On Wednesday, councillors passed a new pedestrian mobility plan, which gives the city a guiding document to make Hamilton's streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
It's needed — a local researcher has found that Hamilton is second only to Windsor in the number of pedestrian deaths.
Staff worked on the pedestrian mobility plan for two years and presented a 244-page document on Wednesday.
Based on the presentation, here are five ideas for how to make Hamilton's streets safer for pedestrians.
1. Better sidewalk design
Wider. Level. And with a buffer. Sidewalk design was a common theme among the 1,500 comments staff received during the public consultation for the pedestrian mobility plan.
The new plan proposes that sidewalks be at least 1.5 metres wide, if not more. That measurement allows two people to pass each other comfortably.
The plan also includes sidewalks in all subdivisions, and more continuous sidewalks. Some sidewalks abruptly stop and continue down the road, presenting an accessibility challenge.
2. “Courtesy crossings”
Steve Molloy, project manager of Hamilton’s transportation master plan implementation, proposed the idea of courtesy crossings, which are crossings where motorists would yield to pedestrians. They would be marked with paint and signs. Molloy proposed spending $200,000 to implement 10 of them around the city has a pilot project. But there are still a lot of questions, particularly around safety and liability.
3. Slower traffic speed
Lower speed limits are safer for motorists and pedestrians. Molloy’s report cited the north end traffic management plan, which saw the speed limit in some north-end neighbourhoods lowered to 30 km/h.
4. More street trees and benches
Benches, said Steve Molloy, are resting places, or “parking for pedestrians.” Walkers want more trees, trash cans and benches, the report said.
5. Giving pedestrians right of way
Pedestrians do not have the right of way in Ontario, said Coun. Sam Merulla. Councillors passed a motion asking the province to change that.
“A vast majority of Canadian provinces recognize (pedestrians as) having right of way,” said Merulla, who moved the motion. He’d like the province to “amend Ontario highway traffic act accordingly.”