Transportation

Bike Lanes on Dundurn

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 04, 2010

I noticed this evening that the bike lanes have been painted on Dundurn St. S., between Aberdeen Ave. and Main St. It was encouraging to see this project go ahead despite the vocal opposition of a handful of business owners more concerned about losing a few parking spots - business owners worldwide have a single-minded obsession with parking - than gaining a more balanced, livable neighbourhood.

Dundurn is a street with plenty of (wait for it) potential, just crying out for revitalization. I'm not going to pretend that bike lanes will magically turn the street around, but they are an important part of a more comprehensive strategy that leverages the developing Innovation Park system and connects to the planned Rail Trail into West Hamilton.

Now if only someone would buy and redevelop 220 Dundurn St. S...

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 TnT (registered) | Posted May 05, 2010 at 08:08:55

Business owners are not the only ones that create the parking desire. It is a major issue with bylaws in this city requiring business in older neighbourhoods to have parking for their business. Almost culturally in this city it seems to get drilled into anyone who is trying to open a business.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted May 05, 2010 at 08:09:03

I noticed the lines yesterday as well. Things are changing slowly.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted May 05, 2010 at 08:28:45

Now if only we could entice cyclists off the sidewalks! Shiny new bike lanes and I still saw three adults on bikes on the sidewalk!

Argh.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 05, 2010 at 08:31:06

I'll have to go check them out and see how Dundurn feels with bike lanes. I'm not expecting a huge difference, frankly, but then I didn't expect Sterling to be so improved by bike lanes.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 05, 2010 at 09:00:46

it feels much better with bike lanes. More like a proper street. And I LOVE the added street parking on the side streets. I noticed traffic driving much slower on Stanley and other side streets with parking on both sides instead of just one.

I guess now we'll have to try to find someone to buy the Rays Boathouse restaurant when it goes out of business. As we all know, bike lanes mean no customers will come to that part of town anymore.

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By Wiccan (anonymous) | Posted May 05, 2010 at 11:39:15

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 05, 2010 at 12:03:30

I'm not going to pretend that bike lanes will magically turn the street around...

Nice try heading off the concern trolls.

Now if only we could entice cyclists off the sidewalks! Shiny new bike lanes and I still saw three adults on bikes on the sidewalk!

Amen! This drives me bonkers. We have a pretty good system of bike lanes in Westdale, but this problem seems to be getting worse instead of better. Our sidewalks are very heavily traveled by pedestrians, particularly kids and seniors, yet our sidewalks are menaced by able-bodied (mostly) young men weaving in and out. I speak out when I'm feeling brave, but alot of these guys are very intimidating. I think signage, like the anti-idling signs, might go a long way.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 05, 2010 at 12:04:01

business owners worldwide have a single-minded obsession with parking - Ryan

And yet some of the most vibrant business/retail districts I've been to have no parking at all. Curious that.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 05, 2010 at 13:55:58

How many cyclists can we expect between November and March when the temperature outside is -5?

Me, for one. As long as the roads are clear and it's not pissing down rain or snowing furiously, I keep riding.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 05, 2010 at 14:02:49

Earlier, I wrote ...

I'm not expecting a huge difference, frankly, but then I didn't expect Sterling to be so improved by bike lanes.

At lunch, I went to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner. So far, I am not especially impressed given that ..

  • I still had to share lanes along Aberdeen and the along Dundurn from Main to King
  • there were two cars and a security van parked in the cycling lane in front of the beer store

Which is to say that I got a bike lane for only a small part of my round trip at the expense of grumbly feelings for fellow humans.

I can foresee all sorts of silent or active conflict between cyclists and drivers over that beer store stretch - a cost which is not justified by a small section of unconnected bike path.

I'll see if I can work up some more optimism in the coming weeks.

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-05-05 13:06:49

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 05, 2010 at 14:53:35

Now if only we could entice cyclists off the sidewalks! Shiny new bike lanes and I still saw three adults on bikes on the sidewalk!

I see this even on Sterling. Undergraduates, yes, but also actual grown ups - one faculty member in particular does it quite often. Bewildering.

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By bike-curious (anonymous) | Posted May 05, 2010 at 15:51:54

@moylek I've got an idea, let's wait more than 24 hours before deciding the bike lanes on Dundurn are a failure. Theres this thing called "adjustment period" we should keep in mind.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 05, 2010 at 16:14:14

Just saw a prominent local environmentalist riding on the sidewalk on King St. in Westdale at one of the busiest times of day for foot traffic - right after the elementary schools have let out. Double argh! If anyone should be setting a good example...

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted May 05, 2010 at 17:01:46

Maybe some of those yellow safety poles along the bike lane in front of the beer store would work better and cause less altercations. I go to the beer store there, always by bike, and I'm not looking forward to getting my ass kicked.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted May 06, 2010 at 09:03:57

Wouldn't it be better if bike lanes were divided off by some kind of barrier system instead of just paint?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 06, 2010 at 09:26:44

Wouldn't it be better if bike lanes were divided off by some kind of barrier system instead of just paint?

