Sunday, July 26, 2009

paving the way for flooding

Flooding from thunderstorms forced the city to close the Red Hill Creek Expressway for 48 hours. Seems even the latest engineering can't entirely contain nature's raw power. Indeed, more pavement means less opportunity for rain water to be absorbed by the earth. Perhaps Hamilton will make a start by taxing massive parking lots.

Photos from today's Hamilton Spectator on-line edition

Friday, July 24, 2009

no talk no text: just drive

Driver cellphone ban starts in October
Police expected to go easy — at first

TORONTO — Ontario’s ban on the use of cellphones, BlackBerrys and other hand-held electronic devices by drivers will take effect in October.

Transportation Minister Jim Bradley says motorists can expect an education period when the ban first comes into effect, which means police will show some leniency.

He says that’s what happened in other jurisdictions when they banned cellphones for drivers, and Ontario will follow that pattern.

Ontario drivers could be fined up to $500 if they’re caught using their hand-held cellphones or BlackBerrys to talk, email or send text messages while behind the wheel.

Bradley says hands-free devices aren’t covered by the legislation, but they are not recommended for use while driving.

Ontario is the fourth province to enact such a ban, following Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and Nova Scotia. Manitoba has introduced similar legislation.

Drivers are also banned from using portable video games and DVD players but they are allowed to use their cellphones for 911 calls.

Global positioning systems are allowed, as long as they’re properly secured to the dashboard.

There are no demerit points attached to the Ontario law, unlike in other provinces.

However, Bradley says Ontario motorists using a banned cellphone could also be charged under careless driving laws and face fines, six demerit points, a driver’s licence suspension and even jail time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

ridership down

Hamilton feels transit pinch
2 per cent ridership drop costs $600,000

, Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton’s job losses are also hurting the city’s transit system.

Ridership is down 2 per cent — a $600,000 budget hit.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s connected to the economy,” said transit director Don Hull.

Increased unemployment means fewer people travelling in general, he said, noting other cities with high job losses have also seen a ridership dip.

If cities haven’t seen a drop, it’s likely because they’ve had new service come on line, noted Hull.

Toronto’s ridership, for example, is up nearly 3 per cent. Observers point to service enhancements that started in the last year.

Across the country, it appears transit ridership is holding steady, a welcome surprise given the poor economy, said Michael Roschlau, president of the Canadian Urban Transit Association.

He also credits service improvements and suspects the figures would be much worse without recent investments.

The association is still waiting for firm numbers, but has heard anecdotally from many communities, he said.

Roschlau cautions against cities slashing services to make up for the budget shortfalls. Cuts now will only leads to further ridership losses and mean a longer recovery, he said.

“You start to get in a downward spiral.”

Hull said the city has no plans for cuts, but hopes savings from lower gas prices will offset the lost fare revenue.

Friday, July 17, 2009

giving laundry the gears

A comment on an article about laundry at Raise the Hammer lead me to this video on Youtube.
I want one...


As a system for moving people, the privately owned, single-occupancy motor vehicle has to be the most costly, dangerous, dirty and inefficient way (one "accident" can clog the main highways for hours). Given viable alternatives, who wouldn't want to switch?

The following headline kind of sums up the logic of car-centric cities:

Scott Gardner, the Hamilton Spectator
A city trapped in traffic paralysis
Mid-afternoon 403 crash chokes Hamilton roads for hours

One mid-afternoon accident on the eastbound 403 Thursday literally turned Hamilton into a parking lot.

Major arteries across the lower city and Mountain ground to a halt in a chain reaction of congestion as traffic first backed up on the 403, then onto Main Street and then throughout the city as police closed the highway and then Linc.

Hours after the 2 p.m. accident that left a London man in critical condition, routes across the Mountain were still backed up for kilometres as drivers tried to get across the city. The Linc was closed to stop traffic reaching the 403. And police were urging Toronto-bound motorists to take the Linc, Red Hill and QEW to get around the stopper in the bottle.

