by Jamie Stuckless
The “bike lane closed” sign is an all too common sight in Hamilton.
Last year, the months-long closure of the Cannon St cycle track generated a lot of attention, but it’s far from being the only example.
With regular road construction occurring across the City, “bike lane closed” signs pop up frequently and often without advanced notice or a safe detour. This can leave people stranded without a safe route for their trip and is not in line with the City’s stated objectives of increasing cycling.
Even in the instance when the bike lane is closed for only a block or two, it can be impossible to navigate around it without adequate detour space or curb ramps, especially if you have a large or heavier bike like a cargo bike, e-bike, recumbent bike or trike.
In response to the Cannon cycle track closure, and with the entire cycling network in mind, Cycle Hamilton members got together last summer and prepared a position statement with five recommendations for the City.
We submitted our recommendations on how to more safely accommodate people cycling during construction projects to Hamilton’s Public Works Committee in July 2019. City staff were directed to respond to our recommendations and did so in a September 2020 report.
Staff acknowledged our recommendations as being constructive ideas and shared their intent to update and augment local guidelines. No timeline was attached to that update.
While we are encouraged to hear that staff plans to augment local guidelines in consultation with the Hamilton Cycling Committee and the Hamilton and District Heavy Construction Association, it was disappointing that the long-awaited interim report included no clear commitments or timelines.
Cycle Hamilton will continue to pursue this important issue. Please consider showing your support by joining or renewing as a Cycle Hamilton member.If you encounter closed or obstructed bike lanes, paths and trails, you can report your experiences to the city using email@example.com and cc firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as your local councilor.
For reference, here is the full text of our five recommendations:
- The City of Hamilton bring every new construction project that includes or has impact on cycling infrastructure to the Hamilton Cycling Committee for review with sufficient notice to prepare and share recommendations;
- The City of Hamilton conduct public consultations for all projects that impact the safe travel of vulnerable road users, including people who walk and/or bike, with sufficient time to integrate feedback into proposed designs and construction projects;
- The City of Hamilton include on-route accommodations for people who bike in all construction projects whenever safe. On-route accommodations must include a level of protection that is consistent with the original infrastructure, or higher;
- When safe on-route accommodations are not possible, develop a safe alternative route, provide any necessary temporary infrastructure, and provide adequate notice to impacted road users through signage and all available channels with due notice;
- The City of Hamilton include funding for accommodations and/or safe alternate routes in every construction project budget, as well as an additional general allocation for temporary cycling projects in the capital budget.