Transportation

Letter to Clr Jackson: Support the Cycling Master Plan

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published February 03, 2011

Dear Councillor Jackson,

I was surprised to hear that you are not "detecting a clamouring from a large number of our citizenry from a commuter standpoint to spend the money, taxpayer money, to convert a lot of our road network" to improve facilities for cyclists.

I am a resident who pays thousands of dollars per year in property taxes and I strongly support my taxes going towards implementing the Cycling Master Plan as soon as possible. Please be sure to include my "clamour" when you next consider intervening in a cycle project.

I am particularly concerned that you believe individual councillors have the right to veto sections of the Cycle Master Plan in their wards on the basis of their "feeling" about the level of support for cycling.

It is reasonable to provide input to improve local sections of the cycle route, but it is unacceptable to force the traffic department to simply delete cycle lanes.

The Cycling Master Plan only makes sense as a continuous route! Imagine if residents could decide to block off major roads to motor vehicle traffic because they didn't like the noise, danger and pollution...

The Cycle Master Plan was developed through extensive public consultation, using public information centres that were advertised in the press and reported on (in advance) in the Spectator. I made the effort to participate in that process.

The final plan involved many compromises to make it acceptable to all residents. It is undemocratic to start tearing apart the plan after it has been adopted, especially since these changes do not involve official public input from the community at large, only from the Councillor and (perhaps) some local residents.

Please recognize that commuter cycling has grown enormously in the last few years, despite the inadequate facilities in Hamilton. Safe and continuous cycle routes would lead to a huge increase in commuter cycling, as it has in other cities such as Montreal and Vancouver.

It is official Hamilton policy to support cycling and pedestrians and the Cycling Master Plan (created through formal public input) supports this policy. As far as I am aware, Hamilton has no official policy to encourage automobile use.

Please support this important (and relatively inexpensive) infrastructure project.

Yours sincerely,

Nicholas Kevlahan
Board Member
Durand Neighbourhood Association

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 03, 2011 at 11:19:11

Great job, Nicholas. Well done. I hope Councillor Jackson listens and acts according to this kind of input.

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 12:19:43

It has to be all wards - there's nothing more frustrating than to suddenly find your bike lane has ended and you're now in major traffic. It stopped me from cycling to work as it just became a death race. Both cyclists and motorists need education on how to share the road, but making a cyclist feel safe on the road would go a long way to reduce the problems.

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By mountain man (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 12:50:44

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By Queensdale resident (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2011 at 12:40:55 in reply to Comment 59201

Well said. I live on Queensdale and rarely see a bike. Or anywhere else for that matter. Why should we waste money on this?

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By Queensdale resident (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2011 at 15:39:38 in reply to Comment 59305

You vote me down because you don't like the fact there are few bikes here?

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By Concerned (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 13:31:40

Nicholas, could you please cite where you heard Councillor Jackson state this?

I also support cycling facilities along continuous routes throughout the city. However, I would like to assess the comment personally before I write my own letter to Councillor Jackson and show him that there is indeed clamour.

Also to Mountain Man, the job of a councillor is to listen to the input of his or her constituents, take them into consideration and take appropriate action to represent them and their interests. Yes, they should be a leader. But they not heroes, deciding based their own feelings alone what the people should want or need.

Therefore any councillor who selectively decides to disregard the concerns of their ward's residents should not be a councillor.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 13:48:04

Nicholas, could you please cite where you heard Councillor Jackson state this?

http://www.hamiltoncatch.org/view_articl...

edit: Ryan beat me to it, I see.

Comment edited by highwater on 2011-02-03 13:49:11

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 14:19:37

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted February 04, 2011 at 13:40:04 in reply to Comment 59214

You are telling me, that my 30km/h road bike which I use to commute to my job, belongs on a sidewalk with walkers and scooters and kids and people walking their dogs?

You'll find considerable disagreement on that. Also, the law disagrees.

You can't allow 2-3 feet of a wide throughfare for safe passage of midrange powered class of traffic? (pedestrian > unmotorized vehicle > motorized vehicle).

In a CITY of all places? Where by definition, large numbers of people are close together and need to share congested throughfares? For shame.

