempts) should allay any council fears that we are "moving too fast"!

As mentioned before, Bay/Queen are treated as a pair, and Bay south of Main has a speeding problem and is way under capacity (and runs by a primary school) that it should also be folded into the study.

This would provide a lot more options for drivers as well as making better use of road allowance on these three under-capacity streets.

It also aligns with many of the City's official goals (best place to raise a child, encourage active transportation including walking and cycling). (And, note, there is no official City goal to encourage more driving and speeding!)

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-11-18 10:18:43

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 09:26:01 in reply to Comment 114886

The danger of rolling too much into the scope of the study is that it becomes progressively easier for Council to just do nothing instead of making a coordinated set of changes at once, however necessary and well-founded. To put it bluntly, we just aren't very good at strategic planning, so I find myself increasingly inclined to put my chips on tactical wins.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2015-11-18 10:26:24

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By stefancaunter (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 09:26:48

Aberdeen is terribly dangerous due to chillingly uncaring operation of cars. It should be one lane each way, with protected bike lanes, so that walkers (parents with small children) are not 3 feet from speeding cars.

The Ontario municipal system prevents this. Suburban votes outnumber urban votes, like in almost every Ontario "municipality", or more precisely, "collection of disparate competing areas".

I've long since stopped wishing sensible things would get done in Ontario cities, and instead marvel at the tolerance its people have for political insanity. Suburban councillors will lose their "job" if they vote against their area's interests. That is why a "Hamilton" councillor will consistently screw Kirkendall. There is a strong disincentive to act collectively in this system.

Have fun.

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 10:44:24 in reply to Comment 114889

Yeah...sadly I agree

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By stefancaunter (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 14:03:49 in reply to Comment 114895

I've long since stopped wishing sensible things would get done in Ontario cities, and instead marvel at the tolerance its people have for political insanity. Suburban councillors will lose their "job" if they vote against their area's interests. That is why a "Hamilton" councillor will consistently screw Kirkendall. There is a strong disincentive to act collectively in this system.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 14:30:27 in reply to Comment 114917

actually, they won't lose their job. Just attend enough spaghetti dinners and help get cats out of trees and they'll continue to win in a landslide.
They oppose lower city neighbourhoods because they think those areas are low class and don't deserve the same quality of life as outer wards.

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 14:51:52 in reply to Comment 114921

Partly, but like a lot of addictions, suburban living is a habit, and one enabled by friends, family, government, business interests, developers etc. Now try breaking that addiction...

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By driverr (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 09:28:47

Those are some funny pictures, I guess I'm hallucinating when I look around and see all those other cars on the road with me.

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By Look Again (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 09:45:24 in reply to Comment 114890

At rush hour only......not the other 20 hours in a day.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 09:33:03 in reply to Comment 114890

Not at all!

On Hamilton's multi-lane one way streets drivers are are clustered in platoons and so drivers experience their drive as being surrounded by other cars and the street feels busy.

But once the little bunch of cars zooms by, its crickets chirping until the next platoon roars by. And its this gap between the platoons that the photo is showing.

Try walking along Main, King, or Queen for a few blocks rather than driving to see the platoon effect.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-11-18 10:33:28

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 10:06:36 in reply to Comment 114891

Exactly!

Often, Cannon feels busy but I pull over, do a 10 minute streetside video to video the traffic (comparison of cyclists versus car traffic, etc), I've got several moments in the video where there's a 1 minute silence of no vehicles roaring by. What feels like a busy road, often is moving only 80 cars in 10 minutes of offpeak, but feels busy because you were in a platoon of 12 or 13 cars.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 10:25:42

I'd really support a widening of the sidewalks on Aberdeen over bike lanes although having both would be nice. Living in this area I find that Aberdeen is a real barrier between my neighbourhood (Locke / Herkimer) and the one south of Aberdeen (Hillcrest etc).

It's a shame that we are separated by such a huge and dangerous road especially since my son has friends living on both sides and it would be nice to feel safe letting him bike or walk there on his own. Two lanes and wider sidewalks would make the traffic slower, intersections less treacherous and walking on the sidewalk a lot less scary (although Queen takes the cake for that).

There will be bike lanes on Herkimer and Charlton so maybe having wider sidewalks and fewer lanes on Aberdeen will be enough.

