Tuesday, June 26, 2007

high speed enforcement

Police nab Cootes speeders in advance of lower limits

Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News (Jun 22, 2007)
Police are expected to continue an increased level of speed enforcement on Cootes Drive, as the city moves ahead with plans to drop the road's speed limit to a low of 40 km-h.

Acting Sergeant Tim O'Keefe of Hamilton Police Service acknowledged the extremely high speeds on Cootes are unsafe, and said a Division One constable took it upon himself a few weeks ago to begin a higher level of visible enforcement on Cootes, near the pedestrian controlled crossing at Sanders Boulevard.

"Don't be surprised if you hear more news about this spot, because when police officers find a successful spot, they habitually return there," Sgt. O'Keefe said.

Cootes Drive may be a particularly successful road for police to catch speeders - as drivers consistently break the current 60 and 80 km-h limits by 20 to 50 km-h, even before the lowered limits have been instituted.

Some observers don't expect the rate of speed to drop along with the new legal limts of 40 and 60 km-hr, later this summer.

But Sgt. O'Keefe believes the city is doing the right thing by reducing the speed limit to address unsafe behaviour of drivers.

He credited one individual constable from Division One - which includes the west end of Hamilton - for recognizing the Cootes Drive speeding problem and taking action.

Sgt. O'Keefe said he didn't have the officer's enforcement statistics for Cootes Drive.

"But I can tell you (he's) a very motivated enforcement officer and I would not be surprised if the numbers were high," Sgt. O'Keefe said.

City of Hamilton traffic technologist Chris van Berkel said the city did not request stepped up speed enforcement on Cootes.

Traffic volumes, recorded by the City of Hamilton in 1999, found an average of 30,916 vehicles travelling Cootes Drive each day. Other traffic counts ranged from 25,858 on one day in 2004, and the city's current estimate of about 27,000 vehicles per day.

A safety review of Cootes Drive by Synectics Transportation Consultants Inc in October 2004 stated traffic flowed freely on Cootes but "motorists were driving in excess of the speed limit and generally did not adjust their speed when pedestrians were observed waiting to cross Cootes Drive."

Synectics speed data showed 85 per cent of drivers travelled up to 100 km-hr in the posted 80 km-h zone.

The study's final report noted significant speeding, even in the posted 60 km-h zone, and stated excessive speed combined with a high volume of pedestrians and bicycles "create a potentially hazardous situation."

The report recommended increased police enforcement and changing the roadside environment - with lane narrowing, roadside shrubs, sculptures and benches - to discourage speeding.

Dundas resident Randy Kay and the group Transportation for Livable Communities have been asking the city to implement lane narrowing and other traffic calming measures on Cootes at the pedestrian controlled crossing. While Mr. Kay welcomed the lower speed limit, he suggested police will have better things to do than speed enforcement in that one area. He'd like to see lane narrowing and other measures in addition to the lower speed limit.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Scoop: CATCH reports "cycling and pedestrian coordinator approved"

The public works committee today approved hiring an alternative transportation coordinator to guide the city’s cycling and pedestrian projects. The move was opposed by Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson who argued that existing bike paths aren’t being used.
Staff recommended the hiring of the coordinator earlier this year, but the proposal was turned down by councillors as an unaffordable additional cost to the city’s operating budget. They also cancelled the annual capital allocation for 2007, something that also took place in 2003.
The city allocates about $300,000 a year for improvements to cycling, but the budget has not been spent because there was no specific staff person assigned to direct such projects. As a result, the cycling account had accumulated $775,000 by the end of last year.
Today’s staff report says the promotion of cycling and walking should reduce air pollution, promote a healthier lifestyle and thus reduce heath care costs, and “create a city which is viewed as liveable, thereby attracting new residents and, businesses, with the attendant positive impact on the economy.” It acknowledged that the cycling program has never had regular staff support.
Program implementation has primarily been by the previous project director of the Red Hill Valley Project, prior to amalgamation and by the Manager of Traffic Engineering and Operations subsequently, with whatever staff support could be freed up intermittently from other projects,” it notes. “The overall effect of the lack of staffing has been irregular implementation as staff attempt to find time for cycling projects amid competing priorities.”
Today’s proposal was apparently engineered by Brian McHattie and Chad Collins. McHattie had bitterly opposed the budget decisions that turned down the coordinator position in April and cut the capital allocation. Monies for the new coordinator will now come from the capital account and support a temporary two-year position, after which the need for it will be reviewed.
Ferguson didn’t take issue with the creative financing approach, but contended that existing bike lanes aren’t being used.
“We’ve gone and built these bicycle paths all through the city, and Golf Links Road is someplace I travel a lot, and never see a bicycle on it, never,” he declared. “I just wonder whether we shouldn’t be putting our resources somewhere else until it starts to implement and starts to get traction and we start to see more bicycles using the systems that have already been put in place.”
Ferguson cast the only vote against the proposal. The decision still needs to be ratified by the full council on June 27.
Staff say using some of the capital monies to pay the new coordinator will still allow planned projects to proceed on York Boulevard, the North Service Road in Stoney Creek, and the west Hamilton rail trail. Plans include updating of the city’s master cycling plan, and the installation of more bicycle racks. The coordinator is will also work with the city’s new pedestrian sub-committee “to improve the walkability of Hamilton”.
This year’s $300,000 capital budget allocation remains cancelled. It was originally pegged at one per cent of the roads budget, but that has climbed to $42 million this year, not including the Red Hill Expressway, with no increase in the cycling allocation.
The city’s new transportation master plan says a capital budget of $700,000 to $1 million a year will be needed to expand the bike lane system in Hamilton over the next fifteen years.

