Walkability Fail

Police Target Pedestrian Non-Compliance

By Ryan McGreal
Published April 07, 2011

Once again, Hamilton Police Services are tackling pedestrian safety through enforcement rather than engineering-for-safety. According to a news release issued today, police officers in downtown Division 1 will target pedestrians failing to obey the Highway Traffic Act and Hamilton by-laws.

"The purpose of the Strategy," reads the announcement, "is to manage and minimize problems associated with pedestrian non-compliance." The enforcement strategy started on April 1 and will continue to December 1 with a "zero tolerance policy" for pedestrian disobedience.

The goal is to "reduce the number of HTA and City By-law infractions in the downtown intersections with a long term goal of reducing the number of traffic collisions, especially those involving pedestrians."

This train-and-blame mentality is as predictable as it is ineffective. Every time there is a rash of pedestrian or cycling collisions, Hamilton Police Services responds with an enforcement strategy.

When a pedestrian is killed jaywalking across a downtown street, the police report highlights the jaywalking but not the fact that the nearest crossing is hundreds of metres away.

The police advise pedestrians to wear reflective clothing but do not advice the city to reconsider its high-speed downtown thoroughfares.

The police advise pedestrians to cross only at crosswalks but do not advise our traffic engineers to install more crosswalks. Consider that on Main Street East, there are no signalized crossings:

These are exactly the sorts of places where collisions resulting in pedestrian deaths take place: high-speed, multi-lane urban thoroughfares with no controlled crossings for hundreds of metres at a stretch.

Do the police honestly think the real problem here is insubordinate pedestrians? These are downtown city streets, not 400-series highways. Jaywalking should be the norm, not a dangerous infraction that must be punished.

Does anyone really think it's reasonable to make a pedestrian have to choose between: a) sprinting across a five-lane thoroughfare; and b) walking between a third and a half a kilometre out of the way, just to cross the street?

It's past time that our municipal public safety services start looking beyond a narrow focus on enforcement of the rules and consider the more fundamental role that street design and engineering plays in creating spaces that are either safe and accommodating or dangerous and hostile.

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 April 07, 2011 at 14:39:00

someone let me know when it's not the 1970's anymore...

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By shabooga (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 14:43:56

I would be less offended by the police taking this action if they were also to target rule breaking by vehicles that jeopardizes pedestrian safety. On a routine basis I see vehicles speeding to try to "beat the light" in order to keep up with the synchronization on our one-way streets. I have almost been run over by vehicles speeding up on seeing a yellow and then crossing on red. Also right-turning vehicles not stopping on red and simply plowing through a pedestrian's right of way is a frequent occurrence.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2011 at 12:18:57 in reply to Comment 61939

Oh don't worry, they enforce speeding quite well... on Burlington street, where pedestrians are a once-in-a-blue-moon sight.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 15:11:02 in reply to Comment 61939

I would be less offended if the police were the most vocal about the dangers of our road system. Yet, I never hear a peep from them about how cramming 1-way freeways and transport truck routes past childrens homes is dangerous.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 07, 2011 at 15:00:47 in reply to Comment 61939

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted April 07, 2011 at 17:51:34 in reply to Comment 61942

The also run the red light at the pedestrian activated crosswalk at King St. East and Balmoral/Maple Ave.

Comment edited by Michelle Martin on 2011-04-07 17:51:59

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 14:45:23

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 19:19:34 in reply to Comment 61940

Pedestrians run amok is just as big of a problem as automobiles run amok.

Pedestrians don't kill motorists when they run into them.

FAIL.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 02:13:13 in reply to Comment 61961

You are absolutely right when a pedestrian is involved in an accident with a car the pedestrian is always going to lose, irregardless of fault or cause. Should that not provide all the motivation in the world for pedestrians to be careful and cross streets safely? I taught my children how to cross streets safely it is pretty easy all they had to do was watch me. I have never outgrown the basics and hopefully neither will my offspring.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted April 10, 2011 at 22:06:46 in reply to Comment 61976

yeah, that's the equivalent of teaching your children to defer to bullies. smart, maybe, but certainly not standing up for yourself, them, or others.

The problem is that VEHICLES ARE NOT HUMAN SCALE.

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By shabooga (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 14:57:07 in reply to Comment 61940

I don't know where you're walking but walking along Cannon Street I constantly have safety concerns with vehicles while following the rules of the road. The street is engineered to keep vehicle traffic flowing and sometimes it flows even when it is not allowed to by law!

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 15:16:03

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By michaelcumming (registered) - website | Posted April 07, 2011 at 15:51:56

'Just follow the rules and you'll be fine...' Trollomatic in action once again. Let's start designing roads with pedestrians and cyclists in mind. It need not be politicized.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 16:41:25 in reply to Comment 61947

comment from banned user deleted

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted April 07, 2011 at 16:56:59 in reply to Comment 61955

I know!

It's like those democracy protesters in the Middle East. If you don't want to be shot, obey the law and don't participate in the stupid illegal protests. Jeez.

Comment edited by moylek on 2011-04-07 16:57:20

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By jonathan (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 19:40:30 in reply to Comment 61956

Holy cow, man. A little hyperbolic? I'm sure the people enduring the insane circumstances in the Middle East appreciate your comparing them to jay-walking pedestrians. Yeah, that's logical.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2011 at 10:52:23 in reply to Comment 61963

Well, I made the sure the hyperbole was arch and soaring, lest the point - and the fact that it was expressed hyperbolically - be missed. But it seems that the hyperbole might have obscured the point.

