February 5, 2016
Councillor Aidan Johnson,
City of Hamilton
Dear Councillor Johnson,
We are writing on behalf of Transportation for Liveable Communities (TLC) to request improvements to major bike routes in west Hamilton/Ward One. While our requests are straightforward, we will be happy to meet with you and city staff to discuss them if necessary.
There has been a noticeable increase in cycling in the city in general and in west Hamilton in particular. This increase has been further boosted thanks to the successful launch of SOBI.
The existing bike route system, while a dramatic enhancement over the network a decade ago, could benefit from relatively low-cost improvements, which require perhaps mostly leadership.
While the city produces excellent and regularly updated maps and provides information online, a visitor to town who hops on a SOBI bike, for example, would benefit from clear road signage and markings. Similarly, driver – cyclist interactions will be more positive if clear signage and road markings inform drivers where cyclists may travel and where they have the right of way.
Our examples below reflect our own experience, but we think that a global modernization of driver/cyclist communication done with visitors and occasional cyclists in mind, will make bike travel safer and more pleasant for both drivers and cyclists. This will help achieving a major city goal of increasing bike travel.
1. The rail trail south of Main Street is a major entry point into McMaster. Currently, cyclists traveling north from the rail trail on Emerson St towards McMaster face ambiguous and dangerous crossing of Main St. W. and entry into McMaster. This can be significantly improved by providing a bike box at Emerson south of Main and a green path on the road indicating the proper route for left turning into McMaster. Similar markings can improve the southbound bike traffic as well. An even better solution for southbound travel will be dedicating the middle of the 3 lanes for southbound traffic while having each of the other lanes for right and left turning vehicles. Green boxes and markings have been used recently in Hamilton and, of course, have been used successfully for decades in other cities.
2. One of the busiest bike routes in Hamilton is the Hamilton/Brantford rail trail from McMaster area towards Dundurn St and then downtown. We have heard from many new cyclists that they find it hard to follow the bike route. The problem is typically around Studholme Street for eastbound travellers. Westbound travellers get lost in a variety of spots around Dundurn St.
3. Another well-travelled bike route leads from McMaster via Westdale towards downtown. We think that the whole section from west of the 403 to downtown would benefit from a substantial improvement in prominent signage and road markings.
4. Another minor issue may fall between the jurisdiction of McMaster and the city: there is a dangerous blind spot at the busy crossing of the Cootes path and the southbound exit from McMaster’s west campus, where most vehicles park (exit from Westaway Rd.). Currently, drivers accelerating into Cootes Dr. and cyclists biking down the hill cannot see each other until they are too close to each other. This safety issue can be readily resolved by regular trimming of the trees just southwest of that point.
As noted above, we will be happy to meet with you to discuss these and other pertinent sustainable transportation issues.
We look forward to hearing from you,
Randy Kay and Reuven Dukas for TLC
CC Mr. Daryl Bender