Transportation

Council Has A Moral, Ethical And Professional Obligation To Fix Queen Street

By Adrian Duyzer
Published March 28, 2014

This is my letter to Council, spurred by the outrageous situation in Queen St.

I'm very upset at the moment about the state of Queen Street, which runs two blocks away from my house (which is tucked away under the escarpment near Queen and Aberdeen).

A couple of days ago, a woman was taken to hospital after being struck by a driver on Queen. She suffered serious head and leg injuries.

When this happens - and it has happened twice this month! - my wife and I really get a chill. We walk along and cross Queen all the time with our two young children, and it's flat-out dangerous. We commonly cross at Markland with our children's hands in our vise-like grips. When our kids run ahead of us on Markland or Sterling, heading towards Queen, we dash after them, shouting "be careful, it's dangerous!"

That would sound silly, except what is actually happening on Queen makes it clear that it is nothing of the sort.

It makes absolutely no sense that we've got a street designed for traffic to move at dangerous speeds that runs through a residential neighbourhood. This is a street that is one-way for most of its length, has more lanes than needed, constantly features traffic that is flowing above the speed limit (often in excess of 65 km/h), and has highway style off-ramps onto adjoining streets like Herkimer and Aberdeen, which makes it even more dangerous.

There is inexplicably no crosswalk at Markland, which is in the centre of a long stretch of Queen that has no safe pedestrian crossings.

As the leaders of our city, I think it's very simple: you know that the state of affairs in Hamilton is very dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists, so you have an ethical, moral and professional obligation to do something about it. Hamilton is the second-worst city in Ontario for pedestrian deaths and injuries due to cars. To all of the people who have been seriously injured, and to all of the families who have lost grandparents, husbands, wives and children, are you really going to keep sending the message that their injuries and losses are less important than people being able to arrive at their destinations one or two minutes more quickly?

I hope that at least some of you share my disgust and outrage at this state of affairs and join together to do something about it.

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

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By adrian (registered) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 15:32:54

Brian McHattie's response:

Hi Adrian,

I share your serious concern for the state of Queen Street. The speed of traffic makes for very unsafe conditions. The near fatal injury this week at Main St, preceded by a similar injury a month ago at Herkimer cries out for a strong response by the City.

Councillor Farr and I have met with our Traffic Department and will be shortly be announcing several short-term improvements but the speed issues on this one-way street are systemic. Queen Street must be seriously considered for two-way or Complete Street treatment before any other serious pedestrian injuries or even deaths occur.

I am certainly prepared and eager to work with you and other citizens on this issue in the days ahead.

Thanks, Brian

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 16:23:20

I agree wholeheartedly with this. Before we moved to my current home in Ainslie Wood ten years ago, I lived for a few years on Charlton Ave. near Queen and I always found that area to be, frankly, a death trap. And I am not at all exaggerating. In three years I saw numerous near-accidents as cars ran the stoplight at Queen and more than once I had to flee for my life along the very intersection you mention, at Queen and Markland, when a vehicle came whipping down Queen at well over 100 km/h.

Add the confusion that cars seem to invariably have around that area about where they should be (no doubt exacerbated by the speed of travel) and you have a very dangerous situation. It's one of the most dangerous areas of the city. Whatever engineering can be done--and two-way would be a huge help--needs to be undertaken without delay. Glad to see Councillors McHattie and Farr on top of matters, finally.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 29, 2014 at 15:44:33 in reply to Comment 99329

Ainslie Wood is an example of a residential area where cut-through car traffic has been eliminated. The only way in or out by car is by Main Street. But bicycle traffic can go through on the Rail-Trail.

Durand and all other residential neighbourhoods should be engineered the same way. Residential streets should only tolerate through traffic by walking, cycling or public transit.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 16:52:40

I live on Charlton a block from Queen, and must cross Queen, and walk along it taking my children to school. It is not a pleasant, or safe experience given the speed and inattention of the traffic.

