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Our Raging Roads Are Dangerous By Design

No amount of education or enforcement can overcome the predictable effects of streets that are designed to maximize the likelihood, speed and severity of collisions.

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 02, 2016

Ghost bike for Jay Keddy, killed on the Claremont Access on December 3, 2015
Ghost bike for Jay Keddy, killed on the Claremont Access on December 3, 2015

On Friday, December 4 at 8:30 AM, a Mazda 3 slammed so hard into a concrete pole on the Kenilworth Access that the pole crashed across the street. I'm not sure what is more disturbing: that the driver was apparently drunk (she has been charged with impaired driving) or that she was able to drive fast enough during rush hour to knock over a concrete pole with a small car.

That same morning, Hamilton Police set up a speed trap at the bottom of the Jolley Cut. Just before 9:00 AM, a driver roared through the trap at 89 km/h and nearly ran over an officer. Again, I'm not sure what's worse: that the driver was also allegedly drunk or that he could reach highway speed on an urban roadway during rush hour.

On Saturday, January 16, police recorded a driver going an astonishing 141 km/h on Paramount Drive near Butternut Court. Paramount is a three-lane street with a 40 km/h speed limit running through the middle of a residential neighbourhood.

No one died in these incidents but not everyone is so lucky. On Sunday, January 24, a northbound driver on James Street South near the Hunter GO Station crashed into a southbound bus turning left into the station. The driver was going 100 km/h and died from the collision.

These are not isolated incidents. They follow a consistent pattern of dangerous driving on Hamilton streets.

Last year, 18 people died in traffic collisions in Hamilton. Half of these people weren't even in cars: eight were walking and one was riding a bike. That ratio of fatalities among the most vulnerable street users makes Hamilton a major outlier compared to other Ontario cities.

In March 2014, the City installed a mobile speed radar for eight days on Herkimer Street next to Durand Park, a popular local playground. At all hours of the day, including during rush hour, the peak hourly speed exceeded 70, 80 or 90 km/h. And that's with a large display on the side of the road flashing drivers' speeds at them.

Likewise, the City set up the mobile speed radar on Hunter Street west of MacNab - just as you approach Central School - for two weeks in May 2015. Maximum speeds above 70 km/h were recorded during every hourly time period on a street with a 40 km/h speed limit.

Car recorded driving 55 km/h in a 40 km/h zone on Hunter (RTH file photo)
Car recorded driving 55 km/h in a 40 km/h zone on Hunter (RTH file photo)

In 2013, the Social Planning and Research Council compared ten years' worth of collision data and concluded that Hamilton is the second-most dangerous city in Ontario for people on foot. The injury risk for pedestrians is 42 percent higher than the provincial average, and the risk for cyclists is 81 percent higher.

There is a simple, horrible reason there is so much dangerous speeding on Hamilton streets: they're designed that way. Arterial streets in Hamilton are designed for running speeds up to 80 km/h with wide lanes and minimal obstacles or encumbrances that might slow drivers down.

In the old lower city, we converted dozens of city streets to one-way traffic so they can have multiple lanes for reckless passing with narrow ribbons of sidewalk just inches away. In newer parts of the city, arterial streets have long blocks and staggeringly wide lanes with dedicated turn lanes so no one ever has to slow down.

For decades, we have taken the approach that the best way to make streets safe is to make lanes wide and eliminate any obstacles that might get in the way of drivers, on the assumption that removing potential hazards reduces the chance of a collision.

Unfortunately, this assumption is dead wrong. We now have decades of research proving that people drive at a speed that feels comfortable, and streets designed with wide uninterrupted lanes encourage dangerously fast driving. When you combine that feeling of comfort with the sudden addition of a pedestrian - even one crossing legally at a crosswalk - it's a recipe for collisions and trauma.

As a vehicle's speed increases, its kinetic energy increases quadratically. A vehicle going twice as fast has four times as much energy, and a vehicle going four times as fast has 16 times as much energy. It becomes vastly more difficult to stop in time to avoid a collision, and when a collision does occur, the damage is vastly more serious.

This is why a pedestrian's fatality risk from a vehicle collision jumps from 5 percent at 30 km/h to 45 percent at 48 km/h and 85 percent at 64 km/h.

Again, this is borne out in the data. According to a May 2000 paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Canadian Journal of Public Health using Hamilton data, the injury rate for children was 2.5 times higher on one-way streets than on two-way streets. Again, one-way streets may seem intuitively to be safer - no opposing traffic to worry about - but in effect they are more dangerous.

Streets designed for fast, uninterrupted driving encourage drivers to drive faster, of course, but they also encourage drivers to lower their guard about possible obstacles.

