The Cannon Cycle Track, which is the main East-West connector in the lower city, has been undergoing major construction during the past several months. During construction, the majority of the cycle track has been closed.
Prior to construction and lane closure, Cycle Hamilton became concerned with the planned closure and the lack of planned accommodations for riders. As a response to the planned closure we prepared an open letter to Councillors Farr (Ward 2) and Nann (Ward 3), the Councillors for the wards with which the Cannon Cycle Track runs through. This open letter outlines our concerns and recommendations for future work that would affect access to our existing network of infrastructure. See full letter pasted below:
Dear Councillor Farr and Councillor Nann,
I am writing to you on behalf of Cycle Hamilton with regards to the upcoming construction along Cannon St. Our organization is glad to see this resurfacing project take place, and we are thrilled that the Cannon St cycle track will be made permanent as part of the construction. However, we were surprised and disappointed to learn that the City plans to close the cycle track completely between James & Sherman from May to August. This announcement was made without a clear plan in place for how people travelling by bike will cycle east-west during the closure.
The Cannon cycle track is downtown’s most continuous, and most separated, east-west cycling route and provisions need to be made to accommodate the growing number of people cycling along the route.
We have a couple of questions about construction:
- Will all of the motor vehicle lanes be closed between James & Sherman from May to August? If there are provisions for motor vehicles along the construction route, we believe there should also be provisions for people cycling along Cannon;
- We’d also like to understand the process by which these decisions get made. To our knowledge, neither the Hamilton Cycling Advisory Committee or Cycle Hamilton were consulted about this decision to completely close the lanes. Any insights that you can provide will be helpful to us as we navigate future construction projects.
As outlined in the Ontario Traffic Manual Book 7: Temporary Conditions (p. 32) when cyclists approach a work zone in a bicycle lane or separated paved shoulder, it is preferable to maintain those facilities through the work zone, especially if cyclist volumes are high.
Data collected through Hamilton’s Active Transportation Benchmarking Program at Cannon & West Avenue shows an average of 609 daily trips by bike between May 1 to August 31, 2019. During that time period, the counters in that location tracked almost 75,000 trips. This is too many riders to displace with no clear, safe and separated route.
Our preference is for the City to make accommodations for people cycling along Cannon in line with any lane openings for motor vehicles travelling along the route. This would provide minimal disruptions to travel patterns. Where this is not possible, Cycle Hamilton would like to work with you to identify alternate routes that can be adjusted and made to be safe and separated. People have become accustomed to this separated facility and it should be replaced with an alternate route that provides a similar level of low-stress riding.
When we did our initial outreach on Twitter about alternate routes people might use if the cycle track was closed, the first response we received was from someone who said they would stop cycling if there were no separated east-west route. This would be counter-productive to the City’s stated goals of increasing cycling. It is also entirely avoidable.
We look forward to collaborating with you on this and to working together to provide safe, convenient, and consistent routes for people cycling in Hamilton throughout the summer of 2019.
Kate Whalen, Co-Chair, Cycle Hamilton