Transportation

Yet Another Pedestrian is Killed

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 23, 2008

this blog entry has been updated

Just after lunchtime yesterday, a pedestrian was struck and killed instantly at the corner of Main St and James St. The victim, a woman in her 30s, was crossing Main St. on James St. at 12:42 PM yesterday when a cube van hit her.

This was the 14th pedestrian fatality in Hamilton this year. The Ontario average is 1.0 fatalities per 100,000 people, which puts Hamilton's pedestrian fatality rate at around 2.5 times higher than the provincial average.

Update: actually, I'm not sure whether the 14 fatalities include only pedestrians or motor vehicle occupants as well. [Ed.]

Against the predictable cries that the pedestrian should have looked where she was going, I humbly offer the following analysis:

Even if it was entirely the pedestrian's fault - and in the absence of a police report on what happened, that seems plausible - the simple fact is that there is a very clear exponential ratio between vehicle speed and pedestrian mortality.

The kinetic energy of a moving vehicle is calculated by its mass multiplied by a square of its speed. That means a vehicle moving twice as fast has four times as much energy - with a commensurate increase in its destructive potential.

It also means a vehicle moving twice as fast takes four times the distance to stop, which reduces commensurately the driver's ability to avoid collisions.

The simple fact is that if cars are moving slowly enough, it doesn't matter how carelessly pedestrians step out into traffic: they're less likely to be hit, and they're far less likely to be killed.

Below around 30 km/h, the fatality rate effectively drops to zero.

I suppose there's a case to be made that pedestrians who step carelessly onto the street 'deserve' whatever they get, but it seems to me that any public safety policy worth its salt must concern itself not with righteous moralizing but rather with achieving positive results.

Will anyone in Hamilton's municipal government muster up the guts to say "no more" to our deadly urban expressways?

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 jason (registered) | Posted October 23, 2008 at 09:54:41

Great piece Ryan. It's so sad to see city hall complicit in this dangerous design for downtown Hamilton. They can put together all the snazzy DVD's, billboards or newspaper ads they want. Businesses won't open up in our downtown if there's no people on the streets to patronize them. And no pedestrian in their right mind will hang out on these streets. The only time I walk on Main is when I absolutely HAVE to. Once again, speeding cars and trucks take precedence over economic development and creating a vibrant, livable city.

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By another capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2008 at 10:32:50

I was walking out of the back of a restaurant to a parking lot that fronts on Main St.

This was around 1:00pm yesterday and I saw a white cube van on the sidewalk and police tape all around the street.

Walking closer I saw the most horrific thing I've seen, a tarp over a body.

People, if your driving, please SLOW DOWN!!!! Our downtown streets are not the QEW

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 23, 2008 at 10:57:01

People, if your driving, please SLOW DOWN!!!! Our downtown streets are not the QEW

The sad thing is, this van probably wasn't exceeding the speed limit. The lights on Main are timed for 55-60km/h. Speeds that mean almost certain death for pedestrians as Ryan points out above.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2008 at 11:16:51

I was shocked by a stat I read in the Star earlier in the week:

"Denyse Boxell, a spokesperson for Safe Kids Canada, an initiative launched by the Hospital for Sick Children, said there are about 2,400 child pedestrian incidents in Canada each year. About 30 of those are fatal."

http://www.thestar.com/article/520924

Why do we spend so much energy fighting gun crime or even cancer and heart disease and so little energy fighting for safer streets? The idea that a pedestrian death is somehow someone's 'fault' is ridiculous. Car accidents, pedestrian deaths, cyclist fatalities this is the real plague we should be fighting.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2008 at 15:51:23

I don't like the downtown expressways we currently have either, although I think that we should wait until the release of the police report before we jump to any conclusions.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2008 at 16:31:30

My point is that we don't need to wait for a police report on who was nominally at fault. The only way the pedestrian could have been killed instantly is if the vehicle was moving at a high speed - legally or otherwise.

Until we significantly lower the speeds of vehicles moving through downtown streets, we will continue to watch pedestrians get killed. That's a structural problem that goes beyond who was "at fault" in this or that incident.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 23, 2008 at 17:50:24

We've sacrificed so much safety in our society it's pretty ridiculous. As far as I know it's illegal for pedestrians to walk along the QEW. There's a reason for that - it's a high speed road. Why then do we try to take dense, urban neighbourhoods full of schools, homes, kids, parks, shops, malls, restaurants etc.... and ram high speed roads through them?? If the government doesn't want people mixing with high speed traffic on freeways, doesn't it make sense that they should not want high speed traffic mixing with people on downtown streets???
Sadly, Hamilton's police are very quiet on this issue (despite being the organization most in tune with safety issues in the city) and city hall is full of councillors who kick and scream like little kids at the mere suggestion of making our downtown streets safer. Maybe I'll see if I can get those same councillors to legalize bikes and pedestrians on area highways since they love mixing humans with high speed traffic.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2008 at 19:25:11

Why is it that when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian it is always the evil vehicles fault for driving badly and or too fast? I have driven a lot and the things I've seen pedestrians of all ages do are absolutely mind boggling. Sometimes it seems they are daring the car to hit them. The so called green wave does allow for a quick flow of traffic through our city that's not a bad thing. If you want to cross the street wait a minute! After the green wave there is a red wave and voila no traffic and its safe to cross the road. Getting rid of the "green wave" will result in more racing from light to light trying catch the next green light. We all teach our little kids to cross the the street safely and it seems that as adults a lot of us forget. Do you really think reducing the "green wave" to 32 KPH will make this city a better place? Accidents happen. There is nothing we can do to change that. If people cross the street without jaywalking the accident rate between cars and people will decrease! We have rules of the road that can and do work really well when everybody follows them. To many of us do not.

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By AHamiltonDowntowner (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2008 at 20:00:57

I completely agree with Mr. Meister. It's always interesting when the driver is automatically blamed in any pedestrian injury or fatality - without considering whether it was the pedestrian's fault. I'm sure most of us are guilty of jaywalking, myself included. Jaywalkers take that risk. Accidents happen on both one way and two way streets. The whole issue of speeding and bad driving is societal - there are no easy ways to cure it.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2008 at 23:31:55

Mr. Meister wrote:

Why is it that when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian it is always the evil vehicles fault for driving badly and or too fast?

That's just the thing. I'm saying that our narrow efforts to blame this or that party is a dangerous distraction. The fault inheres in our traffic system: a five-lane, one-way thoroughfare with traffic lights timed to allow and even encourage motorists to drive at 64 km/h through city neighbourhoods.

As I wrote, at 64 km/h the fatality rate for pedestrians hit by a car is 95 percent.

If you cut the vehicle speed in half - to 32 km/h - you reduce the vehicle's kinetic energy by three quarters, and you reduce the fatality rate from 95 percent to just five percent.

You also reduce the stopping distance by three quarters, so a collision is less likely in the first place - no matter who is nominally "at fault".

I'd add that 32 km/h is a perfectly reasonable speed for a vehicle driving in a downtown city street among pedestrians. In addition to dramatically reducing fatality rates, this speed also:

  • Allows cyclists in reasonably decent shape to keep up with the flow of traffic, making riding safer for the cyclist and less disruptive for drivers.

  • Allows pedestrians to feel safer and more comfortable on the sidewalk, without fast-moving traffic streaming past. More people on the street is better for streetlife and local businesses, and more "eyes on the street" means a safer, more aware and more cohesive community.

  • Makes driving a little bit less convenient. Abundant research has demonstrated that when you make it easier to drive, more people drive longer distances more frequently - which simply builds pressure to make it still easier to drive. It's a vicious cycle of induced demand and it's the reason we have sacrificed our neighbourhoods to the needs of motorists passing through in the first place.

Do you really think reducing the "green wave" to 32 KPH will make this city a better place?

No, but getting rid of the "green wave" completely and converting our streets back to two-way will. This is supported by strong empirical evidence not only from Hamilton but also from every other city that has experimented with one-way streets.

Accidents happen. There is nothing we can do to change that.

That's simply not true. Change the traffic system and you change the dynamics in which accidents can take place. Again, a vehicle moving half the speed has only one quarter the kinetic energy and only one quarter the stopping distance. That will have a measurable effect on the number and severity of collisions.

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By ventrems (registered) | Posted October 24, 2008 at 07:33:42

I find the discussion occuring here is completely lacking in class and tact. Two days ago a young woman died, possibly a mother of children, and there's not a sign of regret, sorrow, or compassion. Shameful.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted October 24, 2008 at 08:22:58

@ventrems:

Are we reading the same discussion? To me, most of the people commenting (but not all) sure seem sad and frustrated and disgusted that another person has died and they want to change the stupid dangerous streets that allow these deaths to happen.

"People, if your driving, please SLOW DOWN!!!! Our downtown streets are not the QEW"

"The sad thing is, this van probably wasn't exceeding the speed limit."

"The idea that a pedestrian death is somehow someone's 'fault' is ridiculous. Car accidents, pedestrian deaths, cyclist fatalities this is the real plague we should be fighting."

"our narrow efforts to blame this or that party is [sic] a dangerous distraction"

These are the words of regretful, sorrowful, compassionate people who don't want to see anyone else get killed!

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 24, 2008 at 10:27:46

ventrems....direct your angst towards the Spec and other media who so far haven't shown an ounce of regret for this needless death and offered up any possible safety solutions. Half of their coverage so far has been discussing details of the body lying on the road and the inconvenience incurred by other drivers after the accident. Ryan's piece here and subsequent discussion is ABSOLUTELY all about regret and looking to make our streets safer so this kind of thing doesn't keep happening. Another person was sliced in half recently by a car on King near Gage. Our street system allows and encourages high speeds of travel through densely packed residential neighbourhoods. City hall doesn't care, but I'm thankful to see regular citizens in this discussion who do.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 24, 2008 at 11:24:28

According to today's Spectator, the woman was walking north on James across Main on the east side; while the van headed north on James and turned east (right) onto Main.

http://thespec.com/News/Local/article/45...

