Sunday, November 30, 2008

D2 Deadline

Get your comments in on the update to Shifting Gears Cycling plan for Hamilton, due December 2, 2008 - comment sheet found here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

no hike!

It's official: No fare hike for transit riders

, The Hamilton Spectator, (Nov 27, 2008)

Transit riders won't need to dig for extra change in the new year.

Council rejected a recommended 10-cent fare increase last night. The decision locked on a tie vote, meaning the status quo prevails.

An attempted compromise to raise fares by only 5 cents failed 9-7.

"We're entering extraordinary times," said Councillor Terry Whitehead, who argued the city must ensure its transit system is affordable in the coming months. "This is the time that we have to show compassion."

For residents already turning to food banks, even a 10-cent increase is too much, argued Councillor Sam Merulla.

But councillors who supported the fare increase argued taxpayers also can't afford to pick up the extra costs of running the transit system.

"This is a fairness issue," said Councillor Maria Pearson. "We can't keep putting this burden on taxpayers."

The city transit system is funded 53 per cent by the fare box with the remainder coming from the general tax levy. A cash fare costs $2.40. Tickets are $1.85.

Councillor Margaret McCarthy accused some councillors of being hypocritical for rejecting a 10-cent increase because of the impact on riders when they supported a $400 tax increase for Flamborough residents last year.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger warned freezing fares will only make this year's budget increase, now close to 10 per cent, harder to reduce.

"These are tough economic times. It's a question of balance."

While rejecting a fare increase, councillors supported increasing service along Rymal Road. Council also approved two new initiatives, free rides for people over 80 and reduced passes for youth in the summer. Staff will report back on how to fund the programs.

The city is continuing a pilot project offering half price bus passes to the working poor.

Friday, November 21, 2008

safe survey

PUBLIC CONSULTATION SURVEY - take the survey here or

Deadline to complete is extended to November 28, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

bridge over troubled committee

CATCH News – November 17, 2008

Pedestrian bridges decision delayed

A decision on pedestrian bridges in the Kirkendall neighbourhood was delayed today at the request of the ward councillor. Staff are recommending replacing one of three footbridges across the CN rail line south of Main Street, between Queen and Dundurn, after discovering it is used by over one thousand pedestrians a week.

At issue are north-south crossings of the railway at Ray, Poulette and Pearl Streets. Only the Pearl Street crossing currently exists. The Ray one was demolished last year, and the Poulette bridge was removed in the mid-1980s.

Both are located between Queen and Locke while the Pearl Street bridge is midway between Locke and Dundurn. A 2006 city study recommended repairing or replacing the Pearl bridge and reinstalling the one at Poulette, but a consultant study released earlier this year argued that none of the bridges were required.

Public outcry as well as opposition from west end councillor Brian McHattie forced a re-evaluation. The revised report that went to the public works committee today recommends replacing the deteriorating Pearl Street crossing in 2012.

After encountering “significant public sentiment in favour of retaining/replacing the pedestrian crossings”, the report says, staff did a count of bridge users and realized it was being used extensively.

“A new pedestrian bridge at Pearl Street was recommended based on existing pedestrian usage obtained through pedestrian counts (229 people over a 10.5 hour early spring weekday count and 166 people over a 6 hour early spring weekend count)”, they report. On the weekday count eleven percent of the users were under 12 years of age.

No count could be conducted for the Poulette structure because it no longer exists, but staff are arguing that it isn’t needed because major walking destinations can be accessed in other ways, and “the Poulette Street corridor is discontinuous in terms of serving major desire lines” in Kirkendall and the adjacent Strathcona neighbourhoods.

“The cost of a new pedestrian crossing at Poulette Street ($450,000-$500,000 capital cost plus long term maintenance costs) also cannot be justified based on the marginal benefits that it would provide,” argues the report. The spring consultant study estimated the price tag at $250,000.

McHattie succeeded today in having a decision put off until the December 1 meeting of the committee. On his website, the councillor says he’s “working on a multi-stakeholder plan” to re-install the Poulette bridge.