The lack of safe crossings at most intersections limits walking options, and the intersection at Herkimer is particularly bad. Even crossing Queen at Herkimer as a cyclist is nerve wracking, as you try to judge whether there is a safe gap after the red light for the through traffic before the turning traffic from Charlton hits you. This is made worse by the design of the intersection and the high-speed acceleration encouraged by the multi-lane one-way design that minimizes driver "hazards" (like pedestrian crossings, parked cars, trees and oncoming traffic).

Walking along Queen on a narrow sidewalk with no buffer, with traffic coming at high speed from behind (one-way makes it impossible to walk facing the traffic) with a child in each hand is not safe or pleasant.

It doesn't have to be like this. And it shouldn't be like this any longer.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-03-28 17:00:24

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By sue your city (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 16:53:50

What about a legal obligation? Can not the City be sued on this and similar matters of blatant negligence?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted March 28, 2014 at 20:11:00 in reply to Comment 99336

Sadly, this may be what needs to happen in order to get their attention. I have actually started copying the city lawyer on all of my street-safety related correspondence...

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 22:40:08 in reply to Comment 99348

class action time?? They simply don't care.

They've been told this for 15 years. And haven't. changed. a. thing.

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By DBC (registered) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 18:23:00

Adding to the broken record theme......I live on Herkimer about a block from Queen.

Something has to give and no one should care how many west mountain and Ancaster residents that cut through Durand "push back". No north side curbside parking on Herkimer during the morning rush is absurd. The speed some of the traffic passes by as they all jockey for position is jaw dropping. There is NEVER any enforcement by HPS on this stretch of road.

The majority of this traffic is making its way to Bay and points east en route to Main and King. Why on earth are they being forced through Durand side streets when a two way Queen would provide easier access and traffic calming in one fell swoop.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 29, 2014 at 22:51:01 in reply to Comment 99344

Hi DBC,

Since you live here, I presume that you have seen the same thing that I have. Which is car drivers seeing the traffic light turn green as far west as Durand Park and immediately accelerate to speeds up to 80 km/hr to "beat the light" before it turns red again.

This criminal negligence poses a serious threat of death or life-changing injuries to everyone who lives here.

The solution is simple. Security bollards that eliminate from Herkimer and all other residential streets cut-through rat-running car drivers. So that Herkimer and all other residential streets accommodate through traffic by walking, cycling and public transit and NOT car drivers.

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 31, 2014 at 12:35:54 in reply to Comment 99417

Also, I need to understand this security bollard system better. I didn't understand when you (I assume it's you) explained them at the DNA AGM in the fall, and I certainly don't get it now. Can you please provide examples, or an explanation of how they work and where they would be located?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted March 31, 2014 at 22:24:45 in reply to Comment 99471

They are physical barriers that don't let cars through, while bikes and pedestrians are allowed. This is to discourage shortcuts through residential neighbourhoods. Another way to accomplish this is to have the street be one way, in two different directions that converge on an interesection: no thru

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 02, 2014 at 08:53:51 in reply to Comment 99515

which city is this pic from? Great example of low-cost traffic calming.

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 31, 2014 at 12:33:09 in reply to Comment 99417

Related to this...I've noticed for the past week or two an electronic speed sign on Herkimer. I'd like everyone to know that, at least in my experience, I've yet to see that sign go above 55 km/h! This has been during rush hour, in non-peak hours, during the week, on weekends. So...it begs the question...is speed really an issue on Herkimer? I'm not saying that one or two drivers may not speed up to "criminal negligence" issues, but by and large, it's not most people.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 31, 2014 at 12:40:56 in reply to Comment 99470

It doesn't need to be "most people" speeding to pose a big risk to the community.

The 2002 Traffic Study found that 40% exceeded the legal limit of 50km/h (i.e. maximum motorists are legally allowed to travel), and 200 motorists per day exceeded 65 km/h on Herkimer, Charlton and Bay. Remember that even the legally allow fastest speed of 50km/h is already risky for a location next to a playground!

Anyone going faster than 65 km/h is a huge risk!