That reduced situational awareness, combined with higher speeds, is a deadly combination when a pedestrian does unexpectedly show up - for example, in a crosswalk, where most pedestrian collisions occur.

Cities around the world are following the lead of Sweden and committing to Vision Zero, a commitment to eliminate traffic fatalities by making streets inherently safer for everyone. Vision Zero is based on the idea that the limiting design guide for our transportation system should be the body's ability to tolerate trauma.

It may be counterintuitive, but the best way to make streets safer for everyone is to make them feel more dangerous for drivers with narrower lanes, overhanging street trees, bumpouts, raised crosswalks, chicanes, parked cars, protected bike lanes, speed humps and other design elements that force drivers to slow down and pay attention.

No amount of education or enforcement can overcome the predictable effects of streets that are designed to maximize the likelihood, speed and severity of collisions. We need to address the root of the problem - the design that encourages fast, distracted driving in the first place.

The first thing we need to is admit that the way we've been doing it up to now is not working. This is not about blame but about recognizing, as John Maynard Keynes famously said, that the facts have changed and our opinions need to follow suit.

This article was first published in the February, 2016 issue of Urbanicity Magazine.

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 Simple (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2016 at 15:54:07

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By Stephen (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2016 at 19:57:01 in reply to Comment 116721

"First of all, let's rid ourselves of alcohol altogether."

You rid yourself of alcohol, maybe. Most of the rest of us can enjoy it without afterwards getting behind the wheel of a car.

This is truly asinine stuff. Distracted driving now accounts for more vehicle fatalities in Ontario than drunk driving. Neither should be tolerated. Or: let's "rid ourselves" of cell phones altogether, maybe.

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By Askinine (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2016 at 23:34:37 in reply to Comment 116726

If cell phones caused all the other problems caused by alcohol I would say yes, get rid of them too. Fortunately, that's not actually the case. Alcohol is not good for life on or off the road. Even the myth that a glass of wine a day has been debunked.

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By Regurgitate (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2016 at 17:11:12

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted March 02, 2016 at 20:20:56 in reply to Comment 116722

What do you read this site strapped to a chair with Beethoven's 9th blaring in the background? Turn the channel, you have the power...

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By No Peak Oil (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2016 at 18:22:42

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By Bottom Line (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2016 at 18:55:08

The city cannot afford the status quo.

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By StanArd (registered) | Posted March 02, 2016 at 19:29:24

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By Now I know (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2016 at 19:57:56

Now I know where the Spec gets this stuff. They get it from you and repeat it over and over. Statistically road safety has been improving dramatically over the past 50 years on a pretty standard and good course. There has never been a safer time to drive or be a pedestrian in history than now. There is no current crisis unless you are trying to destroy the one way road system because you prefer to ride a bike and anyone on a bike hates one way streets because they force you to ride too far. At least be honest.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 11:44:49 in reply to Comment 116727

Global poverty is on the decline therefore there is no poverty in Hamilton! What a relief!

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 12:06:52 in reply to Comment 116750

I think that statistically speaking he or she is correct. The closer you approach zero the bigger the ratios become. So if there is one death in Hamilton and none is Toronto, Hamilton has an infinitely greater number of deaths than Toronto. The number of injuries and fatalities tracked over time from their height until now has seen a very marked reduction. Going forward, to zero presumably, the rate of decline will be much slower. That is just math.

On the balance, I ride a bike and hate one way streets that force me to go around the block. Nothing surprising there.

I have no idea how close Ryan is with the Spectator but they seem to talk about him and his issues a lot.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2016-03-03 12:07:55

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By Heyyo (anonymous) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 13:16:58 in reply to Comment 116752

Ryan should run for council, even Mayor. Do it Ryan!

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted March 04, 2016 at 07:16:22 in reply to Comment 116757

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 12:33:22 in reply to Comment 116752

The SPRC's study that concluded Hamilton has the second highest rate of pedestrian casualties in the province was conducted over 10 years. Is that not enough tracking over time to convince you we have a problem?

Overall road safety for all users in North America has indeed been declining for the last 50 years, mostly due to safety improvements in the design of automobiles. Citing that to refute local road safety data for the most vulnerable users makes about as much sense as declaring that the rise of a middle class in the BRIC countries means we don't have an affordable housing problem in Hamilton.

Comment edited by highwater on 2016-03-03 12:34:05

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 13:30:11 in reply to Comment 116755

http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/trans...

Pedestrian injuries in Canada fell from nearly 2500 in 1990 to 1500 in 2000. That had nothing to do with airbags.

