Comment 113211

By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2015 at 03:13:27 in reply to Comment 113201

Sign me up. But. Even as carowner here in Lower City, I certainly wouldn't stand in the way if we had a bike-pedestrian breakthrough locally, and would welcome a bigger bike district sooner -- but I tend to be a more pragmatic/realistic guy given our city council is so dissimilar from the liberal 70s era city council that had the gumption to kick cars out of their downtown core.

Our density is also much lower than Amsterdam, and we have worse winters, and we are almagamated so we have essentially lots of veto power against this happening. Reallocation of entire road surfaces without corresponding solutions (that would take 10, 20, 30 years) like densification, could potentially actually make things worse in the short-term, given our mixed results with the International Village revitalization experiences (before I moved here). So we have to begin smaller-scale movements first, plus a little more downtown condo densification, to warm people up first before any sudden things like introducing a smallish/mediumish bike-only Hamilton downtown district;

But I see a solution to help kickstart things.

Given how quickly SoBi has apparently managed to become self-sufficient in operating costs (and operating costs for the whole SoBi fleet is less than one HSR bus, and some lighter-used HSR bus routes have less users than today's SoBi system -- according to what they've said in recent media interviews) ...

So to invite bike usage expansion -- let's parachute a SoBi expansion into Hamilton next year or two. Many more docks, entire Hamilton metro area, plus Stoney Creek and Burlington. New initiative where people can community-raise to buy SoBi racks. City initiative to permit them at front edge of their front yards, if there's no other SoBi rack on the same block. From beyond, this will spark acceleration of cycle infrastructure, as cycle demand raises. We hear from those who hasn't biked in a long time, or don't even own a bike, but starting to use SoBi. Several retweets at the @SobiHamilton account show at least a few of these. And with the bona-fide planning help from the GPS heatmapping abilities, this is a cheap way to convince auto stakeholders in city council to accept some reallocations towards bike infrastructure -- beginning with the obvious "missing link" connections, etc.

This is where some targeted provincial and federal funding within the next 5 years may actually be highly effective, since this is actually apparently unexpectedly an efficient use of taxpayer money, that even suburban carowners should be convinced it's not a boondoggle -- given the health benefits -- and given the lower cost (whole SoBi fleet operating cost at less than one HSR bus).

The "buy every member a bike instead of expensive bikeshare" crowd don't realize the utility of bikeshare bikes as useful one-way trips, as first-mile and last-mile connections, as well as spontaneous use (e.g. deciding to bike home from stadium or bar, when buses and taxis are full after events or closing), and the freedom from having to worry about theft, maintenance, weather -- simply takiung bus home. And given Hamilton auto-friendliness, SoBi in its short time has been remarkably effective in increasing bike gradually in some segments of the Lower City.

So let's push this momentum forward, use it as a trojan horse for introducing cycle infrastructure. It's got fairly low-resistance city-council-wise, highly taxpayer-effective (Today, SoBi has better farebox recovery than HSR buses, and the whole fleet is used more than HSR's least-frequently used bus route, while operationally costing less than the annual cost of one HSR bus!), and with city planners liking proof (SoBi bike heatmaps), it's a low-resistance way of convincing the city to give bike infrastructure improvements.

Infrastructure improvements even for us who own bikes I own a bike too, and I use it about half the time, when I know I'm doing 2-way trip with it and not worried about leaving it unattended overnight in downtown Hamilton.

So maybe the easiest way to semi-Copahagenize Hamilton, is throw a few taxpayer dollars at a metropolitan-wide SoBi expansion. The rest will follow. We won't get Amsterdam, but we can at least achieve real business increase instead of business decrease, see a hella lot more bike lanes, and at least a starter ped/bike-only downtown district that doesn't piss off mountain car owners, etc.

I am open to other ideas, of course...

But look at these tweets:

"My 32 yr old sister rode a bike for 1st time since she was on training wheels as a kid. Thanks @SoBiHamilton" --

".@abaulcomb @SoBiHamilton @Ciaramilk congrats! There is something about being on a bike that makes you see the city completely differently" --

"I LOVED @SoBiHamilton, which we rode home from the @atribecalledred show. My first time on a bike in 20 years, I can't wait to ride more."

"Took my first @SoBiHamilton ride with @Ciaramilk last night. Fantastic service. Time to build more bike lanes in #HamOnt!" --

And 100% of these tweets are in just the last 3 days. People clamoring more for bike infrastructure, thanks to SoBi.


The easiest way to Copahagenize Hamilton is to parachute a very massive SoBi expansion here as a genesis for population pressure for bike infrastructure (increase dock density, large increase in bikes, complete metropolitian coverage + Stoney Creek + Burlington). And give everybody a free 1-month trial membership (of course, with someone's CC as security), rolling through zones to spread demand a bit -- as a razor-and-blades model approach to get people used to biking more. The Right Tool for the Right Job. Now we need to see results, like more bikes more often, and record those moments more often on video, to convince Hamilton automobile traffic engineers to grudgingly give up a lane here-n-there, eliminate specific elements of streetside parking, etc. Doing cold turkey such as simply shutting down Hamilton tomorrow to block cars won't work with today's city council like it did for the 70s era liberal Amsterdam city council, it just won't work. (Maybe in a decade, it'll be doable for a small downtown district -- but we will cross the bridge when we get there) -- For now, look at the above tweets, look at the above links, and you'll quickly agree with me -- we have some initial steps to do first to change Hamilton sentiments first. I understand Mountain suburb living, but I also understand eco-offgrid solar panel living, and I also understand condo/living living, substiting poor roomrent living versus struggling middle class suburb living, to rich mansion living (waterfront, with a Cessna seaplane & boat behind) -- I have friends from all spectrum. I even roomrented only ten years ago and sofasurfed, too. I am not snobbish to one end like some RaiseTheHammer people are.

It seems the right starter Copahagenization tool (SoBi "now I want bike infrastructure" Temptress) for the right job (Hamilton the carhappy city) -- I believe.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-07-31 03:59:42

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