The point is this: sometimes the status quo (a city traffic regime; a dictatorship) does not promote the common weal; and if people are regularly breaking the law by going against the status quo, the way to make things better for people in general may not be to crack down (on the jay walker; on the protestors) but to change the status quo (by having friendlier streets; by holding free elections).

Which is to say, I suppose, I think that Ryan is correct.

Comment edited by moylek on 2011-04-08 11:21:18

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2011 at 10:53:38 in reply to Comment 61986

Though I'm also going to throw in my support for a little more enforcement against cyclists who flaut the law right in front of cops. Twice in the past year or so - as I sat patiently waiting my turn at a four way - I watched as another cyclist blew through the intersection in full view of a traffic cop. It just makes a mockery of really good traffic laws - like waiting your turn at four-way stops.

Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am all for law and order. But I am also for changing the law for the sake of a better order.

Comment edited by moylek on 2011-04-08 11:19:27

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 12:49:45 in reply to Comment 61987

I don't stop at four way stops on my bike unless there are cars around. It just feels ridiculous. I slow down to the point where I could stop in c. 1 metre if a car comes blasting through.

I also occasionally pay contractors under the table, jaywalk, evade copyright laws, self-aggrandize, and think unkind thoughts. If the state is going to take an interest in these things I'm not going to take it personally.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 12:17:32 in reply to Comment 61987

Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself.

I don't think it's a contradiction. Cyclists are more vulnerable than drivers by an order of magnitude, but pedestrians are more vulnerable still, and many of the bad habits that cyclists have gotten into in this city (due as much if not more to the lack of a widespread bike culture as to lack of enforcement), put pedestrians at risk.

Obviously the bulk of traffic law enforcement should be directed at the most dangerous element: drivers. But there should definitely be some leftover for the next most dangerous element: cyclists.

Comment edited by highwater on 2011-04-08 12:18:14

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 17:23:46

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted April 07, 2011 at 18:22:01

I'm sorry, but I really don't see somebody's violation of jaywalking laws as a legal surrender of their life.

Legislation does not equal morality.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 18:41:11

comment from banned user deleted

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 07, 2011 at 20:03:45 in reply to Comment 61960

Thats why the law exists.

No. Many European countries - Great Britain in particular - do not have jaywalking laws. Incidentally, cities without jaywalking laws have lower pedestrian casualty rates than cities with jaywalking laws.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted April 09, 2011 at 08:33:24 in reply to Comment 61965

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/...

"And let's not forget that the majority of the 14 pedestrians killed by drivers in the last few weeks were doing exactly what the law stipulated. They weren't jaywalking"

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 09, 2011 at 12:17:01 in reply to Comment 62021

Great link. Thanks. I tried to pull out a money quote, but I just would have ended up copying the entire article.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 02:44:26 in reply to Comment 61965

Have you ever been to Europe? The cities there are vastly different then Hamilton or any other North American city, with maybe one or two exceptions. The single family home just does not appear in the numbers there as they do here. Totally different lifestyles. If that is the way you want to live the only way to accomplish that is to move there. Hamilton has an area of over 1100 Km2, that is about the same as the total of these European cities;Amsterdam 225,Utrecht 100,The Hague 100, Rotterdam 25, Marseille 90, Lyon 50, Toulouse 125, Nice 75, combined. The differences are so huge that any comparison between Hamilton and any city from Europe is nonsensical. This single fact of area is why transit, cycling, and walking are so vastly different between us and the old world. Our cities are just so different. If you live in a city that only covers a 100 KM2 how fast do you really need to go to get to where you are going? Transit works so does cycling and even walking. How does that look in a city of 1,000 Km2? Not quite so appealing. Yes I know that people walk and cycle and take transit here but it will never work as well here as it does there, and then there is the weather but that is another post.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted April 09, 2011 at 17:37:49 in reply to Comment 61977

Well i spent 6 month in Moscow ... huge geographically ... less inviting to pedestrians than hamilton. Not all of europe is the utopia you said

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2011 at 09:38:22 in reply to Comment 61977

Have you ever been to Europe?

Yes. It was after visiting European cities that are actually designed with humans in mind that I became inspired to try and advocate for more humane city design in Hamilton.

If that is the way you want to live the only way to accomplish that is to move there.

Quick: go tell the people living in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Portland, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Philadelphia, Raleigh, Austin and the other livable cities that they're living on the wrong continent.

Hamilton has an area of over 1100 Km2

Can we please put this to bed? The vast majority of that territory is rurals with extremely low population density.

According to Census 2006 data, some 406,210 people lived within wards that were primarily urbanized (1 through 10 and 13), an area totaling 44,866 acres, or 181 square kilometres. That gives an average population density of just over 9 people per acre.

If we focus on just lower city wards 1-4, which is the focus of the police enforcement strategy, you get 143,440 people living in 13,055 acres, for a population density of 11 people per acre. Ward 2 has over 23 people per acre.

Kindly note that the lower city's capacity to increase population density is quite impressive, given the number of vacant lots and empty and underdeveloped properties.

On the other hand, 98,350 people lived in the primarily rural wards (11, 12, 14, 15), an area totaling 234,299 acres, or 948 square kilometres. The population density is 0.42 people per acre - and even that is misleading, because the vast majority of those people are clustered in the developed parts of those wards.

