Walkability Fail

Residents Call for Crosswalk at Aberdeen and Kent

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 23, 2010

Raise the Hammer has an occasional feature called Walkability Fail, in which readers send in reports of intersections or stretches of road with particularly poor pedestrian accessibility.

It all started with the corner of Aberdeen Ave. and Kent St., between Locke and Queen, where the city responded to an earlier call for a crosswalk by putting up a sign that reads: "PEDESTRIANS PLEASE CROSS AT LOCKE OR QUEEN".

Sign at Aberdeen Ave and Kent St: PEDESTRIANS PLEASE CROSS AT LOCKE OR QUEEN
Sign at Aberdeen Ave and Kent St: PEDESTRIANS PLEASE CROSS AT LOCKE OR QUEEN

Now a resident of Kent St. is organizing a neighbourhood petition to ask for a proper crosswalk.

Madeleine Verhovsek, a doctor at McMaster University, originally sent an email to Councillor Brian McHattie on September 20 asking for a crosswalk.

Dr. Verhovsek's letter argues: the corner has HSR bus stops on both sides; Kent is the only north-south street between Locke and Queen that runs continuously from Glenfern to Charlton, the site of HAAA Park and Ryerson School; the sidewalk on Aberdeen is narrow and harrowing for pedestrians; and the neighbourhood south of Aberdeen has a large and growing number of children.

According to Councillor McHattie, he "proposed this concept to our Traffic department in the past, only to be stymied by their analysis that a crosswalk at this location is not 'warranted' (they have a scoring system based on traffic and other data)."

The report on the 2006 Kirkendall Traffic Study concluded that this location has safety concerns, and the report recommended: "Provid[ing] directional signing for safer crossing locations", i.e. the signs ordering pedestrians to walk 400 metres out of their way and cross at Locke or Queen.

In an email to RTH, Dr. Verhovsek wrote that Councillor McHattie "has been quick with his replies and seems to be supportive."

McHattie has organized a meeting with Dr. Verhovsek and City staff from the Transportation and Public Health departments on Thursday, December 2. Neighbouring residents are invited to attend, but the room is pretty small so Staff would like to know in advance how many people plan to attend.

If you are interested in attending or want to support this initiative, you can contact Dr. Verhovsek for details via email at: verhovm@mcmaster.ca.

Original Letter

Here is the text of Dr. Verhovsek's original email to Councillor McHattie:

Dear Mr. McHattie,

I am a resident of Ward 1 and a home owner on Kent St., south of Aberdeen. I am writing to you to inquire about the possibility of installing a cross-walk at the intersection of Kent St. and Aberdeen.

I believe there are many good reasons for installing a cross-walk in thisparticular location:

1) As I am sure you are aware, there are HSR bus stops on either side of Aberdeen at Kent St. If someone wishes to get on or off at this stop, it requires either crossing the street against 4 lanes of traffic or walking all the way to the lights at Queen St. or Locke St. I think we can agree that the first option would be unsafe, and the second would be inconvenient. For someone with limited mobility, the long walk might not be manageable.

2) Kent Street is the only street between Undermount/Locke and Queen that runs all the way through to Charlton. A crosswalk at Kent St. would provide a convenient point from which people living on the north and south sides of Aberdeen could easily access the benefits of each other's neighbourhoods, including parks and other amenities.

3) As you know this area of southwest Hamilton has a growing number of young families. For myself and other parents of young children wishing to access the amenities south of Aberdeen, especially the library, shops and eating establishments on Locke Street, the walk along Aberdeen from Kent Street to Locke Street can be harrowing at the best of times. The traffic is heavy and the cars often do not obey the speed limit. The sidewalk is narrow and abuts the lanes of traffic. Walking along this stretch with a toddler or young child is very difficult and potentially dangerous.

4) Along the same lines, there are many children from our neighbourhood who walk to and from school each day at Earl Kitchener, St. Joseph's or Ryerson. A crosswalk at Kent Street would enable them to cross Aberdeen and walk along one of the residential streets (such as Kent, Homewood or Stanley), which enable a more pleasant and more safe walking environment.

I trust that you feel that these are relevant concerns, and I hope that you will consider this request. I believe a cross-walk at Kent Street would be enthusiastically welcomed by individuals and families in this area of Kirkendall.

