Friendly Streets: Barton St. Audit

Our first street audit (May 3rd) was inspiring. We met at the Barton Street Library, and gave a quick overview of the project and its goals. Then our lovely little group (of about 13 people) hit the streets!

Where is the crosswalk to cross over safely to the library?

Right off the bat, there was frequent mention of the fear of bike theft. While car theft is considered real crime by the authorities, bike theft is seen as insignificant, “because bikes are viewed as toys rather than legitimate modes of transportation,” to quote a participant. People say they would ride their bikes more frequently if there were bike cages, or locked domes in which to lock their bikes. The group suggested having secure bike parking in city parking lots.

Also, bike racks need to be the kind that make it difficult for a thief to steal. As far as SoBi bike share is concerned, people expressed a desire to see more bike share presence further east.

Some of the other major feedback we received was as follows:

  1. Crosswalks. There really needs to be a pedestrian crossing across Barton, to get safely to the library!  Our group observed that people dart across Barton Street – they do not go to the controlled intersection. This means that the crosswalks along Barton are not reasonably spaced.  As well, there was an appreciation for zebra crossings such as the one painted at Sherman and Barton, which is clearly visible; we want more of these!

2. Sidewalks
20170503_184427The group observed that the sidewalks feel narrow in some spaces (for example, very tight sidewalk outside 541 Barton at the Eatery) but in other places, it can fit 3 people walking beside one another. Curb cuts were noticed at intersections. Some people said they felt more comfortable when parked cars are present because they provide a  welcomed buffer between pedestrian and moving vehicle traffic! We can think of more pleasant buffers!
There were suggestions made concerning the sidewalks that are wider due to bump outs, for example, can planters or benches be included?
One person pointed out that drainage on Barton St was terrible – pedestrians get soaked by rain when cars drive by.

3. Safety
The group documented many boarded up storefronts/buildings. Interestingly, some said they feel safe biking on Barton; some would like bike lanes. 4. Enjoyableness
The group noted some benches and garbage cans along Barton St, which was positive. There was talk about the need for more benches and planters for beautification. There was an idea of herb planters as an option. Perhaps there could be “living walls” to beautify the buildings. It would be great too, if the street had more “wares” displayed.
The group noticed that there was a nice canopy of trees along Woodlands Park  that would provide some shade when leaves are out.

Outside the General Hospital, there is a decent open public space that could be enhanced.

5. Traffic Calming

There were some bump outs along sections of Barton, which are there to slow traffic on this busy street, but some noted, take space away from what could be a bike lane.
Some street corners are curved, which support vehicles rather than pedestrians.
As well, the sidewalk  is right up against curb (e.g., no buffer) for many sections along Barton St.
6. Other
*The idea of alleyways providing  an opportunity for cycling and walking has come up frequently, and continues to do so.
*Note. The alley behind 541 Barton has a bench but no lights and the pavement is in disrepair.
*Many bus shelters along this section of Barton have bus shelters – which is a good thing!

We welcome your input about the state of Barton Street and other area streets. What do you think can make these streets safer and more enjoyable for?

A huge thanks to Sharon Mackinnon, Public Health Nurse at the City of Hamilton for taking these notes!!!


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