Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Alt Trans Axe Falls in Hamilton: Make some noise

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

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

Transportation Advocacy Group says Hamilton is Driving Away Sustainable Transportation Options.
TLC opposes move to pull funding for cycling, walking and transit.

Since our inception in 2000, Transportation for Liveable Communities has been engaged in addressing a dysfunctional traffic system that prefers cars to cycling, walking and transit.

TLC's long awaited hopes for the city to take positive steps to improve infrastructure for alternatives to the private automobile have been devastated by the Committee of the Whole's decision to raise bus fares, drop the modest annual allocation for cycling improvements ($300,000), and to turn down a proposal for an alternative transportation coordinator position.

This is the second time in recent memory that the cycling budget has been dropped because previous year's money was not spent: TLC understands that the lack of spending has more to do with the absence of a staff position than anything else, since there is an obvious and urgent need for spending on a multitude of cycling projects.

In our experience, programs and infrastructure for cycling are continually falling years behind schedule, while frequent changes to city staff for cycling issues make follow through difficult. This situation leaves TLC with the clear realization that there is a strong correlation between the two. Hiring an alt trans coordinator would be the most efficient way to support cycling initiatives in the city.

The Transportation Master Plan, "intended to move the City towards the achievement of the objectives of Vision 2020 and are reflective of the 9 Strategic Directions to guide development decisions...identified as part of the GRIDS process, including Direction #6 - Expand transportation options that encourage travel by foot, bike and transit and enhance efficient inter-regional transportation connections," specifically states the need for a "permanent full-time staff position for Cycling and a permanent full-time position of Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Coordinator," as well as recognizing that "that planned population and employment growth over the next 30 years can be accommodated without the need for major new Escarpment crossings provided that viable alternatives to single occupant vehicles are fostered and developed"

By failing to pay the price in the budget (despite the fact the salary was to come from the annual cycling budget), we can expect more lip service to sustainable transportation when what we need is action.

Council's approach to the HSR: raising fares rather than taxes to support public transportation, hurts the city's potential to escape the jam we're in regarding traffic, air pollution, poverty, and pragmatic economic development in these global warming times. A serious look at area rating is long overdue. Making users pay the majority of the costs is not the answer.

In the big budget picture we're talking about small amounts, but amounts likely to deliver a huge payoff in terms of liveability and sustainability. For less than it costs to resurface a kilometer of four-lane road ($700,000) we could have the cycling budget and a staff position ($300,000) and still have half a million dollars to put toward transit; yet a majority of city councillors don't seem to recognize the value they would get.

By comparison, the City of Toronto has just allocated $3 million for next year's cycling budget.

"It's ironic that they made their decision to cut support for sustainable transportation during a poor air quality alert (March 28, 2007, Downtown Hamilton AQI 53), with pollution largely generated by roads and traffic" notes TLC. "We fail to see any logic in council's votes and we want the issues reconsidered."

Friday, March 23, 2007

Run Around the Bus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, March 23, 2007
Local group says "Run for the bus, don't drive to Around the Bay Road Race"

Local advocacy group Transportation for Liveable Communities is encouraging organizers of the Around the Bay Road Race, City Police and local media to promote transit as an option for people traveling to the weekend race.

"Nobody wants to be stuck in traffic, but given the fact this is a race of runners, extra traffic can only add unwanted air pollution. Taking transit, car pooling, cycling and walking are all viable alternatives to private automobiles in many cases," suggests TLC's Randy Kay. "We just want people to explore the options."

TLC is suggesting the Race web site include a link to info about transit to help people avoid parking hassles, help keep the streets from becoming congested, keep the air cleaner for the runners/walkers, and help people consider alternatives to the car.

Burlington Transit
GO -

TLC hopes the police and media will suggest transit as an option to keep things efficient, clean and safe.

Transportation for Liveable Communities is an all volunteer working group of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) McMaster. Since 2000, TLC has been active promoting and advocating for sustainable transportation options in the city of Hamilton.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Pedestrian safety and McMaster

The Silhouette
McMaster University's Student Newspaper, Online!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

One year after McMaster student Heather Watson was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing Cootes Dr., a local action group is still fighting for progress to be made in pedestrian safety in and around McMaster University.

Watson was a second year Arts & Science student who was tragically struck by a City of Hamilton salt truck.

“We're definitely disappointed that not much is happening with regards to the situation because there's a lot of potential for improvement here,” said Randy Kay, member of the McMaster chapter of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group.

Kay, along with a number of city officials, police officers and independent parties, has formed an advocacy group called Transportation for Liveable Communities, which focuses on street safety in high traffic areas.

The group had been concerned with the danger posed by motorists in the area long before Watson's tragic death. They were able to effectively draw the city's attention to the issue.

“We petitioned the city about the danger of the area. They hired consultants who came in and did a thorough job studying traffic volumes and speeds with their technology. Their final analysis was that the area was very dangerous and they proposed the idea of a pedestrian controlled traffic light across Cootes behind the university,” recalled Kay.