“I feel strongly that we need to have as many attractive pedestrian routes as possible to encourage folks to leave their cars at home,” McHattie contends, “with the clear benefit of more fit populations, reductions in greenhouse gases and air pollution, and the promotion of a slower pace of life obtainable when one walks.”

He’s backed by neighbourhood groups and at least two city-wide environmental organizations, Transportation for Liveable Communities (TLC) and Environment Hamilton, who held a “bridge party” in September to urge more pedestrian facilities in Kirkendall.

In a May submission to the city, TLC noted that the city’s master transportation plan has the stated aim of increasing walking and that the recently rebuilt automobile bridge on Dundurn was ten times the price of each new pedestrian-only facility.

“The Kirkendall neighbourhood is one of lower Hamilton’s great assets, boasting short, walkable streets, architectural diversity and a railway which did not, until recently, divide the neighbourhood, but rather added its own character,” said the TLC submission.

Environment Hamilton also called for more pedestrian facilities and criticized the consultant study for wrongly assuming that 6 kilometres an hour is an average walking speed.

Hamilton has been talking about reducing car dependency since the early 1990s,” noted the group’s April letter, “but when the rubber meets the road it always seems to turn out that the ‘commitment’ goes no further than talk.”

Since then, Environment Hamilton has launched the “Kirkendall Walks” project with funding from Environment Canada to encourage reduction in short distance vehicle trips in favour of walking and cycling.

The Kirkendall Neighbourhood Committee is introducing it’s new “Pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood committee” at a public meeting on Wednesday evening in Stanley Avenue Baptist Church starting at 7:30 pm. The objective is “finding ways to improve the walkable (and perhaps bicyclable) character of the neighbourhood.”

CATCH (Citizens at City Hall) updates use transcripts and/or public documents to highlight information about Hamilton civic affairs that is not generally available in the mass media. Detailed reports of City Hall meetings can be reviewed at You can receive all CATCH free updates by sending an email to

Photo of Pearl Street Bridge, September 2008 (Bridge Party, Car Free Week in hamilton)

Monday, November 17, 2008

who stole the sustainable?

November 17, 2008

Submission on Downtown Dundas Transportation Master Plan

Dundas as a liveable, walkable community, integrating cycling lanes and excellent transit service for citizens and visitors seeking healthy alternatives to the car is, unfortunately, not the emphasis we see in the Downtown Dundas Transportation Master Plan.

Instead, road widening, vague and non-committal talk of transit improvements, and further delays in implementing the long-overdue cycling improvements are the order of the day. This is not the emphasis we desire, nor expect.

The question that poses itself is, why? Why are cyclists being asked to wait for new bike lanes, when they've been waiting decades for lanes identified in the Shifting Gears Cycling Plan? Why is a previous city decision to widen Governor's Road not being challenged by this process, being out of step with the stated objectives of the plan to support active modes? If we are to accept the plan's guiding principles aim of "emphasizing active transportation, public transit and carpooling" and to "Enhance the liveability of neighbourhoods," the Downtown Dundas TMP does not deliver.

Some specifics:

Why, in identifying "potential problems or opportunities and related alternative solutions," does the study dismiss taking immediate action to improve "active transportation" and focus instead on potential "delays at a number of locations as a result of the travel demand growth anticipated by 2031." TLC's position is that creating integrated cycling lanes and paths, improving the walking environment, slowing the speed of traffic for improved safety, and increasing the level of service for transit should be the first priority. If we want to create conditions for people to choose modes other than cars for at least some of their trips, there really is nothing more effective than having the supports in place. Regarding the worry about delays, we should expect delays if too many people are driving, and accept this as a predictable outcome of our current emphasis on cars. If, instead, we identified the problem as "too many single occupancy vehicles creating hazards for pedestrians and cyclists, creating un-liveable conditions for residents, taking up valuable space in the downtown for parking" etc. we would have a better starting point.

