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City pledges safer streets for Hamilton pedestrians 32:06

In a week where new numbers show Hamilton’s streets are among the worst in the province for pedestrian safety, city hall has pledged to make Hamilton more walkable.

The city will make its decisions “from the sidewalk, not the centre of the road” with its new pedestrian mobility plan, which councillors approved unanimously at a general issues committee meeting Wednesday.

 

That means whenever possible, the city will include wide sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, shade trees and other amenities to boost pedestrian safety and encourage people to walk instead of drive.

“We’ll think about streets from the outside in and not the inside out, which is an important step to having a more walkable city,” said Steve Molloy, project manager of Hamilton’s transportation master plan implementation.

The move comes in light of new numbers from the Social Planning and Research Council (SPRC) showing that Hamilton is the second highest city for pedestrian deaths in Ontario. Social planner Sara Mayo measured it according to the number of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 pedestrian and transit commuters. Hamilton was second only to Windsor for risky streets.

Mayo presented her findings to the committee on Wednesday to encourage councillors to adopt the plan.

Hamilton pedestrians are as much as 42 per cent more likely to be injured compared to the Ontario rate, she said. And the risk to cyclists can be as much as 81 per cent higher than the provincial average.

“We need to lessen that gap,” Mayo said.

Mayo also presented a draft complete streets policy, which the city is investigating. About 500 North American cities have complete streets policies, she said. The SPRC drafted it with input from about 100 people.

It’s important that any decisions the city makes don’t add to commuting time for motorists, Coun. Terry Whitehead of Ward 8 on the Mountain.

“The challenge for my constituents is gridlock,” he said.

But the plan just means that any future decisions the city makes will be made with pedestrians in mind, Molloy said.

The city has worked on the pedestrian plan for two years.

“It’s leading edge,” said Don Hull, head of Hamilton Street Railway. “It’s one of the few in the province.”

Among the new things the city will consider:

  • Buffer areas between the street and sidewalks.
  • A minimum sidewalk width of 1.5m, wide enough for two pedestrians to pass each other.
  • Sidewalks on both sides of the street in subdivisions to encourage more people to walk.
  • Pedestrian countdown and audible signals for urban and industrial areas.
  • Illuminating pedestrian crossings and street signals in urban areas.
  • Increasing winter maintenance in urban and suburban areas.

Pedestrian consideration will cost between two and seven per cent of new road rehabilitation of expansion projects, Molloy said.

Council will ratify the decision on Nov. 13. Then the plan will enter a 30-day period of public review. 

How safe are our streets?

CBC Hamilton is hosting a live audio chat with Sara Mayo at noon Thursday. Mayo will discuss how to make Hamilton's streets safer. Email questions or thoughts ahead of time to hamilton@cbc.ca or tweet @CBCHamilton. To listen in or participate in the discussion, join us live online Thursday at noon at cbc.ca/hamilton, and follow the links to the chat.