Friday, March 05, 2010

feedback on shifting gears

Transportation for Liveable Communities Hamilton
PO Box 19, 1280 Main Street West
Hamilton ON L8S 1C0

March 5, 2010

Dear Daryl Bender and Hamilton Council,
re: Shifting Gears Cycling Master Plan

Transportation for Liveable Communities (TLC) Hamilton is pleased that the Shifting Gears Cycling Plan is completed with an integrated network of cycling routes mapped out, and we commend the staff who worked so diligently to provide a very reasonable plan and listened to the input provided by the community who attended the Public Information Centres and sent comments by e-mail.

TLC recognizes the need for such planning if we are to ensure an effective use of routes to encourage cycling, which benefits not only cyclists, but the entire community, especially in areas where bicycle lanes help calm traffic, and provide safer walking and cycling environments.

We view Shifting Gears as vital to meeting policy directives of the city, including the Transportation Master Plan, and Shifting Gears, and Making Hamilton the Best Place to Raise a Child, by getting more people out of cars and into more active modes of transportation, yet, TLC feels the plan has been weakened by changes to the original staff recommendations that were made by council.

We want our city to meet its goals, and we want to help the city to get there; yet despite several community consultations, spanning from November 2008 to April 2009, the recommendations of senior staff and the Alternative Transportation Coordinator to the Public Works Committee on June 15, 2009 were essentially stripped of effectiveness by council-driven amendments before approval of the altered plan on June 24, 2009.

Despite the strong correlation between the density and connectivity of cycling infrastructure to increasing the number of cyclists, council ignores these data, erring on the side of nervous ward parochialism.

How else does a recommendation like “(a) That the City of Hamilton Cycling Master Plan be endorsed:” become, “That the City of Hamilton Cycling Master Plan be endorsed, conditional upon individual links being subject to community feedback and consultation with the Ward Councillor and affected neighbourhoods” ?

The amendments to the original recommendation unduly add another layer of potential delays to a process that involve “community feedback” opportunities at scheduled Public Information Centres, and for the entire time the plan was being studied.Already there is a proviso in the recommendation that allows for further legitimate consultation:

“Further EA Approvals are required for any Schedule C projects including additional consultation requirements and publication of an Environmental Study Report consistent with the requirements of the MEA Class EA (October 2000, as amended in 2007) for Schedule C projects. As noted above, at this time all projects identified are considered Schedule A+ or approved under the RTMP (2007), subject to confirmation prior to project implementation.”

As city staff pointed out in their recommendation, “Cycling will become much more effective when there are continuous road segments as part of the network. Missing links can greatly reduce the attractiveness of a cycling route.”

TLC would like to see the policy strengthened by ensuring that important city-wide links are not subject to political interference. The changes to the original recommendations create uncertainty where we need firm direction. This has the potential to negate the gains that will only come when the cycling plan's goals are enacted in such a way to ensure an integrated network of cycling infrastructure.

TLC's primary concern is to seek ways to ensure the spirit of the cycling plan is prioritized so that implementation is supportive of the plans goals to create a city-wide cycling network. We are eager to meet with project staff to discuss this issue further.

Thank you for your consideration,

Transportation for Liveable Communities

Transportation for Liveable Communities
(TLC) Hamilton
905-525-9140 ext. 26026
PO Box 19, 1280 Main Street West
Hamilton ON L8S 1C0

Advocates for sustainable transportation in Hamilton since 2000

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