From 1975 to 1997, pedestrian fatality rates decreased 41%, from 4 per 100,000 population in 1975 to 2.3 in 1997 but still account for 13% of motor-vehicle-related deaths (9). Factors that may have reduced pedestrian fatalities include more and better sidewalks, pedestrian paths, playgrounds away from streets, one-way traffic flow, and restricted on-street parking (6). See http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml...

If you go to the current data I think that number has dropped to below 1 (about .7 by my count) in Ontario as of 2013. See the tables . http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/publica... They show that of the 476 deaths in Ontario in 2013, 92 were pedestrians. The overall rate for deaths in cars and pedestrians was 3.51 which is lower than the pedestrian rate of 4 in 1975.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2016-03-03 13:59:46

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 04, 2016 at 08:17:19 in reply to Comment 116759

An important point to bear in mind is that rates of walking have declined very sharply in the last 20-30 years. This is seen most clearly in the drop in percentage of children walking to school: from 80% in 1970 to 30% today. Adult walking has also decreased. This big decrease in rates of walking is clearly a big part of the decline in pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/few-kids-walk-to-s...

There are costs associated with calming traffic and improving pedestrian safety, but these need to be weighed against the costs of deaths and injuries and traffic accidents:

'The annual social costs of the motor vehicle collisions in terms of loss of life, medical treatment, rehabilitation, lost productivity, and property damage are measured in tens of billions of dollars.'

http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/motorvehiclesafe...

And add to this the tens of millions spent in Hamilton annually on new road construction to cater to the 'drive everywhere' paradigm.

That's a lot of savings to balance the cost of traffic calming.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 13:58:07 in reply to Comment 116759

Shorter CharlesBall: making changes has made streets safer, therefore we should not make changes to make streets safer.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 07, 2016 at 10:25:47 in reply to Comment 116763

Even shorter CharlesBall (with a nod to Tybalt): Our streets are safe enough for the likes of you.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted March 07, 2016 at 11:47:51 in reply to Comment 116867

All I said was that the roads are not as unsafe as represented here and that improvements have been significant and steady over my lifetime. But I can chant "the sky is falling, the sky is falling" if that makes you feel better. Trouble is, the smart people with the chequebooks don't buy it.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted March 08, 2016 at 18:07:08 in reply to Comment 116872

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/...

Looks like pedestrian death are increasing in the U.S.A.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 07, 2016 at 13:09:05 in reply to Comment 116872

We do not present streets as being more dangerous than they are. There really were 18 traffic fatalities last year. Half of them really were people walking or (in one case) cycling.

Hamilton has been getting incrementally safer for people in cars, but not so much for the most vulnerable road users - people on foot and on bikes.

Hamilton is the second-most dangerous city in Ontario for people walking, and your hand-wavy small-numbers dodge does not stack up against ten years' worth of comparative data for both deaths and injuries.

We are doing worse than the provincial average.

Across the OECD, streets are getting safer for people in cars but not so much for more vulnerable road users. According to the 2014 OECD Road Safety Annual Report:

Between 2000 and 2012, the annual death toll in IRTAD countries fell by nearly 40%, i.e. a reduction of more than 45 000 road deaths a year when compared to the level in 2000. This period saw robust road safety strategies with well-defined and targeted measures (such as in the areas of speed management, alcohol and seat-belt use) introduced in many countries for the first time.

Thee was, however, limited success in saving lives among vulnerable road users. Reductions in deaths of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists have levelled-off and some increases have been recorded since 2009/10.

Pedestrians are the largest group of vulnerable road users in most countries and alone account for around 19% of all fatalities in IRTAD countries, following a slightly increasing trend. Close to 40% of all pedestrians killed belong to the age group 65+ . The ITF report, "Pedestrian Safety, Urban Space and Health", sets out strategies to improve pedestrian safety and to promote walking as a healthy alternative and complement to motorised transport.

The share of fatalities among elderly road users is slowly increasing in many IRTAD countries (reflecting the changing age structure of populations. ln 2012, for European IRTAD members, the share of fatalities in the age group 65+ was for the first time in excess of 30%.

Compared to other OECD countries, Canada is middling rather than exemplary on traffic fatalities.

Our fatality rate was 5.8 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012, compared to 3.0 in Denmark, 4.7 in Finland, 4.4 in Germany, 2.8 in Iceland, 3.5 in Ireland, 3.3 in Israel, 4.1 in Japan, 3.9 in the Netherlands, 2.9 in Norway, 4.1 in Spain, 3.0 in Sweden, 4.3 in Switzerland and 2.8 in the United Kingdom.

Chart: fatalities per 100,000 in OECD countries

I take issue with your a priori contention that zero fatalities is not a feasible goal, but you would at least have a case to make if the evidence indicated that it is prohibitively expensive to accelerate the reduction in traffic injuries and fatalities.

