Special Report: Walkable Streets

Yet Another Pedestrian Fatality: When Will Council Commit to Safe Streets?

It is not a coincidence that senior citizens are disproportionately represented among the victims or that so many of these deadly collisions happen on wide, multi-lane thoroughfares designed to maximize the flow of automobile traffic.

By Ryan McGreal
Published December 14, 2015

Just before 10:00 AM on Friday, December 11, 81-year-old Mara Balach was crossing Queenston Road northbound in the crosswalk at Reid Avenue when a driver turning left from Reid Avenue southbound onto Queenston Road eastbound crashed into her.

Queenston Road and Reid Avenue (Image Credit: Google Maps)
Queenston Road and Reid Avenue (Image Credit: Google Maps)

Paramedics arrived and transferred Ms. Balach to hospital with life-threatening injuries. She died later that day.

Hamilton Police are still investigating the collision but note that charges are pending. Any witnesses are encouraged to contact Detective Matt Hewko at 905-546-4755.

A Spectator article posted on Friday describes a lively, neighbourly woman, an avid walker and gardener who was well-known in her community.

Dangerous by Design

This is only the latest in a long chain of tragedies in which the most vulnerable people using Hamilton's streets to get around and live their lives are being struck, maimed and killed by people driving cars.

It immediately follows a collision with a pedestrian at Barton and Catharine, a collision with a cyclist on Claremont Access, and a collision with a pedestrian on York Boulevard who was walking on the sidewalk.

And while it is proper for the police to investigate this incident and lay charges as applicable, we must not lose sight of the all-important context in which these deadly collisions are taking place: Hamilton's network of fast, dangerous, auto-centric streets.

It is not a coincidence that senior citizens are disproportionately represented among the victims or that so many of these deadly collisions happen on wide, multi-lane thoroughfares designed to maximize the flow of automobile traffic.

Queenston Road at Reid Avenue (Image Credit: Google Street View)
Queenston Road at Reid Avenue (Image Credit: Google Street View)

Queenston Road is a five-lane "stroad" - a common form of street/road hybrid that is lined with residences and retail businesses but designed for fast, high-volume vehicle traffic with only token accommodation for people not in cars.

That mixture of high-speed vehicle through traffic and local pedestrians - often vulnerable senior citizens and children - is deadly-by-design.

It's why we keep seeing deadly collisions on Hamilton's stroads - bloated, unpleasant traffic sewers like Highway 8 and Green Road, Rymal and Upper Centennial, Mohawk Road and Cootes Drive.

And as Hamilton's population continues to age, this will only get worse unless we act. People are living longer and age brings particular challenges: loss of eyesight and hearing, slower reaction speed, declining agility and balance, increased susceptibility to injury in a fall or collision and so on.

In addition, as more older residents lose the ability to drive, access to safe, pedestrian-friendly streets becomes increasingly essential to manage day-to-day activities - including basic human contact.

Injuries are Preventable

The state of affairs we find on Hamilton's street network is not normal, and it's definitely not okay. Hamilton is already an outlier among Ontario cities with a pedestrian injury rate 42 percent higher than the provincial average and a cycling injury rate 81 percent higher. We have the dubious distinction of being the second-most dangerous city in Ontario for pedestrians.

The first step we need to take toward preventing further tragedies is to adopt the position that they are preventable in the first place - a position not everyone accepts, because it's a lot easier to train-and-blame than it is to do the work of designing for safety.

The Ontario Coroner's 2012 Report on Pedestrian Deaths calls for a "road safety paradigm shift" based on the core principle behind the Vision Zero approach to road safety. That principle is encapsulated in the World Health Organization's World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention:

The vulnerability of the human body should be a limiting design parameter for the traffic system, and speed management is central. [emphasis in original]

A human body can only survive so much external damage from a collision, and it only makes sense that we should design our streets in order to control the speed and movement of the dangerous, heavy vehicles that are causing that violence.

The Ontario Coroner recommends that cities adopt a "complete streets" policy to design streets to be safe, accessible and inclusive for everyone, with lower legal speed limits supported by speed reduction road design strategies that force drivers to slow down.

Police enforcement by itself is a band-aid, not a solution. The street design itself must deter and discourage dangerous speeding.

Resistance to Change

In Hamilton, this recommended "road safety paradigm shift" is encountering some stiff resistance from the guardians of the status quo, which has produced a deadly legacy of city streets designed for 70-100 km/h by mostly regarding people not in cars as obstacles to 'traffic flow'.

