Special Report: Cycling

Building the Network: Herkimer and Charlton

Protected bike lanes are essential if we are to have infrastructure that accommodates everyone.

By Kevin Love
Published May 12, 2015

This is the second article in a five-part series entitled Building Hamilton's Protected Cycling Network.

Today's article is Part 2: Building the network: Herkimer and Charlton Streets.

Herkimer and Charlton are scheduled for cycling infrastructure as part of the City of Hamilton's Cycling Master Plan.

There have been several previous articles written about the efforts of the Durand Neighbourhood Association's to get a better design than City staff's originally proposed unprotected bike lanes placed in the Door Zone of adjacent parked cars.

In response to this unacceptable proposal, the Durand Neighbourhood Association formed a Cycling Committee that recommended New York-style car parking-protected bike lanes.

Today's article reports on the presentation made by City staff to the Hamilton Cycling Committee on May 6, 2015.

Update on Herkimer and Charlton

City staff, represented by Public Works manager Daryl Bender, reported that design work on the car parking protected bike lanes (CPPBL) is currently being "worked through." No target date for completion of the design was given.

Mr. Bender raised two concerns, but emphasized that they were not showstoppers serious enough to prevent implementation of the recommended design.

The first concern was that since the Durand Cycling Committee proposed the Herkimer CPPBL to be on the North side of Herkimer, people turning right onto streets such as Park or MacNab would have to turn across car traffic.

My response was that the same situation exists right now on the Cannon Street protected bike lane. For example, anyone travelling westbound on Cannon and turning right onto a street without a traffic light is making that right turn across two car traffic lanes. Somehow people are managing to do that.

Driveways

Mr. Bender then raised the concern that someone riding in the CPPBL may be hidden from car drivers turning into driveways.

My response was that the exact same situation applies to any child running on a sidewalk next to parked cars. Also, CPPBL and driveways are still fairly common in The Netherlands as shown in this video that I had previously circulated to Mr. Bender and members of the Hamilton Cycling Committee.

Mr. Bender stated that he will report back when the design is finished. Again, no target date was given for completion of the design, let alone implementation.

Conclusion

It is quite frustrating that this process has been dragging out for so long. Protected bike lanes are essential if we are to have infrastructure that accommodates everyone.

The recommended design has been approved by the Durand Neighbourhood Association and our local municipal councillor, Jason Farr. This is a quite common design that has been successfully implemented in many places all over the world.

It is time to get going with it in Hamilton.

Kevin is a professional accountant and a retired infantry officer with the Canadian Forces. Kevin keeps encountering people who were students of his father, Dr. Robert Love, who was a professor at MacMaster University from 1977-2008. He lives near Durand Park in Hamilton and is currently Vice-Chair of the Hamilton Cycling Committee.

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By kdslote (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 09:10:27

Thanks for the update Kevin! It's very frustrating that Daryl is concerned about people making right turns across traffic at Park and MacNab, but was not concerned about people making left turns at Bay, Hess, Caroline, etc. when he originally proposed putting the lanes on the south side of the street.

Left turns are the dominant traffic pattern for people riding on Herkimer as they are generally heading north to downtown (this is one of the main reasons we are advocating for a north CPPBL). If someone wants to head south from Herkimer, they are likely already riding on a quieter residential street such as Markland...so right turns should be a non-issue.

Comment edited by kdslote on 2015-05-12 09:30:49

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 10:36:04 in reply to Comment 111557

What is perhaps most concerting is that Mr. Bender's concerns were NOT about a failure to implement the world-class design of eliminating cut-through car driving in residential neighbourhoods.

On May 6, I went on the Jane’s Ride of the Pipeline Trail. Spoiler alert for the last article of the series: City staff from Hamilton Water were unapologetic about advocating for investing in a world-class system for clean drinking water. Why can’t Transportation be the same?

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 09:27:42

I suspect Mr Bender will come with a couple more dumb reasons why we can't use the same design used all over the world at your next meeting, so come prepared once again.

Great job continuing the mind-numbing fight with city hall.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 10:37:47 in reply to Comment 111558

To be fair, Mr. Bender said that his concerns were not showstoppers serious enough to prevent implementation of the recommended design. So we can use it.