At 200 per day, evenly distributed over these three roads, you would expect roughly 65 per day, or about 4 per hour if the speeding was evenly distributed over 18 hours. Most people won't spend an hour watching the sign, which is why the city uses automatic sensors that collect data over several weeks to get a true picture.

It would be great to update the 2002 data, but as someone who has lived on Herkimer or Charlton since 1998, I haven't noticed traffic slowing down significantly. And there is no reason to expect it would.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-03-31 12:42:28

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 31, 2014 at 12:40:12 in reply to Comment 99470

I noticed that sign on Saturday afternoon and decided to watch it for a minute or two. I almost immediately observed a vehicle exceeding the speed limit:

Car speeding past Durand Park

I didn't have time to stay and watch it, but the device keeps track of the speeds it records and Councillor Farr is going to make the data available to Durand. (Note also that the presence of the sign itself tends to deter speeding, so it will under-report the normal spread of vehicle speeds when a sign is not advising drivers to slow down.)

Please note that this is right beside Durand Park, a neighbourhood playground that is heavily populated with children playing. Even the legal speed limit of 50 km/h is dangerously high. It should be 30 km/h, and the road design should make it difficult for anyone to exceed that speed.

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 31, 2014 at 14:11:21 in reply to Comment 99472

A whole 6 km/h greater than the posted speed limit!?!?!?! How many vehicles did you notice going under 50 km/h? Get any pictures of that? And 30 km/h? Why? I'm not saying that speeding is ok, but I'm trying to convey that it's a road and that all road users need to be accommodate. Slowing everyone down on through streets to 30 km/h is not the solution.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 31, 2014 at 14:42:48 in reply to Comment 99481

A whole 6 km/h greater than the posted speed limit!?!?!?!

Like I said, I was there for literally a minute or two. I stopped because I saw the speed flash up to the high 50s, and within about a minute of taking my camera out, I saw it again and took the picture.

I didn't have time to stay any longer, but we will get a more complete picture once we see the data set of recorded speeds.

And 30 km/h? Why?

Physics. The kinetic energy and stopping distance of a moving vehicle are both exponentially related to speed. If you double a car's speed, you quadruple its kinetic energy, and you quadruple its stopping distance.

For illustration, I calculated these values for my car, a subcompact Honda Civic with a curb weight of 1,179 kg.

Kinetic energy:

  • At 30 km/h, my car has 40,937 Joules of kinetic energy.
  • At 60 km/h, my car has 163,750 Joules of kinetic energy.

Stopping distance (dry pavement):

  • From 30 km/h, it takes 20 m (65 feet) to come to a dead stop.
  • From 60 km/h, it takes 70 m (230 feet) to come to a dead stop.

(Bear in mind that most cars are bigger and heavier than a Honda Civic, and their kinetic energy and stopping distance at a given speed are correspondingly higher.)

A 1997 study from the UK Department of Transport found that at 32 km/h (20 mph), an adult pedestrian struck by a vehicle has a 5 percent chance of dying from the collision. At 48 km/h (30 mph), the chance of dying jumps to 45 percent, and at 64 km/h (40 mph), the chance of dying jumps to a devastating 85 percent.

Of course, children are much more susceptible to devastating injury at any speed because they are smaller and their torsos and heads are more likely to by impacted directly by an automobile.

it's a road and that all road users need to be accommodate.

Agreed. Today, our roads accommodate fast through driving to the severe detriment of every other use.

Slowing everyone down on through streets to 30 km/h is not the solution.

The mid-sized industrial City of Bristol, to take just one recent example, disagrees.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 28, 2014 at 22:42:44 in reply to Comment 99344

I live 2 short blocks off the north end of Queen. Also a few blocks from York. In 11 years living here, I've yet to walk along either. Crossing Queen up here in the Peter/Napier area is horrible. NO stoplight from York all the way to King. Just a freeway. I've had to step out and hold up my hand to stop traffic so elderly folks headed to the Market can cross the street. It's begging to made a complete street. One-lane each way, with parking on one-side would fit tomorrow, and do the trick, along with a stop-light at Napier and at Herkimer.

