Special Report: Walkable Streets

Sign up to Slow Down with 30 to Zero

Zero accidents is our goal. Driving 30 kilometres an hour in neighbourhoods is one of the ways we'll get there together.

By Jay Robb
Published April 09, 2014

When it comes to pedestrian safety, there can only be one goal for Hamilton. That goal is zero. Zero pedestrians hit by cars. Zero fatalities. Zero injuries.

If it's not zero, than what's the acceptable number? And who'd like to explain that number to a family who've just had someone they love hurt or worse in an accident?

We don't have to wait to get to zero. We don't have to wait for a council resolution, staff report, public consultation, pilot project or major roadwork. We can start today. Right now. You and me.

We can lead by example. We can choose to take our foot off the accelerator when driving through neighbourhoods, past schools, parks and playgrounds.

We can choose to drive 30 kilometres along James North, Locke Street, Concession Street and King Street West in Dundas and Westdale. Our choice will leave everyone driving behind us with no choice. They'll have to slow down too.

Not everyone will like it. Some drivers will be impatient. They'll lean on their horns. Flip us the finger.

But the pedestrians on the sidewalks - the families, kids and seniors - will thank us for it. And so too will the people waiting for them at home.

30 km/h speed limit in Hamilton's North End (RTH file photo)
30 km/h speed limit in Hamilton's North End (RTH file photo)

Awareness Campaign

We don't have to go it alone. We can recruit more drivers with an awareness campaign.

Let's turn a traditional selling feature for cars on its head (zero to 60 in under seven seconds) and roll out a 30 to Zero campaign in Hamilton.

Zero accidents is our goal. Driving 30 kilometres in neighbourhoods is one of the ways we'll get there together.

Find a Hamilton marketing and PR firm willing to share their expertise in building and rolling out a winning campaign. Recruit media partners that will help spread the word and make 30 to Zero a club that everyone wants to join.

Make 30 to Zero a very public campaign. Invite drivers to sign up to slow down. Extend an invitation for our political, business and community leaders to do the same. Let's sign a pledge, with our names added to an online honour roll. Give us bumper stickers, wallet cards, buttons and signs for our dashboards, storefronts and front lawns to show our support.

Make it Personal

Make the 30 to Zero campaign personal. Ease up on the facts, stats and studies and tell us stories instead. Aim for our hearts first and our heads will follow.

Introduce us to the kids who live in Hamilton's neighbourhoods. Remind us why the children cross the road. To get to school, the library and park. To go to soccer games, swimming lessons and piano practices. To go on playdates, visit grandparents and walk the dog. Have the kids speak to us directly, asking us to slow down and stay alert when driving through their neighbourhoods.

Make the 30 to Zero campaign rewarding. Line up BIAs and Hamilton proud businesses for giveaways, discounts, special offers and promotions for drivers who've pledged support to the 30 to Zero campaign. Catch us in the act of driving responsibly and putting pedestrians first.

Give me a coupon for a free Chuck's Burger and I'll bring my family, park the minivan and join the crowds walking the sidewalks on Locke. Your neighbourhood will no longer be just a place I drive through to get somewhere else.

What Matters Most

Use the 30 to Zero campaign to remind us of what matters most. When we get behind the wheel, we're not just drivers. We're moms and dads, grandparents, uncles and aunts, big brothers and sisters.

Nothing is more important than our kids. There's nothing we wouldn't do, give or sacrifice for our children. Slowing down is a small and easy sacrifice that all of us can make for everyone's kids. I'm counting on you to look out for my son and daughter. And you can count on me to do the same with your kids.

Zero parents in Hamilton should be ever get that phone call or knock on the door from a police officer, telling them their child has been hit and hurt while crossing a street.

So let's start today with our morning commutes. You and me with our feet off the accelerator. Thirty to zero.

Jay Robb lives and works in Hamilton.

87 Comments

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 10:24:14

Great idea!

