Transportation

Bikers Want to Bike on the Main Streets

By David Cohen
Published August 07, 2009

The biggest stumbling block to true bicycle integration in Hamilton is our reluctance to transform our main arteries (Main, King, Cannon, Fennell, Mohawk, Bay, etc.) so that they invite cycling rather than repel it.

Today's Spectator editorial says that to do this would require "extensive calming measures and probably reconstruction to an unrealistic degree."

That's talking like traffic engineers. And they, incredibly, are calling the shots on bike routes in Hamilton.

Traffic-engineering culture remains enamoured of one-way streets (Main, King, etc.) and big wide, multi-lane two-ways (Fennell, Mohawk, etc.), all of which which promote auto-speed and and biking discouragement.

It is precisely our main arteries that need changing if we are to have a more bikeable (and more walkable and liveable) city.

Revert to two-way and reduce the number of lanes. This is good for bikers and even better for business - look at James St. North.

Or look at Toronto. It is tackling Jarvis and Bloor. Other major arteries will surely follow.

Montreal, New York ... and a growing list of other cities are doing the same.

Bikers want to bike on the main, not "secondary" arteries, as the Spectator recommends. That is where the action is, or should be. Now.

David Cohen is a freelance writer and a part-time teacher. He has worked as a journalist and a communications officer (promoting workplace health and safety). He served on the Dundas Town Council from 1991 to 1994.

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By cyclistsrpeople2 (anonymous) | Posted August 08, 2009 at 14:30:17

Hear hear! Having cyclists divert many blocks off the main routes through the city to hunt for bike-lanes is acceptable and unrealistic. It was so disheartening to watch Main St. be repaved and lines repainted this year (between ~Dundurn and Queen) and no bike lane added. Surely we could handle one less lane of cars rushing through a central part of the city. It is always amazing to be to what extent cars are accommodated at the cost of cyclists and pedestrians.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted August 08, 2009 at 14:56:35

"That's talking like traffic engineers..."

I have to disagree with you David. Engineers build things to accomplish specific goals. If the direction they are given is to flow as much traffic as possible, then one way highways are the answer. If the direction is to integrate all sorts of traffic, you end up with the naked streets concept.

Another example of engineering over politics/profit is in the red light camera arena. Extending the yellow light by one second cut red light running in half, which led to cameras being unprofitable. But without the right political direction...

http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/28/2861...

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted August 11, 2009 at 11:45:32

I will support biking on main roads when cyclists have to get licenses, pay vehicle registration tax, and pay insurance like the rest of the "vehicles" on the road. It seems that yu cyclists want all of the benefits and none of the responsibility.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 11, 2009 at 12:45:38

should we also have to get licenses to play ball in the park, swim at the beach, play horseshoes and fly model airplanes? How about for walking down the sidewalk or riding the bus?

If bikes and cars are absolutely equal with the same potential consequences and same convenience, then please explain why most Canadians waste over $8,000 per year to own a car when they could just spend a few hundred bucks on a bike without changing a single moment of their lifestyle.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted August 11, 2009 at 14:33:45

Capatilst...are you actually advocating additional government programs to register, license and insure cyclists?

As a cyclist and an automobile owner/driver, I'd be more than willing to pay the extra cost to licence a bike on one condition...that cycling infrastructure receive an equal allocation of the roads construction and maintenance budget.

You have also very conveniently ignored all of the positive externalities that cycling provides to society...less traffic congestion, less wear and tear on the roads, lower obesity rates, reduced pollutants leading to lower health-care costs for all taxpayers.

On the whole, drivers are reaping these benefits, without paying for them. Do you also advocate collecting an extra fee from drivers to pay for these benefits?

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted August 11, 2009 at 14:35:38

@Jason

"please explain why most Canadians waste over $8,000 per year to own a car when they could just spend a few hundred bucks on a bike without changing a single moment of their lifestyle."

Your ignorance is just incredible! People spend so much on a car because of the time savings and convenience that a car provides. Have you ever heard of the saying "time is money"? Well for people with busy careers, families, and social lives most take the wise step of purchasing a vehicle because their time is at such a premium.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted August 11, 2009 at 14:58:34

BTW Capitalist..insurance for a bicycle would be negligble...any company underwriting a policy would charge more for administering the policies than they could ever make in premiums. The personal injury liability per bicycle insured would be close to zero as bicycles don't generally cause very much damage to property or persons - unlike motor vehicles.

Comprehensive would be almost zero also...there's no point to paying for a policy with a $500 deductible on a bike that's not worth that much. Since bikes are currently covered under homeowners insurance

Basically you're asking to expand bureaucracy for the sake of saying that a cyclist has to pay for all the things a car does.

