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June 2 – A whole day of community engagement!

100in1Day Hamilton is an annual celebration where communities around the country work together to host interventions that bring the community together and improve their city. Interventions can range from environmental and educational to social initiatives. Held on June 2, it also coincided with the annual Barton Village Festival. With over 115 interventions registered in Hamilton, as well as a variety of fun and family-friendly activities on Barton Street, it was a day to enjoy the warm weather and vision a better and thriving community in Hamilton.

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Beatrice (left), Project Manager with Environment Hamilton, and Geetha (right), our Active Transportation Summer Intern, at the Barton Village Festival.

Of these, the Friendly Streets and Trees Please projects of Environment Hamilton and Cycle Hamilton hosted interventions to help share about the work that we’re doing and engage our neighbours in improving our communities. Friendly Streets Hamilton gathered information and feedback through an interactive map that allowed the community to share about their experiences in the Barton Village Business Improvement Area, including what they enjoyed about their neighbourhoods and what improvements we could make. By connecting with people who live, work, and play in Barton Village, we were able to engage with a variety of members from this community, from kids playing in the park, residents walking and biking to school, to the senior community residing in the area. Through connecting with the residents, we were able to gather eye-opening feedback.

With regards to mobility, several members mentioned the need for bike lanes in certain areas, having plant partitions or some sort of protective measure to separate automobiles from bike lanes.Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 1.34.15 PM The relationship between vehicles and people on bikes was brought up multiple times, with people mentioning that drivers needed to pay attention to and respect bike lanes. Residents noted the need for greater enforcements surrounding stop & rolling cars, noting cars especially did not come to complete stops around bike lanes or when they are near people on bikes, which puts people at risk. The use of alleys also came up frequently, with residents noting they enjoyed various alleyways as a space for walking and cycling, including the alley east of Victoria that runs to king. The theme of traffic calming was significant through several conversations, with several residents mentioning the need for speed bumps, as well as increased signage and signals. Examples of this were noted at James and Barton, where it was noted that there were not enough signals for the volume of traffic at that intersection, as well as at Brock and Catherine, where cars often did not recognize the bike lanes and drove into them.

With a similar activity hosted at the Bike to Work day event, we noticed several of the sentiments from our intervention echoed the comments and concerns raised at the Bike to Work day event. Alongside this intervention was our Trees Please activity, where we held a tree identification activity, discussed tree planting initiatives, and air quality with residents. Through the connections made with community residents, as well as fellow intervention hosts connecting with us, we were able to identify both the highlights and enjoyable areas and aspects of Barton, areas of concern, and how to make the neighbourhood and commutes safer and more enjoyable. This will better contribute to our understanding of mobility in the Barton Village area, as well as the solutions that are needed and opportunities that can be explored to make it safer for people of all ages and abilities to walk and bike.

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Geetha engaged residents by using our interactive desire map to better understand neighbourhood mobility concerns and opportunities.

 

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Bike to Work Day – May 28

Up and early at 7:00am, Hamilton came together to celebrate its 10th annual Bike to Work Day. Several community organizations, city councillors, and enthusiastic commuters gathered with their bikes to enjoy a donut and coffee and to celebrate the Bike Month kick off!  Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 8.20.21 AMFrom free bike repairs, live performances, and rides taking place around the city, the event was a massive success, allowing us to promote and celebrate active transportation. By promoting cycling or healthy active living, companies and groups came together to support Hamilton and get people on their bikes.

 

One of the many groups there was our project Friendly Streets. A project of Environment Hamilton and Cycle Hamilton, the goal of Friendly Streets is to make walking and biking a safe and enjoyable experience. To accomplish this goal, we first needed to determine what encourages people to bike. What are the friendly aspects of our city or specific neighbourhoods that make it bike-friendly? With this in mind, we connected with a variety of commuters and asked them what they enjoyed about their commute, opening the floor for people to share how they generally feel about commuting around various areas of Hamilton.

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Bike lanes were key in many people’s commute, noting it allowed them to travel faster, especially during rush hours when traffic is at its peak. Commuters also appreciated the safety it provides, key to a stress free ride, allowing residents to enjoy their city and surroundings without having to worry about cars. Both physical and mental health benefits were also repeatedly mentioned by both adults and children, noting it gave them an opportunity to exercise, helped them clear their mind and wake up in the morning, and generally use biking as a healthier method of commuting. Hamilton’s vibrancy also brought people onto their bikes, with some noting the flowering trees, historic architecture, churches, murals, and the beautiful waterfront, mentioning they were unable to enjoy these things when driving. It’s important to highlight the positives but also acknowledge the barriers that either make cycling difficult and unsafe for people, or barriers that prevent people from cycling at all. Lack of bike lanes in the mountain area makes it very difficult to bike, with residents expressing the need for separated bike lanes. Cars also pose a threat to people who bike sometimes, especially in areas where there are no bike lanes, or bike lanes are not protected or easily identified.