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By ventrems (registered) | Posted October 24, 2008 at 11:36:07

nobrainer & jason:

my concern was that everyone jumped into a debate about the need to calm traffic on these streets immediately without proper regard for the victim. said debate is a popular policy debate on this forum, which is a 100% valid cause that i support.

but as today's spec article shows, the above policy debate is completely irrelevant to the cause of death in this situation.

resist the temptation to exploit a terrible misfortune to justify a political cause, especially when the circumstances of the death are not even known.

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By Melville (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2008 at 11:47:39

I'm rather sickened by the political opportunism here. Someone just died gruesomely in downtown mid-day in front of many people. Have some respect for the victim, family, and witnesses.

But if you would like me to be as rude too - yes, I would agree that 64 km/h is too fast for a downtown - its near twice the speed most small towns have. And they don't have so many lanes to be in - we're lucky for that - if the limit were 35, say, or even 40, its not like we don't have enough lanes to handle it. There should be more parking on the sides, too, which helps slow people down.

Two-way isn't the only solution. Just look at how many people treat Locke street like a speedway as evidence of that.

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2008 at 11:57:04

"Our downtown streets are not the QEW"

You are absolutely correct.

The QEW is 3 lanes wide in each direction.

Main St. is 5 lanes wide in one direction.

Main St. is really more like the 401 at the top of Toronto.


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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted October 24, 2008 at 12:57:19

"Political opportunism"? Srsly?!?

What, you think we're trying to get the Two-Way Streets Party elected or something? You think we're trying to get donations? Or maybe we can profit from this somehow?

Don't be a tool. We're "rather sickened" by the fact that people keep dying on streets where cars rule and pedestrians run scared. We're "rather sickened" that walking on Main Street is a horror show. We're "rather sickened" that eighteen wheeler transport trucks rocket through the city on arterial roads becuase it's actually faster than taking the freaking highway. We're "rather sickened" that moving cars around is more important in this town than making space for people to walk safely. We're "rather sickened" that this woman was killed instantly by a truck at the corner of Main and James.

If that's "political opportunism" I guess I'm a political opportunist. I want this city to get safer and better for it's residents so we don't have to keep reading tragic stories about people being pointlessly killed.

And I'm not going to apologize for that.

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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 24, 2008 at 13:13:14

Well said nobrainer. It's curious that people think we have something sinister to gain from promoting our ideas on this site. As you suggest, the only thing we have to gain is a better quality of life for everyone.

And yes it is quite appropriate to have this discussion after another accident. It's a sad fact that, despite the overwhelming evidence that speeding traffic is dangerous to pedestrians, many people, including our politicians, will not believe this or do anything to fix the problem until more people are killed. I just don't understand how it is in any way acceptable to allow these accidents to continue when they can be so easily prevented. If we had as many deaths through gun violence on our streets you can bet there would be an outcry. But somehow death by car is, 'just one of those things'.

It doesn't matter who was to 'blame' for this. Pedestrians deaths are avoidable and yet we do nothing to prevent them - that's the bottom line.

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By Mixed Media (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2008 at 13:40:37

For those who want to "experience" downtown hamilton traffic at its best (or should I say worst?) come and see me at James and Cannon - I'll even buy you a coffee and you can honestly tell me that the speed and lack of awareness by drivers is a bit too much. tractor-trailers - dump trucks - speeding SUVs rumble by me each and every day and they also zoom by kids walking home from school. This is not how you build communities! Cannon like Main is atrocious! I will be fighting this and guess what trucking companies will be angry - but trucking companies don't live here and most don't even do business downtown - they cut through our city like they own it and this disregard has to stop!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 24, 2008 at 14:28:09

In fairness, it's starting to look like we 'jumped the gun' on this incident. According to the latest report on the Spec website, the driver was turning right from James northbound onto Main eastbound, so thoroughfare speed per se is unlikely to have been a factor.

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By Trail Mix (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2008 at 14:55:14

W-w-what? But this is the internet...no one ever admits they were wrong. You're supposed to dig in your heels and insist against all evidence that your point still stands and is totally relevant to what happened even though what happened has nothing to do with what you assumed.

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By schmadrian (registered) | Posted October 24, 2008 at 15:38:36

Regarding lowering the speed limit...

Not...gonna...happen.

Lake Avenue in Stoney Creek has a 40 Km/h limit. Virtually NOBODY drives that slow. There is something that happens to most people in cars, no matter if it's a back road, a quiet city street, or a major, no-stops thoroughfare...driving 'slow' is simply not an option to them. Besides, you could never get the speed limit changed on roads like Main. It simply would never get passed.

I've posted previously about my take on our automobile culture and how many people die in North America yearly, and nobody blinks, so I won't repeat the stats. However, these deaths are tacitly regarded as 'acceptable casualties'. To expect that anyone in power (or anyone who drives and votes those people into power) is going to change anything, especially in Nascar Hamilton is, I'm sorry to suggest, naive.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 24, 2008 at 15:51:44

I'm not so much interested in lowering the speed limit, which the vast majority of motorists routinely ignore when they have the opportunity (please take note, reflexive cyclist-haters), as I am in reconfiguring the street so it's simply not possible to drive very fast:

  • Two-way traffic flow
  • Narrow lanes
  • Curbside parking
  • Wider sidewalks
  • Street trees

and so on. These function as compelling psychological cues to slow down.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 24, 2008 at 18:01:23

a few comments:

  • I don't understand why some are accusing people of 'trying to gain' from this debate. We are Hamilton residents. Not politicians looking to keep our cushy career jobs. The only thing we're looking to gain is a safer, pedestrian-oriented downtown.
  • don't be too quick to dismiss this debate simply because new info has shown the driver was turning and not driving straight on Main. Go stand at James and Cannon or James and Main and watch people making turns from the two-way street onto one-way Main and Cannon. They do NOT turn at the same speed and caution as they do at a two-way street. People roar onto these one-way streets, usually 2 or 3 lanes over so they can accelerate quickly while turning. Conversely, turning left onto a two-way street demands attention so someone doesn't hit the median or on-coming traffic. Turning right onto a two-way street also demands a slower turn in order to go from curb lane to curb lane instead of swinging out 3 or 4 lanes like people do everyday when turning onto a one-way.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted October 25, 2008 at 00:58:29

Why don't we just outlaw all the evil cars in our fair city? Then no pedestrians will ever get hurt again! I don't like the thought of anybody anywhere getting struck by a vehicle and getting hurt much less killed. Unfortunately it will happen that is a fact. All we can do is try to minimize the number. In our car based culture the automobile driver is constantly being watched and ticketed for breaking the laws. This doesn't mean that drivers are perfect or even good but they undergo more scrutinization then any other group of users on our roadways! When is the last time a cyclist was given a ticket for running a stop sign? How about a pedestrian for crossing against the light? This has lead to a lot of people acting like idiots with impunity. Our society is based on people getting around in cars. It even drives our economy(pun intended). You may not approve of it or like it but that is the way it is. With the geography of this country it's not going to change any time soon. Making the city less car friendly is not good for the city or its populace. Like it or not we must learn to live with cars and all your daydreaming of a better carless community is counterproductive. We have to make it work, 2 way streets aren't any safer go to downtown Toronto and look at University Ave. We have already changed some of our streets downtown to two-way streets do you really think it's made it any better? More traffic jams more frustrated drivers racing to the next light trying to get there while it's still green. How about all the extra traffic congestion spewing even more fumes into the air we really need that don't we. You don't have to like cars but you do need to treat them with respect.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 25, 2008 at 12:56:42

it shouldn't be this difficult to have a simple discussion. I'm convinced that some of you watch way too much US 'news' TV with their loud-mouth ignorant hosts who are unable to discuss things in a civilized manner without turning every topic into a huge yelling match full of exaggerations and rhetoric. Not once has anyone in this discussion said that cars are evil or should be banned etc..... it's a timely discussion on the completely unbalanced transportation network in our city, especially downtown in the most densely populated neighbourhoods. Save the hyperbole for the Fox or CNN talking heads.

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By g. (anonymous) | Posted October 25, 2008 at 23:08:21

the issue here is that we have set up a system where if a vehicle driver makes a mistake they might dinging up their car. if a pedestrian makes the same mistake, the pedestrian can die. is this fair? it is not a matter of fault, it is a matter of consequence. certain groups of people must be protected by society so that when a mistake is made the consequence is not grossly disproportionate to the action. this is why so much time and money and LEGISLATION goes into making cars safer for their occupants. because we realize as a group that it is better if someone who makes a mistake while driving a vehicle does not die, regardless of whose fault the accident is. perhaps if roads and cars were made safer for everyone, not just those who have the luxury of being protected right now, the world would be a better place. shame on anyone who implies that even if a young woman made a mistake crossing the road, which we don't even know yet, that it is reasonable for anyone to expect to die. really think about this for a second, is it really worth ANYONE being killed so that we can all drive from dundas to stoney creek in 15 minutes. think about that the next time your sister, daughter, mother, wife or grandmother goes out for a walk.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2008 at 01:08:40

Unfortunately horrific accidents are a part of the price we all pay for the society we live in. We will never stop accidents from happening. All we can do is try to minimize their frequency and their toll. We don’t stop flying when an airliner crashes. We don’t even make them slow down. We don’t even paint them as horrible killing machines. We take reasonable steps to try and improve flying.