Next: we need more residents to step up, take ownership of un-walkable intersections and put pressure on City staff to do the right thing.

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. 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.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 15:14:19

the city's scoring system is a joke. We ran into this in Strathcona when asking for a ped light at York and Strathcona. There are crosswalks that were paved across the York median, but no ramps and no lights. Bus stop on both sides and it is the clear link between Dundurn Park and the south side of York as well as to Strathcona School and Victoria park. The city said "not enough people cross there to warrant a light". We said "not enough people cross there BECAUSE there isn't a light". I suggested that city staff hop on the #8 York bus and see how many people wishing to get off at York and Strathcona, instead sit on the bus as it loops to Dundurn and over to Vic Park before getting off so that they don't have to cross York. Especially parents with kids and seniors. They turned down a ped light for the very reason we need one - not enough people are brave enough (or physically able) to cross there.

Comment edited by jason on 2010-11-23 14:15:00

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 16:42:59

Jason, your story is very disheartening.

I can only hope that the residents in this neighbourhood have greater success.

Maybe we could even push for a change to city policy...

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 16:58:19

In this case, its less a city policy than it is a transportation engineering principle. Warrants are a common procedure to follow when making decisions on implementing new traffic controls, like pedestrian signals.

I'm not saying I approve of the system however! It has the problem of painting every scenario with the same brush, breaking things down to a strict numerical analysis based on traffic / pedestrian movements as they currently exist.

On the other hand, local residents will almost always request increased controls at intersections, so some formal system needs to be in place to restrict how many of those requests are filled, because like it or not municipalities have limited funds for new traffic control installations.

There must be some middle ground, and I think the approach being taken by residents in Kirkendall is the best under the current circumstances.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 18:18:51

we were at least hoping that they would pave ramps at all 4 curbs so that seniors, folks in wheelchairs and parents with strollers could make it across the street easier. Once you're a full lane across York and the next wave of Hwy 403ers roar around the bend at Dundurn you've gotta get a beat on it and make sure all the kids and strollers are 'safely' on the median before the wave arrives. I'm still baffled as to why pedestrian sidewalks were installed on the York median with no ramps. It can't be that hard to cut ramps into a sidewalk?? They never seem to miss the ramps at mall entrances.....

Comment edited by jason on 2010-11-23 17:19:30

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 20:55:57

Here in the Durand we've found it extremely difficult to convince the City to do any pedestrian improvements in the five years I've been on the board on the Durand Neighbourhood Association.

This is despite having hosted a pedestrian workshop in February 2009 at the request of the City whose purpose was to recommend feasible changes! The report by Walk and Bike for Life (now 8-80 Cities) made detailed recommendations that were ignored for over a year, and then finally rejected en masse in a brief letter to the DNA. The report is available at http://www.8-80cities.org/Projects.html

Regarding crosswalks, this will be a difficult fight in any Hamilton neighbourhood for the following reasons:

  1. Policy: unlike other Ontario cities Hamilton now has a policy of only putting crosswalks at "signalized intersections", i.e. at a stop sign or traffic light. This is ostensibly for safety, but the fact that the City removed the signs from existing crosswalks and simply let the road markings fade suggests safety was not the main concern. This policy also drastically reduced the number of available crosswalks.

  2. Limited resources: the only type of crosswalk the City will now consider is a pedestrian activated traffic light (like that at Queen and Duke). Since they only budget for two or three per year over the whole City, new crosswalks are necessarily extremely rare (hence the unreasonably high standard).

  3. Priorities: the traffic department considers smooth and fast movement of motor vehicles as the primary goal of the road system (despite having signed the "Pedestrian Charter"). Pedestrians and cyclists are usually accommodated only inasmuch as they don't slow down or otherwise inconvenience motorists. Since road space is finite and controls slow traffic, pedestrians and cyclists will generally lose out (unless, for example, there is space for a cycle lane without removing a motor vehicle lane or if the road is obviously under capacity).