One more thing. Fine, don't have bike lanes that waste space. Makes no difference to me. But then don't complain when the right lane is used by a cyclist. By design that is what you have implemented. Remember, roads will be used exactly the way you engineer them to be used. By failing to put in a bike lane, you are engineering the road to be used per MTO best practices of riding 1M away from the curb/parking. 3 years, safe and sound, no accidents. It works. That said, I am genuinely sorry if I've ever slowed you down. I don't ride just to screw with people; I actually have to go somewhere! Where there is a bike lane I use it and appreciate it. I prefer to be out of your way. Don't rage at me. It solves nothing, I wont' put away my bike because of it, it only reinforces the need to use the lane. Instead bring the design flaw to our officials' attention.

ps: sorry for so many edits. I type fast and post, then think :p

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2011-02-04 14:29:05

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 21:16:31 in reply to Comment 59214

Then just imagine that little lane for cyclists being an extension of the side walk and you'll be alright.

For every cyclist who's cut you off, or who's run a red, or done anything silly, you've seen the same thing a hundred times by a car.

Sit at the Main and Dundurn intersection for half an hour and you'll see all sorts of chicanery by drivers.

Cyclists just piss you off because they occasionally slow you down.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 18:01:49 in reply to Comment 59214

But that makes no sense?? Knock over children and old ladies just because you believe cars and trucks have the only rights to our roads?? Are you actually saying the whole world is wrong when it comes to sharing the road??

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 14:23:46

First, it is illegal for a cyclist to ride on the sidewalk except in very special circumstances (e.g. when a bike path is on a shared path). It is also dangerous to pedestrians, and also results in more collisions with motor vehicles at intersections (since motorists do not expect a cyclist arriving from the sidewalk).

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 15:12:30 in reply to Comment 59216

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted February 04, 2011 at 14:00:27 in reply to Comment 59220

Far too many times I've been either cut off by a cyclist, encountered cyclists who outright ignore stop signs and traffic lights and weaving between road, sidewalk, path, lawn and anything in between to get where they are going.

Why does a law breaking cyclist require all cyclists to be branded the same and punished collectively? If your insurance goes up while other people are driving recklessly and you are taking great care, it feels very unfair and frustrating does it not? My point exactly.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2011-02-04 14:37:56

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 20:43:39 in reply to Comment 59220

...although fault lies both with the >motorist and the cyclist, both who are >either going too fast, or aren't paying >attention to their surroundings.

To me, it boils down to a choice: you're a pedestrian, or you're a vehicle. As a motorist, I am not looking for a vehicle crossing the at a cross-walk or snaking up beside me - and even if I was, many cyclists are moving too quickly to be seen.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 03, 2011 at 17:18:32 in reply to Comment 59220

where they are not only in my opinion safer, but don't obstruct the flow of traffic, which in itself is a form of hazard.

Your opinion may be that cyclists are safer, but the proven facts are that it is absolutely, without a doubt more dangerous to ride a bike on the sidewalk when compared to the road.

I won't get into the details why here because the second half of your statement belies what I believe to be your true reasoning: you want cyclists on the sidewalk because they slow you down when you are behind them on the road.

If you truly want to know why sidewalk cycling is dangerous, here is a good primer: http://culvercitybc.wordpress.com/articl...

And this search can help too: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=is+it+safe+to+ride+...

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 16:10:17 in reply to Comment 59220

If your position is that cycling on sidewalks should not be illegal, I would urge you to refocus your energy away from opposing bicycle lanes, and towards legalizing bicycles on sidewalks.

After your success, all bike lanes will become redundent and can easily and quickly be returned to lanes for cars and trucks. Whereas if you oppose individual bike lanes your effort will be much less focused (as there are many individual lanes to oppose), and you'll only be forcing bicycles to share the road with motor vehicles, which you seem to view as dangerous.

Although I do take issue with your statement that if a cyclist and a pedestrian collide "both are walking away from it" as there are numerous examples of bicycles colliding with pedestrians and resulting in the death of one of the parties. It happened recently to an 83-year old in Cedar River Trial near Renton, Washington.

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By 4 (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2011 at 12:52:33 in reply to Comment 59226

Which goes to show how cyclist's don't care about other peoples safety.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted February 05, 2011 at 14:26:05 in reply to Comment 59307

And since I saw a car run a red light yesterday it proves that drivers don't care about other peoples safety!

