Change of plan! So we are switching things up and instead or our Airwalk Wednesday audit, we are joining our fine cycling doctor friends to do Tour de Hospital. They have facilitated this opportunity with Smart Commute Hamilton.
Starting at St. Joseph’s Charlton Campus, this event will be a fun cycle tour that includes a skill building exercise and knowledge sharing along the way. Learn how accessible each site is and what routes and supports there are available throughout the City (bike racks/SoBi/HSR mountain climber/etc.). As part of the tour, #FriendlyStreets will be measuring PM2.5 fine particulate matter levels on Hamilton streets as we cycle downtown. Help collect data so that we can map healthy active travel routes in Hamilton’s downtown core! For more info, click here.
Friendly Streets is interested in safe cycling routes to the General Hospital. A few weeks ago (August 2nd), a small group of us conducted a tour of the Hospital Zone, to explore this interest and to audit the site for way-finding signage geared towards cyclists to enhance cycling safety. The group included senior administration staff at the Hospital, city staffer, Daryl Bender, Project Manager, Alternative Transportation with Planning and Economic Development at the City of Hamilton and a public health nurse.
The connection between Ferguson and Copeland has been pointed out as a safe route for employees to access the hospital and the secure bike parking facility. This route could also mirror the Victoria Ave. bike lanes (on the opposite side of the hospital) in that there are two safe routes to the hospital from either side.
We started off at Ferguson at Barton. Ferguson is an assigned bike route, nice and quiet but in need of some paint to delineate where the bike path actually is.
Aug 15–This Wednesday, we decided to test out the air quality (fine particulate matter PM 2.5) around the bus terminals– both at the McNab terminal, and also around the Go Bus station on Hunter Street.
August 1–A small group of us explored commonly used routes to schools and parks in the Gibson-Landsdale neighbourhood. We wanted to measure air fine particulate pollution (PM 2.5) along these routes, as well as document issues with mobility safety and street vibrancy. The health hazards attributed to prolonged exposure to PM2.5 include cardiovascular and respiratory disease, asthma attacks, acute bronchitis and premature death.
We started off outside our office (22 Wilson Street), where we recorded the levels rising whenever heavy industrial trucks went by (a few of them took the corner at James at Wilson, by climbing onto the sidewalk–for real!).
We decided to skip Cannon and take King William to the first park, JC Beemer. The route was very quiet, not much traffic on this street and the air quite clean.
Beautiful laneway through the park.
8 stop signs at King William and Steven!!
At King William and Steven, we counted a total of 8 stop signs at this crazy curvy intersection. Obviously, the sight lines are terrible, and the turning radius of the sidewalk is super convenient for car drivers–pedestrians and cyclists, not so much.
We noted that at Stirton and Cannon, that is no bike lane connection from the Cannon cycle track to Powell Park (and the SoBi station at the park). As one participant says: “As it stands a SoBi user on the cycle track needs to cross Cannon at a non-signaled crossing further west and double back to the station.”
Birch Ave Trail
Birch Ave Trail
We saw some beautiful art along Birch Avenue alleyway and a vegetable garden in a side alley. After this delightful break, we stopped at Birch Park. The air quality was similar to the rest of the route–that is, fair. We observed that there were no pedestrian facilities on the west side of Birch (near the Park) – there is currently no sidewalk or if there is a sidewalk, it’s not accessible and ends abruptly. There is also a lot of space to better connect Barton to the park. So we’ve asked City staff to investigate whether a sidewalk can be built and to consider making the sidewalk accessible with urban braille.
Birch and Barton (no side walk)
Birch and Barton
On our route back, we checked out Birch at Barton which is really dangerous location. From a previous walkabout, we’ve been told that City staff will put in a work order for Zebra crossings at the intersection of Barton/Birch because lines aren’t clear. Signage and wayfinding were also discussed – ideally to let people walking/cycling along Barton know that the park is nearby.
One participant notes, “Also the 2 turning lanes out of 3 lanes on Birch to go West on Cannon make it impractical for people on bikes to continue south on Birch as they need to be on the far right lane to continue north, thus crossing all lanes from right to left at the signal light on Birch and Cannon. And then the opposite once they reach Wilson to not be in the way of all lanes/cars turning East onto Wilson. However, the last point may be moot if Wilson is converted into 2 way at the same time.”
We’ve also been told that Birch Avenue will be converted to two-way in the near future. The re-design will also include cycling facilities, likely a bike lane.
Let’s make a thing of it. Starting next week, Wednesday, July 25th, we invite you to mark your calendars for the following Wednesdays and join us as we measure PM 2.5 fine particulate matter on Hamilton streets. A different route will be taken each time.
July 25 8.30 am to 10.30 am, August 1, 2.30 pm–4.30 pm (on bikes) August 15, 4-6 pm
Sept 19 6-7.30 pm October 3, 1-3 pm
All air walks/cycling will start at 22 Wilson St, in Hamilton.