(From Citizens at City Hall aka CATCH)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

TLC on the TMP

Transportation for Liveable Communities (TLC)
A working group of OPIRG McMaster
Box 19, 1280 Main Street West
Hamilton ON L8S 1C0
905.525.9140 ext. 26026

Hamilton cyclists in a mass ride turn onto King Street downtown, May 1998
Posted by Picasa

June 17, 2007


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

TLC members have thoroughly examined the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) and were happy to identify important positive elements. These include:

  1. An ambitious proposed REDUCTION of half a million daily car-kilometer traveled by Hamilton residents by 2011 and one million daily car-kilometer traveled by 2031 in spite of the projected population growth over this period (Section 2.4).

  2. The proposed immediate addition of a senior alternative transportation staff and extension of the TDM position (Section 7.3.4).

  3. A proposed six fold increase in funding for active transportation.

Overall, however, TLC members find the TMP fundamentally flawed because it does not provide a realistic framework for achieving its goal of REDUCING automobile travel as outlined in Section 2.4. We thus request that the TMP will be subjected to substantial revisions before it is adopted by the city.

Below we outline key suggestions that could substantially improve the TMP.


Currently, the major impediment to alternative transportation is an auto-focused infrastructure that is dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists. To change this, we suggest that the TMP:

  1. Adopt a formal city policy of the following transportation priorities on all city streets: public transit, pedestrians, cycling, automobiles.

  2. Recognizes service level "D" during peak hours as acceptable on all city streets to allow better accommodation of pedestrians and cyclists.

  1. To address intersections over-built to accommodate traffic at the expense of pedestrians, adopt tighter standards of turning radii in intersections (5 m of less.)

  1. Allow for a maximum speed limit of 50 km/h on city streets and a maximum of 40 km/h on Main, King, Wilson, Cannon, and Barton and other streets with heavy pedestrian traffic.

  2. Main, King, Wilson, and Cannon should be converted to two-way traffic as soon as possible as both a speed-control measure and a means of promoting pedestrian activity and thus street life. Such two-way re-conversions should also be carried out on north-south routes. Finally, consideration should be given to "road dieting" and other redesign measures on all these streets.

  3. Another aspect of the auto focus infrastructure is an overabundance of car parking. This should change by giving consideration to removing the requirement for car parking spaces (which cost $25,000 to $30,000 each to build) for new buildings. The revised parking regulations should also include requirements for indoor and outdoor bike parking.


The proposed Bus Rapid Transit is an excellent development that TLC enthusiastically endorses. We suggest, however that:

  1. The BRT in lower Hamilton would be integrated into 2-way street design (i.e. Main and/or King) and that decision about the BRT route will be made soon so it could influence development along the chosen corridor.

  2. The BRT should extend westbound into Dundas.

  3. The BRT route on the mountain should include Mohawk Rd rather than the LINC. In general, city buses should travel through dense residential areas.

  4. The BRT as well as all other city buses should be equipped with bike racks YEAR ROUND. The current plan of seasonal bike racks does not assist nor encourage year-round cyclists. The idea behind the bike racks is to allow a dramatic increase in the effective area served by a bus route. Seasonal bike racks will not achieve the goal of shifting commuter car trips to bike/bus combination year around. Overall, seasonal bike racks may receive lesser use as they do not provide a year-around transportation alternative.

