Friday, September 25, 2009

bike lift for the climate

The folks from hamilton350 hooked into Hamilton's Car Free week Critical Mass bike ride, with a bike-lift at the corner of King and James, downtown. The link between climate change and transportation is strong, and so is the movement to reduce our ecological footprint by replacing car trips with transit, walking and of course, cycling!

Monday, September 21, 2009

speedy streets?

CATCH News – September 19, 2009

Speed limit rules changed

The city has adopted new guidelines for speed limits on urban and rural roads that rely on drivers to determine the most appropriate velocity. The guidelines that were produced by a national road association will be supplemented with a modified policy for school zones.

The report from the city’s traffic management department argues that “motorists drive at a speed which they find comfortable based on visual cues and their surroundings and not from the speed limit signs” and therefore road safety is improved by setting speed limits “that match the expectation” of drivers.

“The ideal speed limit would be self enforcing,” says the report . “In most cases, the majority of drivers do find the optimum travel speed, and it is inappropriate to set a posted speed limit that is inconsistent with driver’s perceptions, and rely on police enforcement to try to reduce operating speeds.”

The new policy follows guidelines released this year by the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC), a 95 year old organization that was originally called the Canadian Good Roads Association. It changed its name in 1970 to the Roads and Transportation Association and subsequently dropped the roads reference as it “expand its mandate to include all modes of transport for passengers and freight in the 1990s.

“TAC has a primary focus on roadways and their strategic linkages and inter-relationships with other components of the transportation system,” says the group’s website .

The organization doesn’t have a policy for school zones, so city staff have devised one that will be considered for use within 150 metres of a school. It would set a maximum 40 km per hour limit but on major roads that may only apply for part of the school day.

“Arterial roads have a primary purpose of moving traffic. Lower speed limits are generally contrary to this explicit purpose”, explains the policy attached to the staff report. “However, recognizing the need to provide for the safety of school-aged pedestrians en route to school, it may be appropriate to slow the maximum permissible speed of motor vehicle traffic. The time-limited speed limit strikes a balance between the safety of school children and the need to ensure mobility through the city.”

Glanbrook councillor Dave Mitchell welcomed the change which he hopes will result in lower posted speeds on some rural roads – something that has been previously requested by the city’s agricultural and rural affairs subcommittee.

Hart Solomon, the city’s director of traffic engineering and operations, told Mitchell that in some cases the new rules could mean a 10 km per hour reduction in current limits.

Downtown councillor Bob Bratina wanted to know if the policy would affect a proposed 30 km speed limit sought by residents of the north end neighbourhood and endorsed in principle by council.

Solomon assured him that “council always has the authority to override” the new rules.

“This policy doesn’t look at speed limits under 50 km in local areas so this would just be a special case and we’ve already anticipated that it would exist as a pilot project,” he said.

The report doesn’t directly address pedestrian or cycling safety. The city’s public health department is advocating for more walkable communities through its Hamilton Walks project, and a new cycling master plan was recently presented to council by the city’s alternative transportation coordinator.

The staff report shows consultation only with the Hamilton police service who “agrees completely with the concept of setting speed limits based on good engineering principles” and “does not support artificially low speed limits due to the impact on fair and appropriate enforcement.”

CATCH (Citizens at City Hall) updates use transcripts and/or public documents to highlight information about Hamilton civic affairs that is not generally available in the mass media. Detailed reports of City Hall meetings can be reviewed at . You can receive all CATCH free updates by sending an email to .

Monday, September 14, 2009

It's time again to celebrate car-free mobility. It's become quite clear that using alternatives to single occupancy vehicle use supports more liveable cities by making streets safer for young and old alike, while contributing to better health and a less polluted environment.
Every year, Transportation for Liveable Comunities celebrates the good things that Hamilton offers in the way of car-freedom. This year, once again, the events span a week, but they could become events that stay with you a lifetime:

* Monday, September 21 - BUS AND HIKE TO SHERMAN FALLS - meet at the campus bus stop by McMaster Museum of art at 5:30pm sharp -bus leaves at 5:35pm (bring your MacID or bus tickets, water and a snack, proper footwear - rain or shine) - Free Waterfall and Hamilton Bike Route maps for participants. Optional Pub stop at the Phoenix upon returning by bus to campus (8-8:30 est time of arrival)

* Tuesday, September 22 - 6:00 to 9:00pm. Have a happy car free day and learn to do free basic bike repair and maintenance at Hamilton's first all-volunteer non-profit bike repair workshop: RECYCLE CYCLES. Located in the basement of Erskine Presbyterian Church (19 Pearl Street North, Hamilton) - enter at side door off Morden Street. There is no cost for the workshop, but please pre-register with randy(dot)opirg(at)gmail(dot)com or by calling 905-525-9140 ext. 26026

* Thursday, September 24 - Annual CAR FREE DRIVE IN MOVIE AT GAGE PARK - free films for the whole family at dusk at the historic bandshell - take a bus, ride, walk to the movies under the stars.

BY BUS: From Central McMaster Campus take the HSR #5 Delaware Bus (eastbound, destination Greenhill) or check out the google maps for transit in Hamilton to make your route choices
BY BICYCLE? Grab a city of Hamilton Bike Routes and Parks map from the OPIRG office (McMaster Student Centre room 229)

* Friday, September 25 - Hamilton's monthly CRITICAL MASS BIKE RIDE meets at the corner of Hess and George Streets, in Hamilton's "Hess Village" at 5:30 pm on the last friday of each month. This is the CAR FREE WEEK mass ride - dress up, bring some noise, and let your spirits soar with your bike along Hamilton's downtown streets.