Last week, a nice little group of about nine people (including a mother and her young child) strapped air monitors and GPS trackers onto bikes and baskets and set off to monitor harmful PM 2.5 levels (fine particulate matter that can lead to health concerns) along commonly used bike routes in the downtown core. We started the air quality audit at 4pm because we wanted to collect air quality data during the PM peak commuting times – when people are walking or biking from work. Taking off at Environment Hamilton office on Wilson Street, we cycled along Wilson street, heading east. The road along the stretch from Hughson St. to Catharine St. N. had been soaked with water, which is actually a good thing. This can help to reduce dust carrying PM. 2.5 and drag out from construction sites. We then swung on to Catharine Street which we all later agreed would benefit from a proper urban canopy of trees (between Rebecca and Hunter). There was very little green space on the street which makes the ride feel hotter because of all the parking lots that radiate heat. Catharine Street also seems like an ideal location for a North/South cycle track, especially as it goes straight to Hunter Street, where it would connect to the Hamilton GO station, a major transit hub, and the Hunter Street bike lanes that stretch from Liberty Street to Queen Street S. There is currently no cycle truck between Catharine and MacNab, but the City plans to fill the gap with protected lanes this year. One participant later described this stretch as being “a little harrowing, a terrible ride,” with drivers riding up right beside us, sneaking in between us; “Frankly, we were an obstacle,” said the participant.
Here’s a quote from another participant:
I wanted to say that the only reason I felt safe riding that route was because I was with numerous riders who knew how to properly ride (especially having Corey behind everyone), I probably would not have done that on my own. I appreciated that the ride leaders were using hand signals, but maybe instructing everyone else to use them would be beneficial, as there were a few occasions were some of us almost ran into each other when stopping suddenly. I felt uncomfortable on the route where there were no bike lanes, but felt safest when we were taking up the whole driving lane (riding in centre), as cars tried to share the lane or became aggressively close when we rode close to the curb. There were times during the route that I found it difficult to breathe (I am sensitive to air quality). My difficulty started in the Catherine and Hunter area, even though the ride itself was not physically strenuous. I think the new asphalt was a major contributor and I still had difficulty breathing even though we had taken refuge in the park. I enjoyed that we stopped to talk and share ideas in the park.
Friendly Streets was joined by Gibson-Landsdale (GALA) residents and community partners to conduct a street audit along Wentworth St. N. This location was chosen after we heard from a GALA resident who lives on the street that there had been 3 reported collisions between children and vehicles over 8 months (October 2017 – May 2018). Wentworth St. N. was converted from one-way to two-way last fall. The resident contacted the City to notify of the collisions and express concern about the safety of the street because there are important community services in the area, including a local elementary school, so there are a lot of adults and children walking or biking in the area. The city has begun a study of this location to assess speed and pedestrian counts, among other variables. City Staff will review the traffic speed and volume data collected to determine what, if any, next steps are required. We invited the City to join us on an audit to assess safety for people who walk and bike, as well as explore potential solutions that would make it more safe for vulnerable road users like children. We also decided to audit Sanford Ave. N. because a GALA community partner noted that it’s also a frequently used walking and biking route by school kids or residents.
Thanks to our summer intern Geetha Jeyapragasan for this blog post!
With beautiful weather and an enthusiastic group of participants, Friendly Streets went out on an air quality audit during the evening of June 14th. A diverse group of 13 residents, including two families with young children, a public health nurse, students, residents from the Beasley and GALA neighbourhoods, as well as residents from other areas of Hamilton, we set out to audit in the Beasley and GALA neighbourhoods. It was exciting to have children part of an audit for the first time, as they are not only the future generation that will be more likely to walk, bike and transit through the city, but they are also a vulnerable population, where the impacts of air pollution are far greater for children than adults.
During a typical air quality audit, we use monitors to analyzing the respirable particulate matter (PM2.5) levels, which is the particulate matter that enters the bloodstream and contributes to several respiratory illnesses. On the evening of the 14th, the air had exceptionally low PM2.5 levels, with an average of 296 (min 185, max. 1655). This surprised us and other participants – as soon as the moment the monitor turns on, we’ve come to expect a “Very Poor” reading, given that we were collecting data in the downtown core. We had conversations hypothesizing the drastic decrease in PM2.5 and potentially attributed this to either the rainfall the day before which reduces airborne particulate matter, the direction that the wind was blowing, and the time of day because we began the audit at 6:30 pm after peak rush hour. Following the scale below, the air quality fell under the “Very Good” category, with a couple spikes as we passed by people smoking, near a construction site, or as trucks drove by.
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.
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. Continue reading “June 2 – A whole day of community engagement!”→
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! From 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.Continue reading “Bike to Work Day – May 28”→