Although a light was installed at the time of Heather's death, the accident did prompt the TLC members to continue pressing on in their fight for improved conditions. The group tabled a number of secondary safety recommendations for the area.

“One major improvement would be to get rid of the ‘ramp' from Main St. W. to Cootes Dr. and have traffic turn right at the intersection. That would definitely slow down vehicle speeds on that stretch of road,” said Kay, who also suggested narrowing lanes, implementing caution signs in the vicinity and condensing Cootes Dr. into two single lanes flowing in each direction.

According to Ward 1 councilor and TLC member Brian McHattie, some of these smaller scale initiatives are underway and very close to fruition. “The speed [on Cootes Dr.] will be reduced shortly as well as having signage posted on the bridge reminding drivers that they are entering a school zone, and to drive accordingly.”

The same cannot be said about TLC's long-term plans, such as lane reduction and narrowing behind the school, as the group has received little support from City Hall and other councilors involved in the decisions.

“There's not a lot of opposition for these safety initiatives until you get into road reconfiguration. The city and my colleague in Dundas are not very keen on changing the road around,” noted McHattie.
Some feel that while the traffic light has been a positive step in assisting street safety on the bustling thoroughfare, its technical flaws have produced equally negative effects.

“Many students weren't using the crosswalk effectively because the delay on the light was so long, people would get tired of waiting and run across through breaks in traffic,” said Kay, who was critical of the way the city's Traffic Engineering and Operations department dealt with the concern.

“They recognized that this was a problem and addressed it by adjusting the light to be more responsive off of rush hour. The city is very concerned with traffic backup,” added Kay.

McMaster student Patricia Consentino also commented on the situation. “I live on the other side of Cootes Dr. and I use the light everyday. Sometimes I get sick of waiting for the light to change and I just go when I see a clear path.”

This type of impatience is exactly what has Mike Hill, manager of Hamilton's Risk Assessment services, so frustrated with over the issue of street safety, to which he cited as the responsibility of the pedestrian. “Students show no regards for the rules of the community. We can't keep putting up barriers, people need to start taking accountability for their own actions.”

Andrew Blair, a third year McMaster student said it is up to the individual to take responsibility - whether it is a pedestrian or a driver. “If you're a pedestrian, make sure you're not stepping out in front of a moving car. If you're a driver, you have to realize that people can get seriously injured by your vehicle if you're not paying attention or being careless.”

Hill added that cost is a factor. “Infrastructure costs money and we have to get the message out to force people to do things in a responsible way, not just as they please.”

The infrastructure that Hill is referring to includes other streetlights in high traffic areas, such as near shopping centers and a handful of red light cameras strewn across the city to catch motorists who fail to beat the changing lights.

According to the City of Hamilton website, these cameras are responsible for an almost eight per cent decrease in intersection collisions throughout Hamilton.

However, this figure is somewhat contradictory to the Hamilton Police Services traffic report for 2004-05, which cites only a one per cent decrease in motor vehicle accidents. This statistic is paired with an increase of 16.6 per cent in vehicle collision fatalities, which rose from 17 in 2004 to 20 in 2005.

One proposed method to improve street safety in Hamilton is to desynchronize the traffic lights on King St. W. and Main St. W. to prevent speeding, though Kay does not see this as being the answer. “We suggested the city could deal with speed by altering the synchronized “green wave' to hold cars to a maximum 50km/h. This is something they could do right away to slow speeds and make the pedestrian climate much safer.”

Kay remains optimistic, especially in light of the recent change in the mayoral guard. “The city has always catered to the motorist, an example being all the one-way streets and arterial roads. They need to develop express bus lanes and more bike lanes. I do get the impression we'll get further with [Fred] Eisenberger than we did with [Larry] Dianni as there's indications of move towards more environmental programs.”

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


TLC meeting, Monday, March 19, 5:00pm at McMaster University Student Centre room 229.
Agenda - Discussion and input on the City of Hamilton Transportation Master Plan

Monday, March 05, 2007

Dear Terry and Karen:

Thanks for this update. I hope that some of the actions will improve the traffic situation on Campus. I think that the efforts at the main street entrance will have a positive effect in the short term. I am sure that this will need constant attention until there is a more permanent solution such as a gated entrance and exit. Thank you for your efforts to try to reduce conflict between pedestrians/cyclists and cars. I will share this information with TLC.

Cheers, Jim

Dr. James S. Quinn, Professor, Biology Department
McMaster University

-----Original Message-----
From: Terry Sullivan []
Sent: 03 March 2007 21:15
To: '
Karen Belaire'; 'jim quinn'; 'Terry Sullivan'
Cc: 'Cathy O'Donnell'
Subject: RE: Main Street Entrance problems

Karen and Dr. Quinn,

Karen has mentioned some of the problems which we face while trying to resolve a problem with heavy traffic using our Sterling Street entrance. This coupled with about 450 HSR buses traveling through our University Ave results in a traffic flow that we try to manage. You may have noticed the improved style of crosswalk (piano heavy making) and the installation of stop signs midway through University Ave. We have also reviewed all crosswalks throughout the university and have or will be improving them.