Kind of strange how a "capitalist" would even consider having a government step in and make such needless bureacuracy mandatory.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 11, 2009 at 15:01:08

exactly my point. Cyclists aren't driving 1 tonne machines of metal at 100km an hour in order to keep their schedules etc.... there's a big difference between cars and bikes. My point exactly.

Arienc, you should watch the corporation. all of the so-called 'capitalists' in the world live and thrive by having the government pile the regulations on folks like us. It's only in old capitalism textbooks that they actually believe in less government and personal freedom etc.... In real life it's all about control and the heavy hand of government/big business.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted August 11, 2009 at 16:16:13

Toughest Problem: How Does One Convince a Hamiltonian that Two-Way Arterial Roads Are Not the End of the World?

We cannot use the 'Ring-Road System' as a solution as MANY still see it as an incomplete 'Ring'(Burlington St does not connect to Hwy-403; thus making Drivers go 'out of their way' along the QEW, over the Skyway, into Aldershot, etc)

I have been talking to dozens of people re: two-way Main & King lately (due to LRT), and everyone (aka Hamiltonian drivers) thinks it's a 'bad idea'. I've used the 'Perimiter Road' argument over and over again -- no progress.

PLEASE HELP!! How can We convince Drivers in Hamilton to agree with Two-Way 'Reversion'?!?!?!

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 11, 2009 at 17:16:13

Easy. Switch over all their major arterials on the mountain and suburbs to one-way, 5 lanes, with timed lights and signs encouraging transport truck use. People are blatantly selfish. It's the only way to convince them.

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By Really? (registered) | Posted August 11, 2009 at 17:28:32

^^ I know, I know... I've used that Argument, too, Jason -- and it usually shuts them up; But doesn't convince them.

I think We need a 'Two-Way Reversion Advocacy Group' in this City!!!!

Do you think the City would have taken Light Rail so seriously without the help of groups like HamiltonLightRail.com, and the endless emails/calls from Urban Forum Contributors (ie rth.org, ssp.com, urbantoronto.ca, etc)?!

Keep in Mind: Power is in Numbers! Right now, it's probably 15% For; 85% Agains (two-way reversion) simply b/c Drivers are more vocal AT THIS POINT!

Let's change that and make the Pedestrians/Cyclists/Urban Dwellers voices LOUDER than honking horns and ignorant screams from Drivers.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 12, 2009 at 00:51:40

How many people would use these bike lanes?

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By arienc (registered) | Posted August 12, 2009 at 10:43:15

How many people would use these bike lanes?

Answer...more than the number of people that currently use those roads without bike lanes.

More bikes on the road means fewer cars, less traffic congestion, less wear and tear on pavement, less pollution and lower health care costs.

Hamilton (and the rest of the GTA) will not realize economic growth based on the status quo. Continued growth requires:

A) spending billions on knocking down neighbourhoods and building new roads to handle increased traffic, or

B) using existing space better, by shifting the mix to active modes like cycling and walking and public transport.

Since I see camp A as a needless waste of tax dollars and intrusion on the quality of life, B is the only choice that makes any economic or logical sense at all.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 12, 2009 at 10:43:23

ASmith said: "How many people would use these bike lanes?"

Who knows. We won't be able to tell that until they are built and connected to each other.

However, I'm always a believer in learning from history when it comes to attempting to predict the future. People were screaming in the local 'media' asking the same question when it was proposed to put bike racks on all buses. The HSR recently reported that bike rack use has far exceeded their expectations. I'll take you out for lunch if bike lane usage doesn't far exceed expectation once the network is complete (in other words, lanes that actually go somewhere unlike current lanes on Markland, Aberdeen, Main/King at the 403 etc....)

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By BayAreaBiker (anonymous) | Posted September 02, 2009 at 09:22:18

I myself have been biking for over twenty years and considerable distances, 70 km to San Francisco 22 times, about the same distance to Oakland once, 100 km to Hollister, also to Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Sausalito, and Sunol. My favorite biking route, which I used to get to San Francisco and to San Jose, has very heavy car traffic (El Camino Real). Hwy 9, which I used to get to Santa Cruz, has some scary areas, narrow and winding, also some fairly steep grades. I think the reason bikers are poorly accommodated is because the oil industry is very powerful. Los Angeles had a bike highway in 1910, but the railroad, oil, and automotive industries wanted it torn down, and succeeded in doing so. It is now the 110 Freeway. Around 1920, bikes were reduced to toys in status because cars became affordable and reliable, and easy to use. It took the Oil Crisis of the early 1970's to get some people on bikes, and the fitness movement of the late 1970's to get more people on bikes. Once the fuel crisis ended, people who were biking got back into their cars. @Capitalist: Under normal (not rush hour) conditions, a car is indeed faster than a bike. When the road has more cars than it was designed to handle, bikes get the speed advantage, yet we still choose the car.

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