Friday, May 29, 2009
Make a Change Monday encourages Hamilton residents to make a commitment to an alternative mode of transportation and to register their participation at www.hamilton.ca/
Thursday, May 14, 2009
The Hamilton Spectator
(May 14, 2009)
Hamilton enjoys many "patches of loveliness, but also patches of despair" that can be remedied by converting one-way streets to two-way and limiting truck traffic.
That's the conclusion one member of an international team examining Hamilton will present today to city policy-makers.
"Truck traffic can't be the sacred goose," offered Bronwen Thornton after walking around downtown Hamilton yesterday.
She is development director of Walk21, a United Kingdom organization promoting pedestrian livable areas.
After observing huge trucks crossing tranquil James Street North on Cannon Street, Toronto urban designer Paul Young said, "Trucks are killing the city."
Thornton, Young and four other experts were invited to Hamilton to offer advice on how to introduce active, safe and sustainable transportation policies.
They are part of the touring Canadian Walking Master Class project, which is funded by the federal government.
Young said that intersection of James North and Cannon showed the best and worst of Hamilton's transportation plan.
The visiting experts and staff from several city departments interrupted the walk to meet Dave Kuruc of Mixed Media art shop, which occupies the southeast corner.
He showed them how James North has prospered since being converted to two-way traffic with recessed parking areas and expanded sidewalks.
But his remarks were often drowned out by big trucks roaring west on Cannon, a one-way street.
Kuruc said he plans to press his point with city planners by inviting them to have tea with him on the narrow sidewalk on Cannon.
"We'll see how they enjoy that," he said.
Young noted how businesses along James North had added flower planters and street seating that combined with the trees on the street and slower traffic to make the area flourish as a destination.
The group also walked areas in Ancaster, Westdale and Ottawa Street North and found some nice pockets but a disconnect between them.
Jacky Kennedy, director of walking programs for Green Communities Canada, said she was delighted to find those pockets.
She said her previous image of Hamilton was framed by visits to offices near high traffic areas along Main Street.
The group was heartened to hear that York Boulevard and Wilson Street were being converted to two-way and walked past the portion of York where a lane of traffic will give way to an outdoor market area to complement the Farmers' Market.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
After Friday, try it if you haven't yet. It gives you the next three available trips to your destination including walking, waiting/transfer times, and allows you to choose the day and time of arrival or departure.
The only problem I've had with it is seasonal routes show up as year round (ex. Rock Gardens), but otherwise a very excellent tool. (It should make the HSR's horrible online trip destination tool obsolete.)
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
QUEBEC BUREAU CHIEF
MONTREAL – So what if the white painted stripes outlining the bike lane along Prince Arthur St. aren't straight, as if drawn by a child without a ruler.
At least the lane is there, say the hundreds of cyclists who use it every day. In fact, bike lanes like this, and paths demarcated by concrete curbs, are everywhere in this city, which for cycling enthusiasts seems to have suddenly become bike heaven.
Through a combination of recent efforts, Montreal is dramatically prioritizing bicycles. Not only has it embarked on a huge expansion of its bike paths – it already has more than Toronto – but on May 12 it will officially launch the first full-fledged public bike rental service in North America, called Bixi, a combination of bike and taxi.
"Bixi for me is not just a bicycle," said André Lavallée, a member of the mayor's cabinet and responsible for the city's transport plan. "It's like an ambassador for our vision of transport in Montreal, of our values and willingness to change the city."
Lavallée is out to "change the mindset" of citizens here, to reduce car dependence, and one major way is through the bicycle.
The efforts are getting noticed. Toronto's Green Living magazine named Montreal the "most bike-friendly city in the nation."
Time magazine called Bixi one of the 50 best inventions of 2008. The service also won an Edison "Gold" award for the best new energy and sustainability product.
To be sure, there are annoyances. Montreal is one of the continent's bike theft capitals. And, anecdotally, Montreal drivers, can be relatively aggressive. (As can cyclists here, to be sure.)
But Bixi and paving the way for 800 kilometres of bike routes by 2013 are "good for our health and good for the environment," said Suzanne Lareau, president of Vélo Québec, which has been promoting cycling for decades.
Montreal forgot about building bike paths for the last 20 years, Lareau observed, and now, with its new transportation plan, "the city says, 'We have to ... make up for lost time.' "
Lavallée attributes the change in political attitudes in part to the relentless activism. But also, he surmised, "it's cultural, because Montreal is in the middle, both European and North American, so it's a different way of life."
Examples are everywhere. Take the elegantly designed bike path along de Maisonneuve Blvd. through downtown. The city even kept it plowed in the winter, which some called a waste of money.
Bixi, for its first season at least, will be concentrated in the central core of Montreal, with 3,000 bikes and 300 stations, each just a few hundred metres from the next.
Public bike rental systems are found in other European cities, notably in Paris, where its service, Vélib, has been a huge success and whose bikes are now as familiar a sight on the landscape as a Citroën or sidewalk toilet kiosk.
Toronto is hoping for a public bike system of its own and has asked for companies to show their interest in running one. It wouldn't be operational until next spring at the earliest, a city official said.