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 12:57:02 in reply to Comment 114894

wider sidewalks or bike lanes. Either one and I'm happy. Thank you Ryan and Clr. Johnson.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 11:36:31 in reply to Comment 114894

I would love to see wider sidewalks - ideally, a protected off-street multi-use path could support walking and cycling - but we've been told that cost is a huge factor and pouring new sidewalks is relatively expensive. Protecting the narrow sidewalks from traffic with bike lanes and/or parking is a cost-effective alternative that Council won't be able to reject on the basis of being unaffordable.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 12:36:37 in reply to Comment 114901

Ah, that is true.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 11:00:22 in reply to Comment 114894

this is the same issue felt throughout the lower city. Neighbourhoods split by massive roads that don't belong in urban neighbourhoods. Main, King, Cannon, York, Aberdeen etc....

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 11:18:39 in reply to Comment 114897

Brings to mind the footbridge that was built over the tracks just North of HAAA off Pearl st. Since we've lived here I had never walked in the Canada St area (only down Locke to go to Rolly Rockets). Now we do it frequently - awesome for trainspotting - nothing makes a kids day more than a train giving him a honk!

And yes for sure Main and King are just like walls. Maybe not for an adult so much but for kids just no way.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 13:39:18 in reply to Comment 114900

Now we do it frequently

Induced demand in action! It's not just for vehicle traffic.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 13:45:47 in reply to Comment 114914

My favourite induced demand example nowadays is the Cannon cycle tracks. At least 600 cyclists now, versus roughly zero before (read: no one bothered counting how many were cycling there before because it wouldn't have been worth counting).

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 14:06:03 in reply to Comment 114916

Has anyone (e.g. the City) actually been counting bikes on the Cannon bike lanes on an ongoing basis? I imagine use has grown over time.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 19:11:16 in reply to Comment 114919

Yes, and the count was reported by Daryl Bender at the last Hamilton Cycling Committee meeting. I'll dig up my notes and post the numbers.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 14:48:29 in reply to Comment 114919

There are automated counters installed in the cycle tracks.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 20, 2015 at 09:06:25 in reply to Comment 114925

No there are no bicycle counters on the Cannon bike lanes and have not been since the original temporary counters were vandalized soon after the bike lanes opened.

However, the City is planning to install permanent automated counters and they should be operational in the next few weeks. This will provide very useful data on how the bike lanes are used.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-11-20 10:07:09

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 20, 2015 at 10:07:43 in reply to Comment 114975

I'm sure I saw a second round of counting alongside Sir John A or thereabouts this summer.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 20, 2015 at 10:20:05 in reply to Comment 114978

Sorry, what I said was a bit misleading.

There were actually three attempts to collect data this year, in May, July and August, but two were disrupted by vandalism of the counters and so the results were not statistically useful. There was also a count just after opening in late September/early October 2014.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-11-20 11:22:35

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 20, 2015 at 09:07:42 in reply to Comment 114975

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 20, 2015 at 09:18:25 in reply to Comment 114976

No: I don't think it will display to passerby or have realtime data. But the results will be published regularly in City reports.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 20, 2015 at 10:37:22 in reply to Comment 114977

I've lived here long enough to see where this is going to go. The same as the bus lane pilot. The city refused to collect data the year prior to the bike lane installation despite being asked, and now a full year of use in warm weather we still don't have real data.

Council is hillbilly-ish as a whole when it comes to anything non-car, and will justify ending the project due to lack of 'real evidence that anyone is using it'.

The same staff who have been saying they can't touch the road network in the lower city since 2007 because LRT is coming by 2024 will suddenly find a way to quickly rip up a pilot bike lane project just like they did with the bus lane. I've never seen a city hall department move more quickly than during the bus lane removal.

Yes We Cannon should be mobilizing for the bigger fight of the two - seeing the pilot project come and go without the lane being returned to speeding cars.

Comment edited by JasonL on 2015-11-20 11:38:42

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 14:31:15 in reply to Comment 114919

what do you think? Lol

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 11:03:41

Completely unrelated but I think the RTH server is off by an hour. Obviously hasn't caused any issues with web services ( if any ) but just in case issues arise this might be a cause...

Notice the post is 12:03.

Comment edited by ergopepsi on 2015-11-18 12:04:17

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 30, 2015 at 20:57:56 in reply to Comment 114898

Well, that took longer than I hoped but I've corrected the comment post times ever since DST ended on November 1. Again, thanks for pointing out the error.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted November 30, 2015 at 22:56:34 in reply to Comment 115250

Hey, running this site can't be all fun and games ;)

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 11:37:27 in reply to Comment 114898

Good catch - thanks for pointing this out. I'll try to correct it this evening.