My point is that there is absolutely no reason Hamilton - like a large number of other livable North American cities - cannot function as a similar urban environment to those European cities in which it's safe to abandon jaywalking laws.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 17:02:08 in reply to Comment 61983

NO NO NO we can not put this to bed the differences cannot be ignored no matter how much you want to do so. Our cities are designed for people just like the cities in Europe are, they also take into account that our lifestyles are quite different. The differences are why so many things like transit just do not work the same way here as they do in Europe.

New York city is indeed one of the few exceptions to our cities. Toronto has thousands of single family homes something lacking in all of the European cities. This lifestyle, the single family home, something that so many of us want, is what leads to the lower population density. Nice has an area of 72 Km2, which I believe is about 18,000 acres, and a population of 350,000. If my math is correct that is more than twice the population for less than 40% more area, and on top of that there are no suburbs the way there are here. Here the suburbs is where so much of our wealth is which in turn generates so much of our tax base. There simply is no comparison of the 2 city styles. Their city style makes transit, cycling and walking work. Our city styles make transit, cycling and walking difficult. Until you can convince the masses that they do not want a single family home and want to live in a box. Our downtown core has been there for a long time people have left as they can afford to buy what they want, a single family home and preferably a large one at that. By and large our population especially young families just do not want that lifestyle but would rather have their own house complete with the white picket fence.

I know that you do not like it but there is simply no way around it. Our cities will not and cannot function the way the European cities do as things stand. Now all you have to do is convince a few million of us to give up our houses and learn to love living in a box in a big building. Somehow I do not believe that you are going to accomplish that. Do you live in a single family home or in an apartment/condominium?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2011 at 17:38:36 in reply to Comment 62002

NO NO NO we can not put this to bed

Again and again you bring up this notion of Hamilton as though its 500,000 people are evenly distributed among its 1100 square kilometres. This is patently untrue. The old city is quite dense, and could easily accommodate 2-10X above its current density with public policies that allowed and encouraged intensification.

A number of other North American cities that used to look a lot like Hamilton have made some policy changes - policy changes I would like to see Hamilton make as well - and now look a lot more like the European cities from which you insist that we cannot draw inspiration.

Do you live in a single family home or in an apartment/condominium?

I live in a house in a suburb, albeit:

  • The house is tall, narrow and set close to the street.
  • The suburb was built 100 years ago (around a light rail line, no less).

Despite living in a neighbourhood consisting mainly of single family houses, I am nevertheless able to walk almost everywhere I go, including to work, to my child's school, to do weekly shopping, and to visit friends.

Now all you have to do is convince a few million of us to give up our houses and learn to love living in a box in a big building.

Based on a quick, back-of-the-envelope calculation, the population density of my single-family-home neighbourhood is around 40 people per acre, or nearly double the density of our downtown Ward 2.

When you say we can't have enough density for a livable city without pushing millions of people into apartment buildings, you are engaging in straightforward FUD.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2011 at 13:25:59 in reply to Comment 62006

Nonsense. I am stating the facts as they are. Not how I wish them to be or how they should be.

No fear. I never said that I am afraid or that you should be either. What is there to be afraid of. If anything you are the one who uses those tactics especially in all those peak oil/end of the our civilization pieces you have written.

No uncertainty. I am quite certain about my facts. You on the other hand deal in uncertainty all the time. You hope and think that good things will happen if only we do what you think is best for all of us.

No doubt. What is there to doubt? All you have to do is open your eyes and see. The differences between our cities and those of Europe are huge and no amount of wishful thinking is going to change that, you may not like it but that does not make it so.

I never said that the population of Hamilton is equally distributed. I do not believe anyone did. Why would they?

Hamilton has pockets of fairly dense population but only pockets. We have miles and miles of (kilometers and kilometers?) of single family homes. No matter how narrow the lot or how close to the road they are single family homes is low density. The opportunity for increasing the density has been there for a long time and most citizens just do not want it. Does your vote trump theirs? How many of theirs?

Nor did I ever say we do not have a livable city without pushing people into boxes. We have livable city now. Many thousands of us are happy with the city. You keep trying to foist these huge changes upon us that for most of us just do not make any sense. I said for your vision of the future that is what we would have to do. The vast majority of Europeans live in a box in a big building. So much of their housing is made up of 3 to 6 story walkups. On the East side of Queen street just south of Main St. there is a small complex or building that is 3 or 4 stories tall. Imagine miles (or kilometers) of that kind of building. That is how The vast majority of Europeans live. Is that really what you envision for Hamilton? Without them or some equivalent how can you ever match their density?

Do you see any irony in the fact that you have your own single family home (I understand it is older and tall and narrow and set close to the road)and you wish to implement all these changes so others cannot? One set of right and wrong for you and another set for the rest of us.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 11, 2011 at 14:57:10 in reply to Comment 62030

I never said that the population of Hamilton is equally distributed.

You repeatedly raised the population of Hamilton in the context of its area for the purpose of arguing that Hamilton's people are spread across too large an area to make pedestrian friendly neighbourhoods.

The fact that Hamiltonians are actually concentrated in a few dense areas rather than dispersed evenly among our entire 1100 square kilometres demolishes your premise that Hamilton cannot enjoy European-style livable streets.

The opportunity for increasing the density has been there for a long time and most citizens just do not want it.

Check the zoning regulations over the past 60 years. For most of the city over most of that time, it has been illegal to build anything other than low-density single family houses. Nothing even remotely like the free market has been at work.