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By Only One Way (anonymous) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 17:16:12 in reply to Comment 100081

The only way you are every going to reduce injuries and fatalities to zero is to ban cars, or ban pedestrians. So long as they both share the road, accidents are going to happen.

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By Joshua (registered) | Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:48:56 in reply to Comment 100097

Ivan Illich and Andrew Nikiforuk give some great historical and contemporary perspectives on banning automobiles.

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted April 09, 2014 at 18:59:17 in reply to Comment 100097

I didn't read his post saying that you should not try. I read it as in the zero objective is an imposibility. I went to your link and read that in Sweden, their various safety efforts have reduced fatalities by 50%.

What came to mind when I read the post was some recent studies that showed that simply reducing speed did not correlate to lower accidents. In fact, the recent Hamilton study, 2010 I believe, that has been posted here on this blog showed that speed was a major factor in the vast minority of cases.

What is required is a global approach. Look at the areas where there is danger and try and reduce the danger. Is there some rash of fatal accidents on side streets in Hamilton? I thought the data showed that the vast majority of accidents, and fatal accidents in particlular, occured on major arteries. Are we asking that those arteries be slowed down to 30k?

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 18:16:13 in reply to Comment 100097

So, you're suggesting we not even try?? Nice. Check this out: http://www.visionzeroinitiative.com/en/C...

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By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted April 09, 2014 at 10:37:02

This is exactly what we need more of. I'm behind you 100% with anything I can help with. If you want to contact me, Ryan has my email.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 10:39:39

Great idea! Will def be doing this. I've also noticed that when I stop at a crosswalk (say Locke/Hunter, James/Robert) to let pedestrians cross, the oncoming drivers do too.

I know city hall is trying to avoid lower speed limits as long as humanly possible. They enacted an unnecessary moratorium on neighbourhood-wide 30k speed limits for 5 years while the North End is a supposed 'trial run'.

BUT, does anyone know if that moratorium applies to isolated 30k zones? Say along Strathcona from King to York past a busy park, seniors building and elementary school?

Or Locke S along the retail district?

Or Maplewood Ave from Gage Park, past St Peters Hospital and Adelaide Hoodless school?

We should start asking for 30k signage, zebras and knockdown sticks around all parks, schools and busy hubs with seniors/daycares etc....

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By Goin'Downtown (registered) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 13:03:16 in reply to Comment 100084

I requested that a lower speed limit and/or stop sign be put in place, Strathcona/Tom corner/area (seniors building, nearby park, etc.). The result? Four parking spots were removed for better sight lines (and not enforced).

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 13:32:37 in reply to Comment 100087

Wow...that's pathetic. That spot is brutal because people roar off York and fly all the way to Florence. Ditto the other way. You should contact Brian McHattie. He was helpful getting all the other stop-signs up. We need more street parking to narrow that area, not less.
Doesn't surprise me though. Even on a side street in a residential hood city hall only figures out ways to speed cars up, not slow them down.

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By Goin'Downtown (registered) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 15:59:30 in reply to Comment 100090

I did contact Councillor McHattie. This was right after an 11/12-year old was hit, last summer. He was hot-doggin' it, and the driver felt terrible, but if she had been doing 30, she may have had a better chance of stopping. Bad corner, to be sure. As for the loss of parking spots...uber sigh...

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 18:17:45 in reply to Comment 100096

What was his reply? I would re-send your concern. I had to push like crazy to get the zebra stripes at King/Locke, King/Strathcona and York/Locke. Was told no about 5 times, but kept badgering them as I saw new zebras appearing all over the city.

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By Goin'Downtown (registered) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 22:26:08 in reply to Comment 100100

You know what, you're right. I should keep pounding the proverbial pavement. And regrettably, because of so many recent pedestrian injuries, this should actually get a better result now. Thanks for the kick in the butt!