Cars are a huge part of our culture and of our everyday lives. Some of us don’t like cars and take every opportunity to bash cars and drivers in the most biased possible way. Many of the trappings of our lives we owe to the automobile and trucks and yet it seems there is a small vocal outspoken minority who take it upon themselves to slam cars and drivers with the utmost prejudice.

Cars are continually being improved for both the people on the inside and on the outside. Even more improvements are being introduced with every model year. Drivers today are better educated and better trained than ever before. Drivers are more closely scrutinized than they have ever been before. Fines and punishments are higher and more severe than they have ever been. Bad drivers are forced off of our roads by a combination of the legal and insurance systems. Now let’s take a look at cyclists and pedestrians. Anybody can walk any way they want without any fear of getting a ticket or paying higher insurance premiums. I see more people ignoring signs, lights, markings and common sense than I have ever in the past. Anybody can go to the nearest store and buy a bike and instantly they get to be a vehicle on our roads. No training, no insurance, no courtesy and no common sense. Some of the cyclists are idiots, they have no sense of courtesy or obligation to play nice with others inside the rules. Just look at their posts. Can you imagine the outcry if a car driver had the audacity to say “If there are no vehicles approaching a four way stop and no pedestrians approaching (as a cyclist I am far more aware of my environment than a vehicle driver) what is the point in stopping?” That’s a quote from Brandon right here on RTH under The Economist Discovers Cycling .Really “What’s the point of stopping? “

g asks “the issue here is that we have set up a system where if a vehicle driver makes a mistake they might dinging up their car. if a pedestrian makes the same mistake, the pedestrian can die. is this fair?” The answer is no. Just like a lot of other things in life it’s not fair at all. I am very aware of that every time I walk anywhere near traffic. I don’t stand at the very edge of the sidewalk with my toes hanging over the edge when I wait for a green light. I see people doing that all the time. I don’t cross the road against the light. I see people doing that all the time. I don’t walk down the road when there is a perfectly good sidewalk to use. I see people doing that all the time. I don’t cross the street without looking. I see people doing that all the time. The list goes on and on. I know life is not fair; I know that any accident with a car is a really bad thing; I know I don’t want to be in an accident. I know all these things and always walk, cycle and drive bearing that in mind. The first step in safety must lie with the actions of the individual not with legislation. I don’t expect anybody to pay for little mistake like stepping onto the road at the wrong instant with their life but I know it can and does happen. That’s why I taught my kids the rules I did for crossing the street. And it’s why I worry about them whenever they’re out.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 26, 2008 at 10:47:20

Why is it that every time an article appears here that is remotely associated with roads, cars, or bikes, it invariably leads to the same tired complaint by drivers that cyclists (and now pedestrians) run stop signs?

Meister, you said (paraphrased) 'Can you imagine the outcry if a car driver had the audacity to say what's the point in stopping?'

Stand at any 4-way stop for more than 30 seconds and try to claim that the majority of drivers honour the stop sign. The standard rolling stop that most drivers perform is no less dangerous than the rolling stop that many cyclists perform.

People are obsessing over the idea of 'anti-car' people using this woman's death to 'further a two way agenda'. What a joke. Some of us have been woken up by these sad pedestrian deaths in this city and have come to realize that our transportation system is inherently flawed.

This is not about blame. This is not about which road users commit the highest percentage of infractions. This is about designing our roads so that they are safe for everybody. This is about making the trip to the grocery store just as safe and convenient for my neighbour with her cane as it is for my other neighbour with his pickup truck.

This is about preventing unnecessary deaths and injuries.

It's not an underhanded agenda. If anyone has an agenda, it's the group who wants to keep the high speed status quo, and will fight to the death to do so - even if it's not their own.

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By Skewer (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2008 at 10:49:07

I knew that the two way conversions were going to cause deaths...here is the first and I hope last, but maybe not.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 26, 2008 at 13:04:59

Skewer wrote:

I knew that the two way conversions were going to cause deaths

The data do not support your hypothesis. A study of Hamilton published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health in May-June 2000 found that two-way streets are safer for pedestrians than one-way streets:

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1082/

Mr. Meister wrote:

Why don't we just outlaw all the evil cars in our fair city? Then no pedestrians will ever get hurt again!

You're attacking a straw man. It's not necessary to eliminate cars, but rather to reduce their speeds to a level that effectively prevents pedestrian fatalities.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 26, 2008 at 17:29:11

I witnessed a horrendous accident last week. Two pedestrians crossed a red and bumped into each other. It was unreal. You should have seen the little bruises on their noses. What a menace to society.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted October 26, 2008 at 19:07:46

Your sense of humour is fantastic! I especially liked the little bruises on the noses.

The sad part is your now trying to make fun of me instead of actually trying to prove me wrong. Does this mean you are actually starting to get a grasp of reality?

Come down to my neck of the woods. Go to any of the 4 way stops on Sterling St. and watch traffic for 1 hour and tell me who is more outrageous cars or bikes. I have to deal with those two wheeled idiots all the time.

Another pet peeve spot is the pedestrian crossing on Cootes Dr. People refuse to wait that hellishly long wait of a whole minute for the light to change and simply dart across the road. They have changed the speed limit a couple of times already but its no better. I am sure that place is going to be the scene of a tragic accident it's just a matter of time. The city has done everything it can to make it a safe place to cross yet people make it dangerous. Our roads are very safe IF you follow the rules and use a little common sense. By the way what is this "safe vehicle speed" for pedestrians? In school some years ago I wrote a paper about seat belt use and a study out of Sweden found the lowest impact speed for a vehicle impact causing death to an unsecured driver or passenger was in the neighborhood of 20KPH. That's for somebody inside the car. The poor women killed recently was evidently hit by a truck turning the corner how fast was he going? How fast could he have been going. I don't know what happened there but it is very tragic.

For every action we take to make our streets safer there are consequences. Reduce the speed of traffic through the city. Create more traffic chaos and traffic jams and the air quality goes down; more people suffer and heaven forbid die. Don't believe me ask one of your asthmatic friends.
Most pedestrians and cyclists are not scared of cars, just watch them interact. A big part of the problem is they don't respect the dangers. Nobody needs to like cars but they should learn to respect them.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 26, 2008 at 22:28:58

let's choose any 4-way stop anywhere in town and count how many cars blow a stop sign in an hour and how many bikes blow the stop sign.

This is pointless and isn't relevant to this discussion. Nobody here hates cars. We hate seeing people die in our city. If several people were dying every year in Hamilton due to dangerous cyclists then I'd be the first to start a discussion on necessary changes and enforcement of them. But again, this too is pointless because cyclists aren't killing anyone. So let's just stick to the facts and stick to the topic of discussion

p.s. I'm glad you like the joke. Lol.

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By g. (anonymous) | Posted October 27, 2008 at 01:19:26

mr. meister, you have entirely missed my point in rushing to blame pedestrians and somehow, though it had nothing to do with the post, cyclists as well. you are ignoring the fact that everyone makes mistakes. even your children at some point in their lives will make a mistake. or a driver of a vehicle who misses a stop light or sign because they are distracted or driving too fast, or changes a lane inappropriately. the difference is as i stated the potential result of this mistake.

also, i completely refute your claim that ANYTHING has been done to improve the safety of a pedestrian being hit by a motor vehicle. it simply ignorant to suggest that it is as safe to be hit by a car as a pedestrian as it is to be hit in another vehicle. i will say that more people die every year by vehicle vehicle collisions but that is simply because there are thousands more of this type of accident than between a car and a pedestrian.

if we can save lives, which statistically we can by reducing speed limits, why shouldn't we? in your mind it is not worth saving lives because it will inconvenience drivers by increasing congestion and somehow introduce "chaos?" how will reducing the speed limit introduce traffic chaos? the speed limit of the QEW and the 401 are pretty high and i don't see them any less chaotic at rush hour than any city street. in fact, i would rather be a pedestrian in a safely congested street any day than a major highway or intracity highway like main street or cannon street clipping along at or usually above the speed limit.

i will conclude by saying that our roads are anything but safe regardless of whether you follow the rules or not. 31 people died on hamilton roads last year. doesn't sound too safe to me.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 27, 2008 at 09:25:47

Jason wrote:

let's choose any 4-way stop anywhere in town and count how many cars blow a stop sign in an hour and how many bikes blow the stop sign.

Hey, I did this earlier this year! Here are the results I found:

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1079/

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 27, 2008 at 10:59:52

A right turn onto Main from James is not legal on a red light. (There's a sign there) So the pedestrian had the right of way. Wouldn't a speed reduction by half cause double the speed to work for timed lights as well? Change the street to two way, de-synchronize the lights and start levelling some major tickets. Jason/Ryan regarding blowing stop signs, I believe in the same article the argument was not stopping completely at a stop sign. There's a reason why that behavior isn't targetted and you stated it yourself...the likelihood of an accident happening that causes severe damage as a result of not stopping completely is minimal.

Back to the issue... someone said that it's because James was turned to two way that this occurred...last time I recall, turning left from James Street onto Main in the one way situation was more hazardous than one would think. The van might've had a green light (had to in order for the right turn to be legal) but if I'm not mistaken the woman was struck IN THE CROSSWALK... she wasn't jaywalking or crossing between lights and considering the green light had every right to be there.

Switching to two way would change the atmosphere on Main Street tremendously. It'd revitalize the area, much like it's done on James Street. It'd also make the desynchronization a much smaller issue. Most people wouldn't mind driving a bit slower if there's something decent to look at...

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 27, 2008 at 15:54:15

'someone said that this happened because James was turned to two-way'.