In January, Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead plans to bring forward a staggeringly cynical motion that would declare a moratorium on new complete streets projects across the entire lower city - in other words, a moratorium on exactly the kinds of changes that are needed to prevent more pedestrian fatalities.

Proposed area of moratorium on any new street safety improvement measures (Image Credit: Google Maps)
Proposed area of moratorium on any new street safety improvement measures (Image Credit: Google Maps)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Transportation staff are also resisting the "road safety paradigm shift", as embracing it would mean acknowledging that the status quo needs to change.

At the General Issues Committee meeting on December 2, eight delegations spoke about the need to make Aberdeen Avenue safer and more inclusive and Councillors spent two hours debating before agreeing to study a possible complete streets redesign a year from now. (So much for the "Ambitious City".)

During the delegation by Haider Saeed, a medical doctor who spoke about safe street design, the SPRC Report on Hamilton's dangerous streets was mentioned and Councillor Whitehead asked transportation staff about it. The transportation manager replied, "We have reviewed it and we question it."

I contacted both Councillor Whitehead and staff to ask if they have any specific critique about the report, which is quite careful and rigorous and is based on ten years' worth of collision data. The staff response was, "We want to review [the] data because it doesn't reflect what we have and we need to improve our understanding of it."

The good news is that staff will be meeting with Sara Mayo, the author of the report, to discuss it in person (she offered to meet with them more than a year ago when the report came up previously) - but it was a cheap shot to "question" the report during the public meeting without presenting any analysis.

We will never change until we get out of our own way and accept that the status quo is not working. We need our political leaders to embrace a Vision Zero approach to road safety, and we need our staff to buy into that vision and put it into practice.

Instead, we get the spectacle of Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson, Chair of the Police Services Board, trying to contradict the evidence of dangerous speeding on the Red Hill Valley Parkway/Lincolm M. Alexander Parkway with an anecdote of himself deliberately exceeding the legal speed limit by 19 km/h.

Ironically, the point of Councillor Ferguson's stunt was an attempt to challenge a consultant report that recorded high levels of dangerous speeding on the Red Hill Valley Parkway/Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway, including 500 cars a day going 140 km/h (the speed limit is 90 km/h).

You really can't make this stuff up.

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 outcry (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 12:02:20

Bastards.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 13:23:51

Hamilton: best place to raise the speed limit

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By Damn the Data (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 13:52:36

Funny (not really) how whenever they get a report whose data they don't like they just question it and dismiss it. Stats schmats.

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By P Graefe (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 21:11:16 in reply to Comment 115635

Oddly, most of the data for the report comes from the city through its various reporting requirements.
So they throw the report under the bus, when really they should have said that they misreported the data to the public and other governments?

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 14:28:09

“The vulnerability of the human body should be a limiting design parameter for the traffic system…”

This is a key principle of both the Dutch “Sustainable Safety” traffic design infrastructure planning and Ontario Ministry of Labour’s industrial accident prevention system.

But, of course, we are in Hamilton. As soon as someone steps out of a factory, their life is no longer worth protecting. Too bad.

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By Sueem (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 14:44:32

Anyone know how much it might cost to hire a lawyer to sue the city and certain counselors specifically?

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 15:01:54 in reply to Comment 115637

sad that it's come to this, but I suspect many would be willing to join a suit. It's the only hope of seeing safety improvements to Hamilton's road network.
Curious to see how the process could get started.

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By nonsuit (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 09:02:15 in reply to Comment 115638

Public Authorities Protection Act. Look it up. But for this Wynne and McGuinty would be broke.

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By Sueem (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 15:22:02

I would join, but I imagine it would be more important for family members of victims to do so.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted December 14, 2015 at 15:53:23

Dec 14/15 This just happened: I was walking east bound on York Blvd approaching Queen St. A black F150 pickup is on the sidewalk median facing north. Northbound lights turn green, F150 races through the crosswalk and mounts the sidewalk where I am standing. I jumped back narrowly avoiding being hit. F150 continues North on Queen with 2 tires on the sidewalk for half a block to pass another car.

In the same light sequence: Eastbound lights turn green. White SUV in the right turn lane decides to gun it and continue e/b on York and uses the bike lane to pass a DARTS bus on the right side.

