Walkability Fail

City's Lack Of Pedestrian Infrastructure Claims Another Life

By Adrian Duyzer
Published December 04, 2012

An elderly woman who lived in Dundas, Kitty MacLeod, has died as the result of the ongoing failure to provide adequate pedestrian infrastructure in Hamilton.

Today's Spectator tells a story that is so frustrating, so outrageous, and ultimately so tragic, that I could hardly believe what I was reading.

Consider these details:

Let's recap: the intersection is near old age homes and known to be dangerous. Families have been pushing to have a crosswalk installed at the intersection for two years, going so far as to submit a petition, and the best the city can offer is to install one in five years time.

Instead, the elderly residents who live near this intersection are told to walk to Ogilvie Street and back, a distance of 630 meters, which is well over half a kilometer, just to safely cross the street!

Now that someone has died - an entirely preventable tragedy - the councillor for that area, Russ Powers, says he will talk to city staff "to see whether we can get this moved up and dealt with. Maybe we can shuffle some dollars around."

Maybe?

How about sounding a clarion call of leadership and demanding safe pedestrian infrastructure across the entire city before more people die?

How about putting an immediate end to the ongoing sacrifice of our population's most vulnerable citizens just so people can race down our streets?

You know, Raise the Hammer has an entire section called Walkability Fail that details numerous examples of precisely this sort of situation.

Often, these stories are so ridiculous that they're actually kind of amusing to read. But you can only really feel that way when you forget what these stories are really all about: a dangerous disregard for pedestrians, cyclists, and vulnerable citizens that leads directly to tragic, preventable deaths.

My sincere and heartfelt sympathies go out to Kitty MacLeod's friends and family. Ms. MacLeod, you didn't deserve to die that way, and I am truly, truly sorry you did.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz

22 Comments

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By Gobias (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 10:21:01

Timed crosswalk durations should also last at least 160% longer than they are currently, to accommodate the walking speeds of elderly pedestrians.

http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=665681

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 04, 2012 at 10:44:00

I am so sick and goddamned tired of the City telling pedestrians - including vulnerable pedestrians like parents with young children and especially seniors - to walk several hundred metres out of their way just to cross the street.

The recent Ontario Coroner's Report on Pedestrians noted that senior citizens are disproportionately the victims of pedestrian fatalities and that our pedestrian unfriendly streets are a major contributing factor.

Specifically, the Ontario Coroner recommends moving to a complete streets approach that designs streets to be "safe, convenient and comfortable for every user, regardless of transportation mode, physical ability or age." That includes redesigning streets to reduce vehicle speeds and to increase the number and accessibility of pedestrian crossings.

It's not enough for the City to treat safe, frequent pedestrian crossings as a "nice-to-have" if the budget allows it. Safe, walkable streets need to be a fundamental, non-negotiable design parameter with funding priority.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-12-04 10:45:17

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 10:52:54

comment from banned user deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-12-04 12:36:06

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By z jones (registered) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 12:16:55 in reply to Comment 83432

Dear admins, Allan Taylor has crawled back out from under his rock.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 04, 2012 at 12:12:09 in reply to Comment 83432

Where did you pull a one-way/two-way debate from this article? That fight is in your head, and focussing on that fight is holding this city back.

We need to create a livable city. Yes, two way streets are a part of that but nobody is saying they are a cure-all for anything.

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By j (registered) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 11:54:35 in reply to Comment 83432

no one's saying two way streets cure all. The effort is to get complete streets.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 12:26:43

comment from banned user deleted

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-12-04 12:35:58

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By downtownonfoot (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 14:00:34

I have written Brian McHattie a number of times about the crosswalk at Main and Dundurn to no avail. It is a death trap by virtue of design. The flashing light turns a solid green the same time the walk signal shows but the cars don't ever stop for pedestrians. The one at King and dundurn is only marginally better. Mr. McHattie says nothing can be done.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 04, 2012 at 14:31:27 in reply to Comment 83444

Traffic Engineering has recommended banning pedestrian crossings on the east side of Dundurn at Main in the same way that pedestrian crossings are already prohibited on the west side of Dundurn at King.

Apparently the option of reconfiguring the intersections so that pedestrians can safely cross the street is out of the question: instead, pedestrians have to be cleared out of the way so that motorists can flow through more smoothly and quickly.

Related:

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By Smile (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 14:21:54 in reply to Comment 83444

The City should place the east west red light cameras from Main and King on the Dundurn left turn lanes to raise some money. Maybe it would cover the inevitable lawsuits they deserve for the poorly planned trafficscape there.