I'd like to hear them explain that one. Considering 99% of streets in the city (and on this continent) are 2-way I fail to see why someone would run somebody down and then say "It was this darn two-way street that caused me to do it".

However, I was hit in my car by a lady recently from out of town who had just circled KIng and Main half a dozen times looking for her hotel. She attempted to turn into a variety store parking lot near Hess Village and hit me in the process. Her and her companion were both rather flustered at the fact that their hotel was "on King Street" yet they couldn't find it. I was able to direct them and let them know that they hadn't gone far enough east on Main before looping back on King in order to find that particular hotel. I hear stories like that ALL the time. People's first impression of our city is "all these dumb one way streets". These particular visitors will go back to wherever they're from and tell all their family and friends that Hamilton's fabulous one-way streets were responsible for car repairs and an insurance claim. Welcome to Hamilton.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted October 27, 2008 at 23:43:31

I don’t believe I said it’s any safer to get hit by a vehicle. Cars are safer because ABS brakes, better tire technology and features like ESC have reduced the number of collisions. So many people write to reduce speeds or make two way streets and that does not address the problem. People make poor choices and unfortunately sometimes they have dire consequences, sometimes for themselves sometimes for others. No amount of legislation will change that. Pedestrians and cyclist especially have little respect or fear for vehicles that is the root of the problem. Have you gone to the pedestrian crossing on Cootes? Am I the only one who sees pedestrians darting across the roads between fast moving cars? Are the cyclists I see ignoring the most basic rules of the road and common sense figments of my imagination?

On the weekend in Toronto a young lady of 20 walking with her sister was killed by a train. Evidently as the barricades came down she evaded them and tried to run across the tracks but tripped and fell. The train struck her and killed her. What a tragedy. This in an effort to save maybe 20 seconds. The entire train was 2 locomotives and no other cars. How do you propose to fix that? Slow down trains? Last year 84 people were killed by trains in Canada, over 40 in Ontario. Were they all going to fast? Making illegal turns? Blowing stop signs?

Earlier today I was driving on Hunter St. as I approached James St. the light turned from red to green. I was coasting and started to accelerate through the intersection. Just as I was entering the intersection a pedestrian who was walking down James St. simply walked out in front of me. He never looked at Hunter St. I blew my horn and he had the audacity to give me the finger as he jumped back onto the sidewalk. What did I do wrong? If only this were an isolated incident but similar things happen with great regularity.

I understand many people don’t come to a complete stop at stop signs and I don’t even mind the rolling stop. The issue I have is with the ones who barely slow down if at all, and that is rarely a car.

I simply don’t see any evidence that the speeds we have are causing accidents. Poor decisions and mistakes are causing our accidents. Reducing speeds and turning our thoroughfares into two way streets will not change that but will cause other problems. Driver frustration will increase and that in itself will cause accidents. Air quality will deteriorate especially in the summer months and that will increase illness and even deaths in the vulnerable part of the populace.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 28, 2008 at 01:41:34

I simply don’t see any evidence that the speeds we have are causing accidents.

Again with the strawman. No one said speed causes accidents. Only that when the accidents inevitably occur, the speeds that we tolerate in our inner city make them more likely to be lethal.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 28, 2008 at 08:11:59

highwater wrote:

No one said speed causes accidents. Only that when the accidents inevitably occur, the speeds that we tolerate in our inner city make them more likely to be lethal.

Actually, both are true. If you're going twice as fast, it takes four times the distance to stop, which reduces your ability to avoid collisions.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 28, 2008 at 11:06:11

Exactly...and travelling at a higher rate of speed also gives you less time to react before you reach the pedestrian. Mr. Meister...let's use your example... if you'd been travelling at a normal rate of speed you would've had a lot less time to react and might've actually hit the person. Coasting allowed you time to react to the situation. Also you were on Hunter. If you'd been on Main Street and were part of the "green wave" you'd have hit the person.

People will still make stupid decisions and suffer from inattention (I hate cyclists with iPods on). The problem lies when either party isn't allowed time to react. In your situation, you're driving the vehicle which presents the most danger to the other party. (if the ped walked into your car it woudln't hurt your car) As such you should be the one who reacts especially in urban areas like downtown. If the pedestrian makes a dumb decision, he'll cause damage to himself...if a driver makes a dumb decision he's at a much greater risk of endangering another's life.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted October 28, 2008 at 12:34:38

What about changing some attitudes and making pedestrians a little more responsible. No amount of legislation can compensate for a lack of common sense. What about the other costs of reducing traffic flow?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 28, 2008 at 12:42:46

Mr Meister wrote:

What about the other costs of reducing traffic flow?

What other costs? reducing traffic flow will reduce overall driving, increase transit use, and get more people riding bicycles and walking on the sidewalk, which will help local business and attract investment back downtown, all while making the streets safer.

What's not to like?

Likewise, air quality won't get worse because the increased emissions from congestion are offset by less overall driving (according to the city's own studies).

Increasing traffic flow is a false economy based on a seriuos misconception of how networks operate:

http://www.raisethehammer.org/blog/1064

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted October 29, 2008 at 16:53:30

If you reduce traffic flow all of a sudden people who need to get across town will disappear? People who need to go to government offices will decide not to go?
They can't so they will endure the hardships but people who just want to go to Hamilton Place or Copps or shopping will make other decisions. Every study done about why people don't want to go downtown shows it's traffic and parking. Making traffic worse will not encourage people to go downtown. Look at the areas that are thriving Upper James or The Meadowlands, places you can drive to and park easily when you get there. My son and his friends see a lot of movies, do you think parents drive them downtown or to Meadowlands? Why? Traffic and parking. Its easier to take them to Ancaster and pay a couple bucks more than downtown. If you want to rejuvenate downtown You have to make it easier to get there not more difficult. How does reducing traffic flow get people to take mass transit? The vast majority of people get around by car you may not approve, you may not like it but that does not change it. Slowing traffic flow will increase congestion will decrease air quality will increase illnessess will have a negative affect.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 29, 2008 at 23:27:17

Mr Meister wrote:

If you reduce traffic flow all of a sudden people who need to get across town will disappear?

In a manner of speaking. People make individual choices in a context or framework of options that vary in terms of cost, comfort, convenience, status, and so on.

If you change the balance of cost, convenience, etc. among the options, people in the aggregate will adjust their choices accordingly.

Traffic is susceptible to induced demand and its converse. All this means is that if you lower the cost of something - in price, time, comfort, etc - demand for it goes up; and if you raise the cost, demand for it goes down.

As a society, we have induced the demand for driving with high-speed, high-volume public streets, mandatory "free" parking requirements, publicly subsidized oil exploration and refining, and so on.

As a predictable result, people drive more.

If we removed some of that demand inducement - by narrowing lanes, slowing traffic speeds, reducing road volumes, eliminating "free" parking requirements, etc. - and simultaneously lowered the cost of walking, cycling and transit - by widening sidewalks, creating a continuous network of bike lanes, improving transit service, lowering transit fares, etc. - we would see a predictable shift in transportation away from cars and toward walking, cycling and transit.

This isn't pie-in-the-sky theorizing: the empirical evidence is overwhelming. Indeed, this is basic economics.

The vast majority of people currently drive most places most of the time because of the balance of costs among the transit options (plus some network lock-in effects). Changing the rate of driving is no more difficult than changing the balance of costs.

If what you write is true, people should continue to drive regardless of the cost. However, the evidence does not support your assumption. As gas prices have increased steadily over this decade, the rate of growth in kilometres driven in Canada and the US slowed, then stalled, and then reversed. In the past year, driving actually decreased by a few percent and transit use increased by five percent (and by over ten percent on light rail systems, incidentally).

Interestingly, increasing congestion does not increase overall air pollution, because the increase in pollution due to sitting in traffic is offset by the fact that people drive less. In fact, the cities with the worst air pollution from driving are precisely those cities that make the most heroic efforts to ease congestion by increasing road capacity.

In Hamilton, where we have sacrificed entire downtown neighbourhoods for the convenience of drivers, cars account for more than half the total air pollution. As industry gets better over time, driving gets worse.

Finally, you asked where the cars would go. Jane Jacobs, in her last book _Dark Age Ahead_, studied this and wrote about it. She quoted a study reported in the _New Scientist_ that actually subjected the assumptions of traffic engineers to empirical research:

Planners' models assume that closing a road causes the traffic using it to move elsewhere ... The study team ... found that computer models used by urban transportation planners yield incorrect answers ... [W]hen a road is closed, an average of 20% of the traffic it carries seems to vanish. In some cases they studied, as much as 60% of the traffic vanished. ... The report at hand is a logical extension to a 1994 finding that building new roads generates traffic. If that's the case, "then the closure of roads is bound to cause less traffic," according to London-based transport consultant Keith Buchan. ... [T]raffic vanishes because commuting habits are so variable ... Flexibility helps people cope with road closures ... Experts ... suggest that government should stop worrying about causing vehicular congestion by pedestrianizing sites.

Jane Jacobs, _Dark Age Ahead_, 2004, p. 75

In other words, converting the streets to two-way and reducing their capacity and speed actually would reduce the number of people trying to get across town.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-04-11 15:04:30

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2008 at 02:52:36

People do not drive regardless of cost, that's a really silly statement, I don't know were you got that from.

The downtown core used to be a vibrant place. It had those horrible one way streets. It had the "green wave" you complain so much about and yet people flocked there for years. Why not now? Could it be the traffic is worse and people don't want to deal with it?