  5. Whereas the TMP briefly discusses the regional bus and rail system, there is insufficient planning for integrating the regional mass transit system with local transit and active transportation. This part of the TMP needs strengthening.


The TMP includes an impressive list of proposed bike routes, which TLC enthusiastically endorses. The overall plan regarding cycling, however, is weak and is insufficient given the official goal of the TMP of a dramatic increase in cycling. We suggest the following:

  1. Implement a safe, accessible and well connected route within 500 m from each Hamilton resident. Such routes should be either shared (on calm residential streets) or dedicated (on busy streets). They should include proper traffic calming and visible, consistent signage.

  2. Major bike routes should be designated as dedicated snow routes to allow safe, reliable cycling year round.

  3. All rural roads should include paved shoulders to enhance safe travel by bikes.


The TMP is exceptionally weak on pedestrian needs. We request that this part of the TMP be re-written by people with the necessary knowledge in the field. Specifically, we suggest that revised standards will include:

  1. Marked pedestrian crosswalks on all four sides of signalized / signed intersections.

  2. Curb extensions at pedestrian crossings (to replace the current common practice of road extensions at intersections).

  3. Major traffic calming on residential streets utilizing engineering such as marked pedestrian crossings, mini-roundabouts, chicanes, raised medians through intersections and stop signs.

In the interest of a sustainable and liveable future, TLC looks forward to your response,

Reuven Dukas
Catherine Beattie
David Cohen
Randy Kay

(for TLC)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Mid Pen

[from an e-mail sent by the Ontario Public Interest Research Group at Brock University]

Photo of Red Hill Valley destruction, by Cees Van Gemerden

"For forty years the people of the greater Hamilton area fought long and hard against the creation of the Red Hill Expressway. Canada's second largest urban park, a UN recognized Biosphere, home to countless migratory bird, insects, and animals on native land, was lost to this cultures definition of "progress". This new highway in one of the regions most polluted places, is only existing health and environmental problems worse. Despite this, the failure to prevent the construction of the Red Hill Expressway was a success at bringing people from across the city together. People from different places, with different values, with different perspectives stood together. It is in this spirit of solidarity that our regional community has to stand up together once again and stop yet another highway from being built.

The Mid-Peninsula Highway has been part of Ontario Ministry of Transportation planning since as far back as the 1950s, but was resurrected in the early 1990s to relieve traffic congestion along the Queen Elizabeth Way, which runs through tender fruitlands and is not well-suited to expansion beyond its current configuration. The governments of Premier Mike Harris and Ernie Eves planned to fast-track the highway's construction, but the project has been delayed by the Dalton McGuinty government through re-initiating the environmental assessment that was completed by the previous governments.

The QEW-Highway 420 interchange has been once considered as the eastern terminus of the route (which could see the Mid-Peninsula bypass being signed as Highway 420), since the interchange is designed for westward expansion, however this has likely been dropped in favour of a routing directly to Fort Erie.

The route will most likely begin at Peace Bridge or its planned twin bridge in Fort Erie. It will then head west across the peninsula, crossing the Welland Canal and passing south of Hamilton to connect to Highway 403. Later, it is likely that it will either connect with Highway 407 on the northern edge of Burlington. It is expected that the City of Hamilton will extend the Red Hill Valley Parkway south to connect with the Mid-Peninsula Highway in Stoney Creek, and that an extension to Highway 401 in Milton will form the first leg of the GTA East-West Corridor

In an age of global warming, Kyoto targets, peak oil, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, and a failing health care system, the last thing this province needs to be spending its resources on is yet another major highway. We need to pressure for transportation alternatives to reduce reliance on the automobile.

The Niagara to GTA Corridor Planning and Environmental Assessment Study http://niagara-gta.com/ (aka: The Mid-Peninsula Highway) is holding three public consultations in Hamilton Halton and Niagara within the next couple weeks to listen to the public feedback regarding Phase 1. They are:

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007
Rockton World Fairground
812 Old Highway 8, Rockton

Thursday, June 14th, 2007
Quality Hotel St. Catharines
Chardonnay/ Concord Ballroom
327 Ontario St. St. Catharines

Monday, June 18th, 2007
4pm-8pm Holliday Inn Burlington
Halton Hall
3063 South Service Road, Burlington

If you can not make it to any of these events contact your local city councilor, and MPP

Find your MPP: "http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/go2.jsp?Page=/members/members_main&menuItem=mpps_header&locale=en"

More information on the proposed project: NGTA Project Team: