We Know King and Dundurn is a Death Trap

By Jason Leach
Published May 07, 2012

A letter to the editor in today's Spectator calls the intersection of King Street West and Dundurn Street a "death trap":

The first day after the installation of the new bike lane on Dundurn Street, I barely avoided a collision when the car on my left noticed his lane had to turn left on King Street and decided to move into my lane.

First of all, King and Dundurn has been a death trap for decades. This isn't news in the slightest. The five-lane expressway we call King Street is the culprit.

Second, this letter is a great argument for a continuous bicycle lane network:

I am really concerned that an already dangerous intersection is turning into a death trap while partial bicycle lanes cause havoc.

Fragmentary bike lanes that start and stop and re-appear are confusing and dangerous for everyone on the road.

As Adrian Duyzer points out in his essay on last week's On The Cusp event, Hamilton is at risk of falling further and further behind other cities despite some good things happening slowly.

I've traveled twice this year to regions in the US as far away as Florida and as close as the Capital Region in New York, and it's very apparent how quickly other cities are surpassing us by having the courage to rid themselves of one-way death traps, adding bike lanes everywhere, easing up zoning restrictions and encouraging street life and business.

Here, we continue to hold summits to talk about how wonderful those ideas are.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By jason (registered) | Posted May 07, 2012 at 16:39:21

One more point I need to make on this topic - I've heard many people (in an attempt to complain about the bike lanes) talk about how bad rush hour traffic is southbound on Dundurn now that it's 1 lane each way all because of the bike lanes. Ummm, southbound has been 1 lane forever. Northbound was 2 lanes, and is very lightly used...anyone who lives here knows that northbound was just a massive speedway. The bike lanes were added by removing a northbound lane. The southbound rush hour slowdowns (which are the only place in Hamilton I'm aware of with a legit, if brief, rush hour backup) was not affected at all by the bike lanes, other than to give cyclists their own lane...until King St at least.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted May 07, 2012 at 17:54:03

I used to live in this neighborhood for several years. Aside from many brushes with danger myself, my wife's car was once hit-and-run as she went along Dundurn going home, by someone running the red at King and Dundurn... zooming along the good old King Street Expressway.

I would never live in the Victoria Park area now that we have children.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 07, 2012 at 19:28:33 in reply to Comment 76573

Interesting perspective. We intentionally stayed in this neighbourhood when we moved last fall because it's such a great downtown neighbourhood for children. In fact, the neighbourhood is filled with young children. I'm assuming your view is shaped by King and Main bisecting the neighbourhood? Believe me, many people are working tirelessly to advocate for safe streets here like most of the suburban neighbourhoods where city staff and politicians live.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 02:28:06

I go northbound regularly on Dundurn from King (coming from downtown) and find it constantly clogged with traffic (this being any time between 8-9am during the week). I will usually just take King to the 403 or take York up to avoid it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 07:52:09

If I'm reading you right, it sounds like you're talking about Dundurn between King and York. I've lived in this neighbourhood for 10 years and have never seen anything remotely close to 'clogged traffic' unless the 403 is closed. It's free-flowing 24-7, 365.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 08:23:05 in reply to Comment 76592

You are. I guess you and I just have differing opinions on what's considered busy. To me, it's bumper to bumper traffic, from the top of the incline down to at least the convenience store and sometimes as far back as the edge of the gas station or the theatre. What's your definition?

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 08, 2012 at 09:04:06 in reply to Comment 76597

I'm sorry, but you've lost me. I see a line-up like that on the southbound lanes, but never northbound....again, unless the 403 is closed. Are you meaning 'southbound' in this discussion?

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted May 09, 2012 at 03:37:42 in reply to Comment 76603

No, I mean when I take King to Dundurn, turn right on Dundurn to take it up to York to get on to the 403. I hit stopped traffic every time I go along there. In fact, I avoided it yesterday - the time was about 8:34am. It was backed up to King at that time.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2012 at 09:27:03 in reply to Comment 76672

the time was about 8:34am. It was backed up to King at that time.

It strikes me that traffic should be backed up at rush hour. Especially if the alternative is big, fast, often-mostly-empty streets through our neighbourhoods and commercial districts at other hours.

I'm not wishing for gridlock. I drive downtown and I drive along Dundurn and York to get to Burlington sometimes. But I just don't expect to be able to drive quickly along downtown streets or side streets at the busiest times of the day.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted May 08, 2012 at 23:10:29

First visit with the family into the city, to check out the house we just purchased in the Delta, saw a parked car on Main get spectacularly rear-ended by another just off the 403, travelling east, guess s/he got a green light and didn't figure on having to slow down for anything....

Still find it tricky to get over into the lane I need to be in, cars are driving like a freeway and jockying for position. I drive a van and can't weave in and out, need to take my time and be careful-- often means I miss my turn, and because of the one-way streets I end up driving more km than should be necessary, having to loop back around to where I need to be. I can only imagine how frustrating it is for out-of-towners. I have always maintained (and not because I don't like city driving- drove in Toronto for years and still drive the downtown there regularly) that not only are two-way streets safer for pedestrians and better for business, they are also less frustrating for anyone who needs to actually navigate a neighbourhood (or shop in it!)rather than just whiz through it.

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By Eloi (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2012 at 06:42:13

Anyone care to rally a historical sample of collision and fatality stats in support of the "death trap" sobriquet? Maybe compare it to King and James or Main and Dundurn just for illustrative purposes?

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