As I'm approaching Bay St a Black SUV heading westbound proceeds to use the eastbound turning lane, pulls a U-turn around the median, mounts the opposite sidewalk, nearly hitting me and then runs the red light at Bay.

All of this happened in about 7 minutes. Madness.

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By Stephen Barath (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 09:43:08 in reply to Comment 115641

Before I came to Hamilton, I'd never seen a vehicle on a sidewalk in Ontario unless there for an emergency or temporarily for unloading. Now, I can say I've witnessed drivers using sidewalks to pass turning vehicles; to make three point turns; to park; to avoid slowing down on a turn. Somehow, when I was learning to drive I picked up the lesson that the sidewalk is never for a vehicle. Not so here.

Hamiltonians are on average some of the worst drivers I've observed. I've had walking commutes in a number of different cities, and the behaviour that is common place here would be considered noteworthy and appalling elsewhere. When I talk to people in this city, they don't seem generally to be any stupider than anywhere else, so I don't understand why they are such absent-minded, discourteous and poor drivers.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 10:35:02 in reply to Comment 115656

look no further than the response from two veteran city councillors upon learning that speeding is a massive problem on Linc and Red Hill.

Some guy once attended an open house at Westcliffe Mall and complained that his trip on the Linc took 4 extra minutes than longer....therefore, any data showing excessive speeding must be a grand conspiracy to get everybody out of their cars (favourite line of the CHML crowd) and to grind our economy to a halt (as if city hall has needed any help doing this the past 50 years).

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2015 at 09:55:15 in reply to Comment 115656

I think it's a combination of living and driving in a road network that is designed explicitly to maximize speed and flow-through at the expense of every other use our public rights of way are supposed to enable, becoming steadily accustomed to the assumption that driving will always be easy and frictionless, and then overreacting to even the smallest inconvenience with reckless bypassing.

The flip-side of our grossly unbalanced transportation network is that most people are actively discouraged and deterred from walking or cycling, so their only experience of the street is through a windshield and their perspective of the street is highly distorted. You can see this, for example, in the incredulity that accompanies photos of deserted thoroughfares downtown: if you only ever drive, you get bunched into platoons of other drivers and never see the street in between the waves of bunched traffic.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 16:42:49 in reply to Comment 115641

Wow... that's nuts. I was literally run off Dundurn today on my bike. Totally empty lane beside me but the driver laid on his horn and loudly sped up at me from behind. I veered onto the sidewalk just missing getting blasted.

But don't worry folks. Lloyd Ferguson went for a Sunday afternoon drive and was only able to do 20 over the speed limit. We need more lanes in this city if we hope to hit 50 over the limit with ease.

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By lloyd alter (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 17:51:16

Thank you for this, I have been wondering what the hell is happening in Hamilton.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 20:50:12 in reply to Comment 115643

don't expect you to write an online article just because I would like one, but I can't help but wonder if some public shaming of this pathetic group at city hall from non-Hamilton sources might help the cause? They simply don't care what citizens say. The old boys have run this town for their own gain for decades regardless of the damage it inflicts on our economy, quality of life or actual life itself.

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By walter_hbd (registered) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 20:51:19

Is there an actual process where citizens can take their municipality to court? A quick google search seems to show that it is possible

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By shame (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 21:52:35 in reply to Comment 115645

yes it's called the legal process.

Problem is the city is insured and has gigantic tax pockets. So you'd effectively be paying them to defend their lawsuit from you.

This is a moral problem not a legal one. An individual or their family will get some compensation legally but there won't be change until the city prioritizes these citizens.

Imagine if a cop were killed walking across a crosswalk. It would be pandemonium. Heck a police dog would spur 100x more action than a steady stream of vulnerable citizens getting killed.

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By shame (anonymous) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 21:59:58 in reply to Comment 115649

for example Glenn De Caire's motion yesterday to name eight bridges after police officers who died in service. The last being in 1968. I'm not trivializing that. But a teacher got killed on his way home from work a couple days ago and how is that any less of a tragedy, and De Caire's motion passes unanimously at the police services board and I bet will fly through council, who are busy voting on a moratorium on safe streets. We are officially at rock bottom in this city.

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 11:32:10 in reply to Comment 115650

My partner is applying for a new job in Toronto. If she gets it, we're out of here. I have had it with the pack of idiots that runs this city.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 14:46:06 in reply to Comment 115665

A friend of mine was looking at moving here from TO many years ago. Specifically at a house between King and Main. His logic was "surely the city will make these streets safe and business-friendly soon, and we'll be right there walking distance to all the action."