Montreal's parking authority has fronted the $15 million to start up Bixi and hopes that, given that a city agency is on the hook, it won't experience the extensive vandalism and theft as seen in Paris, whose system is run by a private company. Thousands of Vélib bikes have been swiped in the last two years. Some of the rather utilitarian bikes have been used for stunting. Others have reportedly been torched or thrown into the Seine River.
Montreal officials are confident, however. They say Bixi will be more secure than Paris.
And Montrealers, Lavallée said, "will fall in love with it."
RENTING A BIXI IN MONTREAL
Insert your credit card, get a code, choose a bike at its dock, type in the code and, voilà, you're riding.
The first 30 minutes are free. The second 30 minutes cost $1.50, the third $3, the fourth and subsequent 30-minute periods cost $6 each.
With a membership – $28 for a month or $78 for a year (the season is only May through November) – you get a keycard and the process is faster.
Bikes can be dropped off at any station. If the docks are full, you get an extra 15 minutes free to drop it at the nearest station.
Montreal's system is more expensive than those in Europe, local officials say, because Bixi is city-owned and does not, as in the case of Vélib, the bike rental service in Paris, rely on an advertising company to operate the system in exchange for ad space.
Monday, May 04, 2009
The short of it: cyclingsurvey.mcmaster.ca (please note: no 'www')
And the long of it:
I haven't had the opportunity to meet all of you yet, but my name is Jamie Stuckless and I am a Masters student in the School of Geography and Earth Sciences at McMaster. I am conducting a cycling study in the Hamilton-Wentworth region and I am looking for survey participants.
This survey is anonymous and completing it should take 15-20 minutes. This survey is intended for residents of Hamilton-Wentworth who cycle, or who used to cycle and who are 18 years of age and older. The survey can be found online at:
(please note: no 'www')
Paper copies of the survey are also available.
This study seeks to answer four related questions; (1) what motivates people to cycle, (2) what factors are significant in the decision to decrease cycling frequency or stop cycling over time, (3) how do cyclists interact with public transportation and (4) how can this information be applied to promote and prolong bicycle ridership? I expect that this research will be beneficial to the local cycling community by providing recent cycling data that is specific to Hamilton-Wentworth.
After the study has been completed, an online written summary will be made available to interested participants and community groups.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, concerns or suggestions. If you would like to obtain a paper copy of the survey, let me know and I can provide you with a list of locations near you where the survey is available.
peace and bicycle grease
School of Geography and Earth Sciences
(905) 525-9140 ext. 28611
Friday, May 01, 2009
Community apathetic over new Cootes Drive
Controversial road was result of now fading car culture
Craig Campbell, News Staff
Published on May 01, 2009
Dundasians of the mid-1930s were apathetic towards construction of Cootes Drive –as long they weren’t paying for it.
But according to research by former Valley Town resident and transportation activist Randy Kay, the Dundas Diversion project was not without controversy. Local merchants, property owners and town councillors worried about the new road’s route, connections and possible impact on local business.
As Mr. Kay explained to those in attendance at the season-ending Dundas Valley Historical Society meeting, one thing nobody questioned in 1936 or 1937 was destruction of valuable wetland as pavement carved through the Cootes Paradise ecosystem.
Mr. Kay dug into microfiche copies of the Dundas Star and Hamilton Spectator to trace the tale of the road that has raised problems its entire 63-year lifespan. A few months before the road began carrying traffic, town councillors refused to widen King Street West to accommodate a possible connection to the new road.
“From the standpoint of Dundas, the new highway was not a necessity,” Mr. Kay quoted from a 1937 edition of the Dundas Star.
Mr. Kay said Hamilton’s own Thomas McQuesten, who brought McMaster University to west Hamilton and supported the Royal Botanical Gardens, used the Dundas marsh as a site to demonstrate his plan for a new divided highway.
Minister of Highways from 1934 to 1943, McQuesten spearheaded later construction of the Queen Elizabeth Way linking Toronto to Fort Erie, the 401 through Oshawa, the Niagara Parkway and Highway 20 in Stoney Creek.
Mr. Kay said there was no noticeable cry from the community for the road link.
But the natural area between Dundas and Hamilton was not valued. Some considered it useless, or a back-up landfill site.
“In the 1930s, no one was putting up a fight for the marsh.”
Just about anything available was apparently used to fill in the wetland and provide a base for the road. By 1938, there had already been two deaths on Cootes Drive. And speeding was recognized as a problem, as it continues to be today. The Dundas Star of 1938 described Cootes Drive as a “veritable racetrack.”
McMaster University recently placed a radar sign on its bridge over Cootes showing drivers how fast they are travelling. A few years ago, a student crossing the road was struck and killed.
Over the years, Cootes Drive roadkill has contributed to the destruction of several endangered turtle species. Mr. Kay suggested several years ago Cootes Drive should be shut down, torn out and the area returned to a natural space. That wasn’t the focus of the recent presentation, which explained the history of the road’s development when the prestige of a paved road surpassed knowledge of the ecosystem.
Even within that culture, Mr. Kay noted, Cootes Drive wasn’t something the community wanted. And as people move away from cars towards conservation and restoration, perhaps the Cootes Drive of tomorrow will be different.
“I think times are changing. I think we have to change,” Mr. Kay said. “We have to get out of single occupancy cars. We have a habit that we just have to drive everywhere.”
“We’re not going to get rid of cars. It’s about how we use them.”