One of the most serious examples of a "missing" crosswalk in the Durand is on Hunter at the MacNab pedestrian underpass. Obviously this is intended to be a high pedestrian activity area, since it is between the pedestrian underpass and the YWCA and is a major route from the Durand to downtown. In fact, there used to be a crosswalk here, but the signs were removed (and the road markings allowed to fade) several years ago when the policy changed. This crossing point is heavily used by pedestrians, but is dangerous due to the high speed traffic moving up one-way Hunter street from the light at James. We requested a signalized pedestrian crossing, but even this intersection didn't make the cut (in fact no intersections in Durand were deemed worthy despite having the highest population density in the City)!

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By Tecumseh (registered) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 22:38:05

I understand Brian McHattie was able to get pedestrian activated crossings at Dundurn and Lamoreaux and King and Pearl, using that surplus fund councilors gave themselves just before the election. I believe they're to be installed in the Spring sometime. Here's hoping that more money like that becomes available, and that McHattie can work the system however it was that he did to get new crossings fast-tracked. I can easily think of a half-dozen spots in Ward 1 where they're needed! And here's hoping Jason Farr will show the same initiative and responsiveness for downtown.

What's interesting too is how the letter from Dr. Verhovsek mentions in passing how scary and potentially dangerous it is just walking on the sidewalks. Isn't it crazy that walking on the sidewalk down our city's main streets is physically repellent? What does that say about our city! That fact that pedestrians do everything they can to avoid walking on the streets that should be the centers of our communities should be the first clue to our councilors about what is wrong with our urban environment.

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By adrian (registered) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 22:39:07

This crossing point is heavily used by pedestrians, but is dangerous due to the high speed traffic moving up one-way Hunter street from the light at James.

You're absolutely correct that this is a dangerous location. The speed limit here is 40 km/hr but many vehicles - I believe most, but I don't have the data - average 60 km/hr up Hunter past City Hall. The posted limit of 40 seems to be because of the large number of pedestrians crossing here, but I have never, ever seen it enforced, and I have driven and walked this route literally hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of times.

To make the situation more dangerous, the angle of the street, and the plateau at the top, tends to cut off the view of pedestrians crossing at the top of the hill. Only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed here, if they have not been already.

The Kent situation is absurd.

I would really love to see Hamilton adopt some of the policies that work so well in other cities. In this case, Rome is an excellent example. There, if pedestrians are crossing at an unsignaled (unsignalized?) crosswalk, cars are required to stop. All you have to do to make the cars stop is take a step onto the crosswalk. It's brilliant!

Of course, though that may work well in a large and densely populated (and trafficked) city like Rome, here in Hamilton, it probably wouldn't - we're exceptional.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 23, 2010 at 23:46:42

yes, that McNab underpass section is horribly dangerous. Heck, dozens if not hundreds of intersections are horribly dangerous in Hamilton. I'm fortunate to live in a Ward where the councilor deems pedestrian signals a worthy expenditure instead of just spending extra money on potholes.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 24, 2010 at 02:40:36

Ugh...Hunter...Kent...some of the traffic planning involved here borders on criminally negligent. I remember at one point years back there were four accidents at Hunter and Hess in just over two weeks, and at the last one a woman was killed at Hunter and Caroline when a police cruiser (responding to the accident) collided with another car.

And people wonder why we complain about our neighbourhoods being turned into freeways....

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By HamiltonBrian (registered) | Posted November 24, 2010 at 07:16:59

There's a crossing at Dundurn and Lamoreaux, but it's just two painted lines. I'd be inclined to use it if there were an activated light but instead I have to take my chances up and down Dundurn. I would have thought it might be better once tractor trailers were rerouted off of there but passenger vehicles treat it like a mini-403.

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By DBC (registered) | Posted November 24, 2010 at 08:58:14

The 40 km/h speed limit on Hunter between James and Bay was put in place following the death of a pedestrian that was struck while crossing Hunter.

Given there is an elementary school at the corner of Hunter and Bay why wasn't the speed limit already 40 km/h and why isn't it posted 40 km/h on Bay.

We need to lower the driving age to 5 in Hamilton so that these kids can get cars to drive themselves to school. It's the only way to be safe in this town.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 24, 2010 at 09:11:05

many cities understand that they need to physically slow cars down once they've exited a freeway, but in Hamilton we encourage the speeding with fast ramps like we see on Main, Aberdeen and York. I'd love to see a stoplight or roundabout on York just after the 403 ramp to slow people down. Main and King need to have proper highway ramp systems that exit perpendicular to the street with stoplights. The list is endless of basic, simple ideas that need to be implemented here to make our city safer and more livable.