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 08:38:13 in reply to Comment 100107

no probs! I appreciate you being willing to take this on. Sadly, this is the only way to get some semblance of safety in our neighbourhoods. Push hard and long enough, you'll drive them nuts and they'll realize it's easier and quicker to simply add the stop signs like the rest of the street instead of saying no over and over.

I'll fire off a message to Brian as well now that I know this.

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By Goin'Downtown (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 20:43:59 in reply to Comment 100125

I just checked my folder and it was summer of 2012 (apologies...ah, age). His response was for me to create a petition and gather signatures so that they're more comfortable that they have the support of the community. Uhmm...I'd quite rather skip that step...I'm just going to email him again.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 11, 2014 at 12:57:59 in reply to Comment 100185

There's an apocryphal story about FDR on this subject - a lobbyist or citizen's group pitches something to him, and he replies:

"You've convinced me. Now go out and make me do it."

That's just how politics works.

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted April 11, 2014 at 12:46:42 in reply to Comment 100185

I got the same response from Councillor Duvall about a crosswalk at Fennell Ave E and Upper James St for the folks crossing from the apartments to the former Mountain Plaza Mall.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 11, 2014 at 06:55:52 in reply to Comment 100185

I would definitely get some signatures. It makes the process way easier at city hall. You and I would think cars roaring off York and kids getting hit would be enough impetus for a small change like this, but you'll have better luck following the process and getting a small petition done up. Not how it should be, but that's how it is when it involves slowing down a car.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 10:43:47

There are 11 census tracts in Ward 2. The tract closest to the water (north of Barton, West of Wellington) has the second lowest population density in the ward. The city is pretty much all neighbourhoods.

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 11:55:20

I think that this is a great idea, and I think the “30 to Zero” is catchy. And it’s the kind of thing that can be explained quite quickly to the people who ultimately take the decision to speed up and increase risk, or slow down and make everyone safer.

This reminds me of the “Twenty [mph] is Plenty” campaign in New York City. A local sign company prints eye-catching “speed limit” signs with that message, which neighbours tie on to lamp posts and what-have-you. Perhaps we could do the same thing here, get a sign company to make attention-grabbing signs, instead of ‘MAXIMUM 50km/h,’ ‘SAFE 30km/h’. Maybe I’ll call Deco Labels and see if they’d be interested.

I try to drive at what seems a safe speed in residential neighbourhoods. It would be great to have a magnet or sticker on my car’s trunk that tells the motorists behind me why.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 23:41:02 in reply to Comment 100086

Deco Labels? Do you know who owns that company?

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 09:50:30 in reply to Comment 100111

Yes, I do. That was the joke.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 13:35:25 in reply to Comment 100086

Was going to ask the same thing. Is it possible to have sturdy enough signs made that looks like speed limit signs (like the NYC campaign) that we can post. I like your idea for SAFE 30km/h. I bet most drivers will think they are real speed limit signs.

Would love to find out more on this idea. Tactical urbanism last year led to a bunch of new knockdown sticks and zebra crossings. However, that became the end of tactical urbanism. We need to continue with worth-while, simple ideas like this in our neighbourhoods.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 14:52:14 in reply to Comment 100091

Wasn't there a safety-minded sign incident at James and Cannon? I seem to recall the project being legally contentious (and it was directed at pedestrians).

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 18:21:28 in reply to Comment 100095

It was a wordy, small sign.
The signs being suggested above are like this:

http://www.brooklyndaily.com/stories/201...

Looks like they attach simply with strong zip ties. I think this should be organized here in Hamilton. I like the 'SAFE 30km/h' idea above.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 10, 2014 at 10:04:05 in reply to Comment 100101

... drivers would see that as a real speed-limit sign.

I'm going to go concern troll here: I'm not comfortable with misrepresenting the law.

