'Dismount and Walk' is Not a Bike Network Solution

By Sean Burak
Published October 22, 2013

In Calgary, they are building bus and bike lanes. Allowing bikes in the bus lane costs nothing and gives everyone the space they need.

If we in Hamilton don't have enough budget or guts to include bike lanes as part of the pilot, the pilot should include permitting bikes in the transit lane.

Instead, the city has brushed cyclists aside with a simple sounding solution: "Bicycles are encouraged to use parallel routes north or south of King St."

The reality is made more clear by Daryl Bender, project manager for alternative transportation in the public works department. Here is his description of the alternate routes which staff has so conveniently distilled down to the two simple words: "parallel routes". Let's see us put these directions on signs to tell cyclists where they are supposed to go:

On the north side of King St, the suggested cycling route is Wilson St to the York Blvd bike lane beside the Farmer's Market. It is suggested that it will be faster to dismount and cross the York/Bay intersection to connect to the easterly end of Napier St beside the Federal Building rather than riding around Sir John A MacDonald High School. Continue along Napier St to Victoria Park, and through Victoria Park on the multi-use trail. Continue on Head St on the west side of the park, do a quick "jog" on the Dundurn St bike lanes to connect to the bike lanes over Hwy 403 (either via Hunt St or the King St bike lane). Much of this route serves you in both the easterly and westerly direction.

On the south side of King St, the suggested cycling route is Hunter St or Jackson St. We are planning to install bike lanes on portions of Hunter St still this fall, so watch for them shortly. West of Queen St, the primary through routes for cycling to get to the Dundurn St bike lanes are Jackson St (there is a short trail connection at the west end of this street through a small parkette to Dundurn St) or Hunter St/Hill St. Canada St (between Jackson St and Hunter St) is the eastbound cycling connection.

Why is it that in this city we pay attention to drivers screaming bloody murder if they have to wait one light cycle before careening unhindered 30 blocks through the city, but "cyclists dismount and walk" is considered a viable transportation network solution?

Sean Burak was born in Hamilton but raised elsewhere in Ontario. He returned to his birth town at the turn of the century and has never looked back. Sean is the owner of Downtown Bike Hounds.


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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 22, 2013 at 11:30:15

See, I always thought that the city ignored Napier as a bike-friendly greenway, and that's why it's almost usable.

The fact that they're aware that Napier could be a great greenway but fail to implement the improvements needed to make it functional is intensely disappointing. The pain points are obvious and at least some of them wouldn't be too hard to fix.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2013-10-22 11:30:35

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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted October 22, 2013 at 13:31:02

Like i said on the other articale Stinson has a bike lane on the bus route and we are all find with it the cars have there way and(bikes and buses) seem to respect each one and other

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 22, 2013 at 21:35:50

I sure hope the alternative transportation manager was sharing that whole spiel as an example of how lousy the bike infrastructure is in Hamilton.

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By Wow (anonymous) | Posted October 22, 2013 at 21:59:08 in reply to Comment 93543

Daryl must wish for a job elsewhere somedays.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 22, 2013 at 22:15:48 in reply to Comment 93546

No kidding. I think anyone not from the 60s wishes that.

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By kdslote (registered) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 10:41:44

Let's turn this into an opportunity and lobby the city to create a signalled diagonal crossing across York and Bay that connects the bike lanes on York to the city's preferred cycle route along Napier!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2013 at 15:16:35 in reply to Comment 93560

Nice, but overcomplicated compared to the more conventional solution: 2-way Bay Street. Just give me a 2-way Bay Street and a curb ramp just North of the Bay St Federal Building. Declare the path there a multi-use path and put up a little signage about cyclists. Done. You can now get from York to Napier legally.

Of course, that's only a small part of the problems. You still have the plethora of stop-signs along Napier, you've got to get across Queen, and the fact that the Victoria Park multi-use path leads to Head instead of Lamoreaux (where there's a traffic signal so you could actually reasonably cross)... but now it's too late to re-route that multi-use path because Victoria Park got its big planned renovation with the Butterfly Garden and everything. And even then, it would only solve the problem for a westbound cyclist.

Here's my nightmarishly-expensive to-do list for a functional bike-route incorporating Napier (starting from West to East).

1) Continue the King Street barrier-separated bike lane all the way to Dundurn. No more getting kicked off onto Breadalbane. Of course, this means the bidirectional bike lane could cause trouble with the Esso driveways. Study that.

2) Add a second Dundurn traffic-light at Baker (a crossing at the south side), synchronized with the Lamoreaux light (so they're functionally one single big traffic light instead of two), available for cyclists to get from Baker to Lamoreaux, or from Lamoreaux to Baker/Dundurn Southbound.

3) Piss off every single gardener and horticultural enthusiast in Strathcona by paving a multi-use bike path through the butterfly garden at Victoria Park that connects Lamoreaux to Napier (much like the one that presently connects Head to Napier, except this one is useful because it ends at a place you can actually cross).

4) Traffic-light at Queen and Napier

5) Stop-signs facing the north/south streets at Napier instead of facing Napier. No all-ways, Napier gets priority.

6) Finally, two-way Bay Street and the multi-use (bike) path connecting Bay to Napier.

Then, Napier is a greenway.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2013-10-23 15:42:46

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2013 at 16:22:40 in reply to Comment 93599

On reflection, you don't even need to extend the King Street barrier-separated lane with that approach.

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By Kevin Love (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2013 at 20:12:32

When are we going to see the signs telling car drivers to get out and push their cars?

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 25, 2013 at 13:55:33

Be thankful for small mercies:

"The city wants cyclists to take a parallel street, although it's still legal to cycle in other King Street traffic lanes."

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