Transportation

Cycle Track a Fast, Easy, Cheap Fix for Main

By Jason Leach
Published May 09, 2014

It looks like Toronto will be moving ahead with New York City-style protected lanes on their four-lane one way freeways, Richmond and Adelaide.

Environmental assessments are underway for cycle tracks between Bathurst and Sherborne, but the Transportation Department wants to run pilots this summer to help fine-tune the final design.

Too bad Hamilton has so much more traffic and congestion than cities like Toronto and New York or else we could do this on King and Main. I've already argued that we should do this on King, but Main Street could be done tomorrow: make the north curb lane a two-way cycle track physically separated by parallel parking.

Protected bike lane with curbside parking and planters (Image Credit: Streetsblog)
Protected bike lane with curbside parking and planters (Image Credit: Streetsblog)

That would still leave three full travel lanes. We've been down a lane around Main and Caroline for well over a year and traffic still flows freely, even at rush hour. At times the number of lanes has been reduced to three and even two without cataclysm.

We could run a pilot program from Dundurn right through to the Delta, costing nothing but some paint and knockdown sticks. That would leave three travel lanes from Dundurn to Sherman and two farther east from Sherman to the Delta, where traffic volumes are lower. The daily volume drops to 20,000 at Victoria.

This proposal could be done simply with paint and bollards as soon as next year's budget. On Main West, we could extend the protected two-way bike lanes to Longwood Road, and Dundurn Street.

Riders would shift to the north curb at Dundurn in a bike box. This would allow for safe cycling on Main from Westdale to the Delta at minimal cost.

If our traffic department loses their minds at the prospect of going down to three lanes on Main, we could start by having no parking on the second lane during rush hour. The bike lanes should still be physically protected with bollards or planters:

Left curb cycle track separated by knockdown sticks (Image Credit: Greater Greater Washington)
Left curb cycle track separated by knockdown sticks (Image Credit: Greater Greater Washington)

What a difference this one change would make, along with the trees added in bumpouts to make the crossing safer for pedestrians. Seriously, it is an embarrassment in 2014 that we still have a five lane expressway blasting through the heart of the city.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 14:02:54

cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/toronto-officially-opens-sherbourne-street-bike-lanes-1.1401793

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 14:23:57 in reply to Comment 101192

Funny, there are no cars parked in the bike lane on the cover photo of that article...

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted May 09, 2014 at 16:08:26 in reply to Comment 101196

torontoist.com/2012/10/early-reviews-of-separated-bike-lanes-on-sherbourne-raise-doubts/

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 22:23:42 in reply to Comment 101205

Apparently the city is installing knock-down sticks to alleviate the problem, although I don't know what good they will do given how determined motorists are to park in bike lanes.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 09, 2014 at 14:33:35

My hope is that the Cannon Street bike track will be enough of a success to make this an easy sell for the city. But that means waiting a couple of years before pushing for it. That last final round of debate for Cannon was like pulling teeth, Cannon track needs to prove itself to the city before we can do the same to Main unless something magical happens at the next municipal election and McHattie manages clone himself and get 8 more McHatties into council.

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By Safety last! (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 02:24:37

Good thing nobody but the kid on the bike with training wheels is wearing PPE in the picture that Leach provided! That looks really safe!

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 22:30:27 in reply to Comment 101216

You are outraged that they are not wearing helmets, and yet you have nothing to say about all the drivers who are not wearing helments? Riding without a helmet is pretty safe.

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By TheTroll (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 23:39:19 in reply to Comment 101237

What's a helment?

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2014 at 08:54:14 in reply to Comment 101216

Good thing nobody but the kid on the bike with training wheels is wearing PPE in the picture that Leach provided! That looks really safe!

Sarcastic troll is sarcastic. But inadvertently correct, too: that bike track looks really safe!

  • no danger of doors opening into the path of cyclists
  • double separation from vehicle traffic
  • lots of room of pedestrians to wait safely before crossing the bike lane

A bicycle helmet is a a last resort when it comes to safety on a bike: it protects one's head if something goes terribly wrong in a particular way. A cycle track like this makes all sorts of wrong things very unlikely to occur at all.

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By durander (registered) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 12:28:17 in reply to Comment 101223

Why is this poster a 'troll', yet ryan posting stupid photos that have nothing to do with the article seems to be funny?

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By Safety last! (anonymous) | Posted May 13, 2014 at 19:48:58 in reply to Comment 101265

I'm considered a troll because I don't agree with the vocal minority on this site. They love to sit around and talk about how superior their ideas are, but yet they never seem to _do_ anything about it.

Why not run for council if you feel so strongly that our current council is ineffective, old fashioned, closed minded, afraid of change? Seems that it'd be a slam dunk if the majority agreed with you!

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 15, 2014 at 08:16:34 in reply to Comment 101307

The discussions on this site are only one part of the picture. We are doing something about it!!

Those with the aptitudes to get on council (Farr, McHattie) are doing so. Crossings are getting repainted at busy intersections. Speed cushions and speed limit reductions near parks and schools. Bike rentals. Cycle track on Cannon. Many segments of cycle track in tough spots. Sharrows are already being painted on surplus lanes (Victoria). People tired of vehicles peeling corners around their schoolkids narrowed those intersections themselves.

