Getting a Move on Leadership

By Jason Leach
Published September 11, 2006

A recent article in the Toronto Star outlined a ten-point plan to enhance transit in that city.

The ten points can easily be adopted in Hamilton, and should. If we ever hope to be a progressive, safe, family-friendly city with a strong economy and a place where immigrants and people of all income levels are able to live and work, we must have a good transit system.

We all know the damage cars do to our health, environment and destruction of lives such, as the recent rash of children being killed in their own neighbourhoods while riding bikes.

The local media generally blames these kids for not wearing helmets, but I'm willing to bet that getting nailed by a car or truck while on your bike will almost always result in serious injury or death. Helmets are not steel, full-body armour.

The fact that the media are so quick to allow cell-phone using, burger-chomping, music-pumping drivers off the hook and blame a poor ten-year-old who is simply doing what all of us did when we were 10 shows how car-centric we've become.

Kids can't ride on the sidewalk. Kids can't ride on the road. Perhaps families with kids simply need to stop moving here.

So much for creating "the best city in Canada to raise a child", a noble goal recently stated by City Council, yet one to which they aren't really committed, based on real-life decision making and city policy.

I urge all council and mayoral candidates running in the upcoming election to adopt ten points like these ones and show Hamiltonians that you truly are committed to kids, families and creating a safe city.

This doesn't mean banning cars or getting rid of them. It simply means putting them in proper balance with other, healthier modes of transport.

The savings in human lives, health care costs, strong social fabric and an increased economy due to more people (aka, shoppers) on the street make this a win-win proposal. It's time for leadership in Hamilton.

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 Frank (registered) | Posted September 11, 2006 at 12:16:30

Hey Jay, Yesterday I was driving down Main Street and saw a guy in his mid-30s weaving on and off the sidewalk and in and out of traffic. I have no problem with ppl biking down the road, what I do have a problem with is bikers who use the roads and then don't follow the rules of the road. If a biker is going to drive down the road, stay in the LEFT of the lane so that drivers have to use the next lane over to pass. Unless of course there's a bike lane, then use that. Also, obey the same rules the cars do. Just because you're riding a bike doesn't mean you can run red lights if there is no traffic at the intersection. It also doesn't mean u can ride the sidewalk and jump end up on the road periodically. Anyone who uses a bike on the road should follow the rules of the road. As for helmets, one only needs to look at the statistics to see the effect they've had.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 11, 2006 at 13:29:29

agreed on all points...unfortunately in Hamilton cyclists aren't given a fair shake, especially on major streets like Main, King, Cannon and virtually all the overbuilt 'uppers' on the mountain. Cyclists would love to stay on bike lanes if there were any.
of course helmets are smart and do save lives, but they don't save broken bones, long term disability etc....the types of injuries likely when getting nailed by a car. when I was a kid nobody heard of bike helmets. Drivers were more aware and safe back then. now everyone thinks it's their right to do 80km an hour. My wife and I were noticing how bad it's getting on the mountain and other 'overbuilt' suburban areas now. She was up there recently and was going 60km an hour...everyone was flying past her. not just one or two people, but the entire flow of traffic. I've noticed the same thing too up there over the past couple of years. Drivers are out of control and kids are dying because of it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 11, 2006 at 16:40:58

to clear up some confusion regarding my use of the term 'overbuilt' in the above comment. I'm referring to the road capacity which is much greater than the need. Upper Wellington, for example, has been reduced to 1 lane each way for about 4 months and I've yet to see anything remotely close to a traffic tie-up at any time of the day or night. 2 lanes each plus turning lanes is simply not needed there and on many mountain 'uppers'. We've overbuilt our road capacity which directly leads to speeding and careless driving as the streets are always wide open and empty, encouring such bad driving habits. We could easily eliminate one lane each way and add bike lanes for a more balanced option.

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