However, it is clear that making streets safer and more inclusive is not only not significantly more expensive than building standard car-dominant streets, but over the life of the roadway it can actually be considerably cheaper, due in part to reduced wear-and-tear.

So there is really no good basis for your persistent wet-blanket claim that we're already doing enough and should stop whining about how dangerous our streets are.

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By doing enough (anonymous) | Posted March 08, 2016 at 18:38:08 in reply to Comment 116877

you are over reaching with that. Diminishing returns is real. Doing nothing was not proposed as an option

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 14:04:02 in reply to Comment 116763

Not at all. Never said that and never would. But, changes cost money and have other significant societal impacts. As the death rate plummets, the cost benefit ratio diminishes significantly. The more you do to change things the less of an impact you have. At some point, nothing you do can change anything. You continue to aim for zero but you don't cry "The sky is falling."

Tell me where I am wrong. (BTW Ryan should run for mayor.)

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2016-03-03 14:14:26

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By z jones (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 14:17:39 in reply to Comment 116764

Yeah, you keep ducking the point that things are getting better in other places faster than they are getting better in Hamilton. Over a 10 year period, we're the second worst city in Ontario. We're not in the middle of the pack, we're in the bottom. And Council's vision is to be the "best". Worst part is that the things we can do are not expensive, they're even cheaper than keep building streets for cars as we've been doing. Council just signed off on a budget that spends $16 million on new roads this year but it will take us 2 years to put some jersey barriers on the Claremont.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 14:26:51 in reply to Comment 116765

I am not ducking any points. What are there, 10 Cities the size of Hamilton or greater in Ontario? What are your comparators and what is the real statistical difference? If Hamilton has one death a year more than Ottawa given the rates, we are 20% worse than them. Would you spend a million dollars to reduce the rate by one so we would be equivalent to them? Or would you ensure that new road design and obvious affordable new improvements are made? Was anyone clamoring for jersey barriers on the Claremont before the recent death? If they were they were right and the City was wrong.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2016-03-03 14:27:28

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 20:58:04 in reply to Comment 116766

Hamilton is the tenth largest city in all of Canada. 5th in Ontario. Instant facts by Me.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 03, 2016 at 17:17:35 in reply to Comment 116766

Was anyone clamoring for jersey barriers on the Claremont before the recent death?

Are you kidding? We've been advocating a safe cycling route on the Claremont for years. Here are just a few examples:

And still more articles lamenting the dangerous, autocentric design of the Claremont:

Gotta love the apologists for the status quo: we are simultaneously accused of repeating ourselves endlessly about dangerous streets and also of not having raised a warning until after someone died.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2016-03-03 17:20:21

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted March 04, 2016 at 09:46:49 in reply to Comment 116781

The quote was "Was anyone clamoring for jersey barriers on the Claremont before the recent death? If they were they were right and the City was wrong."

It was a rhetorical question agreeing with the premise that in the circumstance the City was wrong. It was said in the support of the proposition that easy and affordable changes leading to safety should be done.

I never said nothing should be done. My whole point is that the distinction that Hamilton is in the bottom 20% of 5 (or whatever cities) is statistically, and in reality, an irrelevant point. The continued posturing in this vein is really just propaganda and will annoy people whose life experience is contrary to your stated claim that we live in a situation of dire crisis and fear of death.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2016-03-04 09:52:17

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 04, 2016 at 11:50:32 in reply to Comment 116814

Methinks thou doth protest too much. The overwhelming character of your commentary on this article and elsewhere is that of a pitcher of cold water: we're already doing plenty to make roads safer, and won't somebody please think of the poor law of diminishing marginal utility.

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By Typical (anonymous) | Posted March 04, 2016 at 09:56:08 in reply to Comment 116814

Another partial quote to completely misrepresent the author. Typical RTH and why it lacks credibility with so many

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 15:04:31 in reply to Comment 116766

For fatalities, Hamilton was compared to Brampton, London, Mississauga, Toronto, Ottawa and Windsor. All reasonable large cities to compare with. The relative risk for pedestrian and cycling commuters (based on Stats Can figures) puts us at the second worst, after Windsor and just ahead of London.

http://www.sprc.hamilton.on.ca/wp-conten...

If you are concerned about fluctuations because of small numbers, just look at injuries.

Since injuries are typically 100 times higher than deaths, sensitivity due to fluctuations +/-1 is not an issue with injuries.

And, compared with overall Ontario statistics, the risk to pedestrians in Hamilton is 42% higher and 81% higher for cyclists. These are not small deviations and are consistent with the deaths statistics!

Perhaps someone can post a link to the full report ... I could only find the summaries.