In the Evaluation of Alternative Solutions chart the first item dealing with Governor's Road/Ogilvie Street presents options for: widening governor's to three lanes, widening Governor's to four lanes, or installing a roundabout, and settles in favour of the maximum widening scenario; there is absolutely no evaluation of TLC's suggestion to close Ogilvie to cars at Governor's Road which would make the intersection safer, enhance the natural environment, and create a more liveable community by enabling pedestrian access to Spencer Creek and creating a car-free cul-de-sac in an area with a large population of seniors. For some reason, keeping the same lane configuration but adding a northbound (protected permissive) left turn phase, is also not considered. Any changes identified in this plan should make the priority first pedestrians, then cyclists, then transit and finally automobiles; accepting a potential for a slightly lower level of service to cars has to be part of the trade-off if we are to ensure walkability and security for pedestrians, especially at this notorious intersection where a senior was recently run-down and killed. Widening the road only serves vehicles at the expense of other modes, increasing the opportunity for speeding and overtaking, while adding to the crossing distance and the number of conflict points for pedestrians at this intersection. This intersection already features two unprotected pedestrian crossings in right turn "slip lanes" which present added danger to pedestrians; therefore, we suggest exploring the potential to remove these off/on ramps connecting Governors and Ogilvie, or adding raised crosswalks.

At Hatt Street/Memorial Square, the DDTMP recommends widening the intersection for a southbound right turn auxillary lane; TLC opposes this since it will increase crossing distance for pedestrians, and add another conflict point (i.e. another lane of traffic making turns) for pedestrians and cyclists using Hatt Street. TLC would prefer an alternative approach, perhaps examining the possibility of a roundabout at this intersection, or the status quo with tighter turning radii.

In the report, a pedestrian crossing on Hatt Street at MacMurray Street (the only other crossings found at Ogilvie and Market/Creighton) is rejected as not warranted, yet a pedestrian activated light as suggested by TLC is not mentioned as an alternative, only a "four way stop" and "fully actuated signals". The distance between current crossings on Hatt are approximately 743.m. which is too great a distance to be conducive to strong links for pedestrians in residential areas south of Hatt and the primary business district to the north of Hatt. A pedestrian activated light should be installed in this area, in conjunction with traffic calming on Hatt required to ensure driver adherence to posted speed limits. The recent extensive residential development on Hatt St will dramatically increase pedestrian traffic in the area. The TMP must consider that change in traffic pattern and adopt as a first priority a redesign of Hatt St that focuses on narrow car lanes, safe pedestrian crossings, and cycling lanes.

The section on Cycling Facility Alternatives sadly prolongs the disregard for cycling in Dundas by having no short term improvements beyond "signing and information" and then lumping a series of improvements of varying complexity together under "medium term" including such simple items as "signed on-street bike lanes on Bond Street (Hatt Street to King Street) with much larger improvements such as "paved shoulders on Olympic Drive/York Road (Cootes Drive to Maryvale Avenue) as per HTMP." According to time-lines set out in the 1998 Shifting Gears Cycling Plan, Hatt Street was to have been re-striped for bike lanes by 2001, Former Highway 8, Bond to Bullocks was to be rehabilitated and widened by 2002; the Hamilton TMP identifies Hatt Street between Main Street and Bond Street for Bicycle Lanes in the short term; these priorities do not appear in the short term timelines offered in the DDTMP. This sort of delay can only frustrate the citizens desirous to use "active transportation," the very same people the city should be encouraging according to the guiding principles outlined in Vision 2020 and the TMP. As such, TLC's position is the medium term improvements identified in the DDTMP need to be moved to short term, in keeping with the TMP and the Shifting Gears priority, and to ensure an integrated and useful cycling network in Dundas linking to the larger cycling network. The cost for implementing the cycling infrastructure would provide a great deal of practical aid to cyclists, at a small fraction of the costs associated with road widening, for example.

