Amazing Turnout for Ward 3 Cycling Audit

It was a stunning evening for a bike ride around the neighbourhood. Ward 3 Councillor Nann, and residents and friends of the ward, joined Friendly Streets for a bike-about and casual audit of a number of streets as to comfort level and safety of cycling on these streets.

What a turn out! We were blown away by the number of enthusiastic participants, including a very young child on training wheels. Residents expressed that they love their ward because of their great Councillor, great neighbours, and amenities like cafes, parks, and the rail trail.

Generally, residents want to be able to have safer and more enjoyable cycling trips to these amenities and on their commutes. Councillor Nann is committed to providing safer biking routes with protected infrastructure.

We started off at the Woodlands Park on Barton, where we overheard children playing in the park asking if we were a “biker gang” or if we were “getting ready for a race.” We left the park and moved onto Barton Street, a road that does not have bikelanes, and is not in the City’s Cycling Master Plan. Let’s just say, this was a situation of “safety in numbers.” Our audit took us through the General Hospital Campus, where Friendly Streets has been working in the area with hospital staff and other community stakeholders, to create a “Hospital Zone” of traffic calming and improved air quality. Copeland, off Victoria will be the site of a new, signalized pedestrian crossing. We then headed down Wellington St N and over to the Hospital Alley/Wellness Way. This is an alleyway in the Hospital Zone that has the potential to be an alternative bike path to the General Hospital. Staff have been directed by council motion to study what this might look like. Councillor Nann mentioned the work that has been happening in her ward, including with our partners, Beautiful Alleys to change the perspective of alleyways, and recognize them as public assets, rather than nuisances. We look forward to see how her idea to pilot an alleyway for animation and uplifting will unfold.

**Note: Friendly Streets and Truck Route Reboot have been conducting industrial truck counts as well as measuring air quality (fine particulate matter PM 2.5, which is very harmful to human health).

Next, we headed along Wilson St (another minor arterial road that our Beasley Friendly Streets working group is focused on improving), down beautiful tree-lined Emerald St, along Stinson St, and up Wentworth St. N. Previous Friendly Streets audits of this street has resulted in the following anticipated improvements:

  • The installation of a pedestrian crossover at Wentworth Street at Mars to be installed in 2020. Once the installation of the pedestrian crossover at Wentworth at Mars is complete the existing traffic signal at Wentworth at Munroe will be decommissioned.
  • A midblock pedestrian traffic signal on Wentworth Street in front of Cathy Weaver School has been submitted in the draft 2020 budget, and awaits Council approval for a 2020 installation.

We then headed along Delaware Ave, where unprotected bikelanes are in place, and up Sanford Ave. Councillor Nann talked about the proposed bike protected bike lanes for this street (proposal to be included in the 2020 Captial Budget, before the fall). Sanford has is overbuilt as is, and it makes perfect sense to have a north-south bike route that also connects to the Pinky Lewis Community Centre and behind the Cathy Wever School.

Our audit took us along Barton St, through the General Hospital Campus, down Wellington St N, down Hospital Alley/Wellness Way, along Wilson St, down Emerald St, along Stinson St, up Wentworth Ave, along Delaware Ave, and up Sanford Ave.

Some issues with cycling infrastructure that residents had were:

  • Normally feel unsafe riding on Barton St (felt pretty safe in such a big group, but that’s not the norm!)
  • The bump-outs and islands on Barton are great for speed reduction, but they force cars closer together. Don’t necessarily want to have a car right on your tail when cycling, but it’s best to take the whole lane in these sections.
  • Cannon st. bike lane closure during re-surfacing has forced cyclists to take other routes that sometimes feel less safe. The repaving should be complete by October.
  • Delaware bike lanes are nice (but unprotected), but when they cross major intersections (Wentworth, Sherman) they tend to disappear or cross traffic in an unsafe manner.
  • Protection is needed for single lane bike lanes.

Thank you Ward 3, for cycling your ward with us, discussing issues, and thinking about how we can make cycling safer and more enjoyable.