* Saturday, September 26 - McMaster to Market - self guide yourself: walk from the McMaster campus to two local markets - one, Westdale's weekly organic vegetable market (Saturday's from 8am to 1pm in front of My Dog Joe Fair trade coffeehouse ), and the Makers Market, 10am to3pm at St. Paul's Church in Westdale, the fourth Saturday of the month, featuring local produce and local artisans.

Cycling Progress on Dundurn

Dundurn construction begins today
Dundurn construction begins today

Resurfacing, bike lanes cause delays through October

John Burman, Hamilton Spectator

Construction crews are scheduled to begin resurfacing Dundurn Street South today.

The work – between Hill Street a block south of Main Street West and Aberdeen Avenue – includes removal of all parking on the east side of Dundurn for bicycle lanes.

The work should be completed by the end of October.

City council approved an updated cycling master plan for Hamilton in June. And that includes the bike lanes on Dundurn.

Ward one Councillor Brian McHattie says it may be possible to add three or four parking spaces on the west side of the street.

In an e-mail to area residents, McHattie notes there is significant concern from area merchants and some residential property owners who feel the loss of parking will “result in decreased business, cause more disruption around an already congested area around Earl Kitchener School, and disadvantage motorists with mobility issues who benefit from parking closer to their destination; whether it be church, doctor’s office or business.”

“While I agree that these impacts will occur, I also believe that we need to encourage a cultural shift away from dependency on the private automobile towards cycling as a different mode of transportation,” McHattie said.

The city’s cycling master plan notes bike lanes are a good thing for Dundurn because they will provide connection to the new CP rail trail via Glenside Avenue planned early next year, link to the existing Chedoke rail trail up the escarpment, and provide connections to the downtown via Herkimer Street, Charlton Avenue and Jackson Street.

The plan also says the bike lanes will connect to the McMaster Innovation Park on Longwood Road via the extension of Frid Street via the west end of Charlton Avenue and link to the waterfront over King Street and Longwood Road in 2010.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Sharing can get you to your destination

A new and welcome component to the sustainable transportation mix in Hamilton:

Hamilton CarShare Launch Event & BBQ - Wednesday Sept. 16, 2009
  • Part 1: 11:00am – Ribbon Cutting at City of Hamilton Lot #80, King St. W. & Bay St. S.
  • Part 2: 11:30am – Ribbon Cutting at First Unitarian Church parking lot 12:00pm – BBQ, Green Venture Tire Pressure Clinic (at First Unitarian Church)
Check out Hamilton Car Share on the web here.

city cycling staff

Dear Mayor and City Councillors,

We are writing to ask that you support cycling in Hamilton by continuing to fund the Cycling Coordinator position, currently held by Daryl Bender.

As you may recall, TLC has advocated for this city staff position in the past, and after the initial experience with the staff position in place, we think our advocacy was justified.

Prior to the hiring it was our experience that programs and infrastructure for cycling were continually falling years behind schedule, while frequent changes to part-time city staff for cycling issues made follow through difficult. This situation left TLC with the clear perception that there is a strong correlation between having a staff person, and the ability to move cycling support forward.

The position of cycling coordinator fulfills the goals set out in 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," where it 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."

TLC strongly believes that this position should be made a permanent staff position, especially at the time when the city is poised to begin implementation of the significant improvements outlined in the Shifting Gears Cycling master plan.

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

A volunteer working group of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group - McMaster

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Pedaling the Planet's Future

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Environment Hamilton's Don McLean (pictured) speaks at the Pedal for the Planet event today outside City Hall in Burlington, Ontario. He spoke of the need for action to reduce the effects of climate change and referred to actions planned in Hamilton this coming October 24, 2009, part of the climate movement. The 350 web site spells out their cause this way:

A year ago, our greatest climatologist—NASA’s James Hansen—and his team produced a landmark series of studies. They showed that if we let the amount of carbon in the atmosphere top 350 parts per million, we can’t have a planet “similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.”

The bad news is we’re already past that number—we’re at 390 parts per million, which is why the Arctic is melting, why drought is spreading across the planet, why people are already dying from diseases like dengue fever and malaria occurring in places where they’ve never been seen before.
Meanwhile, the event hosts, who happen to be pedaling their bicycles to Ottawa from myriad starting points in Canada, are taking a message of their own to Canadian politicians.

A new international climate change treaty will be signed next December and the final negotiations are happening now. But Canada is blocking progress. Pedal for the Planet is a chance for Ontarians to send a clear message to Ottawa: we want our country to make us proud and start acting like a leader in global efforts to confront climate change. Cyclists from across the country will converge on Parliament Hill on September 15th.

Pedal for the Planet is an initiative of KYOTOplus, a national, non-partisan, petition-centred campaign for urgent federal government action on climate change that is supported by more than 70 health, environment, labour, youth, women, development, peace and social justice organizations.

Pedal for the Planet riders will hit cities across southern Ontario over the next two weeks, visiting Members of Parliament to ask them to sign the KYOTOplus pledge. “We’re hoping to get as many signatories as possible,” says Cane. “Canada is one of the last industrialized countries opposed to targets for deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This is an opportunity for everyone to join together to call for federal government action on climate change.”

So, there are obviously things you can do to make a difference, like using alternatives to private automobiles such as car-pooling, transit, cycling, and walking; but some, like these groups, are doing this and more: they are not letting politicians off the hook for fiddling while the planet burns.