We are also curious about the Long Term bicycle parking being focused on Sydenham Street (between King and Hatt); the current bicycle racks (ring and post) installed there are out of the way and therefore little used, whereas convenient bicycle parking near shopping destinations on King Street are lacking. The current configuration of bicycle parking was done without input from cyclists and reflects this in the lack of convenience in siting the racks. Bicycle Parking should be convenient (accessible), visible and secure; Sydenham is therefore not a good starting point since it is primarily parking lots for cars. TLC does not share the view that it is a good idea to wait before "expanding to other areas of the Downtown." TLC suggests taking an auto parking space on King and installing bicycle racks if space on sidewalks is an issue.

Generally, turning radii should be systematically reviewed and tightened at intersections in the study area to ensure pedestrian safety: "A wide curb radius typically results in high-speed turning movements by motorists. Reconstructing the turning radius to a tighter turn will reduce turning speeds, shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians, and also improve sight distance between pedestrians and motorists....Where there is an on-street parking and/or bicycle lane, curb radii can be even tighter, because the vehicles will have more room to negotiate the turn. Curb radii can, in fact, be tighter than any modern guide would allow: older and some neo-traditional cities frequently have radii of 3 to 4.6 m (10 to 15 ft) without suffering any detrimental effects." (

TLC would also like to review plans for a multi-use trail along Spencer Creek: any designs that encroach on the natural setting should be generally discouraged: TLC would prefer, where possible, to have a multi-use path along the north side of the creek, while maintaining the current footpath on the south side, with some site specific improvements. Cyclists will have parallel routes on Hatt Street, and Governor's Road once the TMP is complete, so the need for a multi-use path may not be as pressing along the length of Spencer Creek.

For a plan that aims to set the direction for a sustainable and balanced transportation future, this plan falls very short of the mark. In moving from the goals that supposedly guide us to a new, more balanced way of looking at transportation in the city, the city far too often loses its way and gravitates toward the status quo when it comes time to actually implement on the ground. The one exception is the recommended roundabout for Governor's and Davidson, which TLC supports.

Pedestrians and cyclists' needs should be prioritized, meeting, as they do, all the main guiding principles of the City's TMP: safe, convenient, active, enhances liveability, encourages more compact urban form, protect the environment, supports local business and economic development, efficient and affordable. Road expansion meets none of the guiding principles, and as such, should be identified as the lowest priority, and dropped from the recommended changes.

We hope these comments are taken into consideration with the goal of creating a balanced transportation network in Dundas.

Randy Kay

for Transportation for Liveable Communities

Thursday, November 13, 2008

transit funding

Invest in HSR now

The Hamilton Spectator

(Nov 13, 2008)

Re: 'Bad timing for HSR fare hike' (Editorial, Nov. 12)

The Spectator's opposition to another bus fare hike is welcome and well-founded. But your "solution" of asking the HSR to further tighten its belt is not practical.

The HSR has been forced to cut back almost continuously for 20 years by councils that see transit as little more than social assistance. In the 1990s, the HSR budget was slashed by 40 per cent and, even today, despite years of provincial gas tax subsidies, it is still 20 per cent lower than it was in 1994.

The fare hikes, after deducting lost ridership caused by them, will generate only $1.29 million. That could be covered by a tax increase of only $6 per home. Many councillors say the money has to come from elsewhere, that Hamilton can't afford such improvements -- which helps explain why other municipalities are a higher priority for provincial transit investments. Queen's Park helps those who help themselves.

We cannot afford not to dramatically improve our transit system. The health impacts of air pollution, looming climate chaos, an aging population, an energy-constrained future and especially the economic meltdown are each powerful arguments for investing much more in the HSR and DARTS.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

google goes transit

check it out tomorrow!

You can now ride the HSR with Google

There will soon be fewer excuses to be late for class or for work.

The city of Hamilton's public works department has been working with Google programmers for the past few months to add local transit routes to the popular Google map interface.

It means that, in addition to the best route to drive between point A and point B, you can also find out what bus to take and what the transfer points are if it's more than one bus.

The service goes live tomorrow. The illustration above uses a Vancouver to-from example to show how it will work.

Hamilton is the fifth city in Canada to receive this treatment. Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver and Fredericton were first.

How did Hamilton get the service before Toronto?

Google spokesperson Tamara Micner says the city of Hamilton was "very co-operative" in the partnership.

In a separate, unrelated announcement yesterday, Google publicized an interactive component to its Google Earth service that allows you to stroll through the streets of Ancient Rome.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

bus hike

CATCH News – November 9, 2008

Planned bus fare hikes revealed

City staff are calling for bus fare hikes of $60 a year for adult and student passes, and a 10-cent-a-ride increase on tickets and cash payments. Seniors fares would rise $10 a year. The HSR and DARTS hikes would take effect on January 1 and come on top of two much larger increases imposed in the last 18 months.

The higher fees will be discussed by councillors at a special budget meeting on Friday morning, along with some HSR service improvements funded by provincial grants, the introduction of free transit for people over 80 years old, and a discounted summer student pass.

Staff calculate that the city’s transit operating costs will rise by $3.7 million next year. The proposed fare hikes plus an expected one percent growth in ridership and other savings would cover $3.5 million, leaving just $213,140 to be added to taxes – or about one dollar extra on the average home.

However, the “pending transfer of the HSR pension plan to OMERS [Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System] requires a projected contribution of $2.1 million annually”, notes the report. That would mean another $13 per home in taxes, for a total proposed increase of $14 a year.

The fare increases will raise the adult pass price by $5 a month – from $79 to $84 – and the elementary and secondary student passes from $63 to $68. Eighteen months ago, the adult pass was $65 and the school pass stood at $50.

For a car-free family of four with both parents using the HSR as well as their two children, the increases would add over $200 a year to their transportation costs. If the proposed increases for 2009 were to be covered by taxes, the cost would be about $6 per household if applied across the city. That approach was argued for last year by some councillors, but ultimately rejected.

The HSR wants to introduce two new passes in 2009.

The “Golden Age Pass” would allow seniors over the age of 80 to ride the buses for free. Staff believe this would cost the HSR only $41,000 a year – partly because of the small number of eligible individuals, and partly because seniors currently pay $206 for an annual pass – about one-fifth of the regular adult passes. The seniors pass is proposed to rise to $216 a year in 2009.

A new “Summer Youth Pass” for students under 19 is expected to pay for itself in increased ridership. It would be valid for July and August and cost $129, which the report describes as “a 50 percent discount from the regular cost” – although even alternative adult passes would only cost 30 percent more.

“This program will make it easier for youth to take advantage of recreational and leisure activities by reducing reliance on the private auto (through a parent-provided trip or borrowing of the family car),” argues the report. “Youth on transit is regarded as the highest opportunity for increased transit ridership.”

Staff are also recommending extension of the new Rymal Road bus route to Eastgate Square in the east and the Ancaster Business Park in the west. The cost of the expanded service – which will run only on weekdays during peak hours – is a little over half a million dollars, with the monies to come entirely from provincial gas tax payments to Hamilton.

The city will also spend $59,000 to provide some additional DARTS service on weekends and statutory holidays. DARTS fares are recommended to increase by 10 cents a ride, a move that transit officials believe will generate $42,000 in additional revenues.

Expected changes to provincial law are forcing the city to allow DARTS users to buy tickets and passes at the same price as adult HSR riders, or to use the seniors annual pass instead of the higher-priced cash fare system currently in place.

“There is an urgent need to address service harmonization between and HSR programs, particularly in view of pending provincial legislation, through the amended Ontarian’s with Disabilities Act expected to be introduced in 2009,” explains the report.

Council normally receives citizen presentations before it adopts its budget, but that opportunity is not scheduled for the 2009 budget until the latter half of January – long after the scheduled finalization of the transit budget later this month.