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By BobBob (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 11:12:29

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2015 at 01:44:18 in reply to Comment 114899

Say again?
Stop staring at that empty poorly-connected unsafe suburban bike lane, and turn your head a bit.

Toronto's College Street has had more bikes than cars:

Imgur

Even New York City has an explosion of bike use, after they added improved bike infrastructure:

Imgur

Heck, Amsterdam in the 70s used to be less bike-friendly than today's Hamilton!

Imgur

And even Toronto's Sherbourne luxury bike lanes (when they first openned) had less bike traffic than our Cannon Bike Lanes. But ever since Queens Quay bike paths opened and the new Richmond/Adelaide cycle track; the Sherbourne bike lanes have picked up. I expect our Cannon bike lanes to continue to pick up traffic as we improve cycle infrastructure, helped along by the @CycleHamilton advocacy.

Now stop shaking your head whenever you drive past an empty suburban token painted line masquerading as a bike lane.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-11-19 02:45:07

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 12:53:37 in reply to Comment 114899

Except that, oops, cold, wintery cities like Denver, Minneapolis and Montreal have some of the highest cycling modal shares in North America. How did they do that?

Denver doubled its bicycle commute modal share from 1.6% to 2.9% between 2007 and 2012. That increase exactly matches the increase in cycling infrastructure over the same period:

Denver bike lane miles and number of cycling commuters, 2007-2012

Likewise, Minneapolis has steadily been building a network of high quality bike lanes and their bicycle mode share has been steadily growing.

In Montreal, where cycling has been higher than the North American average since the first protected two-way cycle track was built back in 1985 (yes, that's how far we are behind the leading edge), they have a network of over 300 km of protected cycle tracks and a mode share as high as 9% in some boroughs.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 19:38:32 in reply to Comment 114908

Here's a video of the morning commute in Oulu, Finland, a city with a population of 190,000 and a cycling mode share of 22%. Oulu is 200 km south of the Arctic Circle. Notice the temperature displayed in this video. Yes, -30 degrees. It doesn't seem to stop anyone from cycling.

And here's another video of people in the winter shopping by bike in Oulu.

The reason why so many people ride all winter long is due to correct protective infrastructure that is properly maintained.

They do it in a lot worse weather than Hamilton. We can too!

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2015-11-18 20:49:53

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By jorvay (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 12:10:19 in reply to Comment 114899

Funny thing about common sense is that it can be subjective. I thought it was common sense to buy a house near where I work and save about $8,000 a year by riding a bike instead of buying a second car and driving.

About 30-40% of cyclists ride year round (I assume this is referring to commuting cyclists). http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/winter-cyc... I use bike lanes in this city year-round for my daily commute during the peaks of both morning and afternoon rush hour. Even in a blizzard, there are numerous bike tire tracks on the lanes before I get there. Also, as I see the peak traffic volumes along streets in this city every day, I can say with a tonne of confidence that none of the bike lanes in the lower city have any significant impact on traffic congestion. Cars move freely and catch virtually every light on the timed-light streets. The only place I ever see actual traffic is on the 403 as I pass over it. Bike lanes cost a comically small amount compared to road lanes before you even start to factor in the difference in cost of parking, maintenance, and collision resolution.

And really, blaming bike lanes for pollution because of increased auto traffic congestion is like blaming a medical researcher for the loss of hospice jobs because they cured a fatal disease.

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By Bobbob (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 16:42:55 in reply to Comment 114905

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2015 at 12:37:49 in reply to Comment 114938

SoBi has crowdsourced bike rebalancing (you get paid to return bike to a station) which helps to an extent. In the future, you could get a bigger reward when bringing a bike back uphill, e.g. bringing a bike back up the Mountain.

SoBi also breaks even at only 1-2 rides per bike per day, while BIXI requires something like 4 rides per bike per day.

SoBi Hamilton currently has more than 7300 members, while having the operating cost of only 1 public transit bus! On some low-capacity suburban bus routes, fewer distinct regular users per year use that bus route. And Hamilton out-bikeshared Toronto (Toronto newspaper article!). I'd say our SoBi system is an unqualified success.

Also, families do ride bikes in Montreal. Not a huge number, but some now do. And even more families do in Amsterdam/Copahagen even much more regularly. Not saying it would happen that much in Hamilton this generation, but there is a great deal of improvement available in local cycle infrastructure.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-11-19 13:46:53

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By jorvay (registered) | Posted November 19, 2015 at 09:01:41 in reply to Comment 114938

I've actually spent a good deal of time biking in Montreal. It is far-and-away the best urban cycling experience I've ever had. The bike routes are complete, logical, and extensive. The other thing I experienced for the first time biking there is a phenomenon that is getting talked about more and more: when cycling becomes more common, all road users (on foot, bike, or auto) learn to co-operate better on the road and things get smoother. I couldn't believe how predictable everyone was and how well traffic meshed there. It was refreshing.