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By carefulwhilecrossing (anonymous) | Posted November 24, 2010 at 10:58:29

Nice to see this today, as just this morning I was thinking about the need for a beaconed pedestrian crosswalk at GO Centre.

I’ve often felt there’s a need to for a controlled crossing just outside the front doors of the station. Heck, the curbs are even cut to allow for the flow of people onto the roadway. Why there would be curb cuts to encourage people to flow onto an uncontrolled section of a one-way street is beyond me.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 24, 2010 at 11:48:36

Running heavy traffic through a residential neighborhood is a natural result of living in a very old city like Hamilton - traffic is there, people are there, and neither is realistically going to leave.

This means the city has the responsibility to make this relationship work. Telling pedestrians to go get bent is a ludicrous proposition that will be meant with the scofflaw attitude that kind of thinking deserves.

/and my big wish-list would be a push-button stop-light on the King street bridge at Breadalbane or so.

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By Changeinstripes (anonymous) | Posted November 24, 2010 at 12:30:20

Maybe the root of the issue is evident in the name of the city department, "Traffic Department". Their name says it all, they are focused on traffic and in Hamilton that means CARS. There is no such thing as pedestrian traffic in their current mind set.

May I be so bold as to suggest the first thing we need to do is change the name of the "Traffic Department" to something more all encompassing, like the "Mobility Department" (lame I know, but there has to be other options).

Then we need to start working on a change in culture in the department, so we don't have to continually fighting for what is clearly needed in the neighbourhoods. The department has to understand that we make our lives in our neighbourhoods and know better than anyone else what does, can and will make them great.

Here's another fight with the Traffic Department from a few years ago; http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/134707--mom-residents-urge-more-stops-signs

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 24, 2010 at 14:38:52

@HamiltonBrian

I think there's a big cultural problem in drivers - we're so used to seeing stop signs and stop lights that most drivers will not stop for a pedestrian at a crosswalk that has a no signage associated with it. Drivers are required to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, but nobody does. The stop sign or traffic light or whatever shouldn't even be necessary, but we have a culture of entitlement for drivers that they are in charge unless something specifically tells them otherwise... well, it means that the only options are the ones that are expensive or cumbersome impediments like a push-button traffic light or a stop-sign.

I'm sure drivers would much rather simply stop if a pedestrian was coming rather than have a stop-sign they have to stop at every time, or have a push-button traffic light that is both expensive and longer than simply waiting for the pedestrian to finish crossing your half of the street. But because they don't, they need to have one of those other two mechanisms forced onto them.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-11-24 13:39:18

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 24, 2010 at 15:38:07

Instead of completely signalized pedestrian crosswalks, why can't Hamiltno implement the flashing yellow system as in Toronto? Immediate access for pedestrians and no risk of traffic stopping if nobody is crossing. And I am sure they are cheaper than full on traffic signals.

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By rePRO (anonymous) | Posted November 24, 2010 at 15:52:50

Reading some of the posts above it seems Hamilton is reactive to progressive action (does that even make sense?).

Mother of motorcyclist lobbies for 4 way stops after son injured; speed limit reduced on Hunter after pedestrian killed. I wonder what other reactive progressive traffice action exists in our neighbourhoods?

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By graham (registered) | Posted November 24, 2010 at 21:17:14

I drive this section of road daily to and from work (Kirkendal to Downtown). Now that it's dark at 5 it's even more dangerous. Just tonight I watched a couple scramble across Aberdeen with their bikes in tow. They literally ran to avoid the cars streaming along Aberdeen to access the mountain and get out to the 403. The whole road should be redesigned as a neighborhood road and not a access artery through this area of the city.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted November 24, 2010 at 21:55:46

@pxtl is right about drivers not stopping for pedestrians at un-signaled crosswalks. I am thankful we don't have the Toronto style stick out your hand and walk cross walks. There have been far too many dead right pedestrians and I would not cross at them when I visited but rather walked the extra distance to a bona fide traffic signal.