Do you see any irony in the fact that you have your own single family home (I understand it is older and tall and narrow and set close to the road)and you wish to implement all these changes so others cannot?

Boston MA has a density three times as high as the lower city of Hamilton with a building form composed almost entirely of two-, three- and four-storey buildings, including plenty of single family houses.

Once again, you are attacking a straw man in your attempt to explain why the principles that have led to successful, people-friendly cities all over the world, including in cities across North America, somehow magically can't work here.

It's classic squelching. As Richard Florida succinctly put it:

I've seen firsthand how these squelchers drain the life and energy from their communities. They respond to new ideas with phrases like "That's not how we do things here"; "That will never fly"; or "Why don't you move someplace you'll be happy?"

The squelchers on this thread alone have used all three of these responses.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-04-11 15:03:05

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 12, 2011 at 13:41:58 in reply to Comment 62050

Why do you insist on trying to compare Hamilton to cities that are just about as different as possible?

Hamilton's population is spread across 1,100 Km2 with pockets of denser population and many areas of lower density. You keep comparing Hamilton to places like Boston which has a population of over 600,000 comparable to Hamilton and an area, wait for it, of just over 200 Km2. Now add to that, that Boston is the destination city for miles around with many suburbs around it and what does it have in common with Hamilton? Just about nothing. With the suburbs the population climbs to about 4,500,000. This is what you want to compare Hamilton too? Find a similar city in population and area and see how your arguments work then. Boston has a high density because people really want to live there. If people really wanted to live in older sections of Hamilton the prices would be a lot higher. If people had wanted to live there for years then the bylaws would have been changed to accommodate that. As it is very few people want to live there and many of the ones that do, live there because of the low prices and are looking for a way out. If our city was similar to Boston then we would have LRT, we would have big areas of high density not just small pockets, and the vast majority of people living downtown just could not afford to be there.

I never said that Hamilton does not deserve liveable streets. I object to the senseless changes that you propose over and over again. It is because Hamilton's population is spread out across 1,100 Km2 (not evenly, but with pockets of higher and many areas of lower density) that we have a city like we do. It did not just happen by accident. We have one way street to accommodate the high vehicle traffic, we have had them for a long time. Hamilton had a vibrant growing busy core during many of those years, I know because for a short while we lived there. People left our core and the core of virtually every city in North America. This did not happen in Europe. Our cultures are quite different.

It is illegal to build anything but low density single family homes because that is what the vast majority of the populace wants. Not long ago there was an article on this site about someone proposing to build a multi- unit building and all the neighbours objected. I know you and a few of your supporters liked the idea but most of the people who lived in the vicinity did not. As far as I know that is how the system is supposed to work. Not necessarily free market economy but certainly politically correct. There are many empty lots in the core and if people wanted to live there then somebody would build condos or apartments on them instead of using them for parking lots.


I have never said "That's not how we do things here." When I have said things similar to "That will never fly." I back it up with facts why it will not work. The only time I said something about you moving was because you keep alluding to European cities and they are so different than almost every city in North America. Your whole squelcher comment is blatant name calling. Is that what you want this to deteriorate to, name calling?

You can call me all the names you want it still does not change the facts. Instead of calling me names try using a couple of good arguments. At this point I would like to see you compare Hamilton to a similar city and not some major urban metropolis. Bet you cannot because if you could then you would have done so a long time ago.

I know you mean well but you really need to use a little common sense.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2011 at 18:12:28 in reply to Comment 62006

I live in a house in a suburb, albeit: The house is tall, narrow and set close to the street. The suburb was built 100 years ago (around a light rail line, no less).

As was my suburb, Westdale ... which might be yours, too, of course. I believe that primary developer was required to put in a streetcar line (the ancestor of the King 1 route, iirc) as part of the development deal with the city. The newish cluster of buildings at King & Sterling (where Walker's chocolates is) used to be the streetcar turn-around.

Uhmmm ... I'm straining to bring this back on topic. Oooo ... I know. One of Hamilton's most successful suburbs was built to be car friendly (garages for every home!), walkable (lots of short blocks) and have good transit. It can all work together.

Comment edited by moylek on 2011-04-08 18:16:51

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted April 11, 2011 at 18:25:02 in reply to Comment 62008

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 02:46:41 in reply to Comment 61977

Sorry, that should read Rotterdam 325,that will make the math work.

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By jonathan (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 22:00:58 in reply to Comment 61965

Just a thought...but is it not possible that the jaywalking laws in those cities with them were instituted BECAUSE of the higher pedestrian casualties?

Low pedestrian casualties = no need for jaywalking laws.

High pedestrian casualties = need for jaywalking laws.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2011 at 09:41:15 in reply to Comment 61969

is it not possible that the jaywalking laws in those cities with them were instituted BECAUSE of the higher pedestrian casualties?

Possible but extremely unlikely. If anything, the causality is likely to flow the other way: in cities where pedestrians have the right of way, motorists are more likely to drive slowly and cautiously, rather than quickly and with a sense of entitlement.

However, I wasn't making any judgments about causality either way. My point was to challenge the OP's claim about why we have jaywalking laws.

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By jonathan (registered) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 19:58:04 in reply to Comment 61984

Sorry...but I'm afraid I need a little clarification. Your statement is based on the presumption that a city without jaywalking laws is a city where pedestrians have the right of way. Is this accurate? The reason I ask is, according to that presumption, every city in Ontario without a jaywalking by-law is a city where pedestrians have the right-of-way. Is that truly a fair assumption?