Also, my bike cost about the same as 10 tanks of fuel in a mid-sized SUV and can carry my two children and a full load of groceries.

And don't give us any nonsense about not being able to live close to work. Sure, that's true for a lot of people, but for many others, it's a choice they've made. There are so many that choose to live further from work, and in Hamilton, actually pay a premium on housing to do so. Hamilton's farthest-reaching suburbs are some of the most expensive options in the city, so don't tell me that those folks have to drive because it's the only option. They chose that lifestyle and I'm sick of paying the price for it living in a community that gets abused for their convenience.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2015 at 02:03:55 in reply to Comment 114938

There are lots of people who can't drive (or won't) and we have no accommodations for them. It's really sad. We will all be in their place one day. And since so few people exercise, many of us will be there sooner rather than later.

Additionally. your assumptions about idling cars causing more pollution than high speed traffic is numerically false.

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By Pleeaaassse (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 16:51:33 in reply to Comment 114938

"......causing hardship to the majority for the minority is not what we should be doing." What a load.

Hang in there dinosaur. Change is inevitable. This city is going broke clinging to it's mid 20th century car centric approach to planning. It can't last.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 13:43:18 in reply to Comment 114905

blaming bike lanes for pollution because of increased auto traffic congestion is like blaming a medical researcher for the loss of hospice jobs because they cured a fatal disease

I am SO stealing this analogy for future use. Brilliant.

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By MichaelHealey (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 12:03:25 in reply to Comment 114899

If you are suggesting "hardly anyone" uses them year-round in Canada due to climate - check the stats for intra-city bike trips vs. car trips in Montreal, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Eindhoven, all with weather categorically similar to, or more severe than, Hamilton.

The research clearly shows ridership increases when safety for riders increases. Take a look at this rush-hour image from Copenhagen - lots of bikes, no vehicular congestion.Good infrastructure reduces number of car trips and eases congestion.

http://bit.ly/1Mt6rqh

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By stefancaunter (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 14:04:55 in reply to Comment 114904

People in Amsterdam ride bikes while carrying umbrellas :)

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By stefancaunter (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 12:02:26 in reply to Comment 114899

Probably because Canadians (I'm one) spend their time watching TV (I don't), which tells them cars are status symbols and have absolute dominance over any other transportation system. And no one questions this.

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By E_Sharp (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 12:40:11

Question about the comparison of Beckett Drive and Aberdeen, re: the ability to handle upwards of 20,000 vehicles. Am I incorrect in thinking that Beckett does not have any of the right-hand turns that Aberdeen does? Meaning, there are no cross streets across Beckett, no reason for any cars to slow traffic while making a turn. Doesn't this negate the comparison?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 13:00:04 in reply to Comment 114907

First of all, it is not reasonable to maintain Aberdeen as a racetrack merely so no one ever has to slow down to let someone in front of them make a turn.

Even so, it's correct that Beckett Drive doesn't have any turns between Auchmar and Glenfern, but nearly all of the vehicle traffic on Aberdeen is cut-through rather than local. We saw that firsthand during the closure of Beckett Drive in the summer of 2013, when you could stand in the middle of Aberdeen during rush hour and not see a vehicle on the road for several minutes at a stretch.

Aberdeen Avenue in late rush hour during Beckett Drive closure

Of course, there will be some turning movements, which can be accommodated with turn lanes applied selectively. The biggest slowdowns happen right at Aberdeen and Queen, and a big part of that - especially for northbound traffic - is the fact that Queen shifts to one-way southbound at Herkimer and cannot accommodate any traffic bound toward the northwest.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2015 at 07:11:06 in reply to Comment 114910

I had the pleasure (not) of driving along Stonechurch between Upper Wellington and Upper Ottawa last night at 4:30. They have reduced the road from 4 lanes to two with two bike lanes and one centre turning lane as you know (much like Ryan is proposing here for Aberdeen.) Literally, car lights stretched in both directions as far as I could see. I had to stop for multiple light changes at each intersection. I didn't time it but it took a long time. I didn't see one bike. There are vast stretches of turning lane where there is nothing to turn into as there are actually no driveways or roads to turn into.

