Comment 92482

By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted September 22, 2013 at 23:14:25 in reply to Comment 92479

I have to admit, I'd much rather see a complete streets approach taken to all of the streets here. If given the choice between King and Main just being 2-way streets but keeping their full lane capacity as is (ie - 2 lanes each direction with either a turning lane or a reversible centre lane) and seeing King and Main remain one ways but have LRT on one and have bike lanes and curb parking on both and keeping them one-way, I'd opt for the latter. But those options are years off. As it stands right now, making those streets 2-way is the fastest option to normailize traffic flow through the downtown core, so it's the option that I prefer (for now).

As for cyclists in Hamilton, there's a reason why you don't see many cyclists out there, and it's because our network of bike infrastructure, especially in the lower city, is terrible. It only serves either those who will ride in anything (like me) or those who just ride on the sidewalk because they don't feel safe on the roads. The demand for cycling in Hamilton, especially in the downtown, is HUGE. We saw that with Yes we Cannon, where we received more than 2300 signatures, and most of them were from people who said that they don't bike here, but want to. A cycling journey is only ever as safe as the least safe part of the trip, and when you have to ride on streets like King, Main, Cannon, Barton or Burlington to get basically anywhere if you're heading east to west or vice versa across the lower city, a lot of people are just not going to take that chance.

Riding from Ottawa and Main to James and Barton is EXACTLY the kind of trip we SHOULD be seeing people take - it's a 5km trip, which is easily doable in 20 mins on a bike at an easy pace. In cities like Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Madison, WI, they're seeing huge spikes in the number of people making those trips because they're building infrastructure that makes cyclists feel safe and are taking measures to either slow traffic down in their downtowns or to separate cyclists from traffic. The way our land use in the downtown is, we don't have the luxury of the second option (ie - we don't have things like hydro corridors running through our downtown - which make ideal locations for bike-highway type paths), so we need to turn to on-street solutions to make cycling more comfortable, and trust me, when we make those connections and start providing people with leading-edge, high-quality and safe cycling infrastructure, you WILL see many more cyclists on the road. I work in the field of cycling policy and I can tell you that there is not one example of a municipality that has installed these kinds of infrastructure pieces that haven't seen a dramatic rise in the number of cyclists. Hundreds of examples prove it works, and none show the inverse.

At the end of the day, I think your distaste about trying to engineer behaviour change is really misplaced. Behaviour change was engineered 60 years ago when governments started building freeways, making it easy for people to live far away from where they worked, to not rely on public transit, to rely less on your immediate neighbourhood and more (recently) on shopping malls and big box centres. These kinds of policies, and this kind of behaviour change, has created a society we all know to be unsustainable, both from an ecological and from a fiscal standpoint. All these behaviours you're defending were, at one time or another, engineered because at the time, they made the most sense for the economy. So now that we're facing massive infrastructure deficits, decreasing physical activity, increasing obesity and climate change, our choices are to either continue down a path that we KNOW is environmentally, fiscally and socially disastrous OR we bite the bullet, make the hard decisions and start making it harder to do the things we DON'T want people to do (like single-occupant commuting and people using their car for absolutely everything) and start building a city that can actually sustain itself into the future. It's the kind of short-term pain for long-term gain that I think cities (and residents) have lost sight of, and we need to start rediscovering.

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