I told him to only buy if he liked how those streets function, because the odds of them changing anytime soon were slim to none. This was about 10 years ago.

They stayed in TO, and owe me big time for my honesty! :)

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted December 18, 2015 at 16:43:53 in reply to Comment 115679

...and I'm out. She got the job.

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By AK (registered) | Posted December 14, 2015 at 23:55:23

Hi Aidan, You’ve been a great advocate for safe streets so this isn't directed to you but I’m furious. On November 29 a man was killed walking on the sidewalk at Main and Hess. I can’t find out his name. On December 2, Jay Keddy was killed biking up the Claremont Access. On December 11, Mara Balach was killed walking across a crosswalk on Queenston Rd. This is an epidemic. Yet these stories barely make the news – do you even know the name of the first individual? How many officers are investigating Mr. Keddy’s accident?

Maybe part if the reason for the silence is the mistaken notion that there are pure accidents, some sort of random inevitable occurrence, or singular events caused by bad or drunk drivers. In fact, what they are is a product of our community which does not care about pedestrians and cyclists. These are marginalized people, elderly and children, often.

Also, we seem to empathize with the drivers, not the victims. We’ve all been behind the wheel and almost been part of a horrible accident. We understand that it’s not a problem of bad drivers, because it is insane to be allowed to race through residential areas, which people regularly do in front of my house on Herkimer. Yet when people call for change, the naysayers claim ‘we need to know the facts’ of the accident before rushing to judgment. It was probably dark clothing, or the victim was at fault, or maybe even it was the driver, in which case was he drunk? We don’t ask our traffic department to study the intersection. In fact, when a neighbourhood group managed to implement speed calming on a tiny neighbourhood, council passed a 5-year moratorium on any other street calming efforts.

I walk to work every day. I know that more often than not, a car turning from a one-way street to another one way street will not look both ways to see if a pedestrian is walking counter to traffic. If I’m walking north on Queen across Herkimer, the majority of cars turning right from Herkimer across that deadly intersection (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/police-looking-for-witnesses-in-hamilton-hit-and-run-1.2569425 - no name I could find of victim or driver) will not look southward to see if pedestrians are crossing. I can literally knock on the windows of the average driver before they turn to look at me. Most of them wave sheepishly, sorry, my bad. I get it. We designed that intersection that way, and we are conditioned as drivers that endangering pedestrian lives is not really that big of a deal.

I’d like to see some anger on this issue. I’d like to see some opposition to Terry Whitehead that isn’t ‘oh gee Terry that’s a goofy motion’. This is past ignorance, past recklessness, and past negligence. I’ll be blunt: opposition to safe streets because of the effects on traffic flow very likely contributed to the deaths of Jay Keddy and Mara Balach. The only reason it's not criminal negligence is that the reasonable man on the Hamilton omnibus is driving his Escape at 60 kph up Bay Street past Central School.

I'd like a task force or inquiry, not run out of the traffic department or police, to study these deaths and determine how much each was contributed to by: weather, road conditions, driver, victim, etc etc. One of the factors would be 'social conditioning' and another would be 'street design'. Let's recognize and remember these victims by accepting our own culpability as a city and community.

Yours sincerely, AK

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 14:44:07 in reply to Comment 115652

absolutely fantastic comment.

Again, I echo my earlier suggestions for very quick and rather easy low hanging fruit: no right on red city-wide, and on all main streets, walkable retail districts, transit stops, school crossings and rec centre/library zones install the sidewalk facing street lights that have recently been installed on the new portion of West 5th near Mohawk College and Main St in front of city hall.

I saw two Sir John A MacDonald students almost get hit today by a red-light runner making a left from York onto Bay. The light had been red for at least 6-7 seconds. Driver didn't even attempt to stop, or look left. Just looked right to make sure no cars were coming along Bay northbound. Thankfully the students must be used to walking in this city and were very attentive and stayed on the sidewalk seeing this lunatic coming.
Had they been hit, the media and councillors would be asking 'were they wearing iPods?' or 'students need to pay more attention and not be goofing around all the time'. etc.....

