Neighbourhoods

Traffic Engineering Denies Stoplight Request; McHattie Counters With Motion

By Adrian Duyzer
Published May 28, 2011

In an article about the Hamilton Economic Summit, I talked about how the Traffic Engineering Department refused to install a pedestrian-activated stoplight at Aberdeen and Kent because not enough people cross there - after they installed signs specifically instructing pedestrians not to cross.

Here's the text of the email that was sent by a staffer at the Traffic Engineering Department to Councillor Brian McHattie:

We have reviewed the conditions for pedestrians to cross Aberdeen at the intersection of Kent and compared them to our Council approved policy. The study was delayed to ensure that winter weather did not influence the results.

Our policy follows the Provincially recommended method of evaluation with one major exception; the Provincial standard requires a minimum 200 pedestrians in 8 hours whereas the City's policy requires a minimum 100 pedestrians in 7 hours.

The IPS study times include 7-9am, 11am-1pm and 2:30-5:30pm. These cover all periods of high pedestrian activity. During the study we noted only 40 pedestrians crossing which is well below the minimum standard.

We identified sufficient gaps in the traffic for pedestrians to safely cross Aberdeen at Kent. On average, pedestrians waited for about 18 seconds before finding a suitable gap in the traffic to cross in. With a pedestrian signal, the average waiting time would be similar. There has been no collisions in the past 10 years involving a pedestrian crossing Aberdeen in the 400 metre stretch of road from east of Locke to west of Queen.

We considered the possibility of a median refuge island to provide two shorter crossings of Aberdeen. Unfortunately, the width of the road and the number and location of driveways in the area makes this option unworkable.

Based on our evaluation, we recommend that no changes are required at this time.

Councillor McHattie has countered with a Notice of Motion that will be submitted at the June 6 Public Works Committee meeting. Here's the notice:

Request for Installation of a pedestrian-activated signal at the intersection of Kent Street and Aberdeen Avenue (Ward 1)

(a) That a pedestrian-activated signal be installed at the intersection of Kent Street and Aberdeen Avenue.

(b) That staff be directed to investigate funding the estimated $80,000 cost of this project out of Ward 1 area rating derived funding.

(c) That the appropriate amending by-law be passed.

The Public Works Committee is chaired by Councillor Powers and vice-chaired by Councillor McHattie. Other members are Councillors Collins, Duvall, Ferguson, Jackson, Merulla, Pasuta, and Whitehead.

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

48 Comments

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted May 28, 2011 at 21:28:05

So let me get this straight... it goes like this:

  1. Determine an intersection is unsafe to cross
  2. Install signs forbidding pedestrian crossing
  3. Count how many pedestrians cross
  4. Refuse a signal because there aren't enough people crossing there.

This is totally a logical order of doing things

Ugh.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 29, 2011 at 14:14:32 in reply to Comment 64161

by George, you've got it. Send your resume to 71 Main St West, Hamilton Ontario.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted May 28, 2011 at 23:40:56

So who's up to get hit by a car at Aberdeen & Kent? Pedestrian gets hit, and you get a traffic light. That's how I read the message from staff.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 29, 2011 at 00:56:36 in reply to Comment 64164

From what I've heard, that's the explanation for the perplexing long-assed advanced green at King and Dalewood while every other intersection along King West in the area is just a normal stoplight.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted May 29, 2011 at 10:42:49

But seriously, how many crossings do we require? One every block, every two?? I bet there are many more intersections across the city with a higher than 40 crossing amount that aren't even on the radar. Just because a small amount of people want something doesn't mean it's right or required.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 29, 2011 at 14:16:50 in reply to Comment 64169

and yet it only took one person to delay the re-opening of the Courtyard Cafe by a year. For no good reason. This crossing links the neighbourhood to schools, parks, shops etc.... 40 people is a lot of people and would be much higher if it was a) safe, and b) legal to cross there currently.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted May 29, 2011 at 15:46:49 in reply to Comment 64175

Well, when I lived there and I mean right there. I don't remember anyone needing to cross right there for schools (where are they?) or shops (again, where?) that couldn't walk to the light and cross safely, closer to the schools and or shops they need. I'll let you have the parks aspect if you wish, but again.....

