The City of Hamilton is currently reviewing the Cycling Master Plan as part of its Transportation Master Plan review. Here are my two cents.
By Jason Leach
Published July 29, 2015
First off, I want to mention how exciting it's been to see the success of the Cannon Street Cycle Track and Hamilton Bike Share. We should be making a huge deal about how well our bike share has already done compared with other bike-shares, notably Toronto.
Hamilton Bike Share bike: HAMILTON IS BEAUTIFUL!
I believe there is great momentum in the cycling arena and it would be a shame to see no new bike lanes added in 2015. Here are some suggestions for easy, low-hanging fruit that we could grab in 2015:
Install parking-protected bike lanes on Herkimer and Charlton, as requested by the neighbourhoods. Parking-protected bike lanes are among the safest in the world. The evidence is clear on this. Copenhagen, Montreal and every other city on the World's Top 20 cycling cities have grown ridership with these lanes city-wide.
Install a bike lane on Locke from Hunter to King. This has been delayed far too long and could be done overnight. Parking could remain from Hunter to Main and the stretch from Main to King is very easy.
We need much clearer signage city-wide. Here is a simple example that is used all over the world:
Bicycle wayfinding sign (Image Credit: City of Gresham, Oregon)
We need to design and label our network as though we are riding a bike for the first time or are tourists.
This also applies to our multi-use paths. Some are more suited to leave as simple black asphalt with basic signage as shown above. Others, such as the new ones on Longwood/Aberdeen and on the side of York Boulevard, need markings on the road and signage on the route making it ultra clear that it is part of the network:
Multi-use path pavement markings (Image Credit: American Trails)
We need to do better at linking our bike lanes - especially through intersections, where the bike lanes tend to disappear. One example of a bike lane link that should be improved is the corner of York and Dundurn.
Bike lane on York at Dundurn: no obvious way to turn left (RTH file photo)
There is ample space in all directions for the bike lanes to connect on these streets. Simply ending bike lanes before corners is dangerous and creates a huge gap in the network. It is a major barrier to new cyclists.
The evidence from other cities shows huge uptake from riders on these stress-free, low speed limit, speed-humped routes. RTH editor Ryan McGreal and I drafted up a proposed network for Hamilton:
Map of proposed neighbourhood greenways
The City of Portland defines neighbourhood greenways as "streets with low traffic volume and speed where bicycles, pedestrians and neighbors are given priority." over through traffic.
They're designed so it's easy to walk or bike down the street but hard to cut through in a car. Speed humps slow traffic, diverters stop drivers from "rat-running" through the neighbourhood, and safe crossings allow pedestrians and cyclists to get across busy cross streets.
Neighbourhood greenway in Portland (Image Credit: City of Portland)
Neighbourhood greenways are great because they not only make the street better for walking and cycling, but also make it safer and more pleasant for people who live on the street.
We literally have a 'ring corridor' around and through the east/west ends of the city. I realize Hydro companies initially say 'no' when approached by cities, but we need to push the way Toronto has to take advantage of these great routes:
Cycle track on Hydro corridor in Toronto (Image Credit: BlogTO)
Here is an initial map I did up, but I've since learned of more corridors: through the Cootes-Escarpment Eco Park for example, and across various rural areas.
Hydro corridor crossing Lawrence Road in east Hamilton (RTH file photo)
Connecting these pathways to the city network would be a dramatic improvement in our cycling network.
When City streets are being reconstructed, bike lanes should be built at the sidewalk level, not the street level. Otherwise, they should be physically protected with bollards, curbs or parallel parking as a standard practice. We know that protected bike lanes get a lot more people riding bikes in a way that painted lanes just don't.
Here are some great routes for protected cycle tracks:
We should also be providing this on all north-south mountain arterials that don't have a Lincoln Alexander Parkway interchange.
Another opportunity lies in adding off-street multi-use paths on every large institutional/retail property or city park where appropriate. Examples:
I feel these streets are well suited for such facilities. All of these types of bike facilities would launch us into a top cycling city, along with completion of the rural cycling path network.
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