Through gathering this information, we were not only able to gather information about commuter’s experiences and have discussions, but also discuss alternative routes and options for a safer trip to work. Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 8.47.47 AMPerspectives from commuter cyclists are important to include in the conversation about friendlier streets because mobility needs are diverse – this should capture those who use the streets every day and experience challenges, as well as those who don’t use their streets for walking and biking but want to see more changes to improve the enjoyableness of active travel.

First Airwalk Audit

On May 24th 2018, staff at Environment Hamilton and Cycle Hamilton, along with other community members and organization representatives ventured the streets of Beasley to conduct an audit centered around air quality and transportation. Using air quality monitors, respiratory particulate matter (PM 2.5) levels were monitored, the matter known to cause respiratory effects such as asthma attacks, bronc20180522_182043hitis, heart attacks, and several other issues. Not only were PM2.5  levels observed, but also the general mobility of the area, from pedestrian crossing routes, sidewalk beautification, bikeability, and people’s proximity to cars on the sidewalk. The audit was conducted from 6-7:30pm, after the typical rush hour of students and employees returning home. The scale below helps provide a frame of reference for where the levels should be. The average air quality of the entire audit measured to 6571, which include measurements from main arterial roads such as Cannon, as well as through alleyways, residential and park areas.

In general, it was observed that Hamilton’s air quality is nowhere near where it should be, and currently, as it stands, Hamilton has the worst air quality within the province.  During the audit, however, there were locations that stood out, either due to their comparatively high PM2.5  levels or due to the structure of the roads, making active transport (walking/biking) unsafe and difficult. One prominent aspect we noticed throughout several of the streets was the lack of greenery and trees surrounding the area. Trees drastically improve air quality, removing up to 50% of PM2.5 from the air. This was noticed on Barton, where no trees were found between James and Ferguson. Mobility issues were observed throughout the audit, where sidewalks were not wide enough for comfortable wheelchair mobility, the narrow sidewalks also put pedestrians very close to cars speeding down the road, not only making these sidewalks unsafe but deterring people from walking on the sidewalks all together and resorting to cars instead. Walking along Cannon was not a comfortable walk as there was no buffer between us and the cars speeding by, putting people and homes at risk. Bad mobility and air quality affects some communities more than others and put vulnerable communities at risk. For example, the area around King and Wellington St where First Place Hamilton Seniors Residence had elevated levels of PM2.5, further harming a population that is already more susceptible to the dangers of particulate matter than the general population.

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One shocking observation was not only the volume of parking spaces but the concentration of them in the downtown core. With several entire blocks solely used for parking spaces, greenery and suitable bike parking were almost non-existent, making it an unattractive place for people who want to walk and bike commute to work. This audit allowed us to show the community where our air quality stands, collect more information and led to several insightful discussions on how mobility and air quality could be improved in the area.

Air walk talk: Join us!

Join us on a short street audit where you can learn about air quality challenges and learn how to use an air monitoring equipment that measures harmful respirable particulate levels (PM 2.5). Data will be applied to explore and map alternative travel routes, while together, we continue raising awareness for action on poor air quality.

Meet Tuesday, May 22nd at 294 James St N. Walk leaves at 6pm. All welcome!FS Air Walk May 14 (1)

Tree Planting at the General Hospital

April 14th–

That vision though! Trees for Hamilton invited the Friendly Streets team to come out and plant trees on the Hospital Grounds. So many collaborations working together towards a friendly streets environment for the hospital area, what we are now referring to as the “Hospital Zone,” in the same way that the Vancouver General Hospital is doing.

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Tree planting for #OurFutureHamilton With Trees for Hamilton, TreesPlease and the wonderful staff at the General!

We are back! Friendly Streets continuing in 2018

We are back! After a little dry spell of a couple months, we are happy to let Friendly Streets’ lovers know that our project has secured some funding to tide us over until November 2018. Our project will continue to support local leadership for friendly streets in our pilot neighbourhoods of Beasley and GALA, as well as advance our efforts in the area around the Hamilton General Hospital.

In particular, we will be working with:

1. The Hamilton General Hospital “Working Group” towards a pedestrian crossing on Victoria Street North at Copeland, where a pedestrian was hit by a car. This is a natural foot-route to the hospital entrance from the parking lot and the community has expressed great concern and a desire for a safe crossing.

