Truck Route Master Plan Review: What it is and why we’re concerned

The City of Hamilton is currently undergoing a review of the Truck Route Master Plan (TRMP), which includes a study of the network of streets that large industrial trucks are allowed to travel on throughout our city. This review process includes an opportunity for engagement via the Truck Advisory Group – a collection of stakeholders of which Cycle Hamilton is a member. Cycle Hamilton has advocated on behalf of its members at two meetings to date and will continue advocating through the entire review.

Cycle Hamilton’s Position

Large industrial trucks should be mandated to take the shortest possible route to the closest highway and no industrial truck trips should use the downtown nor any residential street citywide as a shortcut to leave the city.

In practice, this would mean that the industrial truck traffic generated along Burlington Street with destinations outside Hamilton would be required to take Nikola Tesla to the RHVP/QEW and would no longer be permitted to short cut to the 403 or LINC by cutting through the city. The outcome we advocate for would have no effect on local deliveries, which are exempt. The restrictions only apply to large industrial trucks (i.e. “transport trucks”, “big-rigs”, “18 wheelers”, “semis”, “tractor-trailers”).

Background Information

Hamilton permits large trucks to pass through most major streets in the cities, even if they aren’t using those streets for local deliveries. Whereas many cities limit where trucks can travel in order to reduce large truck traffic on local streets and require them to use commercial routes (with an exception for local deliveries), it is a different story in Hamilton: industrial trucks are allowed on most streets whether there are bike lanes, schools, parks, hospitals, or houses. This translates to large trucks shortcutting through the city rather than travelling on streets that are designed for commercial and industrial use, including Nikola Tesla Boulevard, the RHVP, LINC, QEW and 403. Trucks end up saving a few minutes of travel time at a significant cost to local residents whose quality of life is negatively impacted by the poorer air quality, greater noise pollution, deteriorated roads, and increased risk for cyclists and pedestrians. 

How it impacts people on bikes in Hamilton

Trucks pose a disproportionate risk to people on bikes, and are overrepresented in fatal bike accidents. According to the National Association of Transportation Officials (NACTO), of which the City of Hamilton is a member of, trucks and large vehicles create the following sources of stress for cyclists:

  • High volumes of truck traffic make adjacent bike infrastructure less safe and more uncomfortable
  • Large trucks have blind spots that increase the likelihood of side-swipe and right-hook collisions
  • Large truck noise and exhaust pollutants increase bicycling stress and are a public health issue 

These sources of stress can be reduced and eliminated with separated, protected bike lanes, bigger buffers, and by increasing the distance between bikes and trucks. NACTO also recommends that truck traffic be moved to other streets away from bike routes. 

No more shortcutting at the expense of local residents: calling for a Truck Route Reboot

The City of Hamilton has an opportunity to ensure that the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users are prioritized during the TRMP review by using a holistic approach to rebuilding the truck route and removing streets that are designated bike routes from the truck route map.

Together with the Truck Route Reboot coalition that includes local residents, Environment Hamilton, the Beasley Neighbourhood Association, and other partners, we are calling for changes to the TRMP that will prevent trucks from shortcutting through our neighborhoods. This will improve the quality of life for the people of Hamilton and industrial trucks can still get to where they need to go as they can continue to off-route streets for local deliveries. Large trucks can continue to reach their destinations by utilizing the extensive ring road network that was designed with large vehicle use in mind (including the Red Hill Valley Expressway, LINC, 403 and QEW). 

The changes we are advocating for would mean that these trucks would no longer be able to shortcut through the city using Cannon, Barton, the Claremont Access, Upper James, Bay, Dundurn, Hunter, York Boulevard, Wilson, or Mohawk, all of which would be removed from the permitted truck route map. 

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