Project aims to fill ‘friend­li­ness’ gap for users of Hamil­ton streets

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - TEVIAH MORO tmoro@thes­pec.com 905-526-3264 | @Te­vi­ahMoro

A man rid­ing south in the north­bound bike lane on Vic­to­ria Av­enue is nearly hit by a car pulling out of a side street.

The mishap was likely one of sev­eral close calls be­tween cy­clists and driv­ers on Hamil­ton streets Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

But it served as a text­book ex­am­ple for a group of city res­i­dents con­duct­ing a street-level as­sess­ment of Vic­to­ria Av­enue North, near the bustling Hamil­ton Gen­eral Hospi­tal.

“You can’t just treat streets as a sac­ri­fice zone and ex­pect peo­ple to want to travel on them,” said John Neary, a mem­ber of the Beasley Neigh­bour­hood As­so­ci­a­tion who took the tour with a few dozen oth­ers.

Friendly Streets is a year-long pilot project that aims to as­sess the area around Hamil­ton Gen­eral Hospi­tal, with the goal of mak­ing it safer for cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans.

The project is a part­ner­ship be­tween Cy­cle Hamil­ton and En­vi­ron­ment Hamil­ton. It has re­ceived just un­der $75,000 in seed money from the On­tario Tril­lium Foun­da­tion.

For now, the ini­tia­tive’s fo­cus is Bar­ton Street East and the Beasley, Keith and Gib­son-Lans­dale neigh­bour­hoods, but the hope is to land more fund­ing to fan its ef­forts out across the city.

Those be­hind the five-month-old project have con­ducted “street au­dits” and gath­ered feed­back from res­i­dents to iden­tify prob­lem spots for cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans.

“We re­al­ize it’s not re­al­is­tic to have this change overnight,” said Elise Des­jardins, co-project man­ager with Cy­cle Hamil­ton.

But the hope is that de­tailed feed­bridge,” back to city of­fi­cials can help make streets friend­lier for cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans, Des­jardins said. A Friendly Streets “tool kit” for res­i­dents of all neigh­bour­hoods is also a goal.

Par­tic­i­pants in Wed­nes­day’s “walk­a­bout” made notes on a range of de­tails of the Vic­to­ria Av­enue streetscape, in­clud­ing cross­walks, side­walks, bike lanes, bump-outs, pave­ment mark­ings, benches and lit­ter.

Pos­i­tive fea­tures in­cluded a bike share sta­tion at the hospi­tal and bump-outs on the west side of Vic­to­ria to re­duce the dis­tance for peo­ple cross­ing the street, and on­street park­ing pro­vid­ing a buf­fer as well.

Draw­backs were lack of pedes­trian cross­ings and the lone bike lane on the east side of the street for north­bound rid­ers, leav­ing cy­clists with no safe op­tion to go south.

The bike lane starts at Bar­ton and ends at Burling­ton Street East.

“There’s no des­ti­na­tion at Burling­ton. It’s like if you built half a Neary said.

Roar­ing heavy truck traf­fic on one-way Vic­to­ria, how­ever, was iden­ti­fied as a colos­sal vil­lain of the piece.

“It re­ally does in­fringe on the safety of the street,” said Rachel Braith­waite, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Bar­ton Vil­lage BIA.

Welling­ton Street North, Went­worth Street North and Bar­ton Street East are also des­ig­nated full­time truck routes in the area.

“I have a fe­ro­cious ap­petite to change the truck cul­ture here,” said Coun. Matthew Green. The Ward 3 coun­cil­lor said he senses big com­mer­cial trucks are us­ing these “four- or five-lane high­ways” as short­cuts from the QEW to High­way 403. “If you don’t have busi­ness in the city, you ought to be go­ing around it.”

A city truck routes sub­com­mit­tee is ex­am­in­ing the is­sue, Green said.

SCOTT GARD­NER, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Friendly Streets is a year-long pilot project that aims to as­sess the area around Hamil­ton Gen­eral Hospi­tal, with the goal of mak­ing it safer for cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans. One of the is­sues iden­ti­fied is the vol­ume of large truck traf­fic.

SCOTT GARD­NER, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

Elise Des­jardins, Friendly Streets project man­ager, and mem­ber of Cy­cle Hamil­ton, left, leads a tour of Vic­to­ria Av­enue North.

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