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 10:37:42 in reply to Comment 115652

One of the interesting things is that the two pedestrian cases cited here were low and very low speed impact cases. One was on private property exiting a parking lot onto public property and technically not a road design issue. The other was a lady turning left, presumably from a stopped position, also arguably not a road design issue. I do not see these two cases as indicative of a wider problem other than the fact that cars were involved. Time of day, colour of clothing and driver attentiveness are probably way bigger factors than road design.

Most of the comments about poor road design etc. throughout this site are valid. But these are not the cases to make those points. The poor fellow on the Claremont is a victim of poor design/decision making as that roadway is in no way properly designed for biking. Whether or not it should be is a different question.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2015-12-15 10:38:40

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By the son of Toronto (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2015 at 14:05:21 in reply to Comment 115662

Right on!

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By Reasonable (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 15:53:48 in reply to Comment 115662

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted December 16, 2015 at 15:23:42 in reply to Comment 115682

The problem is that the persons determining speed (and road design, although this was NEVER mentioned in reports) not to be a factor, the HPS, have shown a consistent pattern of shifting blame for accidents from drivers onto pedestrians.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 17, 2015 at 08:00:27 in reply to Comment 115708

Also, "speed was not a factor" only means that the driver was not driving faster than the speed limit, which on most Hamilton streets is already too high to be safe.

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By Bikehounds (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 20:45:57 in reply to Comment 115682

If I understand the circumstances, the driver was exiting northbound from the lot and hit a pedestrian who was coming from the east. The road design is absolutely a factor because the traffic only comes from the west, so the driver does not think to look east. Yes this driver made an error however the driver would likely have looked both ways if York was a normal 2 way street instead of a divided road

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted December 16, 2015 at 17:06:43 in reply to Comment 115689

I see people make this same lazy move all the time, even on two-way streets. If someone is turning left into a 2-way street, then yes, they look both ways. But if they are pulling out and going right, it seems 90% of drivers have forgotten one of the first things you learn in driving class: look both ways at all times before ever proceeding.

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By Kinda Reasonable (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 16:08:15 in reply to Comment 115682

See you sorta get it. Driver error was "probably a big factor".

That's the point. Humans make mistakes. People shouldn't die as a matter of course just because someone made a mistake.

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By Reasonable (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 17:24:37 in reply to Comment 115684

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By Think (anonymous) | Posted December 16, 2015 at 08:44:01 in reply to Comment 115686

That exact spot? Maybe you're right.

But the overall mentality and mindset created by the one way network encourages fast aggressive driving where drivers develop the habit of only looking one way for oncoming traffic.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 14:40:19 in reply to Comment 115662

Ok Terry

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By DBC (registered) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 14:08:41 in reply to Comment 115662

Seriously. What's next. Suggest walking helmets with reflective strips and flashing lights front and rear.

Stop being an apologist for our broken streets. The city needs a major reset on the way it designs its streets.

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By Hang on a Second (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 11:56:47 in reply to Comment 115662

The person struck on York by the car exiting the parking lot had a lot to do with street design. Our lower city one way street network results in many drivers only looking for oncoming automobile traffic when waiting to turn.

Pedestrians are merely an afterthought..............or a potential statistic if walking in the direction opposite traffic flow.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:10:14 in reply to Comment 115667

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted December 16, 2015 at 17:07:30 in reply to Comment 115668

so is the 401

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By Enlighten Me (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:20:24 in reply to Comment 115668

And how would one exiting the parking lot in question turn left?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:18:48 in reply to Comment 115668

And because it's a boulevard, you only need to look one way when exiting a parking lot.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted December 16, 2015 at 15:25:03 in reply to Comment 115670

Um, no you don't, or you run over the poor b*d walking from the other direction.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted December 17, 2015 at 10:26:08 in reply to Comment 115709

Of course. I was responding to CharlesBall's claim that because York is two-way, the driver would have been looking both ways before pulling out, which of course isn't true.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 17, 2015 at 07:59:41 in reply to Comment 115709

I think the idea is that Hamilton's street network has trained people not to think they have to look both ways. I even see people defend one-way streets by arguing that they're safer because "you only have to look one way", which is a profoundly dangerous argument.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted December 16, 2015 at 12:14:39 in reply to Comment 115670

So that absolves the driver from being dufus? Paris has Boulevards. Holland is full of Boulevards. This was a very low speed collision caused by the driver.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted December 17, 2015 at 10:32:45 in reply to Comment 115700

Caused by a driver who is not used to having to look out for pedestrians because we have designed streets that are fundamentally hostile to them. Really, this is simple stuff.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2015 at 11:42:20 in reply to Comment 115662

The terrible design trains Hamilton drivers to be inattentive and aggressive.