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Ward 3 Cycling Audit with Councillor Nann

Friendly Streets is partnering with Ward 3 Councillor Nrinder Nann to do a cycling audit of the ward. Interested community members can join us on this ride, we will meet at Woodlands park (Barton St and Wentworth Ave) at 6pm on Tuesday, September 17th. The ride will last up till 8pm.

Check out the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/423987308253206/

This ride will take us around the Ward’s streets to experience first-hand how friendly some of these are for cyclists. We will also bring air-quality monitors on the ride to monitor for fine particulate matter.

August Industrial Truck Count Results

The results are in! We counted 309 industrial trucks over two week days (Wednesday July 31st and Thursday August 1st), with 231 of these trucks counted at Barton St and Victoria Ave, and 78 of these trucks counted at Barton St and Sherman Ave.

At Barton St and Victoria Ave, truck traffic was highest between 9-11am, followed closely by 1-3pm. At Barton St and Sherman Ave, truck traffic peaked between 1-3pm. The increase of traffic during the workday is fairly expected, but concerning due to the number of people out walking and biking during the day. We recently counted 40 cyclists at the intersection of Barton and Victoria from 8-10am on a Wednesday! Truck traffic is not only a concern for the safety of these community members, but also for their health, as as research shows that large diesel trucks are one of the worst culprits of transportation-based air pollution, with a number of negative health outcomes.

We’re continuing with our daytime truck counts, and are also interested in doing night counts, as a number of residents have expressed concerns over truck traffic waking them and their sleeping children up. Please reach out to friendlystreetshamilton@gmail.com if you’d like to participate in a daytime or evening truck count.

Keep scrolling through this post to see some more information from our count, including some graphs and the types of industrial trucks that we counted.

How We Did It

With the help of wonderful volunteers and high school students working with the Barton BIA, we counted industrial trucks in two-hour blocks from 7am-7pm, at Barton St and Victoria Ave on July 31, and Barton St and Sherman Ave on August 1st. Here’s some information on the types of industrial trucks we counted:

Flatbed
As the name suggests, these trucks have flat beds that loads are strapped down to.

18-Wheeler
These are the typical large box-style transport trucks that you see, and generally have 2 wheels at the front, and 4 sets of four wheels behind this.

Grain Truck
With the addition of Parrish & Heimbecker at the north end of Wellington Ave, we have seen many of these trucks running through the downtown. Expect to see even more in the near future as their milling operations are planned to double.

Tanker Truck
While these trucks can carry a variety of liquids and solids for local or industrial purposes, if you see one of these trucks with Parrish & Heimbecker written on it, it is most likely a shortcutting industrial truck.

Extended
These can be trucks of any of the discussed types, but have a trailer attachment that extends them. From our experience, these often have 30 or more wheels.

Volunteer Call: Industrial Truck Count

One of our August volunteers counting industrial trucks at Barton St and Victoria Ave.

September Industrial Truck Counts – Volunteers Needed!

We’re gearing up for another truck count, during which we will monitor air quality for fine particulate matter, and we need your help! We expect that this will be a busy count, as last September, we saw lots of grain trucks shortcutting to industrial areas.

The counts will take place at the following dates and locations in 2-hour blocks from 7 am – 7 pm, please email friendlystreetshamilton@gmail.com to sign up as a volunteer:

  • Tuesday, September 10th at Wellington Ave and Barton St
  • Friday, September 13th at Victoria Ave and Barton St

August Industrial Truck Counts – Results Coming Soon!

At the beginning of August, we counted industrial trucks shortcutting through the lower city at Victoria Ave and Barton St, and Sherman Ave and Barton St.
Stay tuned for results of these counts in the coming days! For now, you can check out the drone photos below of one of our truck count locations, at Victoria Ave and Barton St, as well as where we want trucks going, on Nicola Tesla Blvd and Burlington St.

Industrial truck crossing Barton St on Victoria Ave, directly beside the Hamilton General Hospital and a bike lane. Drone photos by Robert Peace on behalf of Harry Stinson.

These images show Burlington St/Nicola Tesla Blvd with lots of capacity for industrial trucks. This is where we want to see trucks going, not on our residential downtown streets.

