Tuesday, February 23, 2010

couldn't we just hire this guy and let him go to work?

Ian Lockwood shows that indeed, traffic planners can be successful without catering to cars. Mr. Lockwood spoke at a transportation summit in Hamilton a few years ago, with pretty much the same message. Despite all the proven examples of traffic calming, planners in Hamilton still think the "old way" and plan for cars ahead of pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. If you need evidence for this, take a look at the Downtown Dundas Transportation Master Plan: road widening, extra turning lanes for cars, and sometime later, improvements for walkers, cyclists, and maybe transit users.
See what Lockwood has done in West Palm Springs, and then see how little innovation we have here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

walk study

Barry Gray, the Hamilton Spectator
Making Hamilton more walkable
Experts' study aims to make pedestrians as important as cars

, The Hamilton Spectator
(Feb 22, 2010)

Hamilton's got walkability potential.

That's according to a Canada Walks Master Class case study conducted by an international team of experts that will be submitted to the city's Board of Health today.

Hamilton was one of only five Canadian communities chosen for the study last year.

In 2008, Hamilton city council applied to participate in the project and signed the International Charter for Walking.

The charter's principles are to increase mobility, design and manage spaces and places for people, improve integration of networks, support land use and spatial planning, reduce road danger, have less crime and fear of crime, have more supportive authorities (like city council) and create a culture of walking.

Sharon MacKinnon, a public health nurse and case study participant, said city staff from various departments were given a chance to talk about walkability and hear from community groups.

"Our city has a reputation of being a Steel City. We have so many things to celebrate, the waterfront, the escarpment, the neighbourhoods," she said.

"There needs to be more awareness raising around the great places we do have to walk."

The report found while Hamilton has plenty of beautiful natural areas and villages to walk in, like many other North American cities, it is designed for cars and trucks.

Councillor Brian McHattie said the city can easily implement several of the report's recommendations, such as creating signage to link great walking areas such as the waterfront and James Street North.

He said the thrust of the report is to make walkability as important as road work when redeveloping or developing areas of the city.

"We don't think about the sidewalks -- maintenance or how wide they are -- these are just not discussed.

"We can't afford not to do it, even just from an obesity perspective. But it's also important for sustainability."


Key findings of the Canadian Walking Master Class 2009 to make Hamilton more walkable:

* Identify areas to match walking opportunities to the local population. Example: extend crossing times at lights near a seniors' home.

* Identify local neighbourhood centres (such as Dundas, Westdale, James Street North) and make pedestrian access a priority.

* Redesignate part of York Boulevard as a pedestrian street; stop trucks from travelling there to make a better environment for the Farmers Market.

* Retrofit big-box developments such as Ancaster Meadowlands to make them more inviting and accessible to pedestrians.

* Make sure walking is a priority when planning and provide spaces for pedestrians to enjoy existing streetscapes with special events in the streets.

* Reduce traffic volumes and speed throughout the city, especially the downtown, key shopping streets, around schools and residential areas.

* Consider turning one-way streets into two-way streets.

* Ensure good lighting and create areas that are not only safe, but appear safe to walk around.

* Develop local walking maps and design a distinctive signage system to support that, especially to link "walking oases" such as James Street North and the Waterfront.

* Commission and install public art and historical plaques along key walking routes to promote and enhance walking.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

only one-way of thinking at city hall?

Whether Hamilton gets LRT or not (hopefully LRT!), the reconversion to two-way traffic on Main and King should be a priority for the city. Any consultant or visiting urban planner to the city has invariably commented on the negative impact for liveable streets associated with multi-lane one way streets. One way streets are more dangerous for pedestrians*, and interfere with an urban streetscape that is pedestrian and cyclist friendly, and with regards to transit, are less efficient for transit users.

Mayor not sold on converting streets for LRT

, The Hamilton Spectator, (Feb 13, 2010)

The city needs to convert King and Main streets to two-way traffic to get the most out of rapid transit, according to a Metrolinx report released yesterday.

But Mayor Fred Eisenberger is reluctant to endorse the move -- even though the plans presented yesterday are contingent on traffic running both east and west on Main and King.