Perhaps I'm just looking at this the wrong way. It'd certainly be a whole lot easier to argue the point if our sidewalks were better designed. But then, we mightn't be having this discussion.

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By LoveIt (anonymous) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 19:23:28

When I have to walk on Main St E and going East at the rush hour, it's quite uncomfortable feeling to walk so close to speeding cars coming from behind.
With sidewalks so close to the road it might help to have slower lanes that are near the sidewalks. Or maybe install raised flowerbeds along the most speedy parts of the road to help pedestrians safety.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 22:52:44 in reply to Comment 61962

How about just allow onstreet parking during rush hour? Slows traffic, provides a buffer for pedestrians, good for the businesses, generates revenue, what's not to love?

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By jonathan (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 20:02:12

I should really get out a video camera and sit at any one of the the stoplights in town to video tape the jaywalkers that do so within 50' of a crosswalk. The corner of Dundurn and Main is notorious for this--people leaving the mall to get at the bus stop on the other side of Main regularly step into traffic, 50' from the stoplight that would enable them to cross safely. Of course, that's just one example. It's a regular occurrence at many of the stoplights I cross on my daily commute. And it doesn't have anything to do with one-way streets--I see the same thing going through the boulevards in Burlington. It's truly ridiculous.

Or, how about the number of pedestrians that begin crossing the street after the orange hand has started flashing? How about those people? We're all supposed to get along, and be courteous to each other's right of way, but pedestrians are just as, if not more so, guilty of selfish behaviour. The fact that they are at the most risk of injury does not exempt them from responsibility.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for more crosswalks. And I completely agree that our streets must be engineered for safety. But if 80% of the fatalities involving pedestrians are the fault of the pedestrian**, then education MUST be a part of the solution. Simply putting up more crosswalks won't solve everything.

Reducing the speed limit might reduce the severity of the injuries, however, that to me is backwards logic. Drivers are not at fault in the vast majority of the incidents. And I rather doubt that speed is the only cause in those where the driver is at fault. I'd much rather see reduced lanes with wider sidewalks/sidewalk separation than a reduction in the speed limit. This would likely result in a general reduction of speed much more so than setting an arbitrary speed limit. Preferably with the removal of concrete poles from sidewalks. I broke a perfectly good pair of glasses because of those things.

**stats taken from the oft-cited report on the safety of one-way vs two-way streets

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By jonathan (registered) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 19:27:29 in reply to Comment 61964

Quick clarification...the stats referenced are regarding accidents involving children only. My apologies. If anyone has another study covering all ages, I'd be happy to read it!

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By z jones (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 22:02:45 in reply to Comment 61964

Drivers are not at fault in the vast majority of the incidents.

No, the speed of the car is at fault. It may be "legal" to go 50 or 60 down a city street but that doesn't make the pedestrian who gets hit by a car going that fast any less dead. If cars were only going 30 or 40, they would have more chance to stop and avoid hitting pedestrians and any pedestrians who get hit would have more chance to survive it.

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By jonathan (registered) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 00:07:27 in reply to Comment 61970

Oh, my...I don't know how to respond to that. 'The speeed of the car caused the accident'? No it didn't. The damn pedestrian stepped out into traffic and got creamed. You do something stupid, it's gonna hurt. But it was your choice. No-one put a gun to your head. No-one was holding your mother hostage. YOU stepped into traffic, and paid the consequences.

I understand that reducing the speed limit might reduce the number of injuries. But I simply don't see how forcing a law on a group of people that are doing NOTHING WRONG to protect a group of people who are BEING STUPID is right.

Re-engineer to your heart's content. But dropping the speed limit to 30 will empty downtown of everyone in a hurry.

Comment edited by jonathan on 2011-04-08 00:14:19

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 20:53:25 in reply to Comment 61974

here's some training and blaming RTHers: this is not a comment that I should have to click through to read. It is a bit stridently written but not a troll. It gets its stridency from the comment it's responding to.

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By jonathan (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 20:27:21

I don't mean to be an ass, but...I took the energy to compare your list of bad stretches to the list of accidents on the OGDI posted yesterday. Results below:

The police advise pedestrians to cross only at crosswalks but do not advise our traffic engineers to install more crosswalks. Consider that on Main Street East, there are no signalized crossings:

Between Walnut and Wellington, a distance of 350 metres;

One accident

Between Tisdale and Wentworth, a distance of 350 metres;

Zero accidents

Between Sanford and Fairleigh, a distance of 300 metres;

Zero accidents

Between Fairleigh and Sherman, a distance of 350 metres;

Zero accidents

Between Sherman and Springer, a distance of 350 metres;

Zero accidents

Between Springer and Gage, a distance of 500 metres - that's half a kilometre;

Zero accidents

Between Gage and King, a distance of 500 metres (another half kilometre) - but there is a highway-style on-ramp from Main eastbound onto King heading southeast.

Zero accidents

A quick purview of the data shows, in fact, that the majority of the accidents occur at signalized intersections. Of course, the biggest thing missing from this data is dates; I've no idea what kind of date range we're looking at there. The other caveat being the mis-reporting of location. If someone asks me where I live in Hamilton, I'll name the nearest major intersection, as the likelyhood of their knowing my little street is rather slim. I would imagine accident reporting is similar.