Yes, but painted bike lanes are considerably better than nothing - if only because they encourage more people to ride bikes who would not otherwise do so, and because the mere presence of more cyclists on the road makes cycling safer.

What seems to happen in other cities is that they start with a bike lane network, and once usage increases to capacity and cycling has been normalized for a large segment of the population, political will builds for investing in higher quality infrastructure.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 06, 2010 at 09:48:50

And yet some of the most vibrant business/retail districts I've been to have no parking at all.

Too true! It may be some kind of sacrilege to say this, but business owners don't always know what's best for their own interests. "Free" parking is a classic case in point - it's positively toxic for downtown vitality, but the Downtown BIA's contribution to the Mayor's Gore Park pedestrianization proposal was to recommend angled parking - as if downtown wasn't already drowning in parking.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 06, 2010 at 10:10:19

Ahh, almighty parking and high speed car access. No, I'm not talking about 1960's Detroit.

I'm talking about 2010 Hamilton.

http://www.thespec.com/News/BreakingNews...

We are such a lagging hick town, it's incredible. Maybe the city should start making great investments in places like the Pontiac Silverdome. Offer shares up to local residents to buy a stake in that facility. See if Bob Young wants to buy a bunch. He seems thinks it's a fabulous business model.

Comment edited by jason on 2010-05-06 09:10:56

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 06, 2010 at 11:06:48

"Maybe the city should start making great investments in places like the Pontiac Silverdome." - jason

Great example jason!

The silverdome... worst stadium location EVER!

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-05-06 10:11:48

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 06, 2010 at 11:37:45

"Free" parking is a classic case in point - it's positively toxic for downtown vitality... as if downtown wasn't already drowning in parking. - Ryan

I agree with you, but I do have a bit of a different idea on how to approach this problem in our situation Ryan.

Because of the glut of parking lots downtown, I believe there may be a case for the city to temporarily offer free parking at city lots to undermine the financials of all the private lots. If there was no longer any profits in running the vacant lot as a parking lot, perhaps this could help to get some of those lots developed? Once the private lots are gone/reduced then set the parking rate to a "deterrent" level.

Not a conventional idea I realise but one I think could work. It wouldn't be the first time a price war drove companies out of business and starting the price war at free would be hard to compete with.

An LRT and converting some downtown core streets to pedestrian use only (especially if it could block car access to some lots?) would help eliminate parking lots as well.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 06, 2010 at 11:50:10

Just an example of a fantastic pedestrian mall... no cars for blocks, just thriving businesses, restaurants and retail for as far as the eye can see.

Brisbane's Queen St. Mall

Could King St. between say Wellington and Bay and the side streets along that stretch between Main and King William not be converted to something similar?

I believe they can.

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By everywhere (anonymous) | Posted May 06, 2010 at 23:41:57

I scrolled down comments. I also read the Globe and posted my opinion.
there FAR too many cars on roads & it's ironically one of the biggest or biggest drive for our economy...unfortunately forces pedestrians/cyclists out of the way as "cars' rule...or should I say drivers but seems actually we are winning as evidence proven bike lanes proves that drivers obey at the end...and what's with businesses that disapprove of car parking when cyclists many do spend more these days (not all and i know drivers who are on fixed incomes) so try argue that one!...

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted May 07, 2010 at 12:50:46

I believe there may be a case for the city to temporarily offer free parking at city lots to undermine the financials of all the private lots.

I like this idea....

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 07, 2010 at 14:05:22

I like this idea.... - seancb

You're the first Sean!!!

To be honest most people I mention it to hate it.

What can I say, to me it makes some sense.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted May 07, 2010 at 15:50:01

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 07, 2010 at 15:56:06

^Downvoted because your idea has already been answered to death on this site.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted May 07, 2010 at 16:42:00

z jones, I wasn't asking your opinion, I am telling you what you need to do in order to get some respect from non cyclists. The idea behind a bike license is to increase your credibility. If you aren't willing to do this, why should anyone show anything but disdain to you when you are on the road?

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted May 07, 2010 at 16:43:11

I think some extra enforcement for a month would be grand. Station a by-law officer in front of the beer store to ticket people parking there (or maybe just threaten them with a ticket).

Same thing with Sterling. You've got bike lanes, get off sidewalk!

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By rrrandy (registered) - website | Posted May 07, 2010 at 17:41:39

We keep talking about the broken links that cyclists are expected to endure - so we have bits of bike lanes here and there, and then Hamilton's one-way streets which mean cyclists have to go blocks out of the way to access routes - coming out of Westdale on King is a good example of where two way streets would help people stay of sidewalks - to access the King Street bike lanes on the bridge over the 403, the most direct route would be to take a bit of sidewalk - but NOT when there are pedestrians nearby! - I sometimes use the sidewalk on the traffic island at King and Paradise to get from eastbound King to King Street bridge; or I might take the sidewalk in front of Temple Anshe Shalom on Cline North to cut through GR Allen school to Glen - and sometimes the sidewalk in front of G.R Allen school if the kids are in the playground - and sometimes I stay on the road which takes me from King West, a left turn at Longwood (scary turning there on a bike with cars zooming towards me from behind as they come around the corner)- a right on Glen, Glen with a couple stop signs to Macklin, where I turn right and then if clear, I go to the sidewalk on the east side before entering the bridge bike lane. Anyone using this route will understand the difficulty involved. Two way traffic would help make the route more direct, with bike lanes. I share a disgust about adults riding on the sidewalk among pedestrians, its dangerous and selfish, but this is not the same as responsibly trying to get by with a broken system of bike routes.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted May 07, 2010 at 17:47:52

"The idea behind a bike license is to increase your credibility."

