Monday, January 09, 2012

Not There Yet...

Some observations based on the "Bike Friendly" article from the Hamilton Spectator, January 9, 2012 (copied below).

"delayed" - while it's understandable that delays with specific projects will occur, the big delay not mentioned is the potential 40-year timeline to implement the cycling network based on city council spending.
"$300,000 per year" has been the amount annually budgeted for cycling since well before the updated Shifting Gears Cycling Plan, and has had years where this amount was cancelled (most notably in 2003 during World Cycling Championship in Hamilton). This rate would mean the cycling network would have trouble being completed even in the long 40 year time frame quoted. The city would need to spend $1.25 million a year to complete only the urban portion, or $2.5 million to complete the urban and rural plan in 40 years.
"Patchwork, disconnected" is an ongoing complaint with bike lanes ending abruptly and leaving cyclists to contend with multiple lanes of vehicles including transport trucks.
"high speed traffic" is one of the unaddressed problems in the city, and traffic calming, like two-way traffic on what are now fast and wide one way streets, should be implemented sooner rather than later to make streets safer for all users.
"better parking facilities" - nothing says you're not welcome like a lack of bike parking at key destinations.
"separated infrastructure...along major roads" - while other cities like Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto are moving toward physically separated lanes to encourage more people to cycle, there is nothing in Hamilton's cycling plan acknowledging this latest innovation. Major roads have not been included in the Shifting Gears cycling plan and cyclists feel this is to keep cars moving as fast as possible while relegating bicycles to back streets along disjointed routes.
"new lanes currently planned" - the list given here are lower city streets primarily west of downtown; are other city wards getting lanes, or are they getting cancelled?

Hamilton sets its sights on bike-friendly status
"New bike lanes on Dundurn Street North have been delayed until the spring, but the city says it’s still well on its way to being a bike-friendly community.
“I think we are doing quite well and looking at the 2012 capital budget and projections going forward, there is considerable money going into bike lanes,” said Councillor Brian McHattie.
The standard amount of money allotted to cycling infrastructure is $300,000 per year from the city’s capital budget. That’s on top of additional work through road projects across the city.
There are about 130 kilometres of bike lanes on the streets in Hamilton and a network of multi-use trails consisting of 55 kilometres of paved pathways and 80 kilometres unpaved.
Abram Bergen owns THAAT Delivery, a service that uses cargo bikes and trailers to deliver up to 300 pounds of goods throughout Hamilton.
“I think we have made some progress, there are some really nice lanes, but they are really patchwork, disconnected, so I would hesitate to call ourselves bicycle-friendly at this point,” said Bergen, 38.
Bergen would like to see more separated infrastructure especially along the major roads such as Cannon, King and Main streets.
“You could easily take an entire lane, separate that and have two-way traffic for bicycles.”
Extending the Dundurn Street North bike lanes from King to York streets is one of two ongoing cycling projects in the city as well as two-way bike lanes along the bridges over Highway 403 on both King and Main. The Dundurn project has been pushed back to the spring for weather reasons and the bridge lanes are being done while the bridge is being rebuilt.
According to Daryl Bender, Alternative Transportation project manager for the city, eight projects are in the works at various stages of planning and many of them are looking positive for the spring.
Some of the projects will connect to existing bike lanes and improve cycling routes overall. New lanes are currently being planned for sections of Hunter, Wellington and Herkimer streets, Charlton and Woodward avenues, and on Main and King streets, beyond Macklin.
In August, Hamilton was awarded Bicycle Friendly Status by Share the Road Cycling Coalition, an Ontario based nonprofit organization, for its efforts to promote cycling as a mode of transportation, recreation and fitness.
Robert Brown is a member of the city’s cycling committee. He cycles primarily for exercise and for pleasure in Flamborough but he also bikes into Hamilton occasionally.
“I think it is bicycle-friendly but it still needs a lot of work for sure … I don’t really enjoy biking on city streets too much, but I do it for my utilitarian necessities from time to time,” said Brown, 66.
Brown sites safety hazards and high-speed traffic as deterrents for riding in the city. He also says there should be better parking facilities for people who cycle downtown as it’s tough to find spots in the core.

Special to the Hamilton Spectator

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