People have reduced their mileage because of the cost, primarily the cost of gas. Some people have started taking transit especially those on the smallest budget. Many of the things you alluded to really work in some places. England over 50 million people less than 150,000 square KM. Germany population over 80 million less than 400,000 square KM. Southampton England population 300,000 area 52 square KM. Dortmund Germany population 580,000 area 280 square KM. Huge traffic jams. How many people have no car? have no choice? Terrific rail infrastructure now look at us. Hamilton population 520,000 area 1,100 square KM. Southern Ont. population 12 million area app. 200,000 square KM. terrible rail infrastructure. It's difficult to take a train all the way to Toronto! Most of our tracks are owned by freight haulers like C.N. so the passenger trains rent time on the rails and still take backseat to the freight trains. My son took a train from Sudbury and the only reasonable thing was to pick him up in Toronto. His train was over 6 hours late because the train had to wait for freighters to finish on the tracks. He arrived in Toronto at 2:30 AM. How long before we try that again?

What's the cost of new tracks? Whats the cost of just appropriating the land? How does a population pay for it? Massive numbers of train commuters is pie in the sky wishful thinking. How long has there been talk of of a rail line in Hamilton? At a cost of $50 BILLION and that's the pre-build price what's it really going to cost? Once its built how does it hook up to anything else.

I'd love to see a decent alternative to always filling the gas tank. I live in the west end my son had basketball practices at Saltfleet high 25 min by car at a cost of less then $5 gas. how long by transit? 2 hours? (35 min from Westdale to Eastgate on the express bus if it's running} and how close does the bus go? how many transfers? what does it cost me $3? Even if they build the rail line from University Plaza to Eastgate it means a bus at this end and at least one bus at that end if not two. How long will it take? How many people with a car are going to take that trip by transit?

Perhaps the dominant traffic is the huge flow from atop the hill down every day how does the East West line deal with that? That will require another line. At what cost? trains up and down a 300 Ft. escarpment how well is that going to work? how fast will it be? In which direction is Hamilton's population going to expand? what direction can it expand in? South. So which line should we build first? How well can one line alone work?

In this day and age it's so "in" to talk about greener alternatives and people sure do. How many are going to use light rail once its built? How many more buses do we need to add to bring people to the train? If people start by car how do get them to park it (and where are the parking lots going to be?) and get on a train? People do it for Toronto because its a much longer commute and traffic's even worse. How much money will the new rail line lose? who is going to pay for it? Is there any transit system in Canada that's not losing money? I doubt it. Too many KMS. not enough people. HSR is talking about a fare increase, bet that lowers ridership. You don't need to like cars but you need to respect them.


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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 30, 2008 at 12:45:08

Mr. Meister, Poking at questions that have been answered by both studies here in Hamilton and elsewhere by case studies is an attempt to refocus a discussion you started. Ridership will increase, the economic advantages to LRT are enormous, the funds will be partially subsidized by Metrolinx, a train travelling up the escarpment is absolutely possible and is called Phase 2 of the project and slated to take place within the next 10-15 years, Hamilton's population will increase mostly by infill and condo/apt style developments in the Core, myself as well as many other people I've spoken to would jump in a train to go downtown (in fact, many people I talk to would visit the downtown more if they didn't have to drive down there), an LRT system uses buses to bring passengers to nodes, LRT systems expand by building more rail lines... did i answer them all? If you need data, read more. You grab partial statements from posts to "support" your arguments but refuse to research both sides of an argument before asking redundant questions.

You say something about the green wave being around when the city thrived... A model 'A' needed to be pushed pretty hard to get up to 60 (if it were even possible), there were fewer lanes and a much lower volume of traffic. Do you seriously think that is a valid argument???

Come up with some valuable arguments rather than swinging sticks at clouds.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2008 at 14:38:16

What are the economic advantages to a train that costs $50+ Billion to build and loses money every single day of the year? What transit line is there in Canada that doesn't lose money? Transit has lots of advantages like reducing pollution(unless of course that 35 ton bus is driving cross the city with only 2 or 3 people in it and we have that happening every evening) reducing congestion etc but economic advantages aren't real high because the city has to subsidize every single fare.


Where does Metrolinx get it's funds? Are they a gift from Bill Gates or are they tax dollars?

I never said a train traveling up the escarpment isn't possible we do have them today. How fast will they be? How long a track will you need? How expensive will that be? How useful will an East west line be without the north south line? Then we'll have 2 rail lines losing money every single day. How are we going to pay for that?

I have heard people tell me that they were going to park their cars and start taking the bus ever since gas hit $0.50 per GALLON. But wait, talk to them today and those people are still driving their cars.

It's easy to say I will take the train on a poll but guess what? People don't follow through. Taking transit from Burlington/Oakville to Toronto seems like a no brainer. Look at the QEW its full of cars going from Burlington /Oakville to Toronto every single day. Talk to those drivers and how many will tell you they are going to start taking transit? How many said the same thing yesterday? last week? last month? last year? ten years ago? They get in their cars and head to the train but then its too cold or too hot or too rainy or too snowy or they're too late or they need their car at lunch and its easier to do what they've always done. Drive to Toronto.

How do you figure "...Hamilton's population will increase mostly by infill and condo/apt style developments in the Core..." Hamilton has been expanding every year that you can get stats for. Sure there will be some infill but they are going to build lots more houses.

You haven't even begun to answer the questions and problems you choose to ignore them. You're living in a fantasy world.

I showed you some numbers about population and area how do you plan on overcoming them? There was no green wave with Model T's because we were too backwards and didn't have the technology. In the 60's and 70's we had the green wave and downtown flourished. We had the T.H. & B. rail line what ever happened to it? What ever happened to CP rail service? CN rail service? I'll give you one hint they're all in the same place. We have no commercial passenger rail service because it loses money. Even the states which has a population 10 times bigger and a much smaller country has no commercial passenger rail service, only Amtrak. How many Billions has the U.S. pored into it and it faces fewer challenges than a Canadian Rail line.

I don't base my arguments on partial data I base them on common sense, experience and realism not pie in the sky wishful thinking.

I'd love to see transit be a viable alternative but until some of the numbers change cars will dominate our roads, our economy and our lives. You don't need to like cars but you need to respect them.




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By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2008 at 15:15:47

I didn't decide to take the train to Toronto when I lived in Hamilton, I moved to Toronto instead. People make the choices that appeal to, and are available to them. To suggest that people will just keep on driving is ridiculous. The fact is you should be able to make a choice as to whether to own a car. For many folks there simply is no choice.

I just came back from an appointment at Rogers in Brampton. The Rogers site is massive but the car park is enormous. There must be over a thousand cars. I asked the lady I was meeting with how she got to work and she laughed, 'I drive. We all drive. There's no other way to get up here'

Those employees - many of whom were relocated from Toronto offices - have no choice but to drive. As oil prices increase and congestion becomes worse it will be harder and harder for folks to afford to drive. We need to integrate transit into our city planning so that we can prepare for the changes ahead. While transit may be a 'cost' to tax payers now (and I'm not convinced that all transit systems are, when you factor in the health, environmental and other benefits they provide), in the future, if we build integrated transit networks, this will not necessarily be the case.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2008 at 16:17:32

Mr Meister wrote:

What are the economic advantages to a train that costs $50+ Billion to build and loses money every single day of the year?

$50+ billion for a train? Where did you get that number? The total bill for every project Metrolinx wants to build over the next 25 years across the entire GTA+H is some $50 billion.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 31, 2008 at 10:55:59

As long as looking up areas and populations online and typing them up is called research, you're right, I don't do that! Actually I refuse to. You don't propose anything you swing sticks hoping to ask something. You rest in hyperbole. You state that more houses will be built, the answer to that...yep! They will because they can. But eventually we hit a boundary at which point we resort to infill. If you want to know how fast a train going up a hill will be call someone. If that worries you... You say we were backwards when Model T's were around? I submit we were the opposite. We've become backwards. When Model T's were around people were envisioning a future...now we're afraid to look forward and as a city we continue to act in the same methodology we've used for decades.

You say I'm living in a fantasy world and haven't answered questions...ummm, nope! I simply chose not to answer questions that if you'd spent your own time looking around you could've easily answered yourself. You're the one who's just asking questions.

If pessimism was a disease...you'd have it! What you call "pie-in-the-sky" is merely optimism from a person who thinks with vision. Your questions don't present any new arguments, they don't address any real problems. In terms of service, Stoney Creek bus service is one of the worst. Until it is looked at, there won't be a nice and quick way to Saltfleet. I'd suggest asking for the practice to be moved if it's such a problem. It takes you 25 mins to get there by car? If you hit the "green wave" and go across town, I can make it from James to my house in Stoney Creek in 15 mins.

Regardless, it's been stated many times that studies show that on average every dollar invested in LRT returns 6.