For a walkable community maybe we should ask people to actually walk a little. After all, it's only 2 or 3 streets either way to a light.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 29, 2011 at 15:54:29 in reply to Comment 64176

folks I've spoken to who live there say it's the safest walk for their kids to get to HAAA, Locke South shops and Ryerson Rec Centre. As a parent, I concur. I wouldn't wish my worst enemy to have to navigate Aberdeen and Queen intersection on foot, and then walk along the Queen South freeway on tiny sidewalks when Kent is a perfectly safe north/south route through the neighbourhood. If some folks don't want a stop light at Kent, my suggestion would be to add 24-7 street parking on both sides of Aberdeen and convert Queen into a two-way street: one lane each way, with curbside parking on one side and street trees next to the roadway on widened sidewalks. Then we could satisfy the idea that walking along Aberdeen and Queen is a safe, walkable route linking residents to their neighbourhood amenities.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 00:25:56 in reply to Comment 64178

Are not all those destinations at or near Locke Street? So walk to Locke and cross there.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 00:26:47 in reply to Comment 64201

Locke or Queen Street.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted May 29, 2011 at 16:28:06 in reply to Comment 64178

Me thinks you ask too much. Sorry, just my opinion. I don't mind walking an extra 5 minutes to get to Locke and work my way down, exercise is good for you remember. Our kids are sedate enough. Again, just my opinion.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 29, 2011 at 22:03:06 in reply to Comment 64181

Me thinks you ask too much

I know. I take kids' ability to walk in their own neighbourhood safely a little too serious.

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted May 29, 2011 at 11:16:52 in reply to Comment 64169

Just because a small amount of people want something doesn't mean it's right or required.

The squeaky (w)heel gets the oil.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted May 29, 2011 at 12:29:57

100 crossings in 7 hours ? ... don't let the city near king and steven theres probably that many in an hour..

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted May 29, 2011 at 15:48:39 in reply to Comment 64172

That's exactly what I mean, how many lights is too many or not enough??

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted May 29, 2011 at 13:50:08

Let's turn Cannon Street into a pedestrian walkway. Then we can do a study showing that no one drives there, which will prove that there's no demand for automobile lanes.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 29, 2011 at 21:38:05

We identified sufficient gaps in the traffic for pedestrians to safely cross Aberdeen at Kent.

Um, so why aren't pedestrians allowed to cross there if it's safe to do so?

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By DanJelly (registered) | Posted May 29, 2011 at 22:05:42

Why can't we install temporary lights for a year and gather actual data? Why is the City relying on bogus logic to justify inaction? To make the decision based on good data, you need to run a pilot program with proper time to reshape the travel patterns of the local residents. By counting those crossing now, you have no way of tracking who is going straight to Queen or Locke out of habit, or who is getting on/off the bus a stop early or late just to avoid crossing at Kent.

400m is not a big deal to many of us, but to a senior or disabled individual that can mean the difference between taking the HSR or having to arrange other transportation (taxi, DARTS, etc), or simply not going out at all. We have spent all this money on making sure our entire HSR fleet is comprised of accessible, low-floor buses, now it's time to make sure people can get TO the bus stops.

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted May 29, 2011 at 22:08:08

If they don't want to add a light then they shoud lower the speed limit. With the number of young families in the area (and dare I mention the property taxes), why is this even an issue? It would seem the signs alone are an admission that the city is aware of a problem.

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By Loserville (anonymous) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 05:04:43

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By moronopolis (anonymous) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 09:28:57

There is s basic issue here about how our city works:

City staff are there to serve the citizens. If people have mobilized to express how they want their neighbourhood to be, then staff should make it happen, NOT make excuses why the status quo should remain.

BTW Loserville - Ward 1 has some of the highest property value increases in the city due to the improved quality of life that comes from a sustainable and livable neighbourhood. That's a pretty darn good ROI on the small increase to my property taxes.

Perhaps you are seeing your neighbourhood declining and wondering why you have to pay more and more tax. That's likely because you subscribe to that moronic "less tax, more service" logic that doesn't get the link between investment and growth.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 10:15:12

I am very disappointed, but not surprised by this decision.

This is the sort of anti-pedestrian bias that we've had to deal with in the Durand for the past 12 years. Despite the fact that local residents rally, petition and organize for the most minor pedestrian improvements, the City's traffic department ignores, delays and then finally rejects by pointing to their own auto-centric policies.

They also refuse to even test out new ideas using pilot projects, which would at least allow decisions to based on real evidence. Pilot projects have transformed New York and dozens of other cities around the world, but apparently they are too scary for Hamilton. How do we know how much a crossing would be used until it is installed? We do know that hundreds of residents want one, but this democratic rationale is apparently not enough.

