City Explains Not Allowing Cyclists in Transit Lane

By RTH Staff
Published November 01, 2013

RTH has received a response from Christine Lee-Morrison, manager of mobility programs and special projects in the public works department, explaining why cyclists are not allowed to use the new transit lane on King Street. Following is the text of her response:

Consideration was given to bicycles during the design process for the dedicated transit lane. The rationale for not allowing bicycles was made considering the long-term strategic plan for transportation.

As the City grows, we need to manage our travel demand. A modern, attractive and cost-effective public transit system will be key. Such a system includes service that people can depend on and one that gets them to their destination as quickly as possible. When transit vehicles are caught in general traffic, the attractiveness and efficiency of the service can be significantly reduced. Transit Priority Measures give transit vehicles priority over general traffic. As you know the Main-King-Queenston corridor is a Primary Corridor in the City, intended for high order transit.

A transit only lane is a specific application of a "reserved vehicle lane". While we recognize the importance of expanding all mobility choices, especially walking and cycling, we specifically did not allow cyclists in the transit only lane as the purpose is to test a fully dedicated transit lane, rather than create an HOV lane whereby a variety of more efficient and sustainable modes are permitted.

Certainly a reserved vehicle lane is typically a safer place for a bicycle to operate; however, bicycles typically travel slower than a bus. A mixed usage situation would not allow the City fully test the acceptance and impacts of a future rapid transit scenario.

Consideration was also given to the fact that the Cycling Master Plan does not propose bike lanes on King Street. On this basis, staff do not recommend reconsidering to allow cycling in the transit only lane.

Having said that, we have received a number of comments respecting this matter. We will consider the request for sharrows and other cycling suggestions as part of our ongoing evaluation and monitoring process for this pilot.

RTH also asked about the possibility of initiating transit signal priority, i.e. traffic lights will turn green for buses as they approach an intersection. Lee-Morrison replied:

While we were not in a position to initiate transit signal priority along with this pilot, it is certainly another form of transit priority measure that was included in our Rapid Ready report that we will be looking at moving forward.


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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 01, 2013 at 10:44:13

So, they need to install sharrows in one of the lanes cyclists can use, or at least consider the possibility of changing the transit lane to an HOV lane in the future.

Cyclists cannot simply be excluded, especially as there is no viable alternative to King St (i.e. an alternative that takes a similar amount of time and distance and is reasonably direct).

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted November 01, 2013 at 11:58:51

comment from banned user deleted

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By BS Detector (anonymous) | Posted November 01, 2013 at 12:30:11 in reply to Comment 94082

I call BS on this comment. In what universe is Cannon in it's current state a viable cycling route, not this one.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted November 01, 2013 at 12:48:50 in reply to Comment 94089

comment from banned user deleted

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted November 01, 2013 at 13:14:26 in reply to Comment 94094

Google maps gives the cycling time from King and James to King and Dundurn as 1.7km and 5 minutes.

Taking Cannon and York, and then down Dundurn (the simplest route using Cannon) takes 2.8km and 12 minutes, almost two and half times longer in time.

Turning off at Queen and taking Napier through Victoria Park still takes 2.5km and 12 minutes:

I would say that a route that is 1.5 times as long in distance and 2.5 times as long in time is not a viable alternative, at least if you consider cyclists time to be as important as drivers. Would we ask drivers to take an alternative route that takes more than twice as long so a road can be dedicated to cyclists and pedestrians?

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2013-11-01 13:16:40

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 01, 2013 at 12:17:32

The only buses that average faster speeds than cyclists moving at commuter speeds are the express buses. Is this a case of a decision made from within an office rather than from observation of the real world? If cyclists held up buses in shared lanes, then no other cities would allow bikes in their bus lanes. What makes Hamilton different?

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 01, 2013 at 18:52:01 in reply to Comment 94085

We have a 500 foot Mountain. And it snows sometimes. And we have a harbour. And 900 CHML

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted November 01, 2013 at 12:57:48 in reply to Comment 94085

The 2010 Operational Review determined that the HSR's average bus speed, system-wide, was 18.7km/h and that most of the lower city routes had average speeds below 20km/h. Cycling speeds will vary, but traffic is a strong upward motivator. Google's yardstick appears to be 20km/h.

The HSR's average speeds are colour-coded on a system-wide map in Exhibit 3-7 of the Operational Review. There are only two sections of King between Wellington and Westdale where buses' average speed exceeds 20km/h: Margaret to Strathcona and New to Breadalbane.

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By MikeyJ (registered) | Posted November 01, 2013 at 12:18:23

Chapter 4 - Cycling Master Plan Development rev. 2011.pdf -pg 34:

"Major streets such as Main Street/Queenston Road and King Street in the lower city were suggested, but due to the concurrent timing of this study with the Hamilton Rapid Transit Feasibility Study, facilities on many potential rapid transit corridors were omitted. These streets will instead be addressed after the routing of rapid transit is determined. Discussions with City staff responsible for the Hamilton Rapid Transit Feasibility Study have noted that they will further investigate bicycle routing issues as they progress to the detailed design phase."

Comment edited by MikeyJ on 2013-11-01 12:20:49

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 01, 2013 at 12:32:27 in reply to Comment 94086

These streets will instead be addressed after the routing of rapid transit is determined.

So we can expect cyclists to be accounted for on our "major streets" somewhere in the neighborhood of 2025 (if ever)

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By mikeyj (registered) | Posted November 01, 2013 at 13:56:20 in reply to Comment 94091

Possibly, or at least until the next Cycling Master Plan is complete (which seems to be every decade - 1999, 2009 - so maybe 2019?)

On the plus, if everything works out as theorized on RTH and elsewhere, we'll eventually see automobile traffic diverting from King and generally slowing downtown. Which I see as an improvement for cycling in the meantime.

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 02, 2013 at 12:55:25 in reply to Comment 94102

Five-year review cycle, so it presumably comes up for review in 2014.

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By ViennaCafe (registered) | Posted November 03, 2013 at 16:50:14

"Consideration was also given to the fact that the Cycling Master Plan does not propose bike lanes on King Street."

Finally! A master plan has meaning.

So, off all kilometres of bike lanes identified in the Master Plan, how many have been built? I mean, it is the Master Plan, right?

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted November 10, 2013 at 19:20:24

NYT: "Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists?"

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