But even that didn’t help as a pair of accidents on the QEW created a perfect storm of congestion.

The worst was at rush-hour last night when traffic was backed up for miles. Some reported seeing people relaxing on their cars and talking to their parked neighbours.

Hamilton police closed eight on-ramps to prevent traffic from getting onto the eastbound lanes of the 403. It shut down ramps between Upper James Street on the Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway and King Street on the 403, just a few kilometres west of the accident scene.

Those caught behind the accident were backed up and brought on to the Main Street on-ramp in front of The Hamilton Spectator.

"Everybody is just parked on the highway and we're trying to get everybody moving," said Staff Sergeant George Narozniak.

To make matters worse, the Niagara-bound lanes of the Queen Elizabeth Way in Beamsville were closed for 90 minutes following two separate collisions at about 6:30 p.m. One involved a collision between a van and a tractor on the South Service Road, between Bartlett and Sann Road. A person was airlifted to Hamilton General Hospital in serious condition.

And a third accident in Stoney Creek also caused serious injuries. Two vehicles crashed head-on at about 4:30 p.m. on the South Service Road, near Jones Road. One person was initially in critical condition, but improved last night. Two others were taken to hospital. The South Service Road was closed to traffic for a short time.

The London, Ont., man was ejected from his pickup truck when it rolled over during the Highway 403 accident, just before 2 p.m. Witnesses say his truck rolled a few times on the highway near the York Boulevard on-ramp and landed on its roof. He was taken by ambulance to the Hamilton General Hospital. He was in critical condition this morning.

A taxi cab and a SUV were also involved. The drivers were not injured and the vehicles sustained minor damage. The accident is now being probed by the OPP Traffic Support Unit.

The crash caused two other accidents. A tanker-truck and a pickup truck collided on the 403 shortly after the first crash, just west of the accident scene. There were no injuries. An OPP officer rushing to the first accident lost control of his cruiser and crashed into a ditch on Highway 6, between Highway 5 and Highway 403. The officer received minor injuries.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

bridging highways for pedestrians and cyclists

Pedestrians, cyclists getting Linc bridge, trail

, The Hamilton Spectator

(Jul 16, 2009)

More than $2 million in federal and provincial infrastructure grants is paving the way for construction of a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists across the Lincoln Alexander Parkway at Arbour Road and the start of a 10-kilometre east Mountain trail loop that will eventually cross the bridge.

Just under $1 million is coming from a federal-provincial program, and $1 million-plus for the bridge from Investing in Ontario.

The federal-provincial money will also pay for energy-efficient washrooms in the new Eramosa Karst Conservation Area and expansion of the Fifty Point Conservation Area campground in Winona.

The bridge is a City of Hamilton project, the campground and karst land belong to the Hamilton Conservation Authority and the trail loop is a joint effort.

The trail, intended to compensate for open space lost to the Red Hill Valley Parkway, will one day connect Felker's Falls Conservation Area, Paramount Park, Glendale Falls, Albion Falls Park, Mount Albion Conservation Area, the karst conservation area and Valley Park.

The partners will call tenders for the first two kilometres as soon as permission is obtained from the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

The first of four phases will run from Felker's Falls west to the top of the parkway near Glendale Falls, connecting to trails through Red Hill Valley that will extend to Lake Ontario once a planned pedestrian bridge is built across the QEW.

Sandy Bell, the authority's manager of design and development, said Fifty Point will add 24 serviced sites to its existing 46 to meet growing demand.

Rob Norman, the city's manager of open space development and parks planning, says the Arbour Road bridge will serve as a hub connecting the Escarpment Rail Trail, Bruce Trail, Red Hill Valley Trail and the Chippawa Trail leading south to Caledonia.

bicycles and beers

TLC continues our unofficial support for local invention from two McMaster engineering students: vote for the Crosstown Trailer in this international competition:

Watch it in action, Canadian style!