I'm just frustrated at the mind-numbing delay.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 11:50:54 in reply to Comment 111562

Don't forget, this is the same guy whose original design ended both bike lanes a block west of James and just dumped cyclists into 3 lanes of car traffic.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 13:10:36 in reply to Comment 111565

I’m not defending that! I think that he should be like Hamilton Water and all other City staff I’ve encountered. They all defend best practices.

Nobody in Hamilton Water that I have ever met is saying, “here is how we can cheap out and slither around the recommendations of the Walkerton Inquiry.” They all advocate world-class best practices. I want Transportation to be the same way.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 15:33:30 in reply to Comment 111578

agreed....I suspect we'll be waiting decades, if not centuries.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2015 at 11:38:03

Honestly, the turn issue is frustrating because of the dearth of bike boxes at the traffic lights in this city. York Boulevard's new lanes are especially frustrating to make left turns on as a cyclist... Left-turn boxes at Dundurn and Locke were going to be my PB submissions this year, but sadly PB isn't running this year.

Bender can solve this issue the same way every other bike-turning problem should be solved - add a bike box.

I am sympathetic to his concerns about parking-protected lanes intersecting with driveways... Don't we tell cyclists to avoid riding on the sidewalk for this exact reason? Parking-protected lanes in areas with driveways seem like a they'd work best in places with super-high ridership, which Hamilton isn't (yet). Without the high ridership making a cyclist expected, it means a bike in a spot that is both unseen and unexpected.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted May 13, 2015 at 00:29:33 in reply to Comment 111564

Don't we tell cyclists to avoid riding on the sidewalk for this exact reason?

First of all, isn't this more an issue at intersections?

Second of all, if this is true how can it be considered safe to have bike lanes against any curb? For that matter, how can it be safe for people to drive in the curb lane?

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By kdslote (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 11:59:06 in reply to Comment 111564

It's a chicken and egg scenario. How will we ever get to "super-high ridership" without well designed protected lanes?

Herkimer already has surprisingly high ridership because, just as it does for drivers, it connects to where cyclists are trying to get to.

I'm confident that with the provision of CPPBL's, the ridership will increase further, making the issue of driveway interferences less of a concern.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2015 at 12:42:30 in reply to Comment 111566

It's not actually a chicken-and-egg scenario. We know what has to come first: the cycling infrastructure. The level of cycle follows the level of infrastructure. If there are safe, continuous places to ride a bike, people will ride bikes. It's really that simple.

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By I dunno (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 13:13:24 in reply to Comment 111569

Yes, just like building pro hockey infrastructure got us an NHL team. How about raising gas prices to 3 dollars a litre like it is in Europe? Then you wouldn't need infrastructure. The bikers would just TAKE the car lane.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2015 at 14:14:19 in reply to Comment 111579

Yeah, if Harold Ballard and Gary Bettman got to exercise a veto over whether people are allowed to ride bikes in Hamilton, your reasoning-by-analogy might make a bit more sense.

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By I dunno 2 (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 14:22:46 in reply to Comment 111584

And with gas prices at $3 /L the sidewalks and car lanes would be so crowded with bikes the city would be forced to build bike lanes just to corral the bike traffic. Whoops! Chicken/egg reversal! Take that nature!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2015 at 14:42:27 in reply to Comment 111585

European countries have had high fuel taxes since the OPEC oilshocks in the 1970s and the number of average kilometres has only started drifting down since the 1990s, driven mainly by other policies. Even now, Canadians and Americans drive around 18,000 km a year on average, compared to around 14,000 km a year in France, Germany and Britain. At the same time, Canadian and American driving is also in decline, though the decline started some years later than it did in Europe.

Seriously, stop making excuses. There is no reason we can't have much higher rates of cycling than we do.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 13, 2015 at 11:35:54 in reply to Comment 111589

It's important not to assume that Canadians always behave similarly to Americans (often people use the term "North American" to apply USA statistics to Canada).

In terms of annual driving distance, as in other things, Canada is actually somewhere between the USA and Europe.

