Walkability Fail

Drive Like No One Lives Here!

By Ryan McGreal
Published December 28, 2010

Paul Sousa is the artist who designed the legendary Cannon Street warning to pedestrians at the corner of Cannon and James, as well as other consciousness-raising street signs that point an accusatory finger at Hamilton's car-centric road network.

He has just produced a new offering:

City of Hamilton: Designed so you can... Drive like no one lives here!
City of Hamilton: Designed so you can... Drive like no one lives here!

Paul would like to post more signs, but they're expensive to produce and keep getting removed and/or stolen. If you want to see his signs around the city and are able to support his efforts financially, you can drop a donation into his PayPal account.

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 adam2 (anonymous) | Posted December 29, 2010 at 11:33:34

Sad but true..

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 29, 2010 at 12:08:38

I assume this sign is for those 1-way streets with conspicuously-absent crosswalks on the far side of an intersection, like King at Dundurn?

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted December 29, 2010 at 12:24:58

I honestly wonder whether city staff see these sorts of commentaries on Hamilton and are at all affected. RTH isn't exactly a mystery website that no one has heard of in this town, and as has been pointed out numerous times lately, every time there's a public workshop or PIC etc, two-way conversion and the problems with one-way freeways comes up.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 29, 2010 at 15:38:32

every time there's a public workshop or PIC etc, two-way conversion and the problems with one-way freeways comes up

And the consistent message is that we need to tame our streets for people, but the Traffic Dept exercises a veto.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted December 29, 2010 at 17:36:50

Perhaps we need to weed out the personal bias from the traffic dept. As in make them sign that their decisions are based on their personal beliefs and not available evidence. Hound them until they do, or follow safer pedestrian designs, or resign.

There are plenty of ways to make roads safer for pedestrians, like - enforce speed limits -lower speed limits +/- increased fines on any road where the sidewalk is immediately adjacent to the road without a parking buffer - more, more 2 way street conversions - driver hitting pedestrian is guilty until proven otherwise - educate, e.g. signs saying drive like every pedestrian is your child

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By told you so (anonymous) | Posted December 29, 2010 at 19:19:47

Every idea except 2way conversions would be extremely helpful, particularly enforcement and lower speed limits

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 29, 2010 at 21:23:58

Just came back from another wonderful day in downtown Buffalo and surrounding neighbourhoods and once again, frustrated at how simple street work so well and can be so vibrant. Found Hertel Avenue, another bustling, vibrant commercial strip just north of the vibrant Elmwood Avenue district. Both streets have street parking on both sides with one lane each way. Patio spaces for cafes, relaxed zoning regulations, surrounding residential neighbourhoods that are beautiful and walkable. I'd love ALL of Hamilton council to take a day-trip and walk Elmwood and Hertel and simply come back here and INSIST that the traffic department, LRT planners and zoning people all chill out and just put our city back to normal. I didn't see a single 3 lane/1 lane two-way screw up in Buffalo. Everything moves slow, steady and safely, other than some of their one-way streets right downtown, which of course are dead as a doorknob. I want a real city back.....

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By Desmond (anonymous) | Posted December 30, 2010 at 10:16:37

Did I just read that we are to look to Buffalo for downtown renewal?

Oy!

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By MattM (registered) | Posted December 30, 2010 at 10:44:12

There are parts of even Detroit that could be good examples of urban renewal. Even the most rotten cities have their gems. If I remember correctly, there are some student areas of Detroit that have experienced massive re-investment and renovations in recent years.

It should probably also be noted that much like Hamilton and Buffalo, Detroit has a few one-way arterial streets that cut up the downtown. During my visits they were pretty dead, even during the day.

Comment edited by MattM on 2010-12-30 10:45:49

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By verhovm (registered) | Posted December 30, 2010 at 12:57:39

Heartily agreeing with jason and Ted...

More two-way conversions with parking along both sides as a buffer for pedestrians. In Locke St is a prime example of a great pedestrian area -- the speed limit is 50km/hr over most of it, but the hustle and bustle of pedestrians crossing, and cars parking, interspersed with well-situated stop signs and a ped-activated stoplight help to calm the traffic down to 30km/hr or so.