Friday’s meeting agenda includes three requests from poverty advocates to address the committee – although they will require permission from councillors to speak. Normal practice allows any citizen to make such an application to speak and by approved if they send their request to the city clerk by noon on the day before the meeting.

CATCH (Citizens at City Hall) updates use transcripts and/or public documents to highlight information about Hamilton civic affairs that is not generally available in the mass media. Detailed reports of City Hall meetings can be reviewed at You can receive all CATCH free updates by sending an email to

Friday, November 07, 2008

very important parking

Some new bicycle racks take over a prime-parking space in front of the McMaster University Student Centre - "The Real Green Parking" read the signs, which compare the costs associated with cars versus bicycles - bicycles of course coming out on top in every category - price, pollution, exercise, etc.
Not sure of the whole story on the placement, but it's the right idea - displace cars with healthy and sustainable modes of transportation like bicycles, walking and transit.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

more than ready for cycling stuff

Cycling in Hamilton: updates and ideas with City Cycling Coordinator Daryl Bender
Begins at November 26th 19:00 PM
ending on November 26th 21:00 PM
MDCL 3024
Transportation for Liveable Communities (OPIRG), MacGreen, MaCycle, ACT office

The City of Hamilton is updating their Shifting Gears Cycling plan, and they want your input - McMaster gets a chance to meet with Daryl Bender, the city's alternative transportation coordinator, to hear about suggested updates to the cycling network, and to provide input.

Don't miss this opportunity to contribute to cycling in Hamilton!

Wednesday, November 26, from 7-9pm in the MDCL room 3024.

The City is hosting a round of Public Information Centres in November 2008 for this study. Your review of information presented at these centres is encouraged and the submission of your comments is welcomed.

DATE: Tuesday, November 11, 2008
TIME: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, 100 Main St. W, Hamilton/Downtown

DATE: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
TIME: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Stoney Creek Municipal Service Centre, 777 Jones Road, Hamilton/Stoney Creek

DATE: Tuesday, November 25, 2008
TIME: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Ancaster Rotary Centre, 385 Jerseyville Road West, Hamilton/Ancaster

DATE: Thursday, November 27, 2008
TIME: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Sackville Hill Seniors Recreation Centre, 780 Upper Wentworth Street, Hamilton/Mountain

Monday, November 03, 2008

finding our transit way on the web

Dear HSR,

I am emailing on behalf of "Transportation for Liveable Communities" (TLC), a working group of McMaster's chapter of OPIRG (Ontario Public Research Interest Group) to address some issues with the HSR website.

It is obvious that any barriers to utilizing public transit should be removed, and one current barrier is the functionality of the HSR web site. For people unfamiliar the Hamilton's transit system, the HSR web site is consistently not a dependable, user-friendly website.

Multiple times, the "schedule lookup" function is under maintenance. We've also concluded that the application itself is poorly constructed: for one thing, clearer prompts for direction and time range should be in place to ensure that the results generated are, in fact, reflective of the information sought.

The second and more frequent complaint by HSR users concerns the "trip planning" application. It almost seems like a guessing game trying to input the data necessary to generate results. Time is wasted and frustrations cultivated in determining which words to omit, selecting from outdated results (eg. Bates Residence as a destination), and deciphering the map generated at the end.

Furthermore, some of the trip plans suggested by the "trip planner" are not in any way feasible. In particular, the transfer suggestions are often unnecessarily numerous, out of the way, and time-consuming. To someone dependent on the "trip planning" application, our transit system appears ineffective and in turn discourages public transportation.

After previewing the Mississauga Transit website, we feel that there are many aspects of its "user-friendliness" that the HSR should adopt, specifically the "trip planner" application. We hope that you will peruse this website and see what a dramatic difference there is in terms of efficiency. Provided is the link:

We feel that these simple and practical modifications would decrease the hesitance of potential transit users, as well as the frustrations with waiting, transferring, and other inconveniences faced by current users. We hope you will consider this feedback and, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to email back at


Sarah Kam

for TLC