Surveying the Hospital Zone – Volunteer With Us!

We are continuing our work to create a “Hospital Zone” that provides safe and accessible travel routes for staff, patients, and community members around the Hamilton General Hospital. This work is made possible through the Hamilton Community Foundation and is in partnership with the Hospital.

As part of this project, next week we will be surveying pedestrians and cyclists around the hospital, and would love to have more volunteers to help out! These surveys will take place from 8:00 am – 10:00 am on the following days:

Wednesday August 14th: these surveys will be focused on cycling routes, perceptions of cyclist and pedestrian safety, and perceptions of air quality.

Friday August 16th: these surveys will be focused on the crossing of Copland Ave. at Victoria Ave., perceptions of cyclist and pedestrian safety, and perceptions of air quality.

Brief descriptions of the surveys and their relationship to our other work are as follows:

  • Perceptions of air quality in the hospital zone. In conjunction with the survey, we are conducting stationary air quality monitoring and doing truck counts along Victoria, Barton and Wellington streets. 
  • Perceptions of risk related to crossing the street in the area of Copeland and Victoria streets. In conjunction with the survey, we will be doing a pedestrian and cyclist count at this intersection.
  • Bicycle access/use to the Hamilton General Hospital, and cyclists’ perceptions of a new Cycle Path from Ferguson St. to the Hamilton General Hospital. In conjunction with this survey, we will be conducting cyclist counts to and from the hospital. 
  • Perceptions of risk related to traffic, when traveling on foot or by bike through the Hospital Zone of the Hamilton General Hospital.

To sign up, email us at friendlystreetshamilton@gmail.com

New Project Area Launch! Centennial (Riverdale)

With the support of a grant from the Hamilton Community Fund, Friendly Streets is expanding into the Riverdale neighbourhood. Keep reading to learn more about this new project area, including a bit of what we saw in our first walkabout the neighbourhood. As we continue with our project, we’ll be looking to engage with as many community members as possible, and will need volunteers to help with things like street audits and air quality monitoring. Please reach out to friendlystreetshamilton@gmail.com if you’d like to help us with our work in this neighbourhood!

The Location

Riverdale is located just east of the Red Hill Valley Parkway, and adjacent to the Eastgate Transit Terminal. It is within the Centennial Neighbourhoods Secondary Plan area. This area is identified as a Sub-Regional Node in the City of Hamilton’s Urban Hamilton Official Plan. Sub-Regional Nodes are meant to be areas with a regional retail function with a range of housing, jobs, services, and recreation in close proximity. The Centennial Node is the only one in the eastern portion of the City, and includes the location for the future Confederation GO Station.


The People and The Built Environment

The entire Centennial neighbourhoods area, which includes Riverdale, has a mix of residential, commericial and industrial land uses. There are also two major parks. The area also includes several major roadways, including Centennial Parkway, Barton Street East, and Queenstown Road. The Red Hill Valley Parkway runs along its boundaries. Although the majority of development within Centennial is less than two storeys, Riverdale contains several high-rise residential buildings, making it one of the most high-density neighbourhoods in the City.

The traffic coming on and off of the busy roadways and parkway around Riverdale present difficulties for the active-transit oriented population of the area. This population has a high proportion of the City’s newcomers, with great supports that include the Immigrants Working Centre.

Our First Visit

Below are some photos we took on our visit, click through to get an on-the-ground view of Riverdale.

Truck Count

Truck Count Volunteers Needed!
Friendly Streets and Barton Village BIA is looking for volunteers to help with truck counts and air monitoring.

Location: Barton at Victoria.
Time: Wednesday, July 31

NOT on the truck route system, we would like to count illegal industrial trucks and track how they are getting onto Barton Street. This location has also been identified by staff as a hotspot.

Location: Barton at Sherman
Time: Thursday, August 01 
(on the Truck Route).

Time slots:
7am to 7pm for a couple of hours. Please email Beatrice at bekoko@environmenthamilton.org if you can take a shift.

