Tuesday, October 31, 2006

University Avenue: University Response

Dear Randy,

McMaster University each year repairs our roads and sidewalks to provide a safe environment for our University community. This program is managed by our Physical Plant through a plan and budget prepared by Parking Services.

You may recall the poor condition that University Ave was, particularly in the area of the bus stops. In some spots the road bed was exposed through the asphalt making it quite unsafe.

The plan for University Avenue rehabilitation called for road bed reconstruction and patching. Unfortunately when opening the road for repairs the contractors found areas where a partial concrete roadbed existed. This concrete base was collecting water and had led to the premature aging of the existing road. Without its removal any repair conducted would have led to the same premature aging and cracking. Therefore the project's scope of work was adjusted and the concrete slabs removed and weeping tile drainage added.

This project has a good appreciation of the future plans and McMaster's desire to make the area sensitive to pedestrians and bicycle riders. The work that was just completed in rebuilding the road will mean that next year's project to continue the pedestrian focused campus plan will not have to do this basic work before proceeding, resulting in a significant dollar savings.

As well, awaiting the next phase of the University Ave project to begin, our Parking Services will be doing the following

* painting a wide island down the middle of the road from Sterling to College Crescent

* painting a highly visible crosswalk in the mid point of University that lines up with the primary crossing from Engineering to MDCL

* construction of a permanent island (plants etc., in middle) on Scholars Lane for a distance of about 100 metres. ONLY emergency vehicles and service vehicles providing services to buildings in Scholars Lane will be granted access.

These are some of the projects that we have been undertaking to ensure the safety of our McMaster Community and our mission to contribute to pedestrian safety in the University Core.

You might wish to contact Terry Sullivan, at Security and Parking for any additional information. (23372)

Yours sincerely,

Peter George

Monday, October 30, 2006

University Avenue

October 29, 2006

Dr. Peter George President, McMaster University

Dear Dr. George,

RE: Disregard to pedestrian safety and Campus Plan.

I am writing on behalf of "Transportation for Liveable Communities" (TLC), a working group of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG), McMaster.

Members of TLC were surprised to learn that the current construction on University Avenue does not include the explicit plans outlined in section 7.1.9 of the Campus Plan and illustrated in the attached Figure 7-A5.

It is very unfortunate that McMaster is investing large sums of money on University Ave. while disregarding its official plan and its official commitment for a ‘pedestrian-focused campus’.

We find this short sighted and wasteful and thus request that adjustments to the construction plans be made to fulfill commitments laid out in McMaster's official plan: i.e. reduction of the vehicular lanes to 3.5 m each, creating bicycle lanes and widening the sidewalks. These are positive steps to ensure pedestrian safety in this area. Yet what we are confronted with are wide, smoothly paved lanes on University Avenue, which effectively invites drivers to speed faster on this road section, significantly increasing the threat to pedestrian safety.

On another issue, TLC welcomes the addition of a rudimentary GO bus terminal on campus. We are troubled, however, that construction of additional parking spaces in zone 3NX is not accompanied with the desperately needed re-design of the nearby intersection at College Crescent. We are aware of plans to improve this intersection and are very concerned that this work is not being done in conjunction with the GO terminal construction.

The risk is that vehicular traffic through that intersection will be increased, with no simultaneous improvement for pedestrian and cyclists.

We wish to strongly encourage McMaster University to take steps now to support explicit commitments for a “pedestrian-focused campus that is accessible and user friendly for all users”. Although we understand the financial concerns, we find it unacceptable that expensive traffic-related construction will do little or nothing to make the campus safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

We look forward to hearing how our serious concerns will be dealt with within the ongoing projects discussed above.


Randy Kay (for TLC)
905-525-9140 ext. 26026

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Reacting to events

Often TLC is forced to respond to situations not of our making. This past week we have responded to two negative developments:
  • One, McMaster University sails through a paving job on campus with no regard to (their own) official plan to make the campus more pedestrian friendly.
  • On a much more tragic note, the other situation involved the death of a cyclist, and a friend, John Korten, on Monday, October 23, 2006. He was killed when a motor vehicle struck him on Dundas Street in Burlington, Ontario. Police are still investigating.
As sustainable transportation advocates, we refuse to let these incidents pass without corrective action. We often start with a letter.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Gary Crowell, Chief, Halton Regional Police Service

Transportation for Liveable Communities is a volunteer working group of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group based at McMaster University. TLC works to improve conditions that support sustainable transportation, including walking, cycling, public transit and car-pooling.

We are writing in response to media articles on the death of a cyclist (John Korten) who was hit and killed by a motor vehicle on Dundas Street in Burlington the morning of Monday, October 23, 2006.

Cycling needs to be encouraged as a cheap, clean, healthy and effecient mode of transportation. Yet, too often in our members' experience, drivers do not always take proper care, and indeed a minority at times drive recklessly and in a threatening manner dangerous to the well-being of cyclist and other road users.

The police have a very important role to play in ensuring that road safety is adhered to through enforcement, education and through investigations and laying of charges.

We hope to work with the area Police Services to ensure that cyclists receive due respect when it comes to investigating fatalities like this. There is, unfortunately, a perception that running over cyclists too often does not result in charges; this, if it were the case, would of course send a dangerous message both to drivers and potential cyclists.

Questions in the minds of our members basically come down to these two: If the victim in this case, a father of three young children, is run down from behind, does that not indicate the driver of the motor vehicle was not operating it in a safe manner? If the victim were in a motor vehicle, would the process of laying charges be any different?

We do not mean to imply that the police are not doing everything possible to respect the rights of the victim; we only want assurance that in bicycle/vehicle collisions a full investigation take place that in no way marginalizes the seriousness of the tragic event simply because the victim was riding a bicycle.

TLC would appreciate any news of developments in the investigation.

Respectfully yours,

Randy Kay
for Transportation for Liveable Communities

cc Chief Brian Mullan, Hamilton Police Service