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By alhambra (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 15:09:41 in reply to Comment 83445

actually that would increase their chance of lawsuits. If it were found by the cameras that accident rates were higher, then the city would be negligently allowing a dangerous situation to persist. All these stopgap measures Ryan rightly laments are likely no more than postures the city makes to reduce their liability when accidents do occur.

The key thing is to demonstrate that the city: 1. knows the risk, and 2. knows that there are solutions but failed to address the risk. So the more articles on either topic the better.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 04, 2012 at 16:46:08

This has lawsuit written all over it. Residents have been asking for a crosswalk light for years, and now someone is killed. Will someone please sue the city over this?

It's unfathomable that with all we know of complete streets, safe neighbourhoods and the economy that is developed around urban, walkable neighbourhoods, that we still allow Clr Ferguson and others put lives at risk so they can save 63 seconds on their drive back to Ancaster. Urban councillors need to publicly wage a huge fight against these selfish politicians who only care about themselves. Enough is enough.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-12-04 16:47:13

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted December 05, 2012 at 18:04:56

Tragic accident. I only hope that if and when they put the crosswalk in it is at the top of the hill. I say this because if it is placed right where she was hit there will be many, many more fatalities and accidents. At thirty kmh in the winter, it is extremely difficult to stop going down that hill let alone 50kmh. Walkable streets yes, but lets be logical about it rather than just throwing in crosswalks for emotional reasons. That stretch of road from Davidson down to Ogilvie should be 4 lanes anyway. The stupidity of building Osler on Governors increased the traffic 100 fold when it could have, should have been built in Veterans Park.

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By No Point (anonymous) | Posted December 05, 2012 at 19:32:55

Nothing will happen because it wasn't say a mother pushing an itty bitty baby in a stroller or some cute kids, just an old and hence "invisible" person. Sorry but being a pedestrian in Hamilton brands you as being either poor or odd and that is that. It's why I love walking around central Toronto where pedestrians really are king, I'm sure it's even better in Manhattan.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted December 05, 2012 at 20:20:35

And now this in Burlington. On the very street that was being considered for a road diet and construction of bike lanes which the community has been all up in arms about. It's tragic that events like these occur on a regular basis, yet the priority of the majority of citizens of our cities is still all about speed and convenience of the motor vehicle. Just what will it take to make safety, especially that of our most vulnerable younger and older citizens, the focus of our efforts?

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By rrrandy (registered) - website | Posted December 06, 2012 at 09:20:39

The plans for 2017 on Governor's call for road widening, yes, 4 lanes to cross instead of three. The intersection they want people to walk to and cross has been the site of at least two fatalities as pedestrians were hit while using the crosswalk. http://tlchamilton.blogspot.ca/2009/12/b... http://governorsroad.blogspot.ca/2008/08... http://tlchamilton.blogspot.ca/2008/11/w...

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By SCRAP (anonymous) | Posted December 09, 2012 at 01:44:42

the sure fire way to get things changed is to piss off the motorist, which would call for a direct action, to bring attention to the problem.

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By j (registered) | Posted December 10, 2012 at 11:51:27

the most egregious bit of blame the pedestrian I have yet seen: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/...

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 10, 2012 at 12:23:04 in reply to Comment 83680

... so, what would the counterpart to SlutWalk be for this? CloakWalk?

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted December 10, 2012 at 16:59:20 in reply to Comment 83681

... so, what would the counterpart to SlutWalk be for this? CloakWalk?

I was thinking the very same thing :)

Of course, this sort of thing won't gain any traction without an appropriate "Hey, hey, ho, ho ..." chant.

I'm coming up blank so far.

Comment edited by moylek on 2012-12-10 16:59:35

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 10, 2012 at 21:34:16 in reply to Comment 83699

Air horns?

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted December 13, 2012 at 09:21:20

The Burlington tragedy and the Cootes Drive tragedy from years ago, are proof that crosswalks are not the answer. They give a false sense of security that leads innocent people to dangerous situations. The answer is more serious charges against drivers (even though people should go to the corner lights (comment away)) and (sorry to the older folk) make pedestrians walk to the corner. Drivers don't expect people to cross in the middle of the road, it's just stupidity. Sorry, I know this will piss some of you off but I'm one of those that has to pick these poor people up and everyone of them (that survive) admit they were lazy and couldn't be bothered to walk to the nearest corner. The ones who get hit in crosswalks, well, throw the driver in jail and fine them as well, and take the licence away, there is no excuse for it.

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