Try crossing a street here and then try doing it in another city...

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By Stephen Barath (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 11:11:37 in reply to Comment 115662

"...colour of clothing." Can you explain this? Why do you think this is a factor and what implications should we draw when you say it's a (significant) factor?

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:46:12 in reply to Comment 115664

It is called "blaming the victim." When it comes to clothing choices, rape victims used to be blamed for "dressing slutty." Same thing.

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By Stephen Barath (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:52:44 in reply to Comment 115672

Right. What it means is if I'm walking out to a restaurant and get hit by a car, I had it coming to me because I was wearing a dark jacket instead of the high-visibility vest required by such a dangerous situation. Sure, makes sense. That 81-year-old was just asking to be killed by a motorist, walking in a crosswalk like that with the wrong colour whatever.

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By Suburbanite (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 07:48:03

Well said AK!
I would just add one comment. Our experience has been that, yes, our leaders do ask the traffic engineers to look at the intersections; following accidents or law suits. The problem, is that this occurs after a child is injured for life or a senior is killed and then years later, a traffic light is installed. To which our leaders pat themselves on the back that they've addressed Public Safety. No one is listening or seeing that some, if not all, of these tragedies are preventable. Zero Vision.

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By joejoe (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 09:06:51

"Hamilton is already an outlier among Ontario cities with a pedestrian injury rate 42 percent higher than the provincial average and a cycling injury rate 81 percent higher"

I'm thinking those stats have already soared much higher. Your city council is a disgrace.

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By solution (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 09:52:36

To fix this problem, what do we do and how do we do it?

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By no silver bullet (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 11:00:45 in reply to Comment 115657

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:14:36 in reply to Comment 115663

Ugh, stop doing this. Just stop. Instead of taking lazy shots at strawmen, look at what is actually working in cities around the world to control dangerous vehicle speeds and establish safe, dedicated space for walking and cycling.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 18:04:18 in reply to Comment 115669

not to mention our pathetic system of fines and punishments that doesn't come close to equaling the result of the careless attitude behind a wheel.

$500 fine in Ontario for failing to yield resulting in death:

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2011/05/...

$110 fine for not having a bell on your bicycle. Surely a human life is worth more than 4 and a half bike bells?

http://www.tbnewswatch.com/News/369968/N...

Comment edited by JasonL on 2015-12-15 18:04:35

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By UGH (anonymous) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 15:57:46 in reply to Comment 115669

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2015 at 10:25:58

This was always waiting to happen - our roads are designed with a thin margin of error, and then we add on the Christmas/December stress, early dark and early sunset putting glare in everyone's eyes? That makes it far more dangerous. But usually, everybody's hiding away this time of year.

With our Octember weather, that's changed. We're walking around, we're out on our bikes.

Put all those factors together and that put Hamilton's dangerous streets over the limit and now they can't even pretend to be safe.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 10:29:19 in reply to Comment 115659

also the factor of more and more people choosing transit, cycling and walking as transportation modes. Even if it had gotten colder like it normal does, these numbers are only going to increase year over year. We've got to fix our streets ASAP.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:55:40

One thing I observe is that any part of Hamilton just trains drivers to be pretty quick with their cars and it's easy to be lazy, going with the flow of very fast cars ahead and behind you that are all prodding you to be a little more aggressive. That escalates the peer pressure. If we tame any small fraction of Hamilton, aggressive drivers will just blow through them -- a lot of Hamilton needs to be changed.

I heard from my spouse that neighbours said a car barrelled down Proctor Bvld (a very rare tamed street in Hamilton; a very old "Complete Street" experiment from many decades ago) -- at 100kph and lost control in the very narrow spaces between the median and parked cars, and destroyed a bunch of parked cars.

Most cars will slow down while driving through thee rare tight Hamilton street such as Proctor Blvd, but from a Hamilton metro wide basis, drivers have fallen into easy habits of going fast and cornering fast; that they will present a structural problem in taming Hamilton's street to an extent.