We are also exploring alternative pathways/alleyways for walking and cycling to the hospital and Barton Village BIA. The goal of this “mini-pilot” is to look at ways that we can use existing space in the city, like alleyways, for healthier active travel routes. We will be hosting a “Jane’s Ride/Walk” on May 6th to share details about this mini-pilot and how you can get involved. Stay tuned for details.

In keeping with the grand vision of a “Hospital Zone” for this area, like the Hospital Zone near the Vancouver General Hospital , we will be exploring how to achieve this goal with the Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Green and the community, including beautification (tree planting, pollinator attracting gardens and the possibility of art).

2. Beasley Neighbourhood Association: Friendly Streets Cafe
This little group is focusing on traffic calming on Wilson Street. We are also looking at improving safety along Wellington Street (e.g., Cannon Cycle Track, truck routes) and safety improvements to Cannon Street for people who walk and bike.

3. GALA Community Planning Team: Friendly Streets Cafe
We are going to be looking at dealing with truck route issues on Wellington Street. We are also open to working on other areas of concern that may be identified by community members.

4. Finally,  we have a new piece that we are adding to the project! We’ll be integrating air quality data collection into the street audits that we’ve been doing in our project area. Community members will learn about urban air quality challenges in the downtown core and measure PM2.5 along roads that are frequently used by people who walk and bike. We’ll also be inviting community members to explore and map active travel routes with better air quality. We hope that residents will become more aware of Hamilton’s urban air quality challenges and, more specifically, air quality conditions in their own neighbourhood. Residents will have the opportunity to reflect on and make commitments to change any behaviours that might contribute to urban air particulate pollution levels.

Thanks to the  Hamilton Community Foundation for their support so that we can make this happen!

 

Friendly Streets Toolkit is here!

Friendly Streets Hamilton Toolkit
For Immediate Release
February 27th, 2018
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A project of Environment Hamilton and Cycle HamiltonFriendly Streets Hamilton has been working in the neighbourhoods of Beasley, Gibson & Landsdale (GALA), and Keith to engage residents, businesses, and community institutions in dialogue and action to create better  conditions for walking and biking, particularly for vulnerable road users, as well as improve street vibrancy in these areas.

As part of this year-long pilot in 2017, a toolkit for community engagement has been developed which focuses  on creating better streets for those who walk, bike, or have other mobility concerns.

“The Friendly Streets toolkit really pulls together what we’ve been exploring all of last year, that is, the best methods of engagement to enable community members, collaborators, and organizational stakeholders in sharing their concerns and figuring out solutions together, as neighbours,” says Beatrice Ekoko, Project Manager.

“We are very excited about the potential of this toolkit because it provides practical tools for community members,” says Elise Desjardins, Project Manager. “There has been a lot of interest in the project and toolkit because Hamiltonians want and deserve streets that are safe and enjoyable to experience. A lot of people have been working to address small pieces of the larger picture, so we’ve worked hard to bring together diverse stakeholders in order to collaborate and achieve a common vision.”

Friendly Streets heard from over 200 community members: residents, neighbourhood associations, businesses, people who walk or bike to commute or for pleasure, community organizations, City of Hamilton staff, and major community institutions. Many tools that were tested to engage these groups were developed by the Friendly Streets team and other collaborators, but many were also existing tools that were adapted to better serve the context of active transportation in Hamilton.

The toolkit is divided into 14 modules and includes sections on understanding the City’s traffic calming and management policies, building support for your friendly streets ideas, case studies, an interactive “desire map,” tips for business owners, additional active transportation resources, and tips to start your own neighbourhood working group like a “Friendly Streets Cafe”.

It is a living document that will be frequently updated with additional tools, information pertaining to city services or plans, and resources.

Download the Friendly Streets Toolkit here.

Background

Friendly Streets works towards:

  • Gaining a better understanding of community challenges and opportunities related to neighbourhood mobility in Hamilton’s downtown core
  • Identifying the best engagement tools to bring together community members and stakeholders to share concerns and explore solutions together
  • Creating a strong foundation for long-term partnerships with a broad network of stakeholders and residents of all backgrounds, abilities, and age groups
  • Developing a web-based toolkit to share the most effective tools to engage and empower people in the creation of more walkable, bikeable, and vibrant neighbourhoods through dialogue, collaboration, and action

The project was made possible by the generous support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Funding to support the project into the next phase, as well as expand it beyond these neighbourhoods and into others across the city, is in the works. Visit the project blog for more information on the project.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Elise Desjardins, Project Manager (Cycle Hamilton)

friendlystreetshamilton@gmail.com

905 549 0900

Beatrice Ekoko, Project Manager (Environment Hamilton)

bekoko@environmenthamilton.org
905 549 0900