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted November 24, 2010 at 22:37:27

The flashing yellow crosswalks in Toronto and Oakville are not mandatory stops for vehicles. For example, the police cannot ticket you for driving through them EVEN when they are flashing. The whole idea that the city only budgets for 3 crosswalks a year in a city of over 1/2 a million is ludicrous. This needs to be changed. Especially in one of the densest areas of the entire megacity.

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By graham (registered) | Posted November 25, 2010 at 07:55:33

@adam2 - Actually, the crosswalks in Toronto are mandatory - if not in law, then simply by the fact that pedestrians in Toronto treat them as if they are. And so they should. They are a great aid in slowing down traffic and providing a safe(ish) way across busy streets.

They aren't perfect - several people have been killed attempting to use them - but they at least give a fighting chance.

As I think about this proposed crosswalk, I'm beginning to prefer a stop light. I think that making Aberdeen a more pedestrian friendly street (read: not a highway through the neighborhood) might convince people accessing the mountain to use the 403/Linc. While I am for people coming downtown, I don't think the highway-like nature of Aberdeen helps our city at all.

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By graham (registered) | Posted November 25, 2010 at 08:03:36

"Running heavy traffic through a residential neighborhood is a natural result of living in a very old city like Hamilton"

While I agree with much and many of your comments, I don't agree with this. Properly designated and designed roads do not necessitate 'heavy traffic through a residential neighborhood'. Most cities are as 'old' as Hamilton and not many of them have 2 five lane surface "highways" (Main and King) through them. Most, I would argue, do have more congestion downtown - but is that really a bad thing when compared to the alternative.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 25, 2010 at 09:18:58

@graham

Aberdeen isn't a highway. It's just the only continuous east-west street south of Main. Even if it were all-way-stops every block, it would be constantly snarled with traffic. Aberdeen is going to be a busy street no matter what you do with it. That's my point - it is positively guaranteed to be stuffed full of traffic, so greater protection of pedestrians is necessary. And it's in the heart of the city, so there's nothing we can do to fix it.... no space for an overpass, or for another road, or whatever. That's what I mean by "old city" - a city that was built before so many people had cars.

We had one of those flashing-yellow crosswalks when I was a student in Guelph. The damned thing was awkward as hell - you'd push the button and be unable to see that the crosswalk was blinking, and there was no indicator showing you that it had done so, since the yellow light was pointed away from the pedestrian. So you'd have people push the button and look for an indication that it was safe to cross, and the driver, knowing the sign meant "stop if it is safe, then continue" would stop for a second, see nobody going through the crosswalk, and then continue.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-11-25 08:19:56

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted November 25, 2010 at 09:46:00

unlike other Ontario cities Hamilton now has a policy of only putting crosswalks at "signalized intersections", i.e. at a stop sign or traffic light. This is ostensibly for safety, but the fact that the City removed the signs from existing crosswalks and simply let the road markings fade suggests safety was not the main concern. This policy also drastically reduced the number of available crosswalks.

Westdale presents another example of this absurdity. At the very core of the spiderweb of streets is the intersection of King West and Paisley, surrounded by shopping and including a major bus stop ... and the city has allowed the crosswalks to fade because, as was explained to me, pedestrians are not supposed to cross there. Because it's not safe. And it's not safe because there is no four way or light (either of which would be patently absurd).

And so here we are, at the intersection of Keep-the-cars-moving and Cover-your-ass with no way to move on.

Except that King West is quite crossable there and so people do cross, and do so without the danger of darting across Aberdeen at Kent.

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-11-25 08:53:07

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted November 25, 2010 at 09:51:43

it would be constantly snarled with traffic.

I wish, it's easier for a pedestrian to survive heavy slow moving traffic than play dodgems with fast moving traffic.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted November 25, 2010 at 11:19:42

@pxtl: as nobrainer points out, slowing down traffic on Aberdeen would not reduce "congestion" per se. But it would make the street a lot more friendly for local uses. And drivers would react to increased travel times by changing behavior. For example, more doctors at st. Joe's might take Madeleine's lead and actually live near the hospital.

A lot of the demand for high-volume streets in this city is driven by planning decisions that encourage people to live far from where they work. It's a vicious cycle, and it's nice to see someone trying to break it.