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 11:12:56 in reply to Comment 99360

There is an old folk’s home on Napier only a few doors down from Queen, and apartment buildings on both sides of Queen at Napier. It is a logical route to downtown from the west, and to Victoria Park from downtown. A light there is an absolute no-brainer.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 31, 2014 at 10:00:18 in reply to Comment 99360

I'd love a light at Napier/Queen. Thanks to the Green Wave timing it wouldn't even slow down Queen traffic at all. With a light at Napier, we might actually be able to take seriously the City's suggestion that Napier is a good cycling route from Bay Street to Dundurn (or at least it would be if they designated the various stop-signs as Idaho-stops).

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By DBC (registered) | Posted March 30, 2014 at 09:35:35

100% I see it.

Also, regardless of time of day, cars come off the Queen on ramps and accelerate without regard for their surroundings. They inevitably slow as they approach Caroline since they no longer feel safe to travel quickly as the road narrows considerably with on street parking allowed on both sides of the street. This of course only occurs after 9 AM when it is legal to park on both sides. All bets are off however once the road opens up east of Bay and the race is on again.

The street could be easily calmed during the morning rush if parking was allowed on both sides of Herkimer.

The question is, why do we have to fight for what seems so sensible and what is the norm in so many other parts of the city (read, "outside of the core").

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 31, 2014 at 15:20:05 in reply to Comment 99426

I'm actually confused - where are all these cars coming from/going. I can't figure out any major destinations that are amenable to driving up Herkimer/Charlton. I mean, if you want to get to the 403 or McMaster or whatever, you head to the bridge via King. If you want to go up the mountain, you take Main to John or Queen. If you want to go to the industial lands, you stay on King until Victoria/Wellington or thereabouts and take Burlington the rest of the way.

Where are people going that demands Herkimer/Charlton instead of King/Main? Is it just traffic to St. Joe's? City Hall?

Queen is an abomination, but I can at least understand the planner's logic there. It has to carry the normal local traffic plus all the traffic up to Garth street. But people flooring it down Herkimer/Charlton... where are they even going that the major roads like King/Main doesn't serve them better?

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-03-31 15:32:59

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted March 31, 2014 at 22:11:14 in reply to Comment 99489

a lot of charlton traffic is coming from the claremont/sherman access and driving past st. joe's to get to the west end and/or 403

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By UrbanMom (registered) | Posted March 31, 2014 at 20:30:00 in reply to Comment 99489

I suspect the traffic up and down Queen that turns onto Herkimer is all coming off of the Main and Aberdeen QEW exits and is all going to other mountain accesses: Jolley Cut and Claremont accesses. A fair bit of traffic sneaks up Caroline and turns onto Herkimer at rush hours, too. It's awful. But it's all through traffic.

In the mornings the Bay street traffic is horrendous. Even with a crossing guard and flashing school signs there are drivers who race between Charlton and Bond. And again, the sidewalk is right against the lane on the west side (there is parking and bollards on the east side). Walking the kids to school at 8:30am I often get the feeling that one day I'll be hit by a side mirror when a car gets a bit too close. It definitely doesn't feel safe to walk children to school.

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By adrian (registered) | Posted March 31, 2014 at 09:13:34

Mayor Bratina's reply:


Mr. Duyzer has identified himself as a supporter of a certain mayoral candidate. He did not disclose this to me at the time recently when I responded to questions he had posed. Subsequently he used part of my responses and misrepresented my position on I T issues at a public meeting. Although the problems on Queen need to be addressed, it should be done in a non-partisan context. Mayor Bob Bratina


Note: the "public meeting" referred to here is presumably the one where I delivered this speech: http://raisethehammer.org/article/2077/h... Mayor Bratina has not clarified in what way I misrepresented his position.

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By adrian (registered) | Posted March 31, 2014 at 09:43:49 in reply to Comment 99461

My response to the Mayor:


Mayor Bratina,

Quite frankly, that is nonsense.