I make three observations:

  1. There was a lot of wasted infrastructure. (empty unused road while the two lanes were massively congested.)
  2. There was a lot of wasted time (all those people trudging along when they could have driven in the empty space)
  3. Those cars were sitting around spewing a lot of unnecessary pollution.

I don't know if it is always like that because I rarely go up there, but I drove back along the Linc and it was worse. Maybe it is only busy because the Linc needs more lanes. A cheap and easy solution would be to put back the two lanes.

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2015-11-21 08:12:05

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 21, 2015 at 09:08:01 in reply to Comment 114991

that's def not typical. I've driven that area many times over the years during rush hour. Here is the typical 4:30pm traffic for a Wed eve along that corridor:

https://goo.gl/maps/riDm7vxHxER2

I'm with you re: centre turn lanes. They are among the biggest space wasters in the city. Left turns at stop-lights makes sense, but these unused centre lanes aren't needed.

I'd prefer us start building our streets like every other single proper city and add transit lanes city-wide. Narrowing the traffic lanes on Stonechurch and removing the centre lane would free up 2 lanes worth of space I'm willing to bet. Transit/HOV lanes would be the thing to add in, but we know what council will think of that idea.

EDIT: it appears Google defaults to the current live traffic on the map. Click 'typical traffic' at the bottom for the entire week.

Comment edited by JasonL on 2015-11-21 10:09:00

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2015 at 19:04:49 in reply to Comment 114993

OK. I must have been living in a bubble. Just went to T.O. for the first time in years. 4:45 p.m. on a Saturday. Took me 45 minutes to get on the Gardiner from Bloor and Avenue Road, then about 30 minutes to the 427. Stop and go from 427 to Mississauga Rd. Hamilton, even Stonechurch as above, is a dream come true.

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2015-11-21 20:10:40

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 21, 2015 at 21:21:14 in reply to Comment 114996

agreed. Waiting a few light sequences at 4:30 on a weekday shouldn't be something a city dweller even considers complaining about. The Stonechurch trip probably takes an extra 2-5 minutes at that time of day compared with the rest of the day.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 13:39:15 in reply to Comment 114910

In fairness to E_sharp, I don't think he was suggesting that Aberdeen should be designed in such a way that no one ever has to slow down. I think the point he was making is that Beckett can carry 20,000 vehicles per day on one lane per direction without problems (and perhaps too easily at that, given the observation of a speed board at the bottom of the hill recently) precisely because there are no accesses or side streets between Auchmar and Glenfern. So comparing Aberdeen to Beckett is not a great apples to apples comparison. I had a similar thought.

Luckily, a road diet for Aberdeen can easily accommodate the fact that there are several side streets and private driveways by providing a continuous two-way-left-turn lane in the centre of the road. This is one of the key reasons why a road diet works and does not negatively impact vehicular traffic: left turning vehicles are removed from general purpose through lanes and don't obstruct traffic flow otherwise.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 14:33:40 in reply to Comment 114913

and let's all be honest here, 99.9% of drivers will use the centre turning lane to pass drivers waiting to turn right when the centre lane is empty, as they always are.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 20, 2015 at 14:33:02 in reply to Comment 114923

The question is whether we'll be getting a monsterwide 3.2 meter center turning lane perfectly fit for a semi trailer (like on some parts of Cannon), or a more sane 2.9 meter center turning lane. Aberdeen isn't supposed to be big-truck route.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 13:20:09

Any bets on whether cclr Whitehead will either

a) request that this plan be expanded to cover Garth up to Mohawk, or

b) vote this down?

Edit: of course, yes, he was against it and argued at length against it

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2015-11-18 14:27:44

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By stefancaunter (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 16:54:24 in reply to Comment 114911

I have no idea who the councillors are, but they will always vote for their area, and Ontario pits areas against each other. There is no local representation where people in a town decide what happens in that town.

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By about aidan & this (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 13:36:46

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By NortheastWind (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 14:52:10

I'm all for complete streets and 2-way streets, but please show pictures of how busy Queen Street really is during afternoon rush. "Rush hour" in Hamilton used to be between 3 - 4 p.m., as it was the end of the traditional factory shift of 3 p.m. Commuters these days get back into the city from 4 - 6 p.m. I drive Queen St. all the time when coming home from work and it is always very busy and often backed up at Aberdeen. Also, the westbound lanes of the Linc were closed about two weeks ago because of a overturned truck and Garth was jammed with traffic from the Linc to Beckett drive, as is always the case when they close the Linc.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2015 at 06:14:27 in reply to Comment 114927

I took that photo at 4:00 PM. Here are some more photos I took yesterday between 4:42 and 4:44 PM:

Queen Street South, 4:42 PM

Queen Street South, 4:43 PM

Queen Street South, 4:44 PM

The rush-hour traffic pattern of synchronized one-way streets is a platoon of cars all roaring down the street together, followed by an empty gap. If you're driving inside the platoon, it feels busy all the time but for someone not in a car, the street alternates between roaring traffic and ghostly silence.