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 10:47:16 in reply to Comment 100135

I’d say that’s a valid concern. The trick is to make them appear only superficially like official speed limit signs, apparent upon casual inspection that they are not. I think the ‘SAFE 30km/h’ would pass that test. It would still be illegal, of course: you can’t even put a poster for a concert up on a post without breaking an ordinance. I don’t think it’s misrepresenting the law, though, if they are different “enough.”

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By Goin'Downtown (registered) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 13:07:21

Great article. I actually do drive 30 km/hour along neighbourhood roads, and have for...well, a long time. And, yes, I get a lot of tailgaters, to which my response is to slow down another 5 km. :) But as for "when we get behind the wheel, we're not just drivers. We're moms and dads, grandparents, uncles and aunts, big brothers and sisters" - I think too often drivers forget that (e.g. speeding to a work meeting along neighbourhood back roads to avoid traffic) - perhaps the sign in the rear window or bumper should be "drive like your kids are in the car."

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted April 09, 2014 at 13:13:00 in reply to Comment 100088

Or “Drive like your kids play on this street.”

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 09, 2014 at 14:17:30 in reply to Comment 100089

... that would be a pretty good bumper-sticker, actually.

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By Dangerous... (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 07:24:12

Working to get these limits dropped through council is the way to go, not unilaterally deciding that you are going to break the law and drive 20 km below the limit. At that point, you are as much a danger as the bozo going 70.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 10:28:02 in reply to Comment 100117

Driving under the posted speed limit is not against the law, nor is it dangerous to other users. Driving over the speed limit is.

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted April 11, 2014 at 12:53:58 in reply to Comment 100140

Unnecessary slow driving prohibited

132. (1) No motor vehicle shall be driven on a highway at such a slow rate of speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic thereon except when the slow rate of speed is necessary for safe operation having regard to all the circumstances. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 132 (1).

From Ontario's Highway Traffic Act

You could argue that the slow rate of speed is necessary for safe operation....

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 10:07:04 in reply to Comment 100117

This may be the result of attaching a 5 year moratorium on the North End 30kph pilot project. I don't endorse anarchy. But deliberate inaction and sabotage of constituents wishes can cause unexpected side effects.

And, it looks like the moratorium is either symbolic or being worked around anyway, this shortcut is getting calmed almost immediately.

That said, I absolutely agree with the principle of your comment, that we need to work together.

However doing 30kph on a city street is not illegal. Doing so in the left lane on a major arterial may not be smart, currently. But most of the time I'm cycling rather than driving, and 30kph is as fast as I go. And I'm not shy about taking a lane because too many don't pass safely. The awareness is needed.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 11:29:10 in reply to Comment 100136

so that's all they have to do up there to get speed humps eh? Have a meeting, say we want them and it's in the paper the next day. Wow.

We've been fighting like caged animals down here for years to get them, and finally it appears to be happening ONLY because of the Ward 1 participatory budgeting process. Not the normal simple process described in the article above. Tale of two cities......

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 13:21:36 in reply to Comment 100147

One of you guys explained it well. People want others to drive safely through their neighborhoods, but people want to be able to drive fast through other people's neighborhoods.

Some smart and multimodal arterials/major roads, with calmed residential areas, seems like such a reasonable request, doesn't it?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted April 10, 2014 at 14:17:39 in reply to Comment 100159

And, particularly, what neighbourhoods do city staff drive through on their way to/from work?

I mean, Bay St South is pretty much only useful for driving from Ward 8 to City Hall.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 16:09:26 in reply to Comment 100162

exactly. I chatted with a friend about this today. Forget the 70's gong show on council. Staff are the real problem.

Our councillor was 100% on board for speed humps here the past few years when it's come up, and he's finally managed to get a few on Stanley, Beulah etc.... but for most of our requests it's been a constant 'no' from city staff. We're not asking for humps on York Blvd. We're talking Peter, Napier, Florence, Pearl etc..... Staff are stuck in this mindset that the lower city is their personal freeway so they can get back to their neighbourhoods.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 08:33:09 in reply to Comment 100117

hahahahahaha.