Friendly Streets GALA Working Group: Updates

Neighbourhood speed limit reduction

We were very excited to learn about the City’s Neighbourhood Speed Reduction Plan!  An announcement was made at a July 10th Public Work’s Committee meeting for a 2019 Implementation Plan of “Neighbourhood Speed Limit Boundaries.” School zones will see a 30km/h within 150m of a school boundary and 40km/h neighbourhood speed limits.

Friendly Streets Gibson Landsdale (GALA) Neighbourhood

We checked in with Ward 3 Councillor Nann for further plans on traffic caming in the neighbourhoods of her ward. As we understand, the following changes are planned for the Wentworth Corridor: Staff are working with Councillor Nann on scheduling a PIC (Public Information Center) with residents along Wentworth in the Fall 2019. At that time, staff will present the proposed option for Wentworth Street. The intent will be to restripe the roadway between King Street and Barton Street with one lane in each direction, plus a two-way centre left-turn lane. This will also allow staff to implement dedicated left turn lanes at the King/Wilson/Cannon/Barton intersections. Staff tell us they are currently working through the pavement marking design of the roadway with anticipated implementation in 2020 pending neighbourhood support. The design will include an IPS (over a Pedestrian crossover (PXO) in front of Cathy Wever Elementary School.

Councillor Nann reports that the Wentworth Corridor Public Information Centre (PIC ) planned for the fall will remain focused specific to that project. She says she will be hosting ward wide, neighbourhood based session(s) re: Vision Zero action plan – dates to be confirmed as staff begin rolling out their plan. She is interested in hearing concerns from the residents, and so Friendly Streets GALA working group is working on a survey that will collect this information to share with the councillor, ahead of the neighbourhood sessions.

Cathy Wever School, Wentworth.

Industrial Truck Counts: June 3, June 6.

On June 3rd and June 6th, we will be in the Hospital Zone (the area around the Hamilton General Hospital) conducting industrial truck counts. Volunteers will help with truck counts at Wellington and Copeland and Victoria and Copeland.

In 2017, as a result of community input, we identified the area around the Hamilton General Hospital as in need of being prioritized for friendlier, safer streets for walking and cycling. We called this area the “Hospital Zone” and in 2018 , the ward councillor, Matthew Green passed a motion to have this zone studied for traffic calming treatment. A signalized pedestrian crossing will be installed this year, at Copeland and Victoria as a result of our efforts. As well, the motion directed staff to study industrial trucks diversion away from Victoria and Wellington streets, and the possibility of enhancing Hospital Alley (that runs from Cannon to the General) for walking and cycling. This week, volunteers will be helping to inform these directives. We will also use these truck count sessions as an opportunity to measure (stationary) air quality using our Dylos air monitors at these locations. We plan to use this data to inform the City’s current Truck Route Masterplan Study Review, to argue the need to prioritize air quality and the health of the community.

From Environment Hamilton’s many air monitoring projects over the years, working with community residents, we can attest to the fact that industrial trucks amp pollution up, adding to an already compromised airshed. For example, during air audits, our air monitors spike significantly whenever an 18 wheeled truck passes by.

Our findings are backed by a recent University of Toronto study that found that large trucks are the biggest culprits of near-road air pollution. Researchers found that air pollution levels right beside a major trucking route within a city were close to levels seen beside Highway 401 (North America’s busiest highway), despite the road carrying less than one-tenth of the vehicle traffic. When we consider that heavy industrial trucks thunder through our neighbourhoods and business areas, often a truck every 1.5 minutes on some roads, the threat to public health is undeniable.

Diesel exhaust is a major component of particulate matter air pollution, which has been linked to asthma, lung diseases and lung cancer, and heart disease and stroke, as well as affecting cognition and learning (think of the number of our schools on truck routes!). The issue of air pollution is unquestionably a justice issue. Communities living close to highways and busy roads are far more likely to suffer health impacts of poor air quality. The city’s permissive truck routes are inevitably exposing residents who live downtown with more exposure to harmful particulate matter than other neighbourhoods across the city and this leads to long-term health consequences.