(On a side note...have you ever considered implementing bbcode as the method of formatting text? It's a well-known formatting language, and for those unfamiliary with it, rich-text-style editors for it abound...)

Comment edited by jonathan on 2011-04-07 20:31:51

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By margaret_cmc (anonymous) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 21:42:26

Accidents and pedestrian injuries or death are certainly the result of more then just jay-walking. Enforcing pedestrian compliance is not the full and complete solution but I believe it can be appreciated as a piece of the solution, small as it may be. As I think of the little memorial I past on my way home today, erected to commemorate the person who was killed jay-walking not 200 ft from a stop light I see how this increased enforcement may help.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted April 07, 2011 at 23:47:51

Why zero tolerance for pedestrians and not for motorists? I just don't get it.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 02:53:00 in reply to Comment 61973

Zero tolerance? Nobody is talking zero tolerance. For every ticket handed out to a cyclist or pedestrian there must be 100 for drivers. Police are constantly ticketing drivers. A little law enforcement among cyclists, pedestrians and others using the roads and sidewalks is most welcome by the vast majority of the populace, not necessarily among the regulars here at RTH.

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By jonathan (registered) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 00:12:34 in reply to Comment 61973

No...the regular rules of the road are in force all day, every day. You'll often find police enforcing traffic light laws. Heck, there was one in the Esso lot at Dundurn and King when I pulled in to grab a coffee yesterday. Didn't take him long to catch someone, either. I see cops just outside my house at the 4-way stop sign at least once a month. You just don't hear about it, because it's not a 'campaign'. It's just a regular day on the job.

Think about it this way. How often have you seen a driver run a red right in front of a cop, and NOT get pulled over? I dare say a whole lot less than you see someone jaywalk in front of a cop and get away with it.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2011 at 08:50:52

Zero tolerance? Nobody is talking zero tolerance.

Actually, the police are talking zero tolerance. Did you read the article?

"The purpose of the Strategy," reads the announcement, "is to manage and minimize problems associated with pedestrian non-compliance." The enforcement strategy started on April 1 and will continue to December 1 with a "zero tolerance policy" for pedestrian disobedience.

Here's the problem with this: If a pedestrian makes a mistake - or does something stupid - they are putting themselves at risk. If a driver does, they are putting everyone around them at risk. This means that the responsibility of a driver to obey the law is much more important to society than the responsibility weighing on pedestrians' shoulders.

All of the anecdotal evidence is nice to talk about, but we all have similar conflicting anecdotes. For every motorist bust that you witness, how many un-busted rolling stops have you witnessed? Thousands? How about drivers not coming to a complete stop when turning right on a red? The number of times that happens to me when I am approaching an intersection as a pedestrian is virtually un-countable. It happens to me multiple times every single day. And since the majority of pedestrian accidents happen at intersections, these are the types of behaviours that need to be enforced.

Enforcing jaywalking laws is an absolute waste of police time and taxpayer dollars and will do virtually nothing to improve pedestrian safety.

If it was actually about safety, we'd be talking about real change, such as eliminating right-on-red, de-timing the traffic lights, slowing traffic within our neighbourhoods using physical measures such as bump-outs, dead ends and speed humps (as in most downtown toronto neighbourhoods), etc. But these true safety measures will never happen because it would be too inconvenient for drivers.

So spare us all the lip service and concern trolling about pedestrian safety. It's not about safety and it never is in this town. It's about maintaining the through-traffic mentality.

Hamilton: North America's premier drive-thru city.

Comment edited by seancb on 2011-04-08 08:52:32

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By jonathan (registered) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 19:35:38 in reply to Comment 61980

If it was actually about safety, we'd be talking about real change, such as eliminating right-on-red, de-timing the traffic lights, slowing traffic within our neighbourhoods using physical measures such as bump-outs, dead ends and speed humps (as in most downtown toronto neighbourhoods), etc. But these true safety measures will never happen because it would be too inconvenient for drivers.

NO argument there. My own street is a great example of 'accidental' engineering for safety. It's technically a two-way street, however with the street-side parking making it rather tight, vehicles travelling in opposite directions have to slow to a crawl to safely pass each other. It may be a 50 zone, but most vehicles just don't drive that fast down it.

I wouldn't suggest modifying our major arteries that way...but residential side streets? Absolutely.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 19:46:14 in reply to Comment 62014

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2011 at 09:03:05 in reply to Comment 61980

This means that the responsibility of a driver to obey the law is much more important to society than the responsibility weighing on pedestrians' shoulders.

I think Jack Wolters, Amsterdam's head traffic safety officer, put it best:

The target of the police is not to control cyclists and pedestrians. It is to control the most dangerous part, motorcar drivers.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 17:13:38 in reply to Comment 61981

It might be more important to society as a whole for drivers to obey the laws but it is more important for pedestrian themselves to be safe. That is why we have a police force that is constantly patrolling our street. An unsafe pedestrian may not kill someone else but they sure can get themselves killed in a hurry. It is your right to be stupid/careless and get yourself killed.

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted April 10, 2011 at 22:23:37 in reply to Comment 62003

This comment should get a gold star for completely contradicting itself. Brilliant!

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2011 at 14:46:05

I was just talking to someone who has footage of at least 50 cars running the nearest red light to his home. And it's a major downtown intersection. If anyone actually thinks drivers downtown don't break the law on a VERY continuous basis, they're fooling themselves.