According to the WHO Canada is also doing poorly compared to other countries in ensuring infrastructure is safe for pedestrians and cyclists:

"While 77 per cent of United Nations countries carry out safety audits to ensure the safety of road infrastructure projects for cyclists and pedestrians, Canada does not ..."

http://www.thespec.com/sports-story/2525...

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-03-03 15:24:49

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By Upstairs Downstairs (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2016 at 21:31:44 in reply to Comment 116727

Would that be the one way road system that has never been expanded out of the lower city since....ever.

Must be great since the entire city is clamoring for it.

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By MattPinder (registered) | Posted March 02, 2016 at 21:59:38

The missing element here is empathy, for all road users. If our decision-makers spend all their time experiencing streets from behind a windshield, how can they be expected to make decisions from the perspective of pedestrians or cyclists?

When John Tory ran for mayor in Toronto he realized he needed to understand the experience of biking in Toronto. So for his first time ever he went out on a bike on one of Toronto's downtown streets, unprotected from traffic, and was nearly was doored by a motorist. Shortly thereafter, protected bike lanes were extended on Richmond and Adelaide streets. This year, Bloor street is getting protected bike lanes and Toronto's cycling budget is set to grow. Coincidence? I think it's more likely that Mr. Tory's experience gave him a renewed sense of empathy for Toronto's cycling community.

Last year Hamilton's councillors were challenged to take the HSR to work for a week. Unfortunately, few complied. The result - the decision makers don't have empathy for the tens of thousands of Hamiltonians who are forced to use a substandard transit system on a daily basis, and the HSR continues to receive an embarrassingly low level of capital funding.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted March 02, 2016 at 22:35:54

The 2007 TMP planning process saw overwhelming desire from the public for safe streets, cycling routes, good transit, less speeding, safer for walking, safer for kids to/from school etc..... Pretty much the identical themes have emerged from the 2015 TMP update, and I'm sure will be ignored by council again for the next 8 years.

But check this out - at last weeks committee meeting, a certain councillor put forward a motion asking staff to start building and re-building roads wider and faster than we have since the 2007 TMP update. Yes, you read that right. Apparently it's possible to build roads with MORE wasted space and to encourage MORE speeding than we already do, and this councillor motion specifically mentions the 2007 TMP and asks staff to scrap the road construction guidelines that were adopted back then, and instead make them wider to allow for even more free-flowing traffic speeds than we currently design roads for.

Can't wait to see how thick the dust gets on that recently updated Vision 2040 or whatever the heck they're calling it this time.

Comment edited by JasonL on 2016-03-02 22:36:13

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By Huh? (anonymous) | Posted March 04, 2016 at 00:09:22 in reply to Comment 116731

Who is this "certain councilour" and what, exactly, did they propose?
I feel like I'm reading TMZ here. Where's the video?
(Jason, your contributions are usually much stronger than this and I appreciate them greatly: sorry if I've missed something I should've caught.)

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted March 02, 2016 at 23:15:53

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By ianreynolds (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 03:47:56 in reply to Comment 116732

Actually, one of the major points of contention on this and similar sites is not putting them in close proximity, rather we/they push to separate cyclists and pedestrians. It's even mentioned in this very article that it's unsafe to have wide roads with tiny strips of sidewalk.

Bike sharrows do nothing for safety, and painted bike lanes do very little. Those are the methods that put cyclists and pedestrians in close proximity.

That's why there's advocacy for bike lanes separated by sticks, planters, parked cars, concrete barriers, curbs, and any number of ideas. You know, to keep them separate from vehicles.

There's always the crowd of people that say "cyclists shouldn't be on the roads." Then when money is requested for bike lanes, or protected sidewalks, or slower speed limits, or speed bumps, it becomes "why do they want their own lanes?" As if the complaint was not just that they're too close to the traffic to begin with.

And don't even get me started on blaming this website or the cyclists being too close to the cars for the death of the pedestrians. The "you were asking for it" defence? Really?

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 06:17:28 in reply to Comment 116734

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By IanReynolds (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 10:11:56 in reply to Comment 116735

no, yeah, man. next time a car plows through a bunch of physical barriers into a separated lane and someone gets injured, that'll be my fault.

I mean it's not like I just said separating lanes was the safe way to go, and you're arguing me by saying separate lanes are the only way to go.

Oh it is like that.

Comment edited by IanReynolds on 2016-03-03 10:12:58

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted March 04, 2016 at 06:20:06 in reply to Comment 116745

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 11:37:52 in reply to Comment 116745

Actually, he's saying cyclists and pedestrians have no right to use any public space whatsoever to get where they need to go. Basically they should never leave the house, and deserve everything they get if they do. A transit-based apartheid state.