First of all, the text of the speech you're referring to can be found in its entirety at http://raisethehammer.org/article/2077/h... Where in those remarks do I misrepresent your position?

Secondly, your belief that Hamiltonians ought to declare their political preferences before engaging with their elected officials is troubling. I'm not critical of your record because I'm planning to vote for someone else (you're not even running!), I'm critical of your record chiefly because of what you've failed to achieve this term. For example, at last count, you'd introduced two motions so far this term, which begs the question: when you're not derailing LRT or complaining about citizens who actually care enough about their city to get involved, what are you doing, exactly?

If "the problems on Queen need to be addressed", why aren't you addressing them? Is there really anything more important right now than protecting the lives of the citizens in your care?

You know, I can tell you that when my wife and kids and I are scrambling to cross Queen while we walk to the Locke St. Library, I'm not thinking to myself, "here's an opportunity to score a political point."

When I hear from a friend who crossed Queen at Main recently and could literally see blood stains from the last person who got smashed into by a speeding car, I'm not thinking, "hey, here's a chance to try and embarrass Mayor Bratina".

I'm upset and outraged by the fact that pedestrians are being killed in Hamilton at a rate that is 1.5 times the provincial average, making us the second-most dangerous place in Ontario for people on foot. That outrage was magnified this week by the incident on Queen, which happened to someone who is friends of friends of mine, on a street that goes very near my house.

It was those feelings of outrage, frustration, and concern that caused me to email you and the rest of Council. That you would respond to my sincere plea in the manner you have says far more about you than it does about me.

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By RUC Student (anonymous) | Posted March 31, 2014 at 15:48:42

You cannot stop stupidity. People who drive carelessly, or above the posted speed limit are to blame. The rules of the road are clear; what is lacking is obedience to these rules. The same applies to people who drive over 100 on 400 series hwys. As a driver I have found it frustrating to obey the law, while many cyclists don't. Same with pedestrians. It's not the city's fault, the drivers fault, the cyclists fault, or the pedestrians fault. If one is expected to pay attention to the rules of the road, all are expected to follow (good luck with that). It all comes down to responsibility: as a driver, a cyclist, and a pedestrian. That being said, accidents do happen, these cannot be prevented.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 01, 2014 at 06:11:34 in reply to Comment 99490

People generally drive at a speed that feels comfortable to them in a given environment.

Two decades ago, Locke Street was a drag strip: no all-day curbside parking, no traffic signals and no stop signs between Main Street and Aberdeen. It was actually a designated arterial in the city's traffic network. Cars roared up and down the street at all hours and motorbikes used it as a drag strip.

Then the City started making changes. They put in a stop sign at Charlton and then another at Herkimer. They established all-day curbside parking to narrow the lanes. They installed a pedestrian-activated crosswalk at Tuckett. These changes made the street more comfortable for pedestrians and made it harder for cars to speed.

Traffic slowed down, foot traffic returned to the area and business started bouncing back for the street retail establishments after decades of decline.

Today, pedestrians are always strolling on Locke and crossing the street frequently, but collisions are virtually unheard-of. Thanks to the environmental cues telling drivers to slow down and be careful, traffic is moving slowly enough that it is no longer a significant danger to pedestrians.

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By DissenterOfThings (registered) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 06:24:33 in reply to Comment 99517

There are still impatient, inconsiderate jerks driving their BMWs and Cadillacs on Locke, honking at pedestrians and cyclists - but they are bizarre exceptions that stand out from the norm.

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By Need some toast for that jelly? (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2014 at 06:08:56 in reply to Comment 99518

You sound jealous. Wish you could have those things? Why would it be only inconsiderate jerks in their BMWs and Cadillacs honking? Don't people in Kia's like you honk too?

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By RUC Student (anonymous) | Posted March 31, 2014 at 15:52:24 in reply to Comment 99490

I realize I may have contradicted myself here; not my intent. I simply mean that responsibility must held by everyone: the careless driver, the cyclist not wearing a helmet running red lights, and the jaywalker walking across a busy street.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 31, 2014 at 16:47:46 in reply to Comment 99492

Helmets are not mandatory. I wear mine, but whether or not the rider wears one, has nothing to do with their obedience to signs and traffic signals.