In 2009 (the last year Statistics Canada did the Canadian Vehicle survey which is being replaced by the Canadian Vehicle Use Survey) Canadian light vehicles were driven an annual distance of 15 336 km, a decrease from 16 944 km in 2000.

http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/publications/stat...

Canadians (at about 15 000 km per year and decreasing) are actually very similar to Europeans in annual distance driven (14 000 km) rather than to Americans, who do indeed drive about 18 000 km.

http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/...

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-05-13 11:56:01

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 13, 2015 at 12:27:09 in reply to Comment 111614

What's the median. Averages are not very useful statistics.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted May 13, 2015 at 13:44:49 in reply to Comment 111617

http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-008-x/2008001/article/10503-eng.htm#1 might be helpful. Looked at hours in cars I think. However, this data is only good to 2005.

Their conclusion:

Going by car is even more common now

Even though there is a growing tendency for the population to congregate in large urban centres and people have access to better public transportation services, dependence on the automobile increased between 1992 and 2005. According to data from the General Social Survey (GSS) on time use, the proportion of people aged 18 and over who went everywhere by car – as either a driver or a passenger – rose from 68% in 1992, to 70% in 1998 and then 74% in 2005.

Conversely, the proportion of Canadians who made at least one trip under their own power by bicycle or on foot appears to have declined between 1998 and 2005. In 2005, 19% of people 18 and over walked or pedalled from one place to another, down from 26% and 25% in 1992 and 1998 respectively. How can we explain why Canadians, most of whom live in large metropolitan regions, now need their cars more than ever to go about their daily business?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 13, 2015 at 13:54:38 in reply to Comment 111622

Yes, we all know that driving was still increasing until a decade ago. What is interesting is what has been happening since then.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted May 13, 2015 at 15:25:43 in reply to Comment 111623

Well one point would be that the change is actually far more dramatic than the average would show. It could be that there are a fixed number of people who drive a lot but a growing number of people who drive less and less. The small number of people who commute a lot, or example, may scew the average to be higher than the median. It might be that most people actually drive a lot less than 14 k

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 13, 2015 at 16:46:08 in reply to Comment 111628

That's not so much a question of the median versus the average, but that fact the average I cited measures the average number of km driven by each registered vehicle, not average or median km driven per adult or per registered driver. The statistic is therefore a more a measure of the decline in driving in those who actually do drive (i.e. have access to a car).

The fact that the proportion of registered drivers has dropped does indeed suggest that the actual decrease in driving is more dramatic.

Interestingly, the number of registered vehicles per capita in Canada is 607, which is far less than the USA (at 809) and more comparable to European countries (e.g. Italy: 682, Spain: 593, Norway: 591, Germany: 588, France: 578).

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 13, 2015 at 17:05:56 in reply to Comment 111630

Registered vehicles per capita by country

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cou...

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-05-13 17:06:18

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 13, 2015 at 14:14:48 in reply to Comment 111623

And the 2009 report I quoted from showed average number of km driven per light vehicle decreased by 1658 km between 2000 and 2009 (about 10%). Based on trends in other countries, this trend has likely continued, although I wasn't able to find more recent results for Canada.

This is partly due to cars being driven less (as in the above statistic and reported in http://www.canadianbusiness.com/business... and in fewer licensed drivers (e.g. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on...

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-05-13 14:15:25

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted May 13, 2015 at 14:01:23 in reply to Comment 111623

Too bad Harper essentially pulled the plug on Stats Can.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 13, 2015 at 13:01:18 in reply to Comment 111617

The mean is useful for number spreads that are more or less bounded on both ends. The average income, for example, is not as useful a number as the median income because there is no upper bound on how much money a person can earn. But there is an upper bound on how far a person can drive in a year so we can expect that the median and the mean are not far apart.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 13, 2015 at 12:56:27 in reply to Comment 111617

Average are useful for comparing countries, since we are comparing averages for different countries. The average does give a pretty good idea of how much driving is being done in different countries.

The average is also useful for comparing countries since it gives you the total km driven (by multiplying by the number of vehicles).

