Hamilton will invest a record amount this year in bike lanes and other infrastructure to support cycling and pedestrian safety. The emphasis on transportation options other than cars acknowledges already significant traffic congestion and the certainty that will be worsened by projected rapid population growth.
The Hamilton–Toronto area currently is adding over 100,000 people a year and is expected to have more than four million additional residents in the next quarter century. In response to that future, the editorial board of the Globe and Mail asked its readers to “try to imagine millions of new commuters, all trying to drive to work on the GTA’s already gridlocked highways” and concludes that “it can’t be done.”
The Globe’s prescription is “better planning, so that cities build up more and sprawl out less” and mass transit “if we want to raise the quality of life in Canada’s cities, rather than choking on our growth.” And while Hamilton is struggling on all these fronts, funding from senior levels of government seems certain to overcome any local resistance to scaling back dependence on single-occupancy vehicles.
More than two–thirds of the $6 million in planned cycling–related spending this year in Hamilton is being covered by provincial grants established by the previous Wynne government that must be spent by the end of 2020. Wynne’s Ontario Municipal Commuter Cycling (OMCC) program was subsequently cancelled by the Ford government, but a quarter of the monies were allocated and received and the city is also hoping for federal dollars.
“The planned cycling infrastructure includes $4.2 M sourced from OMCC funds, $1.7 M from the 2020 capital budget and $345,000 allocated in previous budgets,” explains a staff report to the public works committee. “The city has also applied for the Investing in Canada’s Infrastructure Program (ICIP) funding, and one component of the submission is for $10 M for active transportation spread over the period from 2020 to 2026.”
Projects this year include completion of the Hunter Street two–way bike lanes which is 80 percent funded by OMCC dollars. This will fill in the gap in front of the GO Station between Catherine and MacNab and mean the lanes will now run from Queen to nearly Wellington.
The design is similar to Cannon Street with the bike paths “separated from adjacent auto traffic by a standard concrete curb, approximately 15 cm (6 inches) high, along the full length of each of the four blocks of the project (with short gaps for drainage)” on the south side of Hunter. This will shift parking and loading spots to the north side of the street between James and John.
The largest projects funded by OMCC this year are a $1.2 million enhancement of the Sobi Network, and $2.4 million for a multi–use trail and bike path on the Claremont between Hunter Street and Mohawk College. The latter will be named the Keddy Access Trail in memory of Prince of Wales kindergarten teacher Jay Keddy who was killed while cycling up the Claremont nearly five years ago.
Improvements to the Cannon cycle way are also in the works. These include completing the connection between Sherman Avenue and Lottridge Avenue, and resurfacing and adding barrier separations between Dundurn Street and James North. Both projects are funded with city monies.
Upgrades to several other multi–use trails will benefit from city funds. One is the Pipeline Trail between Brampton Street and Glow Avenue. The Mountain Brow Path beside Mountain Park, the East Mountain Trail loop and an east–west connection for the Heritage Green Sports Park multi use trail are also in the budget for 2020. The major reconstruction of the Greensville Hill portion of Highway 8 in Dundas will also see additional paved shoulders. V