I met with HSR and Councilor McHattie a week ago and expressed our support for moving the almost 100 HSR - Bee Line buses back to Main Street and off of University. There is a little conflict in that many of the passengers object to having it moved from the University Core and Main Street.

Beginning next week we will assign officers at the Main Street Entrance to ensure only those who should be using it will be doing so. All permit holders will be warned and turned around. Repeated attempts will result in tickets. We will report results to you on completion.

Sgt. O'Donnell will you assign the CP officer to this detail. Log times and results and develop plan to ticket repeat offenders.



From: Karen Belaire []
Sent: Friday, March 02, 2007 2:46 PM
To: jim quinn; Terry Sullivan
Subject: Re: Main Street Entrance problems

I know that when we last exchanged emails I informed you of the challenges that the University was facing with the neighborhood association regarding traffic through the community. The result of that challenge was that HPS began ticketing all truck traffic . We then reached an interim solution with the neighborhood regarding the movement of truck traffic - the result is that it is moving through campus and we have implemented stop signs and crosswalk areas as well as escort services to ensure the safety of the pedestrians and cyclists on campus.
We are challenging this action with the city of Hamilton and it is taking longer than I would like to get this resolved. I won't bore you with the legal discussions , but I can tell you that they are continuing.
We have also been in discussion with HSR to address increasing bus traffic on the campus - and we have asked specifically for some buses to be moved off of our campus - again we wait for HSR to respond. HSR is not being an active participant in trying to find a solution to the traffic concerns. We have also engaged our lawyer to assist in these discussions.
We continue to monitor the traffic on campus and Terry Sullivan and the security staff do their best to catch people who are not abiding by our traffic rules - Unfortunately we do not have dedicated traffic security staff - they must do a lot of security services all across the campus and the staffing numbers have not been increased as the budget has been reduced in this area. On top of this we now have to provide escort services to the truck traffic.

I have copied Terry on your emails and he is doing his best to address your traffic concerns . We will do our very best to increase our ticketing of the traffic violators.

Terry may want to add some additional comments to this as he is closer to the action than I am.

Karen Belaire

staying on the case...McMaster Front Entrance

Friday, March 2, 2007

Dear Karen:

Although I have written three memo’s representing TLC on this issue between this and last year, I am writing today representing only myself, and mainly out of pure frustration. If you have been dealing with important personal or extenuating circumstances that have prevented responding to my last two messages, then I extend my best wishes for an upturn and look forward to an eventual reply to my those memos.

As a member of the original Main Street Entrance Steering committee I opposed many features of this entrance. The basis for my opposition, shared with other pedestrian/cycling advocates, was that the plan brought traffic onto the main campus and into conflict with cyclists and pedestrians unnecessarily. We lost the main arguments, being outnumbered by others that voted in favour of the basic plan. However, we won a number of concessions. Some of those concessions included physical structures, such as raised crosswalks, while others involved the operation of the Kiosk that was to ensure that only visitors to campus whom wished to pay and then park in lot 3 would be allowed to proceed through that entrance (buses, emergency vehicles etc. were to be exempted from this restriction). As time has gone by these “soft” or non-physical concessions have eroded away. TLC’s concerns have been expressed and the only response that we have received from you, dated January 15, 2007 (responding to questions that were initiated by my TLC memo to Dr. George dated June 6, 2006), did not address the concerns at all, deftly deflecting the campus traffic issue to an unrelated topic that was easy for you to rationalise, but was not the concern of our memo.

The past two storm events forced me temporarily to change my cycling route to campus, bringing me in through the main street entrance instead of across Cootes Drive. I have been frustrated to watch cars pass the kiosk in the open lane to the right and drive straight through to lot 3, despite assurances that a) non-visitors would not be allowed access to parking lot 3 through the main street entrance and b) folks would not be permitted to drive onto campus to drop passengers off. This was an issue that we had already identified during meetings of the steering committee. We were assured that this problem would be circumvented. It would appear that there is no intention to follow through on this promise, or that it is failing.

In addition to concerns over the operation of the Main street entrance there have been other changes to the roads on campus. There have been crosswalks and stop signs put in place. I do not know whether this has normalised driving through parts of campus that are designated only for pedestrians, buses, and service vehicles, but I am seeing more and more traffic that appears to be students and other folks driving through from the south west parts of campus (including from the Main street entrance) through campus to Sterling street or the parking lots near the Sterling street entrance. Many of those cars, especially after dark, seem to be travelling at high rates of speed as if they think this is now an open thoroughfare. While I recognise that this was not the intention of the changes, and it may not even be related to these changes, more drivers seem to be ignoring the small signs designating non-traffic areas and traveling on campus past the front of Life Sciences and Divinity college. This increased danger might be reduced by more prominent signage and increased efforts to enforce.

I am frustrated and would like to see some positive changes that favour pedestrians,cyclists and safety over unsustainable transportation and danger!



Dr. James S. Quinn, Professor, Biology Department
University, Hamilton, ON, L8S 4K1