I Heart Dundurn Bike Lanes

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 07, 2010

I've always thought of myself as something of a hardened city cyclist. (Make that hardened mentally; physically I'm more than a bit soft, especially around the middle.) Bike lanes are nice and all - for, you know, novices - but I brave the cars, I ride in mixed traffic, I chew up the street and I spit it out, yadda yadda yadda.

I've had several chances to ride on the Dundurn Street South bike lanes in the past couple of weeks, and I've been surprised to discover just how much I enjoy it.

I've been trying to figure out just what it is that I find appealing, and I think I've got it:

  1. Cycling in mixed traffic is a struggle of wills with motorists; you always have to project confidence and assertiveness (note: not aggression) so that drivers will accept your right to share the road. On a bike lane, I still have to be aware of my surroundings, but the dedicated space on the road means I don't feel like I'm continuously fighting against the street's momentum to uphold my claim to that space.

  2. With a dedicated bike lane marking the street, I feel like a fully legitimate road user rather than an ad hoc user only allowed to be there on a technicality.

  3. Lastly, I enjoy resistance as much as the next person but it does get exhausting. It's refreshing to ride a bike without the overhead of an implicit political statement; to be merely a person on an errand rather than a rebel bucking the system.

I've long supported bike lanes due to their empirically established role in promoting higher rates of cycling, but it was mainly an academic thing, since I rarely ever encounter bike lanes in the routes I normally take.

Having had the benefit of direct personal experience riding on Dundurn before and after the installation of bike lanes, I can now say that I support bike lanes viscerally as well.

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 wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By Erin (anonymous) | Posted June 07, 2010 at 12:21:09

I love them too. I love bike lanes, period, for all the reasons you cite here. But why do they suddenly end right in front of Fortinos, where the road is in the roughest condition and where there is the most amount of traffic? It would be nice if they met up with the bike lanes on York.

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By jasonaallen (registered) - website | Posted June 07, 2010 at 16:11:23

Ryan, Here here! I am only an occasional cyclist - trying hard to ditch my car on the weekends for the usual short-short trips to Fortinos and the LCBO on Dundurn for snacks and bevvies. Two weekends ago I did the trip by bike for the first time, and it was amazing! The bike lanes made me feel much more safe than I have in the past when riding in Hamilton, and more importantly, they were busy. There were quite a few people biking up and down Dundurn, and even a bit of a traffic jam at the bike racks in front of the LCBO! Traffic will expand to fill available lanes: Apparently that rule doesn't just apply to 5 lane freeways bisecting the city, but to bike lanes as well!

Comment edited by jasonaallen on 2010-06-07 15:12:23

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By hammerheart (anonymous) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 11:10:31

Off topic... I heart raise the hammer! You guys are great!

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By trevorlikesbikes (registered) - website | Posted June 08, 2010 at 11:19:36

I heart bike lanes as well! well not entirely but that is usually due to the complete neglect of them (rubbish, potholes, unlevel sewer grates, glass and stickS). But i'm happy they are there as an occasional welcome relief to battling with the great iron beasts and thier asinine masters.

hey just be happy you don't live in toronto to be run down by Andrew Clarl...warning...referenced G&M post is pure beligerence.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 08, 2010 at 11:41:19

LOL. that was funny! Let's hope that's all it was meant to be.

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By graham (registered) | Posted June 10, 2010 at 12:35:51

Now if only people going to the beer store and LCBO would stop parking in them. Ah well - baby steps...

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