Ottawa St. is a pretty good example of how you can "have your cake and eat it too"...single lane of traffic in each direction, ped-activated stoplights along a vibrant commercial street. And I think it's still able to serve as a truck route. We don't need 5 lanes across all going in the same direction...total lunacy, and terrible for businesses and communities.

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By DanJelly (registered) | Posted December 30, 2010 at 14:40:26

Kudos to Paul!

As others have posted, much of the problem stems from the City's traffic philosophy. I would suggest that philosophy needs changing and I think the first step is to rethink the very name of the "Traffic Engineering" Department. While the term traffic is supposed to refer to all modes of transportation, our modern use of the term seems to centre on vehicular traffic. (I can't ever remember hearing about sidewalk congestion or closure on a radio 'traffic' report). I know people will argue that changing the name doesn't solve the problem, but it might remind our good folks at City Hall that they have ignored the needs of their pedestrians for too long.

Comment edited by DanJelly on 2010-12-30 15:18:40

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By Justsaying (anonymous) | Posted December 30, 2010 at 15:42:02

That's right pedestrians - BE MORE CAREFUL WHEN CROSSING THE STREET -there's nothing like blaming the victims.....

Note, to Constable Wagner, it takes 2 to tango and it's pedestrians and motorist that both need to be more careful.

Note, to City of Hamilton, please design streets where we can coexist.

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/307449--pedestrian-deaths-rising-in-hamilton

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 30, 2010 at 17:40:32

I wish one of these decades we would see a press conference with our police department laying down the smack towards all of these unsafe, dangerous one-way truck freeways in our downtown and residential neighbourhoods. Public safety is priority number one I would assume, for our police dept. What better group to bring much needed public attention to the massive dangers for kids and adults alike these urban freeways, timed lights, skinny sidewalks and lack of crosswalks for hundreds of metres at a time present.

Blaming pedestrians is crazy. We're one step away from making it illegal to be a pedestrian in this city. City Hall's traffic guru's have done their part. We need to get the police force on the side of public safety before city hall convinces them that Hamilton's road network is a-ok and unruly old ladies trying to cross the street to Denningers are the real problem.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 30, 2010 at 19:06:34

Basic gun safety...

1) Do not have guns pointed at you. 2) Never assume a gun pointed at you isn't loaded. 3) Avoid areas where people get shot, like Young St. in Toronto 4) It doesn't matter whether you were "in the right" - the gun will kill you, not them. 5) Be very nice to the man with the gun. 6) Don't get shot. If you do, it's your own fault.

See why blaming the victim isn't an effective way to ensure safety? When does the one holding the gun have to start following rules? I ask this question in a hypothetical sense, of course, because any crime or accident involving a gun does tend to come under amazing amounts of scrutiny - whereas the same careless accident or act of aggression with five tons of projectile garner little at all. Would we have any sympathy for someone who shot someone because they were texting during target practice? Would we ever allow that person near a gun again, even if they didn't shoot somebody?

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 10:08:04

Well isn't that large, confusing, complicated, sign just 'Special'. Did they need to install a bigger pole to install it?

(We are 1 1/2 blocks, or 150 yards from an entrance to 3 elementary schools & we could not get a 40K per hour sign, or a School Zone sign, cuz "It's too expensive!")

Those 40K. signs are common, probably in stock with the GHA roads dept., & way less expensive to produce than that 'posted instructions, mini-booklet" you have up there.-??

If you have lots of pedestrian traffic, it's time to control the flow of vehicles & their speed, not try to teach the peds how to avoid being squashed!

The Only thing that's going to get City Hall thinking about traffic & methods other than driving, is if we have a number of total gridlock incidents, like we had last Summer.

(2 accidents on opposite ends of the GHA 403, & a few on the Link, equaled Total Gridlock from Brantford, to Burlington, to Niagara for over 6 hours.)

I guess it's going to take a few more of those before anybody notices that there is a problem, since people getting hurt or killed on foot doesn't seem to resonate?

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