Special Report: Cycling

Cycle Hamilton's Update on the Cycle Safe Sydenham Campaign

The Cycle Safe Sydenham campaign has gathered over 600 signatures from people in favour of the City of Hamilton implementing its own plan for bike lanes on the popular Dundas roadway.

By Erin Kennedy
Published November 08, 2016

It's been just over three weeks since Cycle Hamilton launched the Cycle Safe Sydenham campaign, which includes a petition for bike lanes to be included in a 2016 plan for traffic calming on the popular Dundas roadway.

Sydenham Road (RTH file photo)
Sydenham Road (RTH file photo)

We've made a lot of progress in that short amount of time, gathering over 600 signatures and many supportive comments in favour of these bike lanes, which have been part of the City of Hamilton's Cycling Master Plan since 2009.

The broad appeal of incorporating bike lanes is best stated in the words of those who have signed the petition. Importantly, many cited concerns about their own safety and that of others, including a supporter who says: "my family rides Sydenham." Another simply wants it to be safer because "My kid rides Syd."

Several supporters have made the economic case for bike lanes, including one from Burlington who says: "I ride this several times a year: and spend my money in the city of Dundas to support the community."

Many people just want the City of Hamilton to follow through on its own Cycling Master Plan. This commenter from Hamilton sums it up by saying "It's past time we accommodated for cyclists (and pedestrians) with EVERY piece of road work we do. We're supposed to get a bike lane on Sydenham, so what are we waiting for?"

In addition, supporters of the petition have made arguments for the environment, community, convenience, health and well-being, and pure enjoyment of the unique escarpment setting.


Cycle Hamilton members have also heard some thoughtful questions from members of the community about how our goals can be accomplished. Here are a few of the questions that we have heard since the campaign was launched, along with our responses:

Q: Is the road wide enough for a bike lane? And won't you need to reconstruct Sydenham Road to accommodate bike lanes?

A: The majority of the road is wide enough for a bike lane on either side of the road. There is a "pinch point" from Alma Street heading north to approximately Cayley Street where we may need a creative solution, or be satisfied with simple on-road sharrows until road reconstruction occurs along this stretch.

Q: Doesn't the City of Hamilton implement the Cycling Master Plan only when roads are being fully reconstructed?

A: We have noticed that The City of Hamilton has not routinely implemented the Cycling Master Plan when roads are reconstructed. For example, when Ogilvie Street in Dundas had a sidewalk added earlier in 2016, the Master Plan-approved bike lane was not implemented. We are urging the City of Hamilton to implement the Cycling Master Plan whenever road reconstruction or traffic calming occurs going forward.

Q: Wheelchair loading and unloading is allowed in front of St. Augustine's Church on Sydenham Road. Would this need to be removed if we put in a bike lane?

A. No. Vehicles are allowed by law to park in a bike lane to load and unload wheelchairs, so this would not change. Where parking is currently allowed all-day on this stretch, we would like to see it limited to church-going hours, and are open to discussing various options with the St. Augustine's community and the City of Hamilton.

Q: Will adding bike lanes slow down drivers?

A: The approved traffic calming plan includes measures to narrow the road in order to slow vehicle traffic, especially in the vicinity of St. Augustine's school. Adding bike lanes to the plan is another way to narrow the road. Yes, this will slow vehicles, but that will happen as part of the traffic calming plan whether or not bike lanes are included.

Q: If cycling lanes are added to the traffic calming plan, will that compromise the safety plan for pedestrians?

A. Members of Cycle Hamilton believe in creating a safe environment for all road users and most of us are frequent pedestrians. We think that the most dangerous area for walking is from Alma Street, heading north to Livingstone Drive. As mentioned above, this stretch is narrow and will take special consideration to determine the optimal strategy for safety for all road users. At this time there is no road narrowing or bollards planned for this section as part of the traffic calming plan.

Public Consultation Needed

Cycle Hamilton favours a collaborative approach, and these questions indicate the need for a public consultation with the City on how to incorporate the needs of all road users as part of this traffic calming plan.

Ultimately, we would like to use lessons learned here to shift gears and capitalize on similar opportunities across the City of Hamilton.

We want to sincerely thank everyone who has signed our petition so far. Please continue to share it and encourage others to sign on.

This update on Cycle Safe Sydenham is timely because Cycle Hamilton's Advocacy Week is happening right now (Nov 7-12, 2016). Please consider attending one of our events, including a ride from City Hall to the Shed Brewery in Dundas, with an optional ride up Sydenham Hill.

And lastly, consider joining Cycle Hamilton, an enthusiastic and fun coalition of individuals, communities, and organizations that are working together to promote a healthy, safe, and sustainable cycling culture in the City of Hamilton.

Erin Kennedy is a member of Cycle Hamilton’s Advocacy Committee. Erin started riding for recreation and transportation while growing up in Northern Ontario. She still loves to cycle in her current hometown of Dundas and beyond, especially with her two young children. Erin is dedicated to encouraging the City of Hamilton to shift gears and become a leader in cycling friendliness among North American cities.


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