Anyway, I don't feel like answering all your questions for you. All of them have been asked at some point. Do your research and answer them yourself. It's not that difficult.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 31, 2008 at 10:57:24

FYI: it looks like it'd be 2 transfers and the bus goes right past Saltfleet.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted November 01, 2008 at 11:10:09

You are absolutely right $50 Billion was a totally wrong number.
Calgary's new west extension is about 7.5 KM long and the estimate before construction begins is $716 million or pretty close to $100 million per KM. I believe this is just construction costs and does not include rolling stock. That's an extension to an existing system. Start up costs would likely be higher. Eastgate to University Plaza is about 16 KM. Using Calgary's numbers that would mean a pre-build estimate of $1.6 billion. If the west termination point is McMaster then the estimate drops to $1.4 billion for 14 Km. When was the last time a project that big came in on budget? Calgary has a population of just over 1 million about double that of Hamilton. Calgary covers an area of about 750 square Km compared to Hamilton's 1,100 square Km. Are you starting to see the difference? Transit feasibility is all about population and distance.
Transit fares in Hamilton are less than $2 a ride if you buy a ticket, something easily done, and if rates go up by $0.10 or $0.15 to help pay the shortfall everybody's worried ridership will decline like it does every time there is an increase. Hamilton currently funds the HSR about $30 million a year, half of its budget. What would the ongoing annual cost of a new system be? How can we afford it?
I've been accused of being a pessimist. I am not. I am however a realist and I believe in reality not “pie in the sky wishful thinking.” I just cannot figure out where your hatred for cars comes from? You don’t need to like cars but you must respect them.
Years ago the city built Copps on the same assumption, "If you build it they will come" just like the movies. How has that worked out for Hamilton? How much money has it sucked out of our pockets? Remember Natural Gas buses? How much did that cost us to convert to Natural Gas? How much to convert back? How much money did that suck out of our pockets? Examples of "Pie in the sky" ideas that we can't afford.
You moved to Toronto while thousands are trying to leave. Why are they leaving? They want more affordable housing, for many it’s cheaper to live elsewhere and commute. Many people do not want to live in apartments or condos this, way of the future, you predict. Some are happy living the condo lifestyle but, most people still want a house. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. How many new condos have been built in the last 10 years? How many houses? That’s why transit is so expensive. If you can stop the building of new subdivisions and force them to build condos instead in a few years we would have the population density to make more transit viable.
The reason you do not answer my questions is because many have no answer. It’s all about the money and we just cannot afford these huge pie in the sky money sucking projects.
I wish there was a realistic alternative to buying expensive gas but I suspect reasonable mass transit is not it. Maybe an electric car is in my future.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted November 04, 2008 at 11:07:01

So you're able to tell me why I won't answer your questions? You're also able to use one city's numbers to make an assumption like yours. Before any construction is done, there will be a budget put forward. Also, we don't plan on going ahead without major funding by higher levels of government. It's already been said/shown that the cost of maintaining an LRT system is less than that of a bus system. The capital cost upfront is more, the maintenance cost is less. You say this is pie in the sky, yet the case studies undertaken in many other cities across the continent show that putting in an LRT system serves as a catalyst of sorts to an economic boom.

I wonder if it cost more to put those horizontal traffic lights on Calgary streets. Can you check that for me? Maybe we should change ours around... Calling something pie in the sky before any real numbers are put forward is calling out "the sky is falling". Just wait to argue until someone comes up with some real numbers. We can't spring for marble on a renovated city hall, we won't spring for something astronomically expensive if there's no real benefit to doing so. Also note that the funding for our system will most likely be more than 80% from sources other than the city. I come up with (using your numbers without checking them) a total cost of 1.53 billion at 20% from city coffers that's 305mil for a 16km stretch of LRT, almost 2.5 times cheaper than Calgary's system which is less than half as long. Not to shabby...

By all means, buy an electric car. I can't find one with enough storage that's not as big as an SUV (i.e. I need a hatchback) that is worth my money yet. One thing I do know...me and many others I know will ride a train downtown rather than drive or take a bus.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 04, 2008 at 14:44:25

Mr Meister wrote

Eastgate to University Plaza is about 16 KM. Using Calgary's numbers that would mean a pre-build estimate of $1.6 billion.

We don't need to guess how much it will cost. The city has already estimated that both the east-west B-Line and the north-south A-Line will collectively cost around $1.1 billion, with the larger share of the total going to the A-Line to pay for bridge reconstruction and the escarpment crossing.

The cost to build the B-Line will most likely be somewhere in the $300-400 million range.

Since this has already been reported many times on RTH and even the mainstream media, I wonder whether you're simply attacking a straw man to strengthen your argument.

I just cannot figure out where your hatred for cars comes from?

You keep mentioning this, yet I'm not aware of anyone here stating a hatred for cars.

Another straw man attack?

From many different points of view - air quality, energy use, sustainability, neighbourhood livability, infrastructure productivity, etc. - cars are an expensive choice, a choice that not nearly as many people would make if the personal cost of driving were not so extensively subsidized with public monies.

Years ago the city built Copps on the same assumption

Years ago the city built many things based on a serious misapprehension about how cities work and what they need to be successful. Five decades of empirical study have given us a much better idea of what works and what does not.

The evidence that light rail attracts new riders, spurs new private investment and revitalizes urban neighbourhoods is overwhelming and comes from literally dozens of cases around the industrialized world.

Yet instead of arguing from evidence, you fall back on truisms and inappropriate counter-examples like Copps Coliseum (as a failed public investment) and Calgary's light rail system, much of which is grid-separated on elevated lines, requiring much more expensive infrastructure (including full stations) than Hamilton's proposed tram running in a dedicated lane.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2008 at 01:49:28

You’ve got me totally confused. What are horizontal traffic lights and what do they mean?

If you don’t hate cars why are you advocating all these anti car changes that will wreck havoc with our city like slowing traffic to a pedestrian safe speed of 32KPH? Making more 2 way streets and the like?

I understand that other levels of government will help pay for an LRT but that said it’s still taxpayer dollars. I pay too much in taxes to all levels of government. IF the city has to pay ONLY $305 million dollars to build the LRT that much money could fund the HSR for 10 years at current levels. I’m not sure what “…almost 2.5 times cheaper than Calgary's system which is less than half as long.” means. Half as cheap much means $1.00 instead of $2.00. What does 2.5 times cheaper mean? Over the years I have seen many preliminary estimates for big projects and when the actual budget is put together it's always way higher and then the project invariably runs over budget.

If your aim is to convince people to take transit downtown then why not reduce the bus fare or make it free. For $305 million there are all kinds of better ways to spend it than another money sucking transit line.

You refer to cars being subsidized by public monies. How can you say that with a straight face? Between producing raw materials, building parts, assembling cars and all the taxes, including all the taxes on gas to all the levels of government our entire economy would stall without cars! Much of the steel we make right here goes to automobile manufacturing. Just taking all the tax dollars from the manufacture and sale of gas away from our governments would cripple them.

A city of our population and area cannot afford a pie in the sky, they’ll come if we build it, money sucking transit line. To the best of my knowledge Edmonton is the only city with a population of less than 1 million to build a LRT. Edmonton has a population of 750,000, about 50% bigger than ours, in an area just slightly smaller than ours, and their entire LRT system, after 4 or 5 additions over 30 years, after the initial build is still less than the 16 km proposed for Hamilton.

We need fiscally responsible government, not car hating zealots.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2008 at 12:09:02

Mr Meister wrote:

If you don’t hate cars why are you advocating all these anti car changes that will wreck havoc with our city like slowing traffic to a pedestrian safe speed of 32KPH? Making more 2 way streets and the like?

It's not anti-car to believe that cars should not travel fast enough to kill pedestrians when they're driving through downtown urban neighbourhoods or that our roads should be dedicated first to serving the people who live and work on them.

Frankly, I find it revealing that you consider proposed regulations on driving as hatred of it. (For the record: I own a car and sometimes even drive it.)

I pay too much in taxes to all levels of government.

The overall Canadian tax rate is among the lowest in the OECD. It costs money to run a modern industrial country, but tax money spent well more than pays for itself in increased overall prosperity. In other words, if taxes were significantly lower and the government didn't invest in public infrastructure and services, your ability to earn a decent income would be far more restricted than it is.

Similarly, light rail will generate far more in new economic development than it costs to build or operate.

If your aim is to convince people to take transit downtown then why not reduce the bus fare or make it free.

Many people who would never ride a bus at any price will gladly ride a tram. I'm not certain why, but it seems to do with the increased comfort and smoothness of the ride, greater speed and convenience, and a less concrete sense that LRT is more classy and upscale. Buses feel like a social service for the poor; LRT feels like a 'legitimate' transit system.

Making transit free would starve the transit budget and lead directly to reduced service. There's also evidence from cities that have tried it that people don't have as much respect for free transit - there's more violence, more vandalism, etc.

I do support reducing transit fares in general, but that requires the political will to increase the transit tax levy. However, since the per-passenger operating costs for LRT are so much lower than for buses, it's possible to reduce individual fares without starving the operating budget.

For $305 million there are all kinds of better ways to spend it than another money sucking transit line.

Again, it's been demonstrated repeatedly that LRT more than pays for itself in new economic activity: increased ridership, private investment, and municipal tax assessment. LRT is an investment, not a 'subsidy'.

You refer to cars being subsidized by public monies. How can you say that with a straight face?

Highways and roads are paid out of general tax revenues. If motorists had to pay the full cost of building and operating roads, the taxes on car ownership and operation would be far higher than they are.

That doesn't even include the cost of dealing with air pollution and climate change, which are also paid out of general tax revenues.

A city of our population and area cannot afford a pie in the sky, they’ll come if we build it, money sucking transit line.

You keep writing that, but the evidence emphatically does not support either your assertion that LRT is "pie in the sky" or that it will be "money sucking".

So far, you have offered nothing but truisms and false analogies to support your claims.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted November 05, 2008 at 12:48:37

Why do I promote making downtown less car friendly despite liking cars? Because although I like cars, I don't see how having a major street/highway running through downtown. I've not only driven downtown, I've walked and shopped downtown. I'm not an idiot and I see how having a street like Main Street running through downtown is a major hinderance to creating a downtown environment that promotes life.

Reducing the bus fare or making it free doesn't transform the image of transit. It actually serves to make it worse because as you can imagine the issue to most people isn't that it's to expensive it's that it's not clean. Bus transit doesn't have a "hip" image. The point of LRT is a transformation of the perception of transit as well as a more effective method (fiscally, environmentally etc) of serving busy corridors.

