(Jason Leach just sent this letter to City Council.)
Dear Members of City Council,
I have written before with my deep concern for public safety in our downtown neighbourhoods, due to the overbearing presence of truck traffic. This morning, as you probably know, a transport with 19 tonne steel coils flipped and coils were sent tumbling down Main St like bouncing balls.
Thankfully, nobody was hurt or killed, but that is an inevitability we are headed towards if something is not done about this dangerous situation.
Since moving into the Strathcona neighbourhood almost three years ago, this is the thirdd time that I¹m aware of something like this happening. All three occasions resulted in trucks or their steel loads on sidewalks normally used by pedestrians.
On one occasion, I almost lost my life as a truck with these same steel coils flipped onto the sidewalk before my eyes a mere few hundred feet ahead of me.
Last summer, my neighbour and his three-year-old son were walking along York when a truck flipped onto the sidewalk about 100 feet behind them.
Hamilton has been lucky three times, but we can be sure that this luck will not continue. Many of you have encountered much opposition from downtown area residents over major expenditures such as the Red Hill Expressway, Linc and other highway projects around the city.
Many residents in my neighbourhood now feel that the best way to show urban residents that these projects will have a positive impact on our quality of life, health, and safety is to ban through trucks from the downtown core.
I sometimes follow trucks on York or Main to see where they are headed and without fail it is the northeast industrial district mere minutes from the QEW.
I have a friend who is a truck driver and I spoke to him once about cutting through the city. He said they do it because the streets are wide and fast with timed lights, making it a nice shortcut. He said that he would never dream of using downtown streets as a "shortcut" in Toronto, London, Kitchener, Buffalo or any other city he drives to.
We¹ve invested billions of dollars on a first-class highway system all around Hamilton. Now is the time to show residents that our safety and our children's safety is important by forcing trucks to stay on the 403, QEW, Burlington St, Red Hill, Hwy 6 routes when traveling to and around our city.
Reduce Main St to two eastbound car lanes and one transit-only lane with wider sidewalks and no timed lights to give the poor businesses in the Main West BIA a fighting chance.
Reduce York Blvd to two car lanes each way with the current third lane (curb lane) simply converted to bike lanes both ways and on-street parking the entire length from Dundurn to James.
Contra-flow bike lanes could literally be painted on Cannon and Wilson through the entire central city tomorrow by simply using the curb lanes (south curb on both streets) for two-way bike lanes. This still leaves two lanes of traffic plus on-street parking on the north curbs of both streets.
There are several community groups in Hamilton developing strategies as we speak to ramp up the public pressure and demand for trucks to be banned on our downtown streets. Quite simply, we¹ve had enough and are scared for our lives.
You folks have done a marvelous job with the downtown residential loan program and by all accounts, downtown Hamilton is once again becoming a place where people want to live, dine and entertain.
Removing trucks, improving cycling and transit and giving wider sidewalks on commercial streets like Main, King, Cannon and York will only serve to enhance the livability of our downtown and help turn our city around.
The status quo, with bouncing coils of steel, screeching air brakes, and 65km/hr traffic roaring by 24-7 will hinder the rebirth of our core and will certainly result in the loss of innocent life the next time a truck¹s load lands in the lobby of a bank or on a well-used sidewalk.
Please act now.
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