Walkability Fail

Walkability Win: Public Works Committee Approves Crosswalk

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 21, 2011

The members of yesterday's Public Works Committee meeting voted unanimously in favour of Ward 1 Councillor Brian McHattie's motion [PDF link] to install a pedestrian-activated crossing signal on Aberdeen Avenue at Kent Street.

The approved motion still needs to be ratified by Council, and is scheduled to appear on the agenda for the June 29 Council meeting.

If the motion passes Council approval, the installation will still need to be funded. Councillor McHattie has requested that city staff consider funding the $80,000 installation cost out of funds generated from the area rating infrastructure levy.

The funding will need to be approved via the 2012 budget process, and the crosswalk might be installed by mid-2012.

Momentum for a crosswalk at the corner of Aberdeen and Kent began to build last year when Dr. Madeleine Verhovsek wrote a letter to McHattie to request it. McHattie expressed support and encouraged concerned residents to organize public support for the proposal.

He also organized a meeting with city staff in December, where representatives from the public works and public health departments announced that the city is undertaking a pedestrian master plan study.

Staff reviewed the intersection, but recommended against a crosswalk on the grounds that not enough pedestrians cross there and gaps in traffic are big enough to allow safe crossing - despite the fact that the city has posted signs warning pedestrians to cross at Locke or Queen Street instead.

Meanwhile, a group of engaged residents launched a campaign that included a petition with door-to-door canvassing and a website. They ended up collecting over 430 signatures, which they presented with the petition to Councillor McHattie.

At yesterday's committee meeting, I had the honour of making a presentation to the committee with Danielle Schwalm, another nearby resident who has been helping with the campaign. After our delegation, McHattie moved the motion and it was carried unanimously with no debate.

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 Tecumseh (registered) | Posted June 21, 2011 at 16:41:04

Great news! Has anyone heard what's happening with the other pedestrian activated crosswalks announced earlier for Ward 1? There was going to be one installed at Lamoreaux and Dundurn, and one at Pearl and King. I seem to remember that they were to be installed this spring, financed by the "bonuses" that were given to each ward after surplus money was found last year.

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By Nord Blanc (anonymous) | Posted June 21, 2011 at 16:57:56 in reply to Comment 65010

Via Councillor McHattie’s EA Dale Brown:

"We have been advised that the underground work required for the Intersection Pedestrian Signals at Dundurn Street North at Lamoreaux and at King Street West at Pearl Street North will start on or about Monday June 20 and will be completed by the end of July, weather permitting. Once the underground work is completed, city staff will install the signal hardware."

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By Yeah (anonymous) | Posted June 21, 2011 at 18:12:30

Well what do you know...sometimes the system does work!

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By observer (anonymous) | Posted June 21, 2011 at 18:15:18

Bravo!

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By Winlose (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2011 at 09:55:25

Transit Fail: http://www.thespec.com/news/business/article/551339--who-ll-champion-transit-in-hamilton

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted June 22, 2011 at 12:31:19 in reply to Comment 65019

“There are no politicians here and that disappoints me. The mayor should be here and the whole damn council. Political leadership is essential. You need champions who push and make a lot of noise.”

We need better politicians? Sounds to me like the musings of a compulsive gambler who believes all their problems will be solved when they find the "right" slot machine. These problems speak directly to the failures of these governing institutions - and a simple personnel change isn't going to fix them.

The real champions of transit have been working for years to connect with everyone from Council to the Chamber of Commerce and radical transportation activists, providing mountains of data and keeping the image in the public eye.

We should start a chart of how many articles the Spec can write about walkability and transit issues without ever mentioning RTH or any of the people/groups who've been working on these issues for years.

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By michel (registered) | Posted June 23, 2011 at 11:48:51

Here, yet again, a perfect example of the lamentable situation we are in, where we, as human beings, have to spend our valuable life time running petitions and doing grass-root organizing in order to force our politicians and bureaucrats to reverse their unilateral decisions and implement, with reluctance, reasonable taxpayers requests - the 'no-but' automatic responses of mega systems.

If we were to take into account the $ value of all these citizens efforts, and add that to the costs of these bureaucratic road-blocks we would find out we would have paid for at least 10 of those crossings, which, according to another RTH article have already, along with many other suggestions, been deemed desirable as far back as September 1996.

Enough already! We want action from them, not reactions from us.

In another bout of bureaucratic indolence, I understand that a proposed downtown mega-liquor store to be located between Main and King on an empty block of land (Catherine St., if memory serves) has been lingering in the corridors of City Hall for over 6 years now pending some more approvals, and it is hoped that its construction MAY start at the end of this year - but don't you go and start betting on it either! m.

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By Cynthia (anonymous) | Posted June 24, 2011 at 12:46:56

This is a great win for pedestrians. What must be noted is this happened in an affluent and well-organized neighbourhood. I would imagine there are many other areas where this action is required. Indeed, a pedestrian master plan study is needed, we also need to ensure any reccomendations that may result from this study are actually implemented.
In an ideal world, I would hope for a move toward a type of system like that in place in Halifax. In that city cars stop at intersections, whether directed by a signalled crossing or simply by the presence of pedestrians, and allow people to cross streets. This is a by-law in Halifax and makes for more civilized interactions between pedestrians and drivers. There are rarely times times when it feels like you are waiting for five minutes to cross the road waiting for a break in traffic. Ideally, this makes drivers more aware of pedestrians and pedestrians better able to walk around the city and their neigbourhoods. I do not see a major change like this neccessary or occuring in Hamilton, but nevertheless believe is a good example to follow.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 24, 2011 at 13:48:43

What must be noted is this happened in an affluent and well-organized neighbourhood.

Well-organized yes, but not particularly affluent. I don't have the poverty stats for Kirkendall alone, but overall Ward 1 has a higher than city average of people living below the poverty line. I'd be surprised if Kirkendall is that far off the Ward 1 average. This happened solely because of the hard work and persistence of the citizens in this area, not because of any privilege. Let's give credit where credit is due.

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By Mountainman (anonymous) | Posted June 24, 2011 at 14:49:53 in reply to Comment 65154

You must not live in Hamilton. Seriously.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 24, 2011 at 14:03:42 in reply to Comment 65154

Kirkendall is a fairly affluent neighbourhood. IIRC, in the Code Red rankings, all the census tracts in Kirkendall were either in the top or the middle groups.

In general, I think it's fair to say that privilege comes into play when community organizing, simply because of the skills entailed in doing it: engaging councillors and staff, parsing regulatory policies, drafting formal communications, and so on.

This was part of the motivation to create walkablehamilton.org as a resource to make it a bit easier for other communities to organize for pedestrian improvements.

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