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By graham (registered) | Posted November 26, 2010 at 12:07:08

@PXTL - do you walk along Aberdeen. When I walk from my house to Locke, the worst part is the part along Aberdeen. It may not be called a highway, but its 4 lanes of 60 km/h plus.

I can't think of a great street in Toronto, Montreal, Victoria, ..., where its so easy to drive 60 km/h. When there are that many cars going that speed, walking on the sidewalk is not a great experience.

I think we generally agree that walking is good. I think all I'm trying to suggest is that we need to shift the priority of the streets away from cars. Hamilton, as we certainly will agree, is a car centric place. Doesn't take a long walk to discover that.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 26, 2010 at 13:03:43

The worst is during significant rainfall. Aberdeen is riddled with potholes that fill quickly with water, and the sidewalk is so narrow and so close to the street that you're all but guaranteed a good soaking if you walk along it.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 26, 2010 at 15:27:19

Why am I getting negativity? My point is that the city has to protect pedestrians on Aberdeen, and that heavy traffic there is inevitable so the city has to step up and make sure that every intersection is safe. Telling pedestrians to go somewhere else in the middle of their own residential neighborhood is basically giving them the finger... so of course pedestrians are going to dart across in spite of the sign.

I used to live at 200 bay. I used to work at 400 longwood. Not only have I walked along aberdeen and driven along it, I've done something even dumber: I've biked on it. Holy crap that's a scary experience.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted November 29, 2010 at 21:40:52

Ryan, good stuff, you beat me to this article. But the real kicker is the danger of the options (Pedestrians Please cross at Locke or Queen). Walking along Queen is nasty, with a limit of 50km/h, average 60 plus, and 70 plus common, and the sidewalk is immediately on the road edge (imho, this feature should mandate 40km/h limits).

In eight years I've seen two accidents at Locke and Queen, not to mention being rear ended on Aberdeen while stopped at the red light at Locke is the only accident I've ever been involved in. But I've NEVER seen the police stop a speeder on this stretch.

The crossing at Queen is even worse for pedestrians, with a channelized right, advanced left from northbound Queen (nobody stays in their lane while making this turn), and similarly fast right turns Aberdeen to southbound Queen. It is the postcard for what not to do for pedestrian safety.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 30, 2010 at 06:00:35

The crossing at Queen is even worse for pedestrians ... It is the postcard for what not to do for pedestrian safety.

Absolutely! The corner at Aberdeen and Queen has the distinction of having been featured in Walkability Fail.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-11-30 05:06:30

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By everywhere (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2010 at 09:44:25

about crosswalks there are several need improving including Dundurn at King. Pedestrians must cross north east then south east then west to get to Fortino's. how about Walnut and Charlton? it's far busier pedestrian wise than Ferguson where there is a 4 way stop signs. Maybe some of the comments has something but will vew later on. I like to see "point and walk" like in TO. Cities are supposed to be poeple friendly not car/driver favouritism.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 03, 2010 at 12:10:05

To be fair, Aberdeen and Queen is a miserable experience for everyone, including motorists. Again, my biggest problem is that motorists don't seem to realise that a crosswalk with no other markings is supposed to give pedestrians priority (the southbound-to-westbound slit).

The city has a little "yield to pedestrians" sign at the 403 onramp that divides Columbia College's residence from it's classrooms. We need more of those. I wonder what strings the owner of CC had to pull to get that sign installed?

edit: link to onramp. The little sign below the "yield" says "yield to pedestrians".

http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=q&sourc...

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-12-03 11:17:58

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 03, 2010 at 12:17:30

To be fair, Aberdeen and Queen is a miserable experience for everyone, including motorists.

Queen southbound has a highway-style on-ramp turning right onto Aberdeen. Beckett northbound (coming down the hill) has a long advanced green turning left onto Aberdeen. If it's a miserable experience for motorists, it's not because the infrastructure isn't accommodating enough for them.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 03, 2010 at 12:29:45

@Ryan - even with that long advanced green, it often takes drivers 3 or 4 cycles of the light to make that left turn. That's part of my wife's regular commute. The motorists are waiting much longer than pedestrians. My only complaint about Aberdeen and Queen is the highway slit that has no protection for pedestrians, which is pretty well a consistent theme throughout the city (except, as I mentioned above, at Columbia International College).