These are just recent ones off the top of my head. For honest and hard working folks that are not in a car, and for those that maybe just want to use it a bit less (cars are expensive), life is that much better off and less stressful than it was 10 years ago. We almost had a beautiful waterfront stadium too.

You call the fine citizens of this city and blog community a vocal minority. You call them inactive and ineffective. I doubt it; I don't believe you. In fact, the positive, energetic, and engaged folks are here precisely because of that positive energy. Then, instead of examining the negativity, cynicism, and poison that you are bringing to the table, you then pretend you're offended that people aren't rolling out the red carpet for your negativity.

Only a personal hypothesis - but I still think the bell curve applies - only the most passionate for/against are vocal, while most people lurk.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 15, 2014 at 09:49:45 in reply to Comment 101322

Here are a dozen neighbourhoods currently working in their plans. Anyone who thinks complete streets, traffic calming and safe transportation options for ALL users are just minor issues only cared about by a few west end hippies needs to read every. single. report.

http://www.hamilton.ca/ProjectsInitiativ...

This cry for safe streets is mirrored city-wide. My parents hood on central Mtn near upper james just had speed humps approved after petitioning. Upp Stoney Creek residents just had speed humps and lower speed limits approved on certain streets there. The list goes on and on.
Hamilton has pushed it's citizens long enough with this dangerous, 'high-speed car as god' mentality for too many decades.

No wonder citizens are finally going out in the middle of the night to fix things themselves. Only a small handful of people love the dangerous status quo (not in their own hoods, of course) and they all work at city hall.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted May 13, 2014 at 21:14:28 in reply to Comment 101307

Why not run for council if you feel so strongly that our current council is ineffective, old fashioned, closed minded, afraid of change? Seems that it'd be a slam dunk if the majority agreed with you!

If you believe that political, civic, and social change - for better and worse - can only be helped or hindered by the few who win one of a handful of elected positions, then you have a rather naive view of the way our system works. And I doubt that you are that naive.

Nor do I think that you are so naive as to believe that the safely of the separated lane above is somehow obviated by a lack of helmets.

In both cases, you are throwing up red-herring objections rather than debating the merits of the case. Which is one aspect of trolley, isn't it?

Comment edited by moylek on 2014-05-13 21:15:07

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By Double standard (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 17:29:06 in reply to Comment 101223

Seems like a double standard. I could say the same about seatbelts - if we lived in your fantasy land, we'd all go 5km below the posted limit with 2 car lengths between vehicles and nobody would ever collide, drive drunk, all street signs and rules obeyed, etc.

Double standard?

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 21:57:54 in reply to Comment 101233

When bikes are the number one cause of deaths in the city year after year and hundreds of millions of $ in damages, insurance claims, hospital visits, then come talk about a double standard.

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By Deflect, deflect, deflect. (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 23:23:14 in reply to Comment 101235

When there's more bikes than cars on the road I'll pay attention to your straw man argument.

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By scrap (anonymous) | Posted May 11, 2014 at 20:46:24 in reply to Comment 101239

Did you know that as a taxpayer you just paid $207,000 for one ad in The NewYorker For a deceptive oil sands ad?

The writer wrote:

"If Canada were responsible it would encourage less oil use, not more"

I ask are you going to be more responsible and get out of your vehicle, straw man?

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By ??? (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 21:03:37 in reply to Comment 101254

I (indirectly) work for Suncor Energy. Am I a bad person?

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 21:12:06 in reply to Comment 101233

Nope! If one of those cyclists clips another, someone will need a band-aid. If one of those drivers makes a mistake, their multi-thousand pound vehicle is capable of making someone leave the scene in a body bag, or crash through the side of a building. Different classes of transportation have some common overlap, for example the importance of obedience to traffic signals, but standard extend to different degrees depending on class of vehicle.

Are you jealous at the mere concept that a cyclist can use a roadway comfortably? Those people riding in the dedicated bike lane in this illustration are not being buzzed by cars, not being honked at, they don't have to be passed by a wave of speeding cars and trucks - can confirm, cycling is comfortable under those conditions.

Perfect world a-la Truman Show? Hardly. But I don't recall a cyclist requiring the FD to cut them out of their vehicle while air-lifting multiple innocent victims to trauma centers.

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By ??? (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 23:24:21 in reply to Comment 101234

If I tap a car going at the speed of a bike, we need some touch-up paint.

Again, it's not paying attention to the issue here. You're changing it from "safety only applies to cars, not to bikes" to "we'll start being safe when it's convenient to us".

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 11, 2014 at 00:33:27 in reply to Comment 101240

Again, it's not paying attention to the issue here. You're changing it from "safety only applies to cars, not to bikes" to "we'll start being safe when it's convenient to us".

Don't twist what I wrote. In my last couple of comments I've just said I'm a fan of PPE personally, and advocate for obedience to the rules on everyone's part.

The point is that a good cycle lane adds a degree of safety that is vastly far above the simple wearing of helmets. The people in the illustration are free to choose to wear one, just as you are in your vehicle, in case your head hits the window. But nobody is breaking the law in this illustration. So stop associating my viewpoint with lawlessness and anarchy.