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By trevorlikesbikes (registered) - website | Posted February 03, 2011 at 15:00:21

As a cyclist my place is on the road. I have seen enough near death experiences of idiots riding on the sidewalk to know that i am safer on the road. Drivers, myself included, just need to chill a little and remember that at the endo of the day we all just want to get home to our families safely. A bike network must be continuous to be of any value. I personally have no problem riding in traffic, by that takes some time and seasoning, it also helps if you can sprint like a mofo if when necessary.

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By say what (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 15:28:24

Cycling on the sidewalks is illegal because its insanely dangerous. As a cyclist,pedestrian and a motorist I object on every level to bikes on the sidewalk. As a pedestrian I've been hit by bikes, its not much fun let me assure you. As a motorist I've nearly been hit by cyclists running crosswalks and I've also nearly hit more than one entering driveways as they barrel along unseen due to street parked cars. Fact is bikes are safest on the streets moving in the same direction as traffic and anyone who thinks otherwise is .......

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 15:59:48

As a pedestrian, I hate bikes on sidewalks.

As a driver, I hate bikes on sidewalks.

If I'm driving and a bike is in front of me I slow down and share the road. When it is safe for both of us, and eventually it will be, I pass the bicyclist. It slows things down a little, but so what? In the downtown streetscapes where the buildings are right on top of both the sidewalk and the street (like King street) a driver wanting to make a turn onto a one-way will not be able to see a bike riding on the sidewalk until it's far too late. My favorite as a driver is when a bike rides AGAINST the one-way traffic flow on the sidewalk, that's just asking for an accident.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted February 04, 2011 at 15:17:46 in reply to Comment 59224

If I'm driving and a bike is in front of me I slow down and share the road. When it is safe for both of us, and eventually it will be, I pass the bicyclist. It slows things down a little, but so what?

THANK YOU for your courtesy and patience!! As a cyclist, I genuinely wish it was not necessary for you to have to slow down (because of me). I wish I was in a bike lane, and you in a comfortable and unobstructed lane.

A couple of times I have seen drivers obey the law and exhibit elementary decency toward properly riding cyclists, only to be road raged on themselves by other motorists! My heart aches when I see that. I wish I could tell the courteous person that it was noticed, appreciated, and heartfelt thanks for doing the right thing.

Making the case for a cycling network really is too easy.

Your comment is warmly reassuring and keeps my faith in humanity going :)

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2011-02-04 15:24:20

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 16:00:37

Well that's strange...I had no idea the Queensdale Bike Lanes were cancelled...

Since they would have gone through Ward 7 as well, was it really Councillor Jackson's place to veto the entire thing?

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted February 03, 2011 at 17:58:46

If memory serves, something like a third of cycling fatalities relate to riding on the sidewalk. It's NOT safe. An average person on a well-tuned bike can go easily upwards of 30kph. An athlete can do 50kph for short bursts. That's way too fast for sidewalks.

Legislative approaches which blame victims and exclude other road users "because cars are dangerous" is like blaming victims of handguns for not wearing bulletproof vests. Cars are a main element in nearly every other form of transportation fatality, be it bikes, pedestrians, strollers or scooters. Giving drivers more exclusive rights to wide swaths of the city is a totally ass-backwards way of combating auto-related fatalities.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 18:06:34

Everybody is in way too much of a rush to get to......, where?? Leave five minutes early, Share the road, take your time so you don't knock down the bike and the world will be a happy place.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted February 03, 2011 at 18:50:51

There isn't much logic in opposing continuous bike lanes. Making city streets safer for all users should be part of all design/redesign processes that city hall undertakes. The city already legislates road uses (ie: truck routes), the province legislates lane use on highways (HOV lanes). There are many car owners who are quick to exclaim their right to the road to the exclusion of all other users. This sense of entitlement seems to arise from the disconnected feeling of freedom that driving (and auto company marketing) provides (despite the that fact that automobiles and roads/highways are the most heavily regulated part of most people's daily routine.)

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 21:07:37

To the misinformed poster who stated it was safer for bikes to ride on the sidewalk, here is why it is much more dangerous: cyclists travel anywhere from 15-30km/h. A bicycle traveling along a sidewalk at that speed and onto the road intersects cars perpendicular and it is almost impossible for a car to see the cyclist coming, The end result is the car hitting the cyclist at the intersection. On the other hand if the bicycle is traveling in a lane on the road and sticks to within 1 meter of the curb this provides much greater visibility and greatly reduces the chance of accidents at intersections.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 21:19:10 in reply to Comment 59243

Never mind pedestrians walking out of stores or walking side by side, kids and dogs....