The "windshield perspective" completely misses the lived experience of people not in cars, and it obscures the fact that the current system leaves our streets almost completely empty for 50% of the time, even during peak driving periods.

That is an astonishing waste of scarce, expensive resources when we could carry the same volume of cars at a more reasonable speed on fewer vehicle lanes, freeing up space to accommodate more walking and cycling and making the street safer for everyone - including people in cars.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2015-11-19 07:15:44

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By jorvay (registered) | Posted November 23, 2015 at 08:39:41 in reply to Comment 114951

Who is that handsome devil on the bike?

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 19, 2015 at 11:00:16 in reply to Comment 114951

Wow...if those pics don't spell 'catastrophe' I don't know what does

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 18, 2015 at 15:30:40 in reply to Comment 114927

We're talking about the 1-way section from King to Herkimer. You're thinking of the 2-way section from Herkimer to Aberdeen.

The Herkimer to Aberdeen section can and should probably stay as-is. The backup at Aberdeen is unavoidable because you have 2 lanes of traffic trying to fit onto the 1-lane Beckett Drive at a very complicated intersection.

The idea is that King to Herkimer component could become 2-way, allowing northbound drivers getting off the Beckett Drive mountain access to continue North.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 15:04:41 in reply to Comment 114927

any time a freeway is closed due to an overturned truck anywhere, it causes slowdowns. I was in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania a couple years ago and a massive crash closed the interstate we were on. It was slow for hours. Literally in the middle of nowhere. Google Traffic data shows Queen may get 'busier' but never slowed down or congested. I've used it for 15 years and have never seen it congested except during a blizzard or massive crash in the area.

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By M (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 15:07:07

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted November 19, 2015 at 07:50:56 in reply to Comment 114929

If traffic becomes bad on Aberdeen, people will just suck it up and use the freeway (which is what it was designed for). In the mean time, Aberdeen will become better for all the people who don't want to drive on it (which is what a local street is supposed to be designed for).

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 19, 2015 at 09:00:10 in reply to Comment 114952

I love all these people who yell and scream that we need more highways, then they won't use them. Enough with letting them dictate (read: ruin) how we build our city.

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By NOPQ (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 16:39:19 in reply to Comment 114929

Early, catastrophe? Don't be ridiculous. You must be one of those spoiled Hamilton drivers who thinks traffic on the highway in rush hour is a crime against humanity.

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By Sprawl (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 16:22:05 in reply to Comment 114929

That's the cost of sprawl.....congestion because you need your car for everything. I chose to buy a home in Durand walking distance from my work. Why am I expected to have my neighbourhood hollowed out for cars? I'll bet you my property taxes are higher than most surbanites.

If you choose to live far from where you work, don't expect others to sacrifice the quality of their neighbourhoods just to placate selfish car drivers.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 15:12:32 in reply to Comment 114929

much data and analysis has gone into the plan for Aberdeen. As well as learning from the best practices in other cities. Aberdeen carries 17,000-18,000 cars each day. The 3-lane design being proposed can carry up to 25,000 cars per day with no problems. This is the defacto road diet alignment in Seattle when dealing with streets with less than 25,000 cars per day. All the short-cutters won't be impacted. Only those who like to do 80 down a residential street inches from kids walking home from school. And they shouldn't be welcomed in any neighbourhood anyhow.

Comment edited by JasonL on 2015-11-18 16:13:41

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By M (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 15:55:32 in reply to Comment 114930

You can do all the data analysis you want but it doesn't take into account WHY people are coming down the mountain to use Aberdeen to get to the 403. Fix that problem and you won't need to spend any money on Aberdeen cause you'll drop from the 18k cars each day to like five thousand local cars and you'll get the thanks of a lot more people in addition to the people who walk along Aberdeen.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted November 19, 2015 at 07:55:46 in reply to Comment 114933

Lol fixing Aberdeen would require paint and maybe some bollards, but you are proposing to save money by rebuiding a freeway interchange.