Nevertheless, the sheer illogic of this particular decision is laughable. Let's look again at the circular and inconsistent reasoning:

  1. Determine that the crossing point is dangerous for pedestrians.

  2. Install signs advising pedestrians to walk up to 400m out of their way because of the danger. (Must be pretty bad to be worth walking so far out of one's way.)

  3. Hundreds of local residents petition for a safe crossing because they would like to be able to cross there.

  4. Measure how many people cross despite the signs and the danger.

  5. Surprise, surprise, not many people are crossing. Therefore there is not enough demand for a crossing (what about 3?).

  6. Despite the previous assessment that the crossing is dangerous (signs), add a comment in your report implying that the crossing actually is safe because pedestrians only have to wait "for about 18 seconds before finding a suitable gap in the traffic to cross in."

  7. Breathe a sigh of relief because another pesky resident lead and councillor supported request for more pedestrian friendly streets has been brushed off.

At least Kirkendall didn't help the City organize a workshop on pedestrian improvements (at the City's request), after being assured that the recommendations would be taken seriously, and then have to wait over a year for the brushoff response from the Traffic Department. This was the the Durand's recent experience.

The most galling part is that the City actually claims that it is putting pedestrian safety and convenience as a top priority when designing its streets and repeatedly organizes workshops, forums and invites public speakers promoting walkability.

It would save everyone a lot of time and money to be straightforward about the policy:

"Hamilton would like to make its neighbourhoods safe and convenient for pedestrians, but unfortunately our policies and priorities do not allow it at the present time. Please do not expect any meaningful improvements in the foreseeable future."

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By Ajax (anonymous) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 12:58:48

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By Hot Yogan (anonymous) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 15:56:25 in reply to Comment 64228

I lol'd

Just a little

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted June 01, 2011 at 21:12:08 in reply to Comment 64250

I lol'd a lot.

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By Tomas (anonymous) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 13:35:46 in reply to Comment 64228

Know what makes a great city? Lots and lots of little decisions that each move things a tiny bit in the right direction. This is one of those little decisions. Try not to be such a hater.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted June 01, 2011 at 21:12:41 in reply to Comment 64234

Some of us think it's the right decision now.

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By McSalad (anonymous) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 13:29:50 in reply to Comment 64228

Hey Ajax - Why don't you order another McSalad at your neighbourhood Walmart.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 13:28:11 in reply to Comment 64228

Truly amazing how something as simple as a pedestrian crossing can trigger so much rage and hostility. Only in Hamilton? Maybe the squelchers are right after all.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted June 01, 2011 at 21:13:32 in reply to Comment 64231

Maybe it's because opposing views are down-voted for no good reason.

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By Ajax (anonymous) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 14:58:24 in reply to Comment 64231

@McSalad .. ok I will... and I'll idle in the parking lot just to piss you off as you cycle down Locke with your violent yellow child carrier in tow.

@Z ... I'm simply taking harmless shots at a group of people who think they've got the whole world figured out and think that people who think differently are Walmart McSalad eaters.

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By McSalad (anonymous) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 16:25:24 in reply to Comment 64241

Ajax...I don't think you think differently. I think you can't tell the difference between a McSalad and the real thing. For you it's all the same. Idle all you want. You think you are pissing me off but you're only killing yourself in the process.

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By Ajax (anonymous) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 18:37:20 in reply to Comment 64253

insult spam deleted

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By timex (anonymous) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 16:05:56 in reply to Comment 64241

Instead of taking shots at people that are trying to make their community a better place, why don't you try doing something constructive yourself? Or do you not see the irony of taking the time to complain that trying to get a crosswalk isn't a valuable enough use of someone's time?

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By Ajax (anonymous) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 18:44:12 in reply to Comment 64252

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 30, 2011 at 22:05:27 in reply to Comment 64260

Yeah, the problem certainly wouldn't be the fact that in this town you've got to do a full media campaign and a petition with hundreds of signatures, just to be allowed to cross the fucking street.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted June 01, 2011 at 21:15:35 in reply to Comment 64273

And the need for cussing is?????

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By z jones (registered) | Posted June 02, 2011 at 00:00:29 in reply to Comment 64424

Frustration with a city that craps all over people who want to improve their own neighbourhood with, you know, a crosswalk.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted June 02, 2011 at 01:42:28 in reply to Comment 64439

In your opinion. Maybe not your neighbours. The point is to respect others opinions as well.

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