The kind of victim-blaming scorn being heaped on people who walk here is just like what cyclists saw around here - until a recent City of Toronto study showed that cars are at fault in ~90% of cases.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/08/...

I have yet to see a single source that actually points toward pedestrians as "at fault" in all or nearly all collisions. Nor have I seen a lick of evidence that this kind of police enforcement increases safety.

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By jonathan (registered) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 18:48:06 in reply to Comment 61995

How about this one? I just realized...this study only takes into account accidents involving children. Didn't realize that before now. However, that doesn't make its data inapplicable to the discussion.

Between 1978 and 1994, on one-way streets, the driver was acting properly in 81.5% of the cases (slightly higher on two-way).

The driver was impaired in only 2.7% of the cases. (that's for the guy that was claiming an 80% rate of impairment the other day).

The accidents occurred at an intersection 58.2% of the time. Of those, 84.7% of the intersections were signalized. Which translates to a signalized intersection 49.3% of the time.

The driver was going straight in 82.4% of the time.

EDIT: I'm curious as to the source of treehugger's info. It refers back to a blog post by a professor, which refers to an analysis of Toronto Police collision reports...but no actual report. So no actual source...just some guy's word. Not something I'd take to the bank. You're more than welcome to refer back to an actual report for my stats.

EDIT2: Oh, hey...

In the interview, Dr. Cavacuiti is quoted as saying “The [Toronto Collision] study concluded that cyclists are the cause of less than 10 per cent of bike-car accidents”. Dr. Cavacuiti has asked us to make readers aware that the Toronto Collision study was actually designed to look at the cause of bicycle/motorist collisions but not culpability.

It is actually several studies conducted by the Charles Komanoff and member of the Right of Way organization in New York that concluded that concluded that cyclists were strictly culpable for less than 10 per cent of bike-car accidents.

...and here's Right Of Way's website. The report is here. What it comes down to is this: RoW decided police officers are prejudiced against pedestrians (they explicitly state that), and don't trust them to properly charge drivers. So they did their own post-accident analysis, and decided themselves who was culpable.

Comment edited by jonathan on 2011-04-08 19:20:08

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted April 10, 2011 at 18:02:27 in reply to Comment 62010

The right-of-way update to the story is new to me, at least since we all looked at it around here at the time. Having looked fairly deeply into the Toronto study, there certainly isn't any over-arching data that cyclists are "at fault". in a large number of accidents, and categories (such as "drive-out" or "motorist overtaking") seem to be the largest number of cases.

http://www.toronto.ca/transportation/pub...

As for the Hamilton study, the fact that it mainly deals with kids very likely affects the numbers as far as individual responsibility goes. Also, drivers "not being at fault" (legally) does not necessarily mean that pedestrians are, or that ticketing them will accomplish anything.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2011 at 18:59:44 in reply to Comment 62035

comment from banned user deleted

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 17:42:01 in reply to Comment 61995

Not long ago there was an article posted on this site about all the pedestrian fatalities last year in the city. If I remember correctly less then half of the accidents resulted in charges against the driver. When you take into account that under our law system that the driver is at fault unless there is evidence to the contrary this is a far cry from the 90% you allude too.

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By Tecumseh (registered) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 14:54:14

I understand that the Highway Traffic Act only outlaws pedestrians crossing against a signal (e.g. crossing when there's a red hand showing). Presumably then to charge pedestrians crossing mid-block officers would need to use a city by-law as justification.

Can someone point me in the direction of the actual City by-law that outlaws crossing mid-block? I think it would be useful to see the text of that by-law, because as far as I can tell, without a city by-law there are no grounds to charge someone with "jaywalking" if they are crossing mid-block.

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By j (registered) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 15:33:24 in reply to Comment 61996

HTA 144: Pedestrian crossing (22) Where portions of a roadway are marked for pedestrian use, no pedestrian shall cross the roadway except within a portion so marked. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (22).

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By laws (anonymous) | Posted April 12, 2011 at 18:14:19 in reply to Comment 62000

"where" does not define a distance. Therefore it could be legally argued that if you cross mid block, you are not crossing "where" that portion of the roadway is marked. this section does not explicitly say you have to walk to a painted crosswalk

THe HTA also defines crosswalks that aren't marked as legal crosswalks, so section 22 cannot be used as an argument for having to always use marked crosswalks.

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By jacob (registered) | Posted April 12, 2011 at 18:42:57 in reply to Comment 62138

talked to a cop about this today - he said it's jaywalking when you cross at a signal against a red hand. It's not when you cross midblock.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2011 at 14:55:02

I think Jack Wolters, Amsterdam's head traffic safety officer, put it best:

The target of the police is not to control cyclists and pedestrians. It is to control the most dangerous part, motorcar drivers.

and

The differences are so huge that any comparison between Hamilton and any city from Europe is nonsensical. This single fact of area is why transit, cycling, and walking are so vastly different between us and the old world. Our cities are just so different.

Context and perspective.

Or...

'Wishing doesn't make it so.'

Now, if you want to talk about how to change the culture so it reflects more of what you're looking for, that is something worth applying energies to.

As I've said previously, if you have to legislate, mandate, by-law your way towards a cultural change (and by this, I'm referring to benign personal behaviour, not the more obvious stuff like violence), have you actually accomplished anything genuine?