Alleyways are greenways to health!

Environment Hamilton delegated at City Hall to the Public Works Committee in favour of preserving Hamilton’s alleyways as public spaces. We attended in support of groups like Beautiful Alleys, who are our partners in the work we are doing at Hospital Alley, an alley in the “Hospital Zone that links the Cannon Cycle track to the General Hospital on Barton Street. Here is the presentation we gave.

Painted shed: Birch Ave

Rethinking Alleyways

Environment Hamilton is encouraged by the City of Hamilton’s declaration of a climate emergency and acknowledgment of the vulnerability climate change puts us all in, as communities and neighborhoods. We continue to draw urgency to the need for better solutions to the environmental issues that we face.
A changing climate means that our city will need to be more resilient. There are many pathways to resiliency, and green alleyways are one such way. Alleys can be vital players in a city’s overall ecosystem. As the need for cities to rely on more sustainable approaches becomes increasingly urgent, revitalizing alleyways creates an opportunity to introduce green infrastructure, but also, as we have heard with Beautiful Alleys, it invites the surrounding neighbourhood to collaborate on improvements and make use of the space.
As well, as we continue to intensify as a city, these neglected dead-end spaces will likely become more important as both spaces of connectivity and even places of productivity.

Cities around the world are rethinking their alleyways, in this respect. Quoting from an article in CityLab, already, “in European cities like Paris, Rome, and Barcelona, beautiful alleys are vital pedestrian passageways. In Kyoto and Melbourne, they’re retail hubs.”

The point is, alleys are green gold: they have endless potential.
That’s why Environment Hamilton supports the goals and efforts of Beautiful Alleys towards activating and enhancing alleyways as accessible, public green spaces. We support citizens and citizen groups that ask the City to prioritize the preservation of all public land, including our alleyways.
In the minutes that remain, I would like to draw your attention to the Chicago Green Alleys Program. A city with more alleyways than any other city in the world, Chicago has a unique network of infrastructure integrated into the city.

Why is the City of Chicago interested in Green Alleys? Chicago recognizes the alleyway advantage as an opportunity to better manage and conserve resources and improve the environment. In their Green Alley Handbook, they ask us to imagine big: What if all the alleys in Chicago were green alleys? Up to 80% of the rainwater falling on these surfaces throughout the year could pass through permeable paving back into the earth, thereby reducing localized flooding by not sending additional water to the combined sewer system, recharging groundwater and saving taxpayer money that would otherwise be spent treating stormwater.
They ask us to imagine if all the alleys had a light, reflective surface (high albedo) that reflected heat energy, staying cool on hot days and thereby reducing the “urban heat island effect”, a condition where dense urban areas become several degrees warmer due to the density of buildings and amount of heat absorbing paved areas.
They urge us to think of the energy we would conserve, the possibility for constructing alleys with recycled materials, thereby reducing the amount of construction and industrial waste hauled to landfills and reducing the burden on natural resources.
The City of Chicago recognizes, through their Green alleys program, that alleys can improve not only the environment but also the quality of life in neighbourhoods.
Why not take a leaf out of their handbook and begin to have those conversations that are already happening in other cities too (example, Toronto’s Laneway Project, Montreal’s Ruelles Vertes Green Alleyways, Vancouver’s Laneway project with BIAs, City of Calgary’s Backlane Paving) to change the way people view these emerald pathways?
Furthermore, at Environment Hamilton, we have been documenting the difference in air quality that alleys offer pedestrians and cyclists, as clean air routes compared to main roads. We have been noting the potential of alleyways to showcase pollinator gardens, visual art and mural displays, places for gardens to grow and children to play.
We understand that Councillor Nann has been looking into the work of community groups like Beautiful Alleys and we would like to show support for her interest in valuing and activating these community green spaces.
As well, the City of Hamilton is piloting laneway housing, and although there is a long way to go, this seems to be more reason to fast-track the Alleyway Management Strategy.
In conclusion, with the previous delegates, Environment Hamilton encourages in-depth consultations and thoughtful, community conversations and engagement, well in advance of alleyway closures and sales.