And by the way, the problem on Aberdeen is not so much the volume of traffic as the speed of traffic. Reducing the traffic levels without changing the actual street design would be counter productive as it would allow drivers to travel even faster.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 16:08:56 in reply to Comment 114933

Residents who live near the Linc/403 should badger their councillors to fix that.
Likewise, folks who live along Aberdeen are working to improve their neighbourhood.

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By Bay South (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 15:53:58

I live on Bay South, I drive my car on hamilton streets, I drive my car to work in Toronto sometimes when I need to go to the office, I drive my car to Costco (Queen - Aberdeen - 403).

I walk my kids to school and avoid walking Aberdeen -> Dundurn.

So - I drive and I walk.

Aberdeen plan as described - great idea. My trip to costco will take 4 - 5 minutes longer. That is ok. Walking my kids to school will be nicer.

Bus lane on King - tiny pain when I drove Bay - Dundurn in the morning, but, what a pleasure when I took the Go Bus to Union.

Funny thing about driving - you can always pick another route.

On another note - can hamilton fix LINC to 403? If people merged properly, and didn't jump into the right off ramp lane that ends at 403 creating two merge spots in less than .25kms? If this was fixed, the flow of traffic wouldn't back up in the mornings.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 16:05:13

I have seen road diets work amazingly well, spectacularly fail and some have no effect on the present conditions either way. It all depends on the final design, the honest acceptance of a road's real existing and future expected traffic volumes and how the right of way redesign effects and or changes traffic flow. However, the best way to guarantee that any given road becomes a candidate for a "Diet", is to make sure that it also is in desperate need for a complete rebuild of below grade infrastructure. The cost of doing these projects separately makes it necessary to combine various projects. In my professional planning capacity, around 90% of road and or transit projects also require at the least, a complete Gas Line installation or upgrade , water main, storm and sanitary sewer main replacement or all 4 done at the same time before new transportation infrastructure work can even begin. The need for upgraded wired infrastructure, burying above grade hydro lines, updating phone and or cable TV lines, also aids in this as well.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2015 at 15:15:17 in reply to Comment 114934

Or an impending LRT. This forces the underground infrastructure rebuild to be accelerated a few years ahead of schedule because otherwise it becomes too prohibitively expensive to service the infrastructure underneath the tracks.

Main/King 2-way!

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By ArmChair PM (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 18:49:01

Very interesting read. As someone who traded in a daily commute to Mississauga for a daily walk from Kirkendall to downtown where I now work; I have several stories highlighting how unsafe walking is in the city. Just this morning, I was crossing Hughson at Main and had to stop in the middle of the cross walk to defend against a driver who not only violated the cross walk but also blew right into the right lane on Main Street. When the light turned green this car careened around the corner and into the courthouse. I guess that extra 5 minutes at the light was too much for him to bear!

My favourite incident happened at Aberdeen and Queen. I cross here everyday and usually catch the light in the same sequence. I wait for the advanced green for the traffic heading left from Queen onto Aberdeen (heading towards the 403) to change to a solid green. The cars heading up Beckett on this solid green block the cars turning left; leaving me only to worry about the odd impatient driver trying to turn right from Aberdeen onto Beckett. (a death stare is usually enough to stop them from advancing)

One day last month, I got to the cross walk when the light was already solid green and there were no cars heading up Beckett. I had the white walk sign and headed into the intersection. I was about half way across when a car made a screeching left turn from Beckett in front of me; and the guy yelled "green light, buddy". I'm sorry, I guess I will cross on a RED next time. My personal opinion is that the customized sequence at this light should be removed as drivers obviously can't figure out when they need to yield.

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By And (anonymous) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 20:17:00 in reply to Comment 114941

My wife and I were crossing Charlton at Caroline from the northwest corner recently. A minivan northbound on Caroline was waiting to turn left onto Charlton......of course he was only looking to his right (afterall this is the only direction cars are coming from) once there was a break in traffic he turned the corner swerving to miss running me over since I was crossing the road. My wife sensed he wouldn't look left before turning so she stood back.

She raised her arms in a what are you thinking gesture.......he began yelling at her that we should be crossing from the southeast corner??????