When did I refer to cars being subsidized by public monies? Roads most definately are. I also don't think that it's our responsibility to keep the economy focussed on backwards practices. As non-renewable resources are used up or get harder to attain it's necessary to refocus. That's something that the North American car industry hasn't been able to do and that's why it's floundering right now. The Big 3 are slowly changing their focus but it's far to late.

Finally, it has nothing to do with car hating and everything to do with loving the city. Sometimes, it's necessary to make sacrifices in order to maintain a city with the image we want to have. I was a proponent of the RHCE (although I'm supremely p.o'd about the "business development" at the top) and I'm also a proponent of shutting down the Gore and making it a pedestrian zone as well as making downtown streets two-way and having desychronized lights. I plan on always having a car (at least for now) in fact I plan on restoring one as soon as I get my own place to work on it and I don't think that the answer to everything is "get rid of the cars" however with respect to our downtown, it's the vehicular traffic that's cutting off the life of it. To go from the Hunter station to downtown one has to cross Main Street which is dangerous at the best of times. Our sidewalks are too small and synchronized traffic is plain scary to a pedestrian. Agreeably, it's not the best for getting from one end of the city to the other, but...that's what the 403, Burlington Street, the Linc and the QEW are for.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted November 05, 2008 at 12:50:11

hahah! I didn't read Ryan's comment first...I swear! But that is hilarious!

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted November 20, 2008 at 21:26:18

Sorry I haven’t been able to write for a while. I’m sure you missed your dose of realism.
You wrote ” It's not anti-car to believe that cars should not travel fast enough to kill pedestrians when they're driving through downtown urban neighbourhoods or that our roads should be dedicated first to serving the people who live and work on them.” The cold hard reality is that a vehicle at any speed can kill a pedestrian. Look at the recent fatality downtown, how fast was that truck going around the corner? Not very, and yet, we had the most tragic of outcomes. We have everything in place for cars and pedestrians to co-exist, the laws, the roads, the sidewalks, the crossings, the lights, all people have to do is use them. I do and I taught my kids to by age 8 or 10, so it’s not that difficult. Nobody lives on the road we live beside the road, the roads are for cars the sidewalks are for people. The whole purpose of roads is to move traffic that’s why we have them. Why do you find it so difficult to accept this? Because it’s reality and not, pie in the sky wishful thinking, that’s the way it should be nonsense. If people don’t want live on Main Street then they are welcome to live elsewhere. When we moved we took into account the traffic on our street most reasonable people do. There is much more to downtown then Main Street and King Street. Crossing these thoroughfares is very safe and very easy, walk to the nearest traffic light wait for the light to illuminate the little walking figure and away you go. Thousands of people do it every day, just go downtown and look. Why do you find this to be such an onerous task? Is it foolproof? No, of course not, accidents can and do happen, but they happen very seldom.

You wrote “Making transit free would starve the transit budget and lead directly to reduced service. There's also evidence from cities that have tried it that people don't have as much respect for free transit - there's more violence, more vandalism, etc.” and then you continued “I do support reducing transit fares in general, but that requires the political will to increase the transit tax levy.” So you wish to increase taxes and reduce transit fares, which will increase violence and vandalism? Wow! you are complicated. Most of us are happy reducing vandalism and violence. But then you want to spend over a $billion to build something that loses money every day of the year.

You wrote “However, since the per-passenger operating costs for LRT are so much lower than for buses, it's possible to reduce individual fares without starving the operating budget.” At a cost of (using my more realistic figures) $1.6 Billion for the Eastgate – University Plaza east –west line, that would pay Hamilton’s entire existing transit budget for over 20 years. People won’t use free transit, they won’t use transit when the fare is raised, maybe the truth is that most people don’t want to use transit! (look at the congested hiways competing with transit every day.)
The next transit system in Canada that pays for itself will be the First transit system that pays for itself. They are all subsidized. It’s that old population to area ratio you keep ignoring because it is the big problem you and everybody else have no answer for.
Highways and roads are paid for by general tax revenues and where do these revenues come from? How much of these revenues come from the automotive area. The income tax from miners bringing up the ore, the steel company to make the steel, workers making parts, the workers building cars, the sales tax on buying and re-buying the same car? How about all the revenues the governments get from the production, distribution and sale of gas? How about just the taxes on the insurance drivers have to have? Then there are the obvious fees for plates and licenses. After all these you have the audacity to say ” Highways and roads are paid out of general tax revenues. If motorists had to pay the full cost of building and operating roads, the taxes on car ownership and operation would be far higher than they are.” Where do you think these general tax revenues come from? Bill Gates?
If all the taxes and fees on cars and associated items were somehow eliminated along with all the costs of road construction and maintenance all our governments would be broke in a heartbeat.
We do not need, nor can we afford to dump millions and millions into an ill advised money losing rail system in our city.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 20, 2008 at 22:40:10

Mr Meister wrote:

The cold hard reality is that a vehicle at any speed can kill a pedestrian.

This is true, but a sensible policy has to be aimed at minimizing such pedestrian deaths, and to be most effective it must be based on statistical analysis, not on anecdotes.

Again, the evidence is clear: doubling vehicle speed from 32 km/h to 64 km/h increases the risk of pedestrian death in a collision from a mere five percent to a devastating 90 percent.

One tragic anecdote cannot possibly disprove this exponential correlation.

We have everything in place for cars and pedestrians to co-exist, the laws, the roads, the sidewalks, the crossings, the lights, all people have to do is use them.

Right now the system in place puts cars going over 60 km/h in direct conflict with pedestrians. That's inherently dangerous, for the simple reason that people make mistakes. A safe system is one in which human error does not lead necessarily to fatality.

The whole purpose of roads is to move traffic that’s why we have them.

Traffic does not equal cars. Cars are only one form of traffic. Cyclists are another. Pedestrians are another. People riding transit are yet another. Today the roads are optimized for cars to the detriment of everyone else. Why should roads cater to cars and not to cyclists or pedestrians?

What is special about cars that confers them such a privileged place in our transport infrastructure - especially when all the evidence is that driving is as prevalent as it is precisely because we have done so much to accommodate it? To say we should accommodate cars because most people drive simply begs the question.

If people don’t want live on Main Street then they are welcome to live elsewhere.

Again, the whole point is that the city's main street ought to be a place where people want to be. In most great cities, their main streets are very pedestrian friendly and have the highest real estate values.

That's not "pie in the sky wishful thinking", it's just good city management.

So you wish to increase taxes and reduce transit fares, which will increase violence and vandalism?

No. Cheaper transit does not equal free transit. I support making transit cheaper, because it increases ridership; but am skeptical about making transit free, because it seems to increase violence and vandalism.

But then you want to spend over a $billion to build something that loses money every day of the year.

Do you mean light rail? It is proven to increase ridership and reduce transit operating costs dramatically, and it more than pays for itself in tax assessment on new property development.

Once again, look at every great city on earth: they all have great transit. It's a necessary investment in urban vitality.

At a cost of (using my more realistic figures) $1.6 Billion for the Eastgate – University Plaza east –west line

No. The cost for the east-west line will be around $400 million. The city is planning to build a modern tram, not an elevated skytrain or monorail. You're attacking a straw man.

The next transit system in Canada that pays for itself will be the First transit system that pays for itself. They are all subsidized.

So is every street and every highway. No one pays the full cost for their transportation choices. All the money collected toward driving - licences, plates, gas taxes, taxes on vehicle sales, etc. - do not come close to paying even the direct costs of building and maintaining our roads and highways, not to mention the medical cost of heart attacks, asthma attacks and emphysema caused by vehicle pollution, the social cost of missed work and premature deaths, or the cost of adapting to climate change from carbon emissions. Nowhere close.

It’s that old population to area ratio you keep ignoring because it is the big problem you and everybody else have no answer for.

Ignoring it? One of the arguments in favour of light rail is that it has proven to be successful at intensifying land use and increasing population density. As it is, the B-Line already has high enough ridership today as buses to support light rail - and that will only increase once it's built.

We do not need, nor can we afford to dump millions and millions into an ill advised money losing rail system in our city.

Please tell that to the dozens of cities that have already invested in light rail systems and are reaping vast economic and social rewards.

All the evidence runs directly counter to your claims and arguments. It's a shame that you're more interested in defending your opinions by any means necessary than in learning the actual facts.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 21, 2008 at 11:21:18

Meister wrote: "At a cost of (using my more realistic figures) $1.6 Billion for the Eastgate – University Plaza east –west line..."

So, your argument is based on making up numbers that suit your needs?

That statement alone eliminates all meaning from any of your points.

The facts are out there - whether we are talking about pedestrian fatalities or the cost-benefit analysis of LRT.

Once you take the time to read up and understand the truth, perhaps we can come back to this discussion.