Once again the silly Hamilton "all one way streets" causes a problem here - every person going west coming down the mountain is shunted onto Aberdeen street because Queen becomes a wrong-way-street at Herkimer. This means the only way to go west is to turn left on Aberdeen, instead of being able to proceed to King... even if Frid street is extended to Longwood, people heading into Ainsliewood/Westdale will still be pushed onto Aberdeen because they can't get to Charlton.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 03, 2010 at 12:47:35

even with that long advanced green, it often takes drivers 3 or 4 cycles of the light to make that left turn.

Lots of drivers use Aberdeen because it's configured as a thoroughfare. The City refuses to transform Aberdeen to make it more pedestrian-friendly and especially child-friendly because all those drivers need it to get where they're going. Of course, the reason all those drivers use it is that they can.

It's the magic of induced demand in action.

At the meeting yesterday, one of the people in attendance pointed out that Locke Street used to be designated as a thoroughfare as well, but thanks to traffic calming measures it has since become much more hospitable.

I actually lived on Locke at the time, and the street was depressing and mostly deserted. Aside from the excellent Ron's Big Easy cajun restaurant owned by Daniel Lanois' brother and Henry Black Bookseller, there wasn't much on the street to speak of.

Several things changed on Locke over the intervening years; but we can't discount the role that a four-way stop at Charlton, a four-way stop at Herkimer (next to a school), and then a pedestrian-activated signalized crosswalk at Tuckett (next to Locke Street Bakery) played in calming traffic enough to make the pedestrian environment attractive.

The point is that all the arguments we can raise against humanizing Aberdeen apply to any thoroughfare - and that the design, designation and use of a street are ultimately self-fulfilling.

Another person in attendance pointed out that people from the West Mountain will come down Queen and along Longwood to McMaster instead of coming down Hwy 403, because it shaves a few minutes off their commuting time. As we've argued before, what's the point of a completed ring highway system when you can still drive through the city faster than you can drive around it?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 03, 2010 at 13:48:55

@Ryan - either way, though, the presence of the mountain access there means that this will inevitably be a bottleneck. There's no escaping that. And I totally agree that too much traffic is shunted onto the pedestrian-unfriendly Aberdeen. But in this case, the city doesn't just speed up traffic on Aberdeen, it also forces west-bound drivers onto it by blocking off their north-bound access. I would totally support converting Queen to 2-way, and calming Aberdeen with all-way stops or what-have-you... combined with the Frid connection to Longwood you'd be able to slow down drivers without destroying the utility of the Beckett access because drivers would be taking 3 different routes west instead of all of them being crammed onto one terrible little highway.

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By gabriel (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2011 at 15:23:34

Congratulations, you may have done it

http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/6F3C43CF-BE64-4072-82F9-F7FA3407B509/0/Jun20EDRMS_n187260_v1_11009_PW_REPORT.pdf

7. Installation of a pedestrian-activated signal at the intersection of Kent
Street and Aberdeen Avenue (Ward 1) (Item 9.1)
(a) That a pedestrian-activated signal be installed at the intersection of Kent
Street and Aberdeen Avenue.
(b) That staff be directed to investigate funding the estimated $80,000 capital
cost of this project out of the area rating derived infrastructure
reinvestment and that staff investigate funding options to cover the annual
operating cost.
(c) That the appropriate amending by-law be passed.

thanks to the good people at CATCH www.hamiltoncatch.org

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 13, 2011 at 22:20:16 in reply to Comment 66120

The motion passed unanimously at the public works committee meeting on June 20, and was then approved by Council in a subsequent meeting on June 29. The minutes aren't up yet and the Silverlight video feed is not playing nice with my installation of Moonlight, so I don't know how individual councillors voted.

The crossing still has to be funded, but the motion instructs staff to seek the $80,000 cost from the area rating infrastructure levy. According to Councillor McHattie, this shouldn't be a problem, and the crosswalk will likely be installed in the summer of 2012.

I'd like to point out that none of this would have happened if not for the initiative and dedication of Madeleine Verhovsek, who started the whole thing by writing a letter to McHattie, scheduling a meeting with staff and residents, and organizing a door-to-door petition that ended up getting hundreds of signatures.

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