Saturday, January 26, 2013

The future was 1941...

Local historian Brian Henley blogs today about gasoline rationing as reported in the Hamilton Spectator in 1941. Three key ingredients to a more sustainable future are contained within the full article, including, trading the car for bicycles, driving slower to cut fuel consumption, and electric vehicles, apparently an old and efficient technology. It's too bad that there isn't the same recognition of our need to change how we get around today. Check out the entire blog post with more photos at

“THE BICYCLE IS HERE TO STAY — There is one family in this city that took to heart the government’s request to conserve gasolene and oil. They are Mr. And Mrs. Henry Reseigh, 219 1/2 King Street East, who sold their car when the new gas regulations came into effect and bought these bicycles. They are pictured with their six-year-old son, Billy, as they were leaving yesterday for a picnic to Albion falls. The lunch may be seen in Billy’s carrier. They have gained a healthy hobby, they are being patriotic, and they are “having a better time than they ever had driving a car.”
The Hamilton Spectator. July 24, 1941.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Countdown Downtown

 A very short video of a pedestrian crossing signal in the downtown core of Hamilton Ontario. The very short walk phase (7 seconds) is followed by a 20 second "Don't Walk" phase.

 Pedestrians are not supposed to start crossing during the don't walk phase, meaning that they would conceivably have to wait 19 seconds of a "don't-walk" phase for the light during the traffic green-phase, then the entire red-phase of the traffic light, before being able to make their crossing.

 A countdown timer would give pedestrians access to accurate information about the timing for the crossing, and enable them to make an informed decision about crossing. There are a few countdown timers in various parts of the city, like Bay and King, and Cootes at Sanders. We need more.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Transportation as Social Justice Issue

Kids in low-income areas at higher risk of being hit by commuters, prof warns

Posted: Jan 7, 2013 7:04 AM ET 

Last Updated: Jan 7, 2013 12:35 PM ET 

Children living in downtown Hamilton may be at a higher risk of pedestrian injury, according to a new study out of McMaster University.
The study shows a link between high-levels of commuter traffic — as opposed to local traffic — and higher levels of pedestrian child injury.
Geography professor Nikolaos Yiannakoulias studied Toronto neighbourhoods and compared local traffic (drivers coming from that neighbourhood), arriving traffic (drivers arriving at their destination in that neighbourhood) and flow-through traffic (drivers passing through the neighbourhood on their way somewhere else).
'It [commuter traffic] is definitely a concern to many people living in lower Hamilton. They're scared to let their children walk to school.'—Nikolaos Yiannakoulias, McMaster University
He discovered certain neighbourhoods, especially lower income areas, with higher levels of flow-through traffic also saw higher levels of pedestrian child injury.
However, areas with high levels of local traffic did not see the same levels of injury. Even if the neighbourhood had very high volume of traffic, if it was local the levels of injury did not increase, the study found.
"It may be that drivers going through a neighbourhood may not know where children are or where schools are," Yiannakoulias explained. "Their decision to commute or not commute has an impact on everyone."
Yiannakoulias said he plans to continue the research to identify exactly what the connection is between commuter traffic and pedestrian injury. He hopes to expand the research to other cities, especially Hamilton, where Yiannakoulias says many similar issues exist.
"There are major East-West throughways in Hamilton with schools very close," he pointed out.
"There are kids walking to school and many are having to cross these major streets where there is a lot of traffic going fast and this is the same kind of commuter traffic we saw in Toronto."

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Winter Wondering?

The City of Hamilton is looking for input on winter snow clearing on selected bicycle lanes:
Dundurn at Jones, January 5, 2013

"During the 2012 - 2013 winter season a pilot project will continue to test enhanced maintenance activities for a specific section of the "on-road painted" bike lanes to measure the benefit and cost of extending availability of bike lanes further into the winter season. The enhanced activities include additional inspection, ploughing, anti-icing, and street sweeping when warranted and feasible (excluding snow removal for the specific benefit of the affected bike lanes). This pilot project includes the bike lanes on Sterling Street, Longwood Road, Dundurn Street, and Sanders Boulevard. The pilot will be assessed and recommendations developed for future consideration. The pilot was initiated last winter, but the mild conditions have us continuing the pilot this winter.

To provide feedback on this project please access the web survey. You can complete the survey multiple times as conditions vary and please share it with other people."

Friday, January 04, 2013

Why some cyclists stop riding in winter

King Street West bike lanes, December 3, 2012
The lack of proper snow removal in winter creates conditions that undermine cycling infrastructure like these new bike lanes in West Hamilton.

The city is supposed to be prioritizing walking and cycling over cars, yet with snow comes the truth: cars get the full treatment, while sidewalks remain the responsibility of individual home-owners and businesses, and bike lanes, well, you can see for yourself. Snow and ice on the sidewalks and bike lanes while the roads are clear and dry.

Of course there are still winter cyclists braving the spotty paths to and fro, but how many more would still be riding if there was the same level of service offered to cars?

High Numbers: Impaired Driving Up in Hamilton and Province
  • Hamilton police made 538 impaired-driving arrests in 2012, five more than in 2011, a 15-year-high
  • 166 of arrests came as a result of citizens calling in on 911 to report suspected drunk drivers
  • A record of 228,315 drivers were stopped in RIDE programs (170,000 vehicles in 2011)
  • The Ontario Provincial Police charged 693 people across the province with impaired driving between Nov. 24 and Jan. 2., an eight-year high according to the OPP
  • The OPP laid around 8,000 impaired-driving charges in 2012, about the same as 2011's total
  • There were 72 alcohol related fatalities, up from 60 the year previous