No, the idea seems to be to raise revenue from cyclists (revenue that would go to the province, not the municipality - so no more money for infrastructure, sorry) and to make it more difficult for people to make the switch to cycling, a switch that benefits everyone. Your idea is a non-starter, A Smith, as has been pointed out a lot of times before.

Bike behaviour is already well-regulated by law. There is no need for a licensing system to regulate driver ability either - compared with motor vehicles, bicycles are extremely safe at all skill levels.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 07, 2010 at 19:07:38

reduce calls from drivers to "get off the road!"

why should anyone show anything but disdain to you when you are on the road?

Unfortunately though rare, it usually manifests as unsafe driving : angrily passing almost clipping, peeling tires, honking, angry and deliberate right turn hooks,etc. That's impatience and antisocial behaviour that is not tolerated in any polite society. That's wild west attitude. It's also attempted murder because of how dangerous automobiles are. Drivers don't even tolerate that from each other. Someone's gotta have issues to bully lawful and vulnerable users of public roadways.

I should also mention that none of the above happens when I'm in a bike lane. Only when I'm sharing a lane. Which is 90% of the streets I actually use :)

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2010-05-07 18:10:06

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2010 at 08:01:54

Tybalt >> No, the idea seems to be to raise revenue from cyclists

Of course it's a tax grab, but so what? Why do you think people donate money to politicians? Do you really think they do it because they believe in the message? No. They do it to gain access and influence, something that the cyclists lobby has very little of.

mikeonthemountain >> Drivers don't even tolerate that from each other.

By refusing to play the game that everyone else on the road plays, cyclists are creating ill will...

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/12/dogenvy/

>> I should also mention that none of the above happens when I'm in a bike lane.

And how many miles of these do cyclists have? 5?

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 08, 2010 at 11:31:15

Heck, why stop at licensing cyclists? How about pedestrians - look at all of the infrastructure in place for people walking around. Not to mention skateboarders, pram pushers, rollerbladers. "If it moves, tax it ..."

I'm not completely opposed to licensing cyclists as a matter of principle. As a child, I lived in Stratford where we had bicycle licensing and firm enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists (children included), and it was there that I learned (with the help of several tickets) how to behave like traffic. And there also that I was run over by a drunk driver while stopped at a red light, one of only two car-bike accidents* in my life. But I digress ...

My not-immutable objections to bicycle licensing are 1) I have a knee-jerk distaste for red tape and bureaucracy; 2) it's generally a punitive red herring introduced by disgruntled non-cyclists; 3) I don't think that the benefits justify the costs.

I agree with A. Smith that cyclists need increased credibility, but I believe that that credibility will come with infrastructure which acknowledges cyclists and - more importantly - with increasing numbers of grown-ups using bicycles for getting around town.

  • For the record, the second was shortly thereafter when the replacement bike purchased by said drunk driver lost brake traction and I rear-ened a police car. So I'll take the blame for that one.

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-05-08 10:39:30

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By ZipZapZoup (anonymous) | Posted May 08, 2010 at 12:56:45

Every time I walk by 220 Dundurn I think about how that building would be turned into lofts in two second in Toronto. What young urban professional wouldn't want to live right by quick access to the highway, a liquor store across the street, and steps away from Locke. It's a perfect location. Why is the owner just sitting on that property?

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By kevin (registered) | Posted May 08, 2010 at 19:54:37

ZipZap, I have the same experience. It's sad the city lets this happen. They've recently put a beautiful 10 ft chain link fence around the place, however. It looks terrific. As well, my daughter went to Dublin when she was 12. I asked, "How was your trip?" She said, "Dublin is awesome. All around the hotel were streets just for pedestrians; no cars. It was so relaxing. It's waaaay better." TWELVE!

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 11, 2010 at 09:43:34

Well, while we celebrate a few more hundred meters of bike lane, meanwhile ...

Montreal aims to reach an 800 kilometer network by 2015

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 11, 2010 at 10:25:53

51 kilometres just this year! The mind boggles.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 11, 2010 at 10:52:03

51 kilometres just this year!

Well that's supposed to be done by September, so from announcement (May 6) to due date, that'd be 51km in 5-6 months.

Not to be outdone - we can do the same amount in 40 years! :)

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2010-05-11 09:52:45

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted May 11, 2010 at 11:29:14

First time I was on Dundurn I saw a pickup truck use the bike lanes to pass other cars on the right.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 16, 2010 at 21:25:20

Well, I've made three trips to the Dundrun LCBO since the lanes went in (twice on bike, once by car). And on the third time ... only bikes in the bike lanes!

And one guy cycling up the sidewalk. :|

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