Comment edited by highwater on 2016-03-03 11:39:58

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By z jones (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 08:13:14 in reply to Comment 116735

If you didn't repeatedly come out against proposals to make separate lanes for cycling, I might think you were serious about wanting to protect cyclists. But you've already played your hand, all you really care about is making sure nothing happens to take any space away from drivers. So kindly get stuffed.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 10:23:35

As a weekend driver and sometimes during the week, a regular transit user and a urban planner who lives in a city with a climate that makes winter cycling only for the very brave (Ottawa), I came to a difficult realization about a decade and half ago. Sorry drivers, you are going to start losing a lot of lane space in the next few decades, for so many reasons I can't even begin to count. You just can't have 90-95% of a city's surface transport system be just for cars and trucks and make that system affordable for the taxpayer in the medium or long term. Forget the cost of new roads. The cost of road maintenance is just so high, especially given our climate and its devastating effect on our roads and infrastructure. Its not the length, its the massive area (length and width) that our roads and intersections use up, that really drives up the cost of maintenance. In Calgary for example, they found it was cheaper and more efficient in the long run for Calgary Transit to build affordable housing and park land in their LRT Station Park and Ride lots than just maintain the area as a Commuter parking lot.

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 15:26:40 in reply to Comment 116746

“You just can't have 90-95% of a city's surface transport system be just for cars and trucks and make that system affordable for the taxpayer in the medium or long term.”

You’re right. No matter how you slice it, other modes need to be supported, but for me the most compelling is the cost. The automobile is not efficient or cost-effective. We’re going bankrupt clinging to it as the only way to get around. The cost of maintaining cars is ruining the financial health of individual households, and the cost of maintaining all of this road space is going to bankrupt the public purse. What is the City of Hamilton’s infrastructure deficit? It’s academic, since it will never be paid off- those roads will have to be torn up and the space they consumed put to better use.

We can’t afford the roads we have. This is evidenced by the fact that we don’t actually pay for them- in Hamilton and many other places, our spendthrift leadership neglects important maintenance, and adds the cost of it to our collective liabilities. Instead of facing up to the reality that we need more cost-effective ways of getting around.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 16:03:30 in reply to Comment 116772

The Economist has an article in this week's issue pointing out the harm and congestion caused by various subsidies to driving in mega cities.

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21...

Ideally, all would follow London, Singapore and Stockholm in charging drivers to move around the city at congested times. But cutting subsidies would be a good start.

One, which Hamilton also has, is minimum parking requirements which encourage more driving. It means non-drivers subsidize drivers since the cost of providing the parking is passed on to all consumers.

As we have seen in Hamilton, it also has a big opportunity cost since some businesses are not viable due to the cost or space needed to satisfy the parking requirements.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-03-03 16:04:08

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By highasageorgiapine (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 11:23:06

i have really reduced my cycling over the years because of the danger i felt doing so. now i generally just use a sobi to go down the hunter or cannon lanes and dismount before walking elsewhere not on that route. even walking in this city can be perilous. i have to cross queen and king and bay at king daily, and i cannot count the number of close calls either i have had or witnessed. remember that king and bay is about 100 meters away from a primary school and surrounded by high rises. the roadways are meant to funnel people through the area as quickly as possible, and speed limits are rarely followed.

i would sincerely fear having my child walk to school in this city, and the data indicates that many other people feel the same way, which is why so many school areas are overflowing with drivers trying to take their kids and putting those who walk at greater risk.

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By Unsafe at Any Speed (anonymous) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 12:26:41 in reply to Comment 116748

I have also stopped cycling to work in the core. Coming in to work in the morning and using Hunter and McNab to access the Jackson Square underground parking works well, however going out in the evening is a totally different vibe.

There is really no safe way to navigate back up to Hunter without being on King or Main for some distance.......it just isn't worth the risk.

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By mountain66 (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 15:03:58

While I think one way to two way works on some streets I am not sure it is the solution for all. While my daughter attended Queen's in Kingston we had plenty of opportunities to experience their vibrant downtown area. It has many non chain type stores and an great variety of local restaurants as well. It also has a system of one way streets that due to the width available would be impossible to convert even if you wanted to. What they have done is put in traffic calming, much safer bike lanes with locking locations available, as well as widening the sidewalks making lots of room for outdoor patios. We often wonder if this approach would have worked better on James Street South. I would challenge anyone to feel safe cycling on James South, also the sidewalks are narrow and the east side in really bad shape and with the number of scooters using the sidewalks you often have to step off out of the way. (To be fair in my opinion John Street does work as 2 ways.) Had James Street South been left one way it would have been possible to use the approach Kingston used,traffic calming, wider sidewalks, a usable bike lane, possibly a separate bus lane and parking on one side at least. Cannon, Markland & Hunter Streets are all one way with marked safe bike lanes, I am not sure where there would be room if they were 2 way.

