Comment 95739

By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted December 09, 2013 at 12:06:33 in reply to Comment 95603

A couple more quick points while I wait for a call:

If Bernie Morelli were to pipe up in council and say that he thought that Main Street Dundas should have all the parking removed to create easier movement of traffic so that his constituents could get through that area faster, do you think that Councillor Powers would even have to offer a rebuttal? No, because Bernie would be laughed out of the chamber for even positing such a ridiculous idea. Yet we allow these kinds of discussions to occur unfettered when it comes to wards 1-4. So yes, there is a major difference between how these discussions play out.

Let me get to your "the vast majority of people use cars for transit, and given distance, that isn't going to change" argument. Sure, most people use cars to get around, but I would argue that most people are using the wrong tool for the job. according to the 2006 census data found here: 69,345 of Hamilton's 207,120 employees live within 5 km of their place of work. So that's about 33% of people in our city who live within EASY cycling distance to work. I'm willing to hazard a guess that if we dug into those numbers further, we'd likely find that at least 10-15% of Hamiltonians live within 2 km of their work, making it an easy walking distance. Yet, the majority of these people still choose to drive. Why? Because it is, as you've so effectively illustrated, the only option that has really been considered for the past 50 years. Using your car to drive less than 5 km to work is like using a jackhammer to mount a picture on your wall. Sure, it does the job, but at the end of the day it's a lot more tool than you need.

I'll get into the financial stuff you raise a little bit later, but I'll just quickly address your dismissal of statistics as a "funny thing". Statistics are what good policy is based on. They are what SHOULD inform every single decision being made by our municipal staff and our Councillors. So when there is a longitudinal study that shows that pedestrians in Hamilton are 43% more likely than provincial average to suffer an injury for the terrible crime of choosing to walk, and when cyclists on Hamilton's roads are 81% more likely than their provincial counterparts to be injured, those should force you to take pause. These are not "small numbers" as you dismiss. Yes, the number of deaths isn't very large (still far too large, for my tastes) at 6 this year, but the number of pedestrian injuries is much, much higher. Let me put it this way to you:

You state that you have children. If they wanted to play a new sport, let's say football, and you have a choice between league 1 and league 2. All other things are equal except that league 1 posted a rate of injury of 4% every year for the last 10 years - that is, on average, year over year, 4% of players had to miss a game to to injury. League 2 has an injury rate of 6% historically. Which league are you going to let your children play in? How much extra risk is acceptable? Because last I checked, kids don't have the option to drive. They're forced to walk, bike or take transit to get around, unless their parents are OK with chauffeuring them all over town (which is a whole other can of worms that I'm not even going to BEGIN to open...). So if Hamilton wants to be "The Best Place in Canada to Raise a Child", and the modes of transportation that kids rely on are significantly more dangerous here than they are in the rest of the province, WE'RE DOING IT WRONG. These numbers are not something to be casually dismissed - they show a deep, systemic problem that, to my mind, stems primarily from the way we've built our city, the culture of auto-dominance that pervades everything to the point where trying to talk logically about normalizing how our infrastructure dollars are spent and how our public realm is used automatically gets turned into a "war-on-the-car" false dichotomy.

Look, at the end of the day, I own a car too. I use it for big shopping trips, for treks out into the countryside and for work trips when they're required. I use it for the things that it makes sense to use it for, and the statistics show us that the majority of people in our city, our province and our country aren't thinking that way. They see their car as their only transportation option, and, as long as we keep making it the easiest and fastest way to get around, it will be their default choice.

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