And jaywalking across a busy street ... of course one should not be a moron about it. But when the closest crossing is a kilometer away, I guess sometimes one has to resort to hardcore anarchy, eh? And if you're old or can't run, too bad?

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 31, 2014 at 16:41:13 in reply to Comment 99492

Except that in most cases, the degree of enforcement and the severity of the penalty depends on the ability of the offender to cause harm, especially to cause harm to others. Putting oneself at risk is usually considered less seriously than putting the lives of others at risk.

Also, people forget that walking is only dangerous because other people are driving vehicles!

It is the cars that create the danger in the first place, and each driver has decided to engage in an activity that poses a significant danger to others (including their passengers). The same can't be said for walkers.

A rational enforcement system would put the most enforcement resources (which are scarce) where they can reduce the most harm.

On the road, motorists have far more ability to cause harm to themselves and others than other road users. Which is why enforcement efforts should focus on motor vehicles. This is the reason we put so much effort into catching and punishing drunk drivers rather than say, not coming to a full stop at stop signs, despite the fact both actions break the law.

And, most importantly, enforcement isn't enough to change behaviour if it feels comfortable to do something dangerous and illegal. The real solution is to change the road design to encourage the behaviour we want: slow, attentive driving, and comfortable safe walking (including crossing the street).

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-03-31 16:42:30

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted March 31, 2014 at 16:10:57

Now that the nice weather is here, I'm back to cycling to work. But during the winter I drove (confession) and returning home would drive on Main to Queen. The aggression of drivers between Main and Robinson on Queen is seriously UNBELIEVABLE. There is absolutely no regard for the residents of the street. People would cut around me and hit the gas. Some of them must have been going 60 - 70 km/hour along there. Why is there no enforcement? Why is radar enforcement always in wide open industrial areas like Burlington Street?

Hamilton City Council, please put through motions to calm this street. It's absolutely ridiculous. And then, please focus on Main.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted April 01, 2014 at 09:33:41

And we have the neanderthal commenters in Spec who just know that all the pedestrians injuries and deaths are the fault of the pedestrians ... because they were listening to ipods! Apparently, no pedestrians were ever hit until Apple came out with its mp3 player!

(Of course motorists are far more insulated from their surroundings, have their own music systems and have far more distractions, from tuning their radios to adjusting the climate control, to texting and arguing with passengers, but that is obviously not a problem.)

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By bleh (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2014 at 06:10:15 in reply to Comment 99541

You need a license to drive indicating you have a proficiency in driving. I don't recall needing to get a pedestrian license. Seriously, pedestrians must take the blame when they are at fault - I don't know enough about these collisions to absolve them of all guilt, do you?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 29, 2014 at 12:55:01 in reply to Comment 100706

Um, we actually do know enough about automobile/pedestrian collisions to know that in most cases, it is the driver who is at fault and not the pedestrian. Your hand-wavy equivocation is both inaccurate and unhelpful.

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By bleh (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2014 at 16:55:06 in reply to Comment 100713

Where can I find these reports? I have looked but been unsuccessful. Please be helpful rather than lecturing, wagging your finger and clucking your tongue.

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By CEE (anonymous) | Posted April 29, 2014 at 17:39:17

We live on Queen Street South of Main and I have to say that, had we known what it is like, we never would have bought a house on Queen. It is basically like living on a highway. People speed... and not just 5 or 10 as in the jokes above. Lots of cars pass our house at what must be 70-80km/h. Insane. Between the hours of 4 and 6pm, it is really like a freeway. One of the other main areas of concern that we see besides excessive speed is Herkimer and Queen. When the traffic is busy on Queen, people have difficulty driving across Queen on Herkimer. So, they just gun it and hope for the best. The number of times we have heard squealing tires is countless. And, we have had to slam on the brakes there many times to avoid people trying to cross Queen. Crazy...

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