When you are ready to be taken seriously, feel free to come back - but be prepared to provide your sources - "thin air" doesn't count.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted November 25, 2008 at 00:18:56

I am not making up numbers I’m using the most realistic numbers available, current construction costs from a just started project in Calgary. How reliable have the city’s estimates been on past projects? Light rail may attract riders but there is still no transit system that is not heavily subsidized tell me which one is not and I will shut up.
Our system does not put cars in direct conflict with pedestrians, we have wide, smooth, well constructed sidewalks. We have lots of well marked well regulated safe crosswalks. The city has come a long way in having bike lanes, and we should, and will soon have more. The big problem is to many people want to play silly games of chicken with the cars. Look at that poor girl in Toronto a week or two ago who went around or under the railroad barriers to run across the tracks in front of a train. She tripped and fell and was killed. What a horrible tragic accident. Totally and completely avoidable if only she had not tried to save 20 seconds she would still be alive. Do we need to change all our rail crossings? People sometimes choose to put themselves in direct conflict with cars (or trains) that is never going to change. Thousands of people prove every day that we have an inherently safe system but if you want to partake in dangerous behavior tragic outcomes are possible. As I have stated before accidents will always happen and those are the especially sad losses.
Transit seems to use our existing roads quite well and if bus only lanes can help, maybe that’s a viable test to undertake.
Hamilton’s geography is very unique. A lot of traffic is funneled downtown because of the lake and escarpment. This is not traffic that wants to go downtown there just is no other realistic choice. The best way to deal with it is to move it as quick as possible unless we can build another road or highway.
Cars are special because they are the transportation method of choice for the majority of people. The fact that so much of our economy revolves around cars only adds to that fact. Does every government accommodate the auto industry because it likes cars? No, it’s done because of the huge dollars the automotive sector generates. License and plate fees may not pay for the roads but all the associated taxes and fees on cars and fuel pay for all the roads and a whole lot more like transit.
No other city as small as ours, great or otherwise, in North America has a LRT. The smallest is Calgary and the population there is 50% bigger in slightly smaller area. You have still never addressed the real problem too few riders too much area. As soon as you solve that one tiny little problem you will be well on your way to making LRT a good choice for Hamilton.
You said making transit free makes it more violent and more prone to acts of vandalism. I guess I leapt to conclusions when I assumed that making it cheaper would increase those things. I guess cheaper is better but free is bad. Can you really believe that? Much less expect to convince anybody else?
I am not defending random opinions by any means I am defending realism and common sense from naiveté and silly pie in the sky wishful thinking.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 25, 2008 at 01:58:24

Mr Meister wrote:

I am not making up numbers I’m using the most realistic numbers available, current construction costs from a just started project in Calgary.

As I've already patiently tried to explain, Calgary's system is grade separated (elevated) rail, unlike Hamilton's plan for an at-grade tramway. You're comparing apples to oranges.

Light rail may attract riders but there is still no transit system that is not heavily subsidized tell me which one is not and I will shut up.

There is no transportation system that is not heavily subsidized, including driving. That's the price of a modern society.

Our system does not put cars in direct conflict with pedestrians

Any system that brings pedestrians in close proximity with vehicles moving at speeds fast enough to kill most of the pedestrians hit necessarily puts cars in direct conflict with pedestrians. No amount of idle talk about sidewalks, crosswalks or traffic lights will change this.

The big problem is to many people want to play silly games of chicken with the cars.

No, the big problem is that humans are human. You can argue for a repeal of human nature, or you can take human nature into account when planning systems for humans. Obviously I'm inclined toward the latter approach.

Hamilton’s geography is very unique.

Bogus exceptionalism. Hamilton has multiple continuous routes east-west across the city, plus a complete ring highway system. People drive through the city for one reason only: our downtown streets are designed to accommodate high volumes of through traffic at high speeds.

Cars are special because they are the transportation method of choice for the majority of people.

You're just begging the question.

No other city as small as ours, great or otherwise, in North America has a LRT.

What nonsense. Did you not bother to do any research whatsoever before making this bald statement?

Here's are some small North American cities with light rail systems:

  • Kenosha, Wisconsin (pop. 100,000)
  • Salt Lake City, Utah (pop. 200,000)
  • New Orleans, Louisiana (pop. 230,000)
  • Newark, New Jersey (pop. 280,000)
  • Buffalo, New York (pop. 300,000)
  • St. Louis, Missouri (pop. 350,000)
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota (pop. 370,000)
  • Sacramento, California (pop. 475,000)
  • Portland, Oregon (pop. 570,000)
  • Seattle, Washington (pop. 600,000)
  • Charlotte, North Carolina (pop. 670,000)
  • Edmonton, Alberta (pop. 750,000)
  • San Francisco, California (pop. 760,000)
  • Ottawa, Ontario (pop. 800,000)

You have still never addressed the real problem too few riders too much area.

It's a red herring. The B-Line already has enough transit demand to support LRT, and the system itself will only increase ridership still, not only through attracting a higher proportion of riders but also through intensifying the transit corridor.

I guess cheaper is better but free is bad. Can you really believe that?

I'm really not sure why it's so hard for you to believe. People respond to price signals, so making a service cheaper will induce more demand for it. On the other hand, making a service like transit free seems to devalue it among the people who use it, resulting in a higher incidence of careless and even destructive use.

I am not defending random opinions by any means I am defending realism and common sense from naiveté and silly pie in the sky wishful thinking.

Nonsense. Your entire argument is constructed on a flimsy edifice of unsupported assumptions, inappropriate analogies and empirically false information. Your "common sense" is the kind that tells us the world is flat.

Stop cherry-picking tidbits that reinforce your preconceptions. Study the evidence before you make up your mind, not after.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted December 01, 2008 at 22:57:46

Talk about not doing the research. The “LRT” in Kenosha is in fact commuter service to Chicago 50 miles south and limited service streetcars.

Salt Lake City metropolitan area has a population of over a million. The light rail is again commuter service similar to GO trains servicing Toronto.

New Orleans has street cars some of which are a so old they have become a tourist attraction. Not particularly rapid though. And the best part again the metropolitan area has a population well over a million and how many more millions of tourists.

Newark is 5 miles from Manhattan and has an area of 62 square km. and the light rail is commuter trains to NYC.

Buffalo metro area has a population over a million and 10 KM of rail.

St. Louis metro has a population of almost 3 million. You could not have expected anybody to believe that Hamilton was almost twice as populous as the gateway to the west. Could you? Really?

Minneapolis’s 19 km of light rail actually connects to 3 cities part of a 3million population area.

Sacramento area has a population of almost 3million.

Portland area again has a population of almost 3 million.

On and on it goes, you’re misrepresenting the truth and twisting reality. Did you really expect anybody to believe that St. Louis was smaller than Hamilton. All of the places you talk about have a couple of things in common. None of the places on your list has a LRT servicing a population as small as ours. We already have a commuter rail link in Hamilton why aren’t there more trains running out of it? If you want to run more trains from Hamilton to Toronto I’m all for it. Toronto is after all the big metropolitan area around here. Most of the places you mention are the major urban centre in the area (Ottawa or Salt Lake City) or the few that are not are suburbs and you are talking about a commuter line to a big metropolitan area(Kenosha to Chicago). Neither case is pertinent here. Hamilton does not need that kind of commuter service to its downtown. Commuter service from Hamilton to Toronto exists and enlarging it actually makes some sense.

All of these transit lines lose money. Why do you refuse to accept the real input of cars and driving into the economy? If cars and driving were somehow stopped our economy would crumble. Just the taxes on gasoline is $Billions. Then add all the indirect taxes and fees you cannot even count that high. Do not insult all of us by trying to get anybody to believe your ludicrous statement that roads are subsidized. Cars, Gas and Driving provide the taxes and fees that you want to waste.

Everything is in place for cars and pedestrians to co-exist the same system of sidewalks and lights used all over the world. All anybody has to do is use a tiny bit of common sense but then it’s not very common is it? I believe your lack of it is directly responsible for your pie in the sky arguments. Why are you trying to re-invent the wheel? Sidewalks and lights and crossings are used all over the world because they work.
You mention multi east west routes across Hamilton but driving between Mac and Eastgate (the proposed LRT route) the best option is King/Main St. Across the bridge is a major detour, up the hill and back down is a lot of extra mileage and mountain access frustration too.

LRT is a money losing, unnecessary, unrealistic option. You trying to compare Hamilton’s transit needs with St. Louis’s shows the desperation and silliness of your argument. It also speaks to the hopelessness of trying to show you some reality. You will keep believing your pie in the sky dreams no matter what and hopefully saner minds will continue to prevail. I’ve said my piece and this is the end of my contribution. I leave with a ready chuckle for the rest of my days. I will always laugh at you trying to compare small St. Louis to big Hamilton.

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By Kilgore (anonymous) | Posted May 03, 2009 at 14:40:05

I drive buses for HSR, and every night I see dozens of people running across busy streets practically dodging traffic. I'm surprised there aren't several people run over every day. Take some time and sit at the bes stop at King and John for a while and watch people risk their lives to catch a bus, even during the day when there is a bus about every 6 min. You'll be amazed.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 03, 2009 at 15:47:48

Mr Meister, you've sure done some amazing research. I was just in Portland and the sign on the way into town said 'population 500,000+' You should email Portland's city administration and let them know of your findings. I'm sure they'd love to slap up a new sign that says "population 3 million". They'll be so excited to hear the great news.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 05, 2009 at 01:26:41

Kilgore if what you say is true then Hamilton must have the best damn car drivers in the world to avoid killing all those stupid pedestrians!

My car died and I have actually had to resort to taking the bus. What a horrible way to get around. My 20 minute commute from Westdale to Mohawk is now an Hour. I get wet when it rains. I have to walk in the humidity and heat and get all sweaty and sticky and then interact and deal with civilized people. I have to share my personal space with people who have not showered in quite some time. The only people ruder then bus riders are bus drivers. Then there are the times when I do not have to be to class till late then I have to share the 35 ton bus with 2 other people! (Friday July 3rd about 10:00 AM on the King 1A from Westdale to downtown) I cannot wait to get my new Suburban and put this crap behind me.

Jason You obviously have some intelligence, USE it. You and I both know that Portland is a much bigger place than Hamilton the two cities are measured in much different ways. No matter how many times you and the editor spout the same old tired propaganda it is not going to change the truth no matter how inconvenient the truth is to your little dreamland try getting a grip on reality. Even Detroit a real city the major metropolitan destination in its area with a population of almost 4 million is starting its LRT with a 12 or 13 KM run.

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