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By stone (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 15:40:45

I will say the mountain is just as bad as the lower city when it comes to fast cars barreling down roads that have numerous lanes and leave very little room for pedestrians and bicycles. The main difference however is the fact that no one on the mountain really seems to care as the entire area was built with cars in mind. On Main and King from the 403 to the Delta however people would like their neighbourhoods back. From what I've heard Ontario Hydro has already had meetings about two ways coming back for both of those streets in the next couple years.

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By mountain66 (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 16:41:56 in reply to Comment 116774

Some people on the Mountain do care about safe streets but there seems to be a lack of organization as opposed to the lower city as well as a lack of interest from our elected officials. Here is a direct quote from our Ward Coucillors office when my wife & I suggested marking the crosswalk from Southam park to the stairs and trail to the lower city that we frequently use: "There was a request some years ago regarding a marked crosswalk however this was discouraged by City Planning as it could be hazardous with traffic coming off of the Claremont access onto the by-pass to West 5th Street this is still considered a major roadway and traffic is travelling like on an expressway." How's that for you, I wish I knew how to highlight EXPRESSWAY. Since my daughter moved to the east end we are amazed that they have lowered speed limits, speed warning signs like we have suggested, but lacking a local citizens group we feel like we are just banging our heads.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 17:33:03 in reply to Comment 116779

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 16:42:07

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted March 04, 2016 at 14:35:40 in reply to Comment 116780

I just read through the fantastic community action plan for Rolston.

Can't wait to hear you rip your own neighbours apart and call them whiny, urban activists for repeatedly and clearly stating their desire for Rolston to be a safe neighbourhood for walking, cycling, kids going to/from school, parks etc.... There's a reason the call for safe streets sounds like a broken record: the problem is city-wide, is being ignored by city hall, and residents aren't going to stop demanding change. Get used to it.

Comment edited by JasonL on 2016-03-04 14:38:28

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 04, 2016 at 20:24:46 in reply to Comment 116830

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 07, 2016 at 06:47:26 in reply to Comment 116835

Ever heard the saying "guns don't kill people, people kill people"?

Of course. It's used commonly in the United States among gun enthusiasts, Second Amendment fundamentalists and apologists for the unconscionable American status quo of gun deaths.

As a public policy approach, it's also staggeringly wrong. The evidence overwhelmingly shows that as the number and availability of guns goes up, the number of people killed by guns goes up as well: more deaths by murder, more deaths by suicide, more deaths by accident and misadventure.

A recent Vox article does a fantastic job of putting America's "guns don't kill people" claim into context.

There's a straightforward linear relationship between the rate of guns and the rate of gun deaths. Compared to other countries, the United States is way off in a category of its own on both measures.

Guns and gun deaths by country

Even within the United States, the relationship between the rate of guns and the rate of gun deaths is linear:

Guns and gun deaths by state

It's quite simple: when there are more guns around, more people use guns to kill other people. Again, the United States is way off on its own compared to other countries:

Gun homicides per 1 million people

And there's also this fact: when countries adopt comprehensive gun control programs, the rate of gun deaths goes down. After Australia adopted a gun control program in the wake of a mass shooting, the country's rate of gun suicide dropped 57 percent over the next seven years.

Guns don't kill people, people with guns kill people. People without guns kill a lot fewer people - other people on purpose, themselves on purpose, other people by accident, themselves by accident - than people with guns.

Likewise, as we have been documenting for many years now, people who drive on streets designed for dangerous speeding injure and kill more people than people who drive on streets designed for walking, cycling and safer vehicle speeds.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 21:03:17 in reply to Comment 116780

No, it's not old. Maintaining the status quo is old - and boring and stupid.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 21:11:12 in reply to Comment 116787

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 22:14:12 in reply to Comment 116788

It's cool how wrong you are!

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 04, 2016 at 20:25:04 in reply to Comment 116790

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted March 05, 2016 at 01:04:16 in reply to Comment 116836

It's cool how I got the last word!

