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

TRANSPORTATION MASTER PLAN, Attention Jill Stephen


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.

GENERAL

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.

BUSES

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.

CYCLING

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.

PEDESTRIANS

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)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Something you might want to include, to help pedestrians, is for the city to change their traffic signal systems so that pedestrians aren't forced to push a button to get right-of-way.

Presently, when pedestrian pushbuttons get installed, the traffic controller is set up so that the pedestrian has to push a button and wait for the controller to cycle through its phases before he receives a "walk" signal.

When a pedestrian pushbutton breaks down, which happens regularly, this means pedestrians are effectively unable to cross - the HTA says that a pedestrian isn't allowed to cross unless he gets a "walk" signal.

This makes for very unfriendly crossings, which in turn discourages pedestrians.

All the city has to do to fix this situation is to move to a traffic controller setup similar to what the Ontario Ministry of Transportation uses. With the MTO, the pedestrian automatically gets right of way whenever the through traffic green light is shown; pedestrian buttons are only installed for the sidestreet crossing, and they are there only so that the pedestrian can push the button to call for a green light on the sidestreet. In the city, a pushbutton for a "sidestreet call" is generally unnecessary, as city signals don't usually "rest in main road green"; so you'd very rarely have to have any pedestrian pushbuttons at all.

It's an easy fix, and I can't undersdtand why the city doesn't do this - maybe they just want to discourage pedestrian traffic? After all, they also don't require developers to install sidewalks.

Anyway, perhaps I should get in touch with you guys someday. I have expertise in traffic, so maybe I'd be useful.

r said...

Please do get in touch - you would be a great asset! I just recently spoke to the traffic department about a signal near my place where the walk signal for the main through street doesn't change from "don't walk" unless the pedestrian pushes the button.