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 13, 2015 at 11:42:03 in reply to Comment 111614

Interesting - thanks for posting this. It seems I was looking at old data when I cited the Canadian average driving rate.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 16:29:28 in reply to Comment 111589

407 tolls provide the equivalent of much higher gas prices than in Europe. Which is why no car driver ever drives on hwy 407. Oh, wait…

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By actually (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 19:47:04 in reply to Comment 111593

the 407 is very lightly used and the QEW is bumper to bumper stop and go. The vast majority dont drive on the 407 as a conscious choice based on cost

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By I dunno (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 17:06:25 in reply to Comment 111593

I don't think highway driving really applies here. No one is going to bike commute to TO from Hamilton. But, since we're on the topic, if the 407 tolls get too high more people won't use it. Price pressure will force them back onto the QEW. It's happened to me...

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2015 at 18:18:00 in reply to Comment 111596

He's not literally talking about biking on the 407, just that people keep driving even when the cost is high, which means that skyrocketing gas prices won't stop all the drivers.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2015-05-12 18:32:33

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By kdslote (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 14:04:16 in reply to Comment 111579

You're right! The 'if you build it, they will come' analogy doesn't hold true for absolutely everything. Building an ice store in Iqaluit might not work either (darn)! But there is so much proof and data out there that building well-designed protected bike lanes will encourage a vast proportion of the population to give cycling a try.

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By kdslote (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 13:00:03 in reply to Comment 111569

Good point! Saying we can't have bike lanes (or other transit improvements) because we don't have the numbers just creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of stagnation!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2015 at 13:02:59 in reply to Comment 111571

Imagine how many people would drive if all the roads were designed like this:

"Damn, the road lane ends again"

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 12:29:17 in reply to Comment 111566

good info here from a Dutch perspective. Note the design of the driveways in the video: huge walls and hedges completely blocking the view.

Cars pulling into and out of driveways with parking-protected bike lanes will have to (gasp!) stop and look for bikes the same way they are currently supposed to for pedestrians.

https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2011/...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2015 at 12:29:51

It's hard to escape the conclusion that staff are implacably determined to build the absolute lowest level of cycling infrastructure they can get away with. The only protected cycle track in the city was approved by a special vote of council and designed by an outside company (IBI Group) after a huge citizen campaign with thousands of supporters. The extensions on both sides of the cycle track were designed in-house, and they are a big disappointment after the immediate success of the protected cycle track.

The bike lanes east of Sherman are minimal painted lines, don't actually connect to Sherman and come to a dead end at Gage. Extending the lanes east from Gage to Kenilworth is in the "planning stage" according to the City's cycling projects page, and extending the lanes west so they actually connect to Sherman is not mentioned at all.

The bike lanes west of Hess are better since they actually connect to the cycle track (via a refugee bike box on Hess) and are buffered with a few feet of space between the adjacent car lanes. However, once again staff refused to bolster the lanes with any kind of physical protection - not even knockdown sticks, which I have learned cost the city less than $10 a pop - and the bike lanes are designed to double as right-turning lanes for cars.

I mean, seriously: WTF? We have an example right here in Hamilton of a high-quality piece of infrastructure that was immediately successful at attracting large numbers of new cyclists.

Compare the ridership numbers on the Cannon Cycle Track to the ridership numbers on the Hunter Street bike lane, which is also two-way on a one-way street but doesn't have physical protection.

WE KNOW WHAT WORKS.

There is no longer any excuse for us to keep building low-quality cycling infrastructure that we know is not successful at attracting people to choose cycling.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 13:14:33 in reply to Comment 111568

On May 6, we were also updated by Mr. Bender on the outlook for Cannon between Sherman and Kenilworth. Full details in the fourth article in this series. Spoiler alert: It ain’t pretty.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2015 at 13:04:43 in reply to Comment 111568

Also, the lack of left-turn Bike Boxes on York is ridiculous. Every day it's frustrating to get over from the York lane at Hess to get onto the Cannon track, and in the reverse trip to get from Cannon onto Dundurn (or Locke, depending on my mood).

I wouldn't mind the city's "unprotected super-wide bike/turning-lane" strategy if they took it to its logical conclusion: these bare-minimum bike-lanes should be slapped into every 3-lane-plus 1-way in the entire city with very little time or money spent on planning or implementation (Victoria and Wellington, I'm looking at you). THey're just paint (cheap and fast), they make negligible impact on traffic and they're wide-enough that they are still a substantial improvement over biking in mixed traffic or tiny-shoulder-lanes. I'd be happy with them as a "build this today, plan for better later" if I trusted the city not to drag their feet on it and call them "good-enough".