Yes, doing 30km on Peter or Strathcona is posing massive danger. Call in the National Guard. And no, going through council ISN'T the way to go because they put a moratorium on 30k limits for 5 years for no reason other than they value 11 seconds of driving time more than safe neighbourhood streets for kids, families and seniors to be able to walk/cycle.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 08:22:42 in reply to Comment 100117

NB: "safe operation having regard to all the circumstances."

132. (1) No motor vehicle shall be driven on a highway at such a slow rate of speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic thereon except when the slow rate of speed is necessary for safe operation having regard to all the circumstances. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 132 (1).

goo.gl/WFS3zD

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 18:27:57 in reply to Comment 100120

except when the slow rate of speed is necessary for safe operation having regard to all the circumstances

Exactly. Kids playing, people strolling, cyclists riding are circumstances that require a slow rate of speed. 100+ is great on the 401 where the circumstances allow it.

30km is plenty fast for neighbourhood streets, especially with all we know about the rate of serious injury and death if hit by a car at 30k compared to 50k.

Sadly, some on here value their few seconds...and it literally is only a few seconds, more than the safety of families and other users of the road.

What a sad way to live.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 12:13:28 in reply to Comment 100120

30 km/h on a street with a 50km/h limit, especially on local, collector and minor-arterials in the urban core of a city would not be seen as impeding "the normal and reasonable movement of traffic ". It should actually be considered to be the safe operation speed. The 50km/h limit is the maximum, and is a very blunt instrument for determining safe speed.

It is also often clearly inappropriate, as shown by the fact the limit on Herkimer and Charlton by the playground in the Durand Park is 50km/h (as it is on the narrow local Park street, directly adjacent to the playground).

I would be extremely surprised if anyone was ever ticketed for doing 30km/h on any of these streets ... even on Main or Queen the driver would not be blocking traffic as there are plenty of passing lanes.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 11:24:23 in reply to Comment 100120

Peter or Strathcona aren't highways. Read the Act's clause a little more closely ... I'm pretty sure this is intended to apply to the 400-series expressways or certain classes of provincial highway (i.e. Hwy 6).

IMHO even 30km is pushing it on smallish streets or short blocks such as those found around Victoria Park. Other traffic regulations require drivers to use due care and attention ... i.e. they are supposed to adjust their speeds and so forth to match local conditions be they weather-related, involve poor visibility/sight-lines, presence of children, and so forth. That would apply here, but some drivers seem to think safety is just about them, hence the ridiculous speeds i have observed some people driving on residential streets in the North End (and used to see when i lived on Peter St a couple years ago).

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By ArvindS (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 09:36:56

This 30 to 0 campaign is highly inventive, catchy and I think it can make a difference in making motorists aware that slowing down will make our streets safer for everyone including children, parents and seniors. I particularly like the focus on the heart instead of the head. Everyone would agree that we need to protect that child crossing the road to go to school, library or park. Or by slowing down, we make the task of crossing the street easier for a person with a disability or senior. The only challenge is as a driver wanting to slow down in neighbourhoods are those aggressive drivers who like to tailgate. Still if we get enough people involved, I believe we can shape behaviour. So I am in on this campaign.

Comment edited by ArvindS on 2014-04-10 09:40:57

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By 30to0 (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 11:43:05

I so love this and want to help! Can we maybe get an email group going, someone could register thirtytozero.ca and start making an awesome campaign. Thank you Jay Robb for putting this out there.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 15:26:59 in reply to Comment 100154

Ok here goes. As soon as I saw your suggestion I registered thirtytozero.ca in order to keep it safe and sound for this campaign. Ryan has my email.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 16:00:28 in reply to Comment 100167

I wonder if Jay Robb wants to kinda oversee this? It's his idea after all.

Great job registering the website.