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By stone (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 20:14:26 in reply to Comment 116780

The roads in Hamilton are are built for people to drive really fast on them and they do. King and Main are highways that cut through the lower city and the 50+ years of people going whatever speed they want on them have led to people driving very fast everywhere in the city. I have no problem with the suburbs but they are not the future of Hamilton, the Lower City is.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 21:13:16 in reply to Comment 116785

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By stone (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 23:01:08 in reply to Comment 116789

I'm not trying to dump on the suburbs but the days of expanding further and further out are over. That's every city, not just here. Hamilton is in a unique situation where it's downtown was ignored for so long that there is actually plenty of room to fill in the Lower City. The fact that IBM is moving into Stelco tower and not a business park in Ancaster is very telling. Big changes are going to be hitting whether we like it or not so now is the time to make sure that future is the best that it can be.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 04, 2016 at 20:26:11 in reply to Comment 116797

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted March 04, 2016 at 21:12:46 in reply to Comment 116837

please find us the last business to locate in a city biz park without millions in city money?? Canada Bread, Maple Leaf etc..... If not for millions in taxpayer gift money, those parks would still be empty fields. Not to mention all the extra hundreds of millions on roads/highways for the business parks. Talk about sweetheart deals.

The Stelco Tower is privately owned. They can give tenants office space for free if they want. Doesn't cost taxpayers a dime.

Comment edited by JasonL on 2016-03-04 21:13:36

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 22:24:31 in reply to Comment 116789

yea, because nobody from the suburbs has made it a favourite past-time to dump all over the lower city every chance they get for the past 50 years....

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 04, 2016 at 20:27:16 in reply to Comment 116792

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 22:21:26 in reply to Comment 116789

You've done the most in the way of creating a divide between the suburbs and downtown of anybody that I've seen contribute to this site. What's the deal? We're all in the same boat. It's the same city.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 04, 2016 at 20:28:56 in reply to Comment 116791

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 05, 2016 at 08:34:02 in reply to Comment 116839

I strongly support Rolston's efforts to calm their streets and make their neighbourhood more comfortable and safer for residents to bike and cycle. And I want my Councillor to support these changes when they go to council.

Could you now please just say:

'Although I myself never felt unsafe, most people who actually live there support calmer more complete streets, so I will support their efforts too'.

An attitude like that would go a long way to having all parts of the city working together, rather than accepting that some areas have more right to the sorts of streets they want than others. No neighbourhoods should be 'sacrifice zones' for traffic flow!

I don't see why Garth, Mohawk, W5th, and the Linc in the upper City are any more dangerous and uncomfortable for residents than Main, Queen, Wentworth and the 403 in the lower city. All these streets are uncomfortable and dangerous to pedestrians, especially the connections between the freeways and the city streets.

As others have pointed out, when asked, residents in all parts of the City want safe, comfortable streets that are good for all road users in their own neighbourhoods. This came out strongly in the 2007 Transportation Master Plan and is one of the reasons accommodation for pedestrians became routine with the adoption of the Pedestrian Mobility Plan in 2013:

when streets are reconstructed for infrastructure repair, replacement, upgrades and/or civic streetscape improvements, pedestrian improvements will be incorporated as part of the overall project

http://www2.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/517...

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-03-05 08:34:39

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted March 05, 2016 at 01:15:53 in reply to Comment 116839

Are you a downtown wanna-be or something? Why are you always injecting this factoid that you used to live downtown? Why do you care?

Suburban won't go away eh? Time will tell buddy.

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted March 03, 2016 at 17:37:44 in reply to Comment 116780

You know what's a lot older and far more nonsensical - the status quo in Hamilton. It is so old and so accepted that people don't even realize how sick and wrong it is.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted March 06, 2016 at 08:33:59

In fact, the suburbs are changing and for the better. Certain suburbanites are figuring out their built form has been slowly squeezing them financially and are having troubles. The older suburbs that were new in the 50's & early to mid 60's are now finding that they need new sewers and pipes under their roads. They are also finding that they want the nice walkable atmosphere of the lower city (the anti car feeling that some of the road warriors on this site have called it) because the majority living these older suburbs are older and they are close to loosing the drivers licenses. Believe me, the insurance companies want to start taking those cars away as early as 68 years old. There are just too many seniors causing too many accidents that cost too much money to fix. This lights the fire under the feet, so to speak, of a lot of people that now realize they will be pedestrians and transit users in a big way very soon. Thus, the ability to walk and bike comfortably on or near streets that have traffic moving at safer slower speeds. As well as having proper well designed bus stops that make getting on transit easier. When the city finally gets around to fixing those pipes and underground services those suburbanites know the roads will be ripped up and the new road in its place will have fewer lanes, more space for cycling and pedestrians and they will push for a lot more neighborhood services and stores they can walk too. It will happen slowly, but it will happen those people will have a lot of power.

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By Haveacow (registered) | Posted March 06, 2016 at 08:42:53

Had to show you guys evidence that things are slowly changing, in Ottawa anyway.

Here is a picture of Ottawa's first LRV going through final assembly in Ottawa at Belfast Yard.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CcjDwERWoAA9...

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