The sense of entitlement, even when in the wrong, is a hallmark of too many Hamilton drivers.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 18, 2015 at 19:12:26 in reply to Comment 114941

I was cycling home from a long ride last week and wanted to stop off at Dundurn Market. Coming north on Dundurn, I got off my bike at Aberdeen and walked it, with green light and white walking guy across to the NW corner where Dundurn Market is instead of riding my bike on the sidewalk, or on the wrong side of Dundurn. Some goofball had started to turn right from SB Dundurn onto WB Aberdeen but a firetruck a block ahead had Aberdeen stopped. He couldn't move and was blocking the crosswalk. I didn't pay this much attention as I could see the fire truck lights ahead so I walked my bike through the cars to the other corner when he rolled his window down and started yelling like a maniac that the red flashing hand had popped up while I was crossing Aberdeen. I wasn't sure if this was a joke, but clearly he was losing his marbles so I pointed out that he had attempted to make a turn when the intersection wasn't clear and he was now blocking the crosswalk. His response was to roll up his window and keep yelling to himself.
Entitled much?

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By Armchair PM (anonymous) | Posted November 19, 2015 at 09:36:17 in reply to Comment 114943

'Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience' - Mark Twain

:)

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted November 21, 2015 at 10:46:46 in reply to Comment 114956

Perhaps we should have a tab devoted to some of these behaviours. I am generally not a fan of public shaming, since it can quickly devolve into a pitchfork waiving mob mentality. However, there is a real attitude that many drivers seem to have which is quite dangerous, while once in a while, people surprise you. The other day, we were approaching the infamous Christ the King - King and 403 overpass. It was pitch dark and a pickup truck driver actually stopped, flashed his lights, and allowed 3 cyclists and one pedestrian to cross a this indefensibly dangerous intersection. Don't know if anyone else noticed this, but the extra knock down sticks and extended solid white line make things worse, as drivers become confused and swerve onto the onramp at 60-70 km/h over the ped/bike crossing at the last second.

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By stefancaunter (registered) - website | Posted November 19, 2015 at 09:42:19

An easy solution to the "racing past schoolchildren and mothers" problem is to just keep the parked cars on the North side. It is what has worked in Toronto for years. Queen St. E. becomes a race course for the 90 minutes you cannot park there, but there are always cars parked blocking the speeding (which kind of adds to the rage and carelessness).

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted November 19, 2015 at 17:14:03 in reply to Comment 114957

Why do we allow free parking on Aberdeen at all? Free parking is a huge expensive subsidy. People with cars should pay for their own parking. As pointed out here, roadways are hugely expensive infrastructure. They should be reserved for moving vehicles (of all types.)

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted November 19, 2015 at 21:38:25 in reply to Comment 114966

I actually agree with Charles on this one. With all of the competing demands for space on this road, free parking is hard to justify.

More generally, free (or cheap) parking for residents is one thing that downtown neighbourhoods are going to need to be willing to sacrifice in order to get complete streets.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted November 19, 2015 at 22:36:43 in reply to Comment 114967

I think there's a place for both. Look at all the street parking in TO, combined with their general refusal for front parking pads. The result is urban streets with amazing tree canopies. Here we have urban streets with cars barely off the sidewalk. Street parking is much preferred to me over surface parking. It acts as a pedestrian buffer, and also is being requested by the businesses in the Aberdeen/Dundurn area.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 20, 2015 at 06:22:24 in reply to Comment 114968

That's my thinking as well: we can't discount the way curbside parking helps pay for itself by protecting pedestrians from moving vehicle traffic. There is certainly a point of density at which it no longer makes sense to keep curbside parking "free", but I'm not sure we're there yet on Aberdeen.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2015-11-20 07:22:34

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted November 21, 2015 at 07:27:46 in reply to Comment 114970

There are better ways to protect pedestrians.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted November 20, 2015 at 10:21:23 in reply to Comment 114970

Well, I'll acknowledge that it's more complicated than I indicated in my earlier comment.

I take Jason's point about the problems with parking pads. The other option is to reallocate the parking lane to a wider sidewalk on one side and a physical buffer for the bike lane on the other side, either or both of which might permit tree planting. The tradeoff would be the pressure to install parking pads, which might make the global outcome worse, particularly if you end up with curb cuts along the entire length of the cycle track like on Cannon.

The conflict between local demand for on-street parking and other road uses is real, however, and it can lead to some pretty silly outcomes (e.g. residents opposing infill development projects because of the pressure that will result on surface parking.) When shortages occur (as is already the case in some downtown areas, if not along Aberdeen), parking pricing is the best way to allocate the scarce resource.

I'll freely acknowledge that when I was involved in a project to push for a similar redesign of Mary Street (where I live) last year, we deliberately didn't touch the existing allocation of street space to parking, because that's the easiest way to get neighbours upset about a street redesign.

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