A couple thoughts:

  • the sign in the article above simply says 'maximum 30'. I wonder if we should simply use that design?
  • I've noticed walking around my neighbourhood that there no speed limit signs on local streets except Strathcona Ave with the '40 maximum' signs. I presume we won't be putting these on streets that already have speed limit signs. That would probably simply annoy people.
  • so if we keep the design simple like the city's signs, we can start using them on the various streets with no signs quietly and hopefully nobody would really know.

Ryan also has my email address. I would like to be part of the group.

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By Goin'Downtown (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 20:37:18 in reply to Comment 100169

Maybe "maximum30" needs to be registered, too. Strathcona Ave has 50/km max signs, too; as soon as you leave the designated 40km area. Makes me cringe; it's practically telling everyone to speed up now that they've passed Florence(and ignore the seniors building and kids in the neighbourhood).

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 22:22:03 in reply to Comment 100184

Ya it's ridiculous. They couldn't extend the 40km for one block to York??

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 16:48:05 in reply to Comment 100169

I can volunteer hosting and web design no prob. No experience with or propensity for social/campaign organizing though. But that domain name sounded like a gem for a good quality awareness resource, even if as a campaign specific sister site to RTH, which is already Hamilton's best educational resource for this sort of stuff.

I'd advocate for a clear mission statement, even if open ended, because it is true that casualties never reach zero; it's the journey that counts and transforms quality of life. Working in ways that are effective and brilliant, but without getting ourselves arrested. Let's think-tank this baby into a neat project.

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By Screwit (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 16:29:57

Wouldn't it be easier/ more effective if we just had a rally/ sit-in/ protest until they freking do something about it??? We are just too complacent. We the people will continue to die unless we stand up and fight back.

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted April 11, 2014 at 12:59:11 in reply to Comment 100172

Blocking highways, in the general sense of the term, is illegal, under the Highway Traffic Act, but obstructing a lane of traffic is fine, as traffic is slowed and impeded. A sit-in would be best...at City Hall.

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By Caledonia (anonymous) | Posted April 11, 2014 at 13:32:20 in reply to Comment 100211

Why not just get the guys from Six Nations to come down. They'll never get arrested.

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By Joshua (registered) | Posted April 12, 2014 at 11:54:09 in reply to Comment 100214

Nice. You stay classy....

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By Macwendi (anonymous) | Posted April 10, 2014 at 23:55:22

Every Hamilton school zone should have a flashing school zone sign. Not all do (eg. Earl Kitchener on Dundurn).

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By JayRobb (registered) | Posted April 11, 2014 at 00:10:16

Great comments and ideas. Really liked Stephen Barath's "drive like your kids play on this street" message. And thanks to mikeonthemountain for registering thirtytozero.ca.

Agree that we should pull a working group together. My email's jay.robb@mohawkcollege.ca. Pretty sure I can find us a place to meet at Mohawk.

A local marketing agency willing to do some pro bono work would be ideal, along with a graphic / web designer. Think that the concept and messaging will need to be taken for test drive to see how they'd go over with Joe and Jane Hamilton.

Also, someone with strong project management skills (definitely not my strength) who can map out a critical path.

I can help on the comms end of things, including media relations.

It's easy to come up with ideas. Executing those ideas is something else altogether.

But I've found that when you bring a group together, some pretty cool things can happen.

This needs to be a grassroots campaign that everyone can own and no takes the credit for.

Onwards and upwards.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted April 15, 2014 at 19:17:50

thespec.com/news-story/4467331-york-boulevard-a-complete-street-/

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By crtsvg (registered) | Posted April 16, 2014 at 15:54:23

I don't want to drive 30 or 40. I'm busy and I have stuff to do. Get the hell out of my way and stay off the god damn road if you don't know what you're doing. Seniors shouldn't be allowed to drive in rush hour traffic at all and right to bed after supper at 4pm. The nigh-time is a dangerous place and should be respected as such. Let's keep Hamilton moving!

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