Metrolinx, the authority that oversees transportation in the Hamilton and Toronto area, released a report yesterday detailing three options for rapid transit. Each one assumes both Main Street and King Street would be converted to two-way streets with two-way rapid transit running down the median of King.

"(Two-way) conversion is considered a positive move from a city-building perspective that will create a more pedestrian and transit-friendly environment," the report reads.

Eisenberger said it's "premature to talk about those kinds of assumptions at this point" and more traffic studies need to be finished before council makes a decision.

"Clearly there is going to be a need to look at how the transportation flows in our inner city," he said.

"And that has yet to be done in thoroughness."

Rob Prichard, president and CEO of Metrolinx, said it's ultimately up to the city to decide whether to convert its streets to accommodate two-way traffic.

"It's simply an assumption. If the city remained with one-way streets, we would have to change that assumption and adapt our analysis," he said.

Initially, the city expected yesterday's report to include a firm recommendation about whether Hamilton should receive light rail or dedicated bus lanes.

Instead, the report outlined all three options -- buses, light rail or a phased-in light rail system that integrates buses on the route's east end -- without any endorsement.

"Clearly the province is now going to be the agency that we're going to have to work with," Eisenberger said.

For all three options, the report calls for construction to begin in 2011, finish in 2014 and for rapid transit to be up and running by 2015, in time for the Pan Am Games.

That timeline will depend on when the province makes a decision about funding.

While visiting Hamilton last week, Premier Dalton McGuinty said he sees Pan Am and rapid transit as "separate things" and the games won't necessarily influence Hamilton's chances of getting light rail.

The report also notes Hamilton's traffic lights will have to give priority to rapid transit, which could make waits longer on north-south at intersections.

Jill Stephen, director of strategic planning for the city, said city staff will make a presentation to council in April detailing its work over the past year and present options for the future.

"We'll confirm that we're on the right course moving forward with rapid transit," she said.



What kinds of savings in travel time will rapid transit bring?

It's expected that current bus riders, new transit riders and auto users will all see travel times improve. Metrolinx calculated that in money terms at $13 an hour. For LRT, the total savings is $647 million for a full line and $553 million for a phased line. The savings for bus rapid transit are significantly lower at $269 million.

Will it link to GO?

No. Metrolinx researchers studied the impacts of moving the LRT route so it would connect with the GO station on Hunter Street. The analysis showed slightly higher peak ridership, but an increase in travel time that hurt overall benefits. The report did say a convenient connection to GO will become more important as GO train service to Hamilton improves.

*"A recent study reviewed pedestrian motor vehicle injuries to children up to 14 years of age in the City of Hamilton from 1978 to 1994. The child pedestrian injury rate was 2.5 times higher on one-way streets than on two-way streets (46 vs.20 per 1000,000 children per 100 km of street per year). Children living in the poorest Hamilton neighbourhoods were three times more likely to be injured than those living in the wealthiest neighbourhoods (33 vs. 12 per 100,000 per 100 km of street per year). " Health Issues Report 2000, prepared by the Social & Public Health Services Division of the City of Hamilton & Region of Hamilton-Wentworth.

Friday, February 12, 2010

LRT: down to the wire

The Hamilton Spectator is reporting that "LRT best and most costly option" according to a Metrolinx report

Here's the article on the Spec web site:

Light-rail transit line from Eastgate Square to McMaster University could bring as much as $144 million in economic uplift to the city, says a new report from provincial transportation agency Metrolinx.

It pegs the cost at an estimated $784 million to build.

The report also examined a rapid transit bus line - a dedicated lane for buses and priority at traffic signals. This option would cost $220 million and bring $77 million in economic spinoffs to the city, the report concludes.

A third option - light rail from Ottawa Street to McMaster and bus from Ottawa to Eastgate Square - would cost $655 million to build and would bring as much as $106 million in economic benefits.

Read report in PDF document

The report projects significant population growth in Hamilton over the next two decades. The current population of 500,000 is expected to grow to 660,000 residents while employment is expected to grow to 300,000 jobs by 2031.

Watch thespec.com for more updates to this breaking story.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

GO between Guelph and Hamilton

Please take a moment to sign this petition to have GO transit take over the cancelled bus route between Guelph and Hamilton.
Petition is here: www.petitiononline.com/commute/petition.html