It will take widespread changes, acceleration of safety improvements (e.g. sharper turning radiuses, bumpouts, zebra crosswalks, better signalling, full green paint through intersections for bike lanes, etc) combined with enforcement, covering a significant minority part of Hamilton (Even just the entire downtown and nearby surroundings) to get stubborn drivers to not to attempt the same habits on tamed streets.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2015 at 14:25:08

This is a really important point: cities that manage to achieve dramatic real improvements in transportation balance and safety do so by taking an ambitious, comprehensive approach. I'm thinking of cities like Paris and New York, which have dramatically changed their road systems in a short period of time.

The usual argument is usually that it's really hard for a big city to move quickly due to the size, inertia and difficulty of achieving consensus on a scary change, but it seems that mid-sized cities like Hamilton, which have a lot less to lose by letting go of the status quo, seem comparatively paralyzed when it comes to making changes.

We slowly, reluctantly tinker around the edges instead of committing to an ambitious transformation agenda. And so the improvements are similarly modest. On the rare occasions when we do make a big splash - e.g. Hamilton Bike Share - the uptake exceeds even hopeful expectations. I wish that lesson would sink in with our leaders. :(

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted December 15, 2015 at 22:36:16 in reply to Comment 115676

The LRT intertwining with a Complete Streets initiative is going to spark off a super-loud discussion between now and 2 years from now.

We will see an introduction of an LRT with a forced-upon Main-King corridor taming of some form (good or compromised), given the LRT blueprints show wider sidewalks and a single lane of traffic on King (almost pretty much defacto requiring Main 2-way). This may be just exactly the "rattle the cage" we need. There is no way to keep wide urban expressways, while also having LRT. So changes are forced upon us. Some of us, kicking and screaming. Literally.

Yes, it will drive a lot of motorists nuts in this transition, especially during construction (although our construction detour problem is somewhat simpler than Kitchener Waterloo's, having multiple parallel arteries on a simpler street grid, and the grand opportunity of Main 2-way).

We must advocate that there is no scaleback from some important Complete Streets elements in the Hamilton LRT. Kitchener-Waterloo completes their LRT to hopefully have lots of kudos/rave reviews well before the 2018 election, making it hard for candidates to campaign on cancellation.

With all the beautiful wider sidewalks, and tamer crosstown corridors, it will build a revitalized and tamed King corridor over the next couple of decades, and finally also a lot more pleasant to walk even for the older and the disabled (which also, is needed with ~1km LRT station spacing)

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-12-15 22:49:15

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 15:31:07 in reply to Comment 115676

they're too busy driving back and forth on the Linc, praying for any sign of congestion so they can justify spending more money we don't have on more lanes we don't need.

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted December 15, 2015 at 15:27:47 in reply to Comment 115676

It won't sink in as long as the people that keep giving them their paycheque are a minuscule slice of the electorate that wants to status quo

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By status quo (anonymous) | Posted December 16, 2015 at 08:50:04

Nothing will change till the price of oil makes it prohibitive to drive. That in turn force people to give up the car and rely on self-powered or public transit.

Ryan, when's the next Peak Oil article coming? Gas is 88 cents a litre at Costco right now.

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted December 22, 2015 at 06:21:05

when they ban cyclists and pedestrians from high speed high density arterials

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By Life on the Highway (anonymous) | Posted December 22, 2015 at 11:07:26

That's some vision for your city!

Hamilton, the best place to get the hell out of the way!

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted December 22, 2015 at 16:24:58 in reply to Comment 115779

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.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted December 22, 2015 at 17:34:42 in reply to Comment 115804

Pedestrians, bikes and streetcars were here first. I'm on board with your plan.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 22, 2015 at 11:45:21 in reply to Comment 115779

https://urbanful.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/pedestrian-cartoon.jpg

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By Look Up (anonymous) | Posted December 22, 2015 at 11:54:32

The urban renewal the city undertook in the 60's/70's envisioned the downtown to be developed with Plaza Levels connected by pedestrian bridges to remove people from the streets.

We know how that vision played out. Jackson Square's plaza connected to the Art Gallery's plaza by a single pedestrian bridge. Done.

Unfortunately the mind set of too many remains mired in that time. The solution is not separation of people from the streets, but rather a true sharing of the space through the implementation of complete streets. The only thing standing in the way is a generation of entitled car drivers who see no reason to share at all. Can't really blame them. We've spent 60 years managing their expectations by catering to their every whim.

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By Atlas (anonymous) | Posted December 22, 2015 at 16:30:48

What city are you thinking of that does such a good job of separating pedestrians from streets?

I believe successful cities do in fact integrate all users. They're called complete streets.

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