The mind boggles.

Unless you consider that this person hasn't ridden a bike since they were in their early teens.

Comment edited by Brandon on 2011-02-03 21:19:30

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By goin'downtown (registered) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 21:54:44

I think, costs aside, that bike paths make so much sense. The air is polluted; more bikes means less pollution. Inactivity is killing us; more bikes mean healthier citizens. Healthier citizens means less stress on the health care system. And the 12-year old mentioned above will be safer in a laneway dedicated to bike use, although admittedly, I don't think I've seen anyone younger than, say, 14 years old on a main street (thankfully). And all this, coming from a dramatic sigh-er when stuck behind a bike. :) Not having bike lanes isn't working. It's not safe for the bikers, and causes unneccessary road rage. And, hey, wouldn't that dovetail nicely with the Velodrome culture! Can we be City-wide bike-lane ready by 2015?

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By FatalFourWay (anonymous) | Posted February 03, 2011 at 22:32:02

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By 4 (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2011 at 12:59:35 in reply to Comment 59250

You talk too much sense for these Internet nerds so they vote you down

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 04, 2011 at 07:46:11 in reply to Comment 59250

This reminds me of the prevailing attitudes towards female victims of rape and assault prior to the Take Back the Night marches of the '70's and '80's. Now we recognize that women should have the right to leave the house at night without fear of assault and harassment, but prior to that, the consensus was that any woman crazy enough to walk around after dark, got what she had coming to her.

It's time to recognize that cyclists and pedestrians have as much right to use our public thoroughfares as cars, and their safety is a collective responsibility.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted February 04, 2011 at 01:33:10 in reply to Comment 59250

Just a thought... All vehicles are not created equal in terms of safety. A Smart car against a Mack truck, a Fit vs a Hummer? Mass is a devastating part of any accident. Yet these vehicles share the road. Respect for others is is a significant part of safety on the road. Bike lanes are a planning issue clouded by entitlement and politics.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted February 04, 2011 at 14:11:35 in reply to Comment 59255

Bike lanes are a planning issue clouded by entitlement and politics.

That is by far the most frightening aspect of cycling. I ride in traffic daily, certainly aware of my vulnerability and occasional butterflies, but overall very enjoyable actually.

What actually invokes nervousness and anxiety attacks (sometimes literally) is reading the rage filled comments in a newspaper/online forum!

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2011-02-04 14:13:04

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted February 04, 2011 at 01:01:55 in reply to Comment 59250

I don't understand the electric vehicle bit?? It's late maybe I'm just slow tonight.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted February 04, 2011 at 10:38:20 in reply to Comment 59253

Until recently electric vehicles have been more or less glorified golf carts with maximum speeds in the area of 40 km/h, thus significantly slower than traditional cars.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted February 04, 2011 at 01:20:52 in reply to Comment 59253

E-bikes?

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By Tnt (registered) | Posted February 04, 2011 at 00:51:15 in reply to Comment 59250

@fatal I think that you are perpetrating a blame the victim attitude here.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 04, 2011 at 08:16:05

If you want to properly understand just how embedded the automobile is to our culture, remember that for the past half-century (I'm being arbitrary in my frame of reference), while roughly 50,000 people have died on North American roads yearly, nobody's blinked. (Yes, the stats have improved, yes, people grieve, but no, there has been no cross-the-board hue and cry.)

To me, this typifies how this culture subconsciously 'values' vehicular use. And it also helps explain why changing our culture -as things stand presently, let's not apply the ramifications of 'Peak Oil' here- in small ways...such as considering and instituting a Cycling Master Plan...can seem as likely as a leopard changing its spots.

(Oh, and the same bizarre 'that's the cost of having that right' logic about traffic fatalities can be seen in deaths from firearms. Well, at least to the south of us...)