We live in a car-centric culture. I don't believe that the most genuine way to effect change within this paradigm (to create a more humane, 'European' model) is strictly by way of laws.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 17:27:16 in reply to Comment 61997

Now, if you want to talk about how to change the culture so it reflects more of what you're looking for, that is something worth applying energies to.

As I've said previously, if you have to legislate, mandate, by-law your way towards a cultural change (and by this, I'm referring to benign personal behaviour, not the more obvious stuff like violence), have you actually accomplished anything genuine?

We live in a car-centric culture. I don't believe that the most genuine way to effect change within this paradigm (to create a more humane, 'European' model) is strictly by way of laws.

20 yrs ago you could have said the same thing about smoking.

Portland was also car centric 20 yrs ago until people started making changes.

Leaving the status quo as the status quo because it's the status quo is the worst reason to leave it that way.

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By jonathan (registered) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 19:24:57 in reply to Comment 62005

Portland was also car centric 20 yrs ago until people started making changes.

What changes? Cultural, engineered, or legislated?

My understanding was these changes were engineered...am I incorrect? Did they reduce the speed limit of their downtown core to 20mph?

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2011 at 17:17:48 in reply to Comment 61997

But isn't the issue here that the city is trying to make the city MORE car-friendly by way of cops and tickets?

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 18:38:31 in reply to Comment 62004

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted April 08, 2011 at 19:25:05

Another police blitz on pedestrian infractions? I guess it's time to write that article comparing the traffic planning of today with the automotive lobby of the 1950s and 60s. When cars were made unsafe, they blamed the people who used them for the dangers. Now they make streets unsafe, and blame the people who use them. The automakers lost that battle, now they have to make safe cars. Likewise, the tide is turning on the old school 'get outta my way' approach to road design.

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By newtime (anonymous) | Posted April 09, 2011 at 11:05:46

I really disagree with this idea that lowering the speed limits on King and Main will "empty out" the downtown. This is ridiculous. I think its the opposite: downtown is kind of empty-ish now because there are 5-lane super highways that go through it. These super-highways make it easy to get through downtown and conversely make it difficult to live there.

Vancouver doesn't have any equivalent of King/Main or even the DVP/Gardiner for that matter. It's notoriously difficult to traverse via car. And it consistently ranks in the top 5 cities in North America for livability. Coincidence?

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted April 10, 2011 at 10:54:35 in reply to Comment 62023

You're right. Vancouver doesn't have any equivalent to King or Main.

What Vancouver does have is several 3 lane, 2 way streets (6 lanes total) which are just as busy (likely busier) than Main and King.

Somehow, I don't think that converting Vancouver's 2 way streets into one way streets, or converting Hamilton's one way streets into 2 way streets would do much to swap Hamilton and Vancouver's livability rating.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted April 10, 2011 at 15:38:24 in reply to Comment 62028

I'm confused why my post above is down voted while the one above is up voted. I pointed out a fact about Vancouver that was missing in the above post. The post above mine is misleading and inaccurate.

Perhaps some proof to back up my point will help. Newtime said "I think its the opposite: downtown is kind of empty-ish now because there are 5-lane super highways that go through it. These super-highways make it easy to get through downtown and conversely make it difficult to live there".

Below I have posted links to several Vancouver Streets. Please compare the images of Vancouver in the links to our "5 lane super highways".

As a pedestrian, which of the roads would you rather be crossing?

Main Street

Granville Street

Knight Street

Boundary Rd.

West 41st

Kingsway

Clark Drive

Quebec Street

Note, I could list many many more such examples. I don't have all day though.

Comment edited by SpaceMonkey on 2011-04-10 15:41:41

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2011 at 15:51:07 in reply to Comment 62032

comment from banned user deleted

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By FatalFourWay (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2011 at 14:33:04

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By TnT (registered) | Posted April 14, 2011 at 00:14:35 in reply to Comment 62031

And in what way does wearing a helmet benefit anyone, but the rider?

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2011 at 23:35:52 in reply to Comment 62031

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted April 11, 2011 at 09:05:00 in reply to Comment 62041

Yeah, why let facts get in the way of your prejudice against pedestrians and cyclists?

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted April 12, 2011 at 21:48:06

Thank you jacob for injecting a little sanity. The cop is correct.

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By FatalFourWay (anonymous) | Posted April 13, 2011 at 08:24:12

I saw the owner of that down town bike shop riding his bike without a helmet the other day. Great example! Cheers.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted April 14, 2011 at 00:18:13 in reply to Comment 62167

Big whoop. Is it against the law? We have lost the thread here, shouldn't the point be we want people to walk and cycle more for health and environmental reasons, not bully a few progressives that want to help the city.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted April 13, 2011 at 15:04:34 in reply to Comment 62167

FatalFourWay,if you'd like to come in to the shop to talk face to face about helmets and cyclist safety, I'd be glad to hear your concerns - my door is always open.

If you are truly concerned for the safety of cyclists there are far better places to expend your energy and I'll be happy to help guide your concerns in the appropriate constructive direction.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted April 13, 2011 at 12:59:10 in reply to Comment 62167

Gasp! A veteran cyclist without a helmet!?!

I'm all for safety, but there's a point where it just becomes a cudgel.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 13, 2011 at 13:11:43 in reply to Comment 62200

'Common sense' notwithstanding, the actual evidence on helmets and safety is anything but conclusive.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted April 13, 2011 at 09:59:27 in reply to Comment 62167

I don't know whether to upvote or downvote this comment :)

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