Yeah, right.

One does wonder if any of the city staff related to cycling are actual cyclists.

edit: OMG that list!

Paved shoulders on Centre! I know Carlisle isnt' exactly an area of much concern to RTH readers, but my in-laws live there and that place desperately needs sidewalks. Paved shoulders would be a great improvement to the area.

Also Parkside in Waterdown (I'm a regular at the Y there next to the highschool and I've always noticed that there are 3 lanes on Parkside: Eastbound, Westbound, and Completely Useless Space).

Also Hatt. Holy crap, how does Dundas have no bike lanes? It's the end of some of the city's best cycling infrastructure and has a fantastic dense urban form for cyclists.

Seriously, their to-do list has some great items on it. It's just that the first list should be "built this year" and the second list should be "built next year", not the usual City Hall timeline of "this decade" and "next decade".

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2015-05-12 13:19:06

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2015 at 14:10:21 in reply to Comment 111576

Speaking of cheap and fast, knockdown bollards cost the city something like $5 a pop. There is absolutely no reason in the universe not to protect these lanes with knockdown sticks as a bare minimum level of physical protection.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2015 at 14:28:05 in reply to Comment 111583

Plowing is a reason. Being able to run the full-sized street plows down the bike lanes is cheaper than the dedicated cats they need for the Cannon bikeway.

That said, there were plenty of times this winter when I'd have preferred the unplowed snow over the mounds of ice left by cars turning through bike-lanes. The Cannon Track's curbs and knockdown-sticks also kept out the mounds of frozen slush pushed by cars that made the York lane iffy and the Dundurn lanes unusably dangerous.

Not to mention some of the bike lanes where they just neglected to plow them at all.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2015-05-12 14:28:46

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 12, 2015 at 14:37:40 in reply to Comment 111587

The Hunter Street bike lanes are a lane wide, which means a regular truck with a plow can plow them. That's exactly how they were plowed this past winter:

Truck plowing Hunter bike lanes

Note that there are 13 knockdown bollards protecting the Hunter bike lane just east of Park Street and the plow was able to get past them without slowing.

Likewise on York, the bike lanes plus buffers are a full lane wide. The city could install bollards on the outside of the buffer and still have room to drive a plow up the bike lanes.

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By Harry (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 13:04:48

It's just a small fender bender, not a traffic show stopper.

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By CrossTownBiker (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 13:45:03

One of the issues here is that Mr. Bender is not a cycling advocate or even a recreational cyclist (maybe I'm incorrect, but I don't think he is). It is like a non-driver being asked to design efficient and safe roads for cars. The City really needs their staff to be experienced in what they are responsible for - especially when it comes to designing transportation infrastructure.

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By I dunno (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 15:11:40

Canadians drove passenger vehicles (weighing 4.5 tonnes or less) a total of 294.4 billion kilometres in 2008, down 5.8 billion kilometres from 2007 and the first decline in the number of kilometres driven since 2004.

I find it interesting that gas frequently threatened $1 in 2004, first topped $1/L in 2005 and remained steadily in the $1 - 1.3 range to the present day. And from the quote above (Stats Can) driving declined in 2004 and 2007. There is no correlation? How did those 5.8 billion kilometres get replaced? Perhaps some trips were replaced by bike?

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 16:32:36 in reply to Comment 111590

Perhaps in the 2008-2009 recession fewer people were driving to work. Because they were unemployed.

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By I dunno (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 16:48:09 in reply to Comment 111594

Sure of course but a decline was noted in 2004 and 2007 - both before the recession and both directly correlating with higher gas prices. If you are an advocate for bike lanes then price pressure is your friend. You need pocketbook incentives. Just having the bike lane there is something but it isn't enough to reach that tipping point.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 12, 2015 at 15:50:24

great info on street design from Philly

http://www.streetfilms.org/the-philadelp...

This is one of the areas Hamilton deserves a huge F- grade annually. Our street design is horrendous.

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