Showing un-helmeted riders in an artists rendition of a safe cycle lane, invokes arguments that it somehow invalidates the advocacy for a safe cycle lane; these are a distraction meant to derail the conversation.

I'll give you another example. Some time ago in another MSM site was an article about planned streetscaping on Eglington Ave after the CrossTown is built. The first visible comment, because it was an "Editor's Pick" comment, was pointing out the one lady in the illustration that was not wearing a helmet. It's like some of you are so desperate to maintain a dangerous high stress ghetto street atmosphere, you'll grasp at any nit you can possibly pick to derail the topic of conversation into fruitless minutia.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 07:27:32 in reply to Comment 101216

Haha ... every time there is an artist rendition, or actual photo, of people riding in proper cycling infrastructure, there is always someone who steps up to nitpick their lack of helmets. Helmets are not mandatory for adults. The kid is required by law to be wearing it, nobody else is.

Just so you know, I'm a big fan of PPE, and typically always wear mine. Your concern for cyclist safety is heartwarming, but you are just trying to distract from an illustration of excellent cycling infrastructure, by going off on a pointless tangent.

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By Steven Clark (anonymous) | Posted May 10, 2014 at 04:24:27

Thanks for such a knowledgeable post. All the points are very clearly defined. Whole work is appreciable.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted May 11, 2014 at 13:33:50

Jason, most of what you advocate for Main appears to be in Ward 2, where I live.

Why don't you write it up for the Participatory Budgeting process next year?

It becomes very hard for the politicians to say "no" when the people just voted for it.

Comment edited by KevinLove on 2014-05-11 13:34:28

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 11, 2014 at 21:58:10 in reply to Comment 101249

Yes, this concept would apply to Wards 1, 2 and 3. I don't live in Ward 2 however, so I couldn't submit it there. I would love it if someone did though.

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By NIMBY (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 21:04:45 in reply to Comment 101255

>> I don't live in Ward 2


Good. Don't tell me how to live in my ward, I don't tell you how to live in yours.

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By AP (registered) | Posted May 13, 2014 at 09:07:20 in reply to Comment 101290

I live in Ward 2 and would be glad to co-submit.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 13, 2014 at 09:30:08 in reply to Comment 101298

I think it would be great if we could have this idea submitted in both wards for the next round of voting. Sadly, that's a year away.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 21:37:07 in reply to Comment 101290

Oh how I wish. Every improvement we try to make in lower city wards gets squashed by councillors elsewhere. If they would leave us alone, I would never make another suggestion EVER for another ward.

De-amalgamation would be the greatest victory for the lower city in history.

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By MattM (registered) | Posted May 11, 2014 at 14:21:18 in reply to Comment 101249

Something tells me that even if this got voted for through the participatory budgeting process, the roads department and council would still hijack and destroy it somehow...

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 18:07:58 in reply to Comment 101250

Perhaps. But when the people vote for something and the bureaucrats then kill it...

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 11, 2014 at 21:58:42 in reply to Comment 101250

This is true. But I don't see any other choice than to keep banging against that 1970's wall. Something has to crack eventually.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 14:37:03 in reply to Comment 101256

I live in Ward 2 and am currently a Budget Delegate. There are other excellent projects in the works. But we can always use more.

Please remind me next year!

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By DudeLove (anonymous) | Posted May 12, 2014 at 21:05:20 in reply to Comment 101276

I live in ward 2 and would never vote for this. Please move to the Netherlands.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted May 13, 2014 at 10:16:35 in reply to Comment 101291

I live in Ward 7 and I would vote for this in Ward 2 if I could. You should move to Brantford.

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By D Robert (anonymous) | Posted May 13, 2014 at 18:53:34 in reply to Comment 101303

Why would I move to Brantford? KevinLove is always telling us how we should be more like the Netherlands. I don't talk about how fantastic life is in Brantford.

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By AP (registered) | Posted May 13, 2014 at 09:08:42 in reply to Comment 101291

Again, I live in Ward 2 and would definitely vote for this. So we're tied. I've also been to the Netherlands. It was wonderful. So is Hamilton.

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By ORiTvOnline (registered) - website | Posted May 15, 2014 at 06:29:27

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 20, 2014 at 11:58:23 in reply to Comment 101320

After the Cannon bike lane process, I think the tough sell isn't the loss of a lane of traffic but the cost of implementation, particularly ploughing.

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By Meh (anonymous) | Posted May 17, 2014 at 22:26:04 in reply to Comment 101320

I like the back and forth in the comments on your video there. I think that it would be prudent to include the time of day, rather than a dismissive and inflammatory comment back... :)

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By Timmy Ho (anonymous) | Posted May 18, 2014 at 15:23:55

One draw back of this otherwise great idea by Jason is that people will have to actually slow down when they turn into Tim Hoinrton drive through restaurants. In the video, you can see a truck turn off the Main Expressway in to Timmy's without even braking. lol. Why would you need to when there are no pesky pedestrians or cyclists or even much of a sidewalk to get in your way.

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