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-02-04 09:04:47

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted February 04, 2011 at 14:19:57 in reply to Comment 59258

While the stalling and mafia-grade status quo is awful, this is good news because:

Reality has a way of fixing such things. There will be teething pains, but when nature and math finally catch up to us, this will change. It will be more painful than necessary as a result, but at the end of the day our finite resources and financial return to reality, will force the ball rolling toward a more sound minded and humanistic world view.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted February 04, 2011 at 10:26:05 in reply to Comment 59258

You're bang on, on both points. The old "guns don't kill people, people kill people" is such a load of horse poop, it isn't funny.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted February 04, 2011 at 19:23:33

How can anything be called a Master Plan when councillors have the option to veto the plan in their ward? We spend time and money to create a plan (both staff and community input) only to have council build in a back door opt out. We will continue to have projects implemented in half measures unless council stops inserting poison pills into every plan.

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By Tnt (registered) | Posted February 05, 2011 at 10:55:22

There is something remarkably undemocratic about any official having veto power. Imagine if Mayor Bratina had veto power over decisions? If that was true we would be sinking tax money into Ivor Wynne instead of the beautiful waterfront stadium we are getting. Thank goodness for democracy.

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By 4 (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2011 at 12:51:28

Which goes to show how cyclist's don't care about other peoples safety.

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By FatalFourWay (anonymous) | Posted February 05, 2011 at 20:28:22

The point is that cars are safer than bikes because of safety features built in. Even little cars are safer against collision than a bike. Let's not pull things to extremes.

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted February 06, 2011 at 10:24:36 in reply to Comment 59335

Little cars aren't so safe against big trucks so I guess we should make small cars drive on side streets only, no main roads or highways.

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By Tnt (registered) | Posted February 05, 2011 at 23:53:37 in reply to Comment 59335

Ok, we get it: bikes are a big annoyance to drivers and the drivers are just trying to protect those simple minded bikers from themselves. Never mind the emissions from ICE and host of other hazards they pose, let's just dedicate roads to cars. Can't this argument end? Also have I just fed the trolls again? Sigh.

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By trains (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2011 at 15:42:14

cars and trucks are also pretty unsafe when they get hit by trains, so no more crossing train tracks. from now on the cars will just have to stay on whatever side of the tracks they were purcahsed on!

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2011 at 13:06:22

Most cyclists are ignorant when it comes to the rulez of the road. They are even worse when it comes to sidewalks. All of a sudden they feel like the guy driving the car and will run you over every chance they get.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted February 09, 2011 at 12:50:37

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By z jones (registered) | Posted February 09, 2011 at 13:00:03 in reply to Comment 59450

Why do we need special routes for the precious drivers?? I really get the feeling there remains a real hippy culture in this city with proposals like this. In my day I traveled all over the city and beyond with a beautiful four-wheel drive SUV. I enjoyed beating the traffic from one mud puddle to the next. Only problem with driving is where can you park your truck once you arrive at your destination?? What a total waste of tax payers money.

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By FatalFourWay (anonymous) | Posted February 09, 2011 at 13:38:18

Cars-Bikes-People need a type of apatheid/jim crow laws of seperate but equal. It is really basic and simple safety 101. Lets not get to extremes: if a train hits a car. Yeah, well gee if a plane crashes into a mountain. Wow, what an analogy.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted February 19, 2011 at 09:05:15

Given that this is the most recent RTH thread relating to cycling, the following is an update on the Hamilton Pan Am velodrome situation even though it has no direct relevance to the Cycling Master Plan being discussed in this thread:

This article by Emma Reilly titled "Pan Am construction call rolling" in today's print version of the Hamilton Spectator and titled "Hamilton on track it appears on velodrome" on the online version on thespec.com notes that the City of Hamilton is "...still working out how to pay for a permanent velodrome.", and that city staff will present velodrome location recommendations to city council in March, 2011 from among 20 sites currently on the table: http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

If anyone wishes to start a new thread on the velodrome, they are welcome to do so.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted August 11, 2011 at 11:44:40

Compare/Contrast:

Councillor Jackson, Jan 2011: "Just not detecting a clamouring from a large number of our citizenry"

Mayor Bratina, June 2011: “We’re not hearing any kind of clamour from the public on that file.”

Could the Bratina be Carlos Mencia to Jackson's George Lopez?

http://www.thespec.com/news/business/article/555635--business-group-says-politicians-dropping-the-ball-on-city-growth


On a related note, a pre-hire glimpse of bias from the new blood at the Spec:

http://www.thespec.com/opinion/letters/article/74762--51m-on-bike-lanes-as-potholes-and-sewers-get-worse

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