Tuesday, November 13, 2007

new school, same road

The Sir William Osler elementary school opened to students today. 640 of them.

No changes to the roadway environment as of yet.

No word on when, or for that matter even if, any changes to improve safety will occur.

Time to start digging...

Here's news from the daily:

A new chapter for students

The Hamilton Spectator

Sir William Osler school offers escarpment views, latest technology

DUNDAS (Nov 13, 2007)

The location was debated for years. Labour spats delayed it for months. But today, Sir William Osler Elementary School will open for Dundas students.

The two-storey school on a steep site on Governor's Road was a buzz of activity yesterday, as staff unpacked boxes, families with jogger strollers took tours, and principal Maria Rowles played hostess in a long-awaited new home.

"We have 640 students. Not only did their moms and dad come, their grandparents came," said Rowles, estimating 1,000 visitors toured the school. The school is named for William Osler, a celebrated physician raised in Dundas.

Its opening was delayed by provincial labour disputes, which kept students in old schools to which they'd already bid farewell. It also created the challenge of moving a school during the year.

"It's a challenge because we're operating the same staff in two sites."

Osler is designed on a template, so it's similar to other new public schools Ray Lewis, Gatestone, Ancaster Meadow and new Lawfield elementary, which opens Monday on the Mountain.

Until now, kids planning to attend Lawfield were at Vern Ames (junior kindergarten to Grade 5) and Seneca (grades 6 to 8). Kids attending Osler were at Central Park (junior kindergarten to Grade 4) and Dundas District (grades 5 to 8), and Dundana students had been at either of the two feeders.

Parent Brian Peirce said his two kids would've liked to finish the school year at Central Park and Dundas District, rather than move to Osler mid-year. He adds the new school is "beautiful" on a site that had been a rolling, sparsely wooded area with soccer fields.

"It's been long, but it's here," said parent Eva Fisher, who thinks Osler's 9:10 a.m. start will create traffic chaos because it's too close to bell times at Highland secondary and St. Bernadette Catholic elementary, both on the same side of Governor's Road as Osler.

A parent survey narrowly chose the 9:10 a.m. start time at Osler. Rowles said parents were split: those with young kids worried an early start would be hard to accomplish, while parents of upper-year kids wanted an early start to leave time for after-school activities.

The school is a piece of work: extra-wide lockers to share; light streaming in from floor-to-ceiling windows; learning "pods" outside classrooms; a gym some colleges would dream of.

Richard Francki, senior manager of facilities, said the $10-million school lets the board close two others, so it saves on energy, transportation and staffing.

With room for 667 students, it doesn't yet have portables. New schools also avoid lead paint, asbestos, and hot summer days without air-conditioning, which make school less appealing.

And with stunning views of the Escarpment and rolling yards that made stormwater diversion crucial, it looks like tobogganing is a real possibly.

Dundas trustee Jessica Brennan said one argument in favour of using the proposed Veterans Park site was that it was flatter, so grading wouldn't add to the cost. Still, she said she was thrilled to finally open the doors.

Rowles, who is proud of the school's escarpment views, notes she has also been able to buy 21st century tools for the new building. It has nine SMART Boards and nine other screens that function like an interactive digital update on the classic chalkboard.

See a slide show presentation of the new Sir William Osler Elementary School.
For more go to thespec.com

Monday, June 25, 2007

From Councillor's Web Site

I found this on the ward councillor's web site:

"Governor's Road Concerns

Governor's Road from Main Street, westbound to Ogilvie Street:

1. Widen two bridges crossing Spencer Creek and intersection at Governors Road/Oglivie Street to accommodate one additional lane (use to be determined).
2. Add a 4 way, advanced left turn signal to the traffic lights at the Governors Road/Oglivie Street intersection.

Governor's Road from Ogilvie Street, westbound to Creighton Road:

1. Currently there are two westbound and one eastbound lanes on Governors Road...identify the middle lane as an additional eastbound lane during the morning rush hour and an additional westbound lane during the late afternoon/evening rush hour.
2. Investigate the possible need for traffic lights or a pedestrian-activated crosswalk at the Governors Road/Overfield Street intersection.

Governor's Road from Creighton Road, westbound to Pirie/Wainwright Drive:

1. Add an advanced left turn signal to the traffic lights at the Governors Road/Creighton Road intersection for eastbound/westbound traffic along Governors Road.
2. Widen Governors Road to accommodate an identified left turn/holding lane from Creighton Road to at least Davidson Boulevard.
3. Install traffic lights or a roundabout (includes a pedestrian-activated crossing signal) at Davidson Boulevard.
4. Install a pedestrian-activated crossing signal at the corner of Governors Road/Huntingwood Drive.
5. Post school crossing guards at the Huntingwood, Castlewood/Bridlewood and Davidson pedestrian crossings.
6. Extend the sidewalk on the north side of Governors Road from Davidson Boulevard to Pirie Drive.
7. Install a flashing “Speed Reduced to 40 kph” for the area bounded by the east/west boundaries of the three schools. This is programmed to be activated during morning and late afternoon/evening rush hours.
8. Continue to lobby for a crossing guard at the Governors Road/Bridlewood /Castlewood Drive intersection.


1. Conduct a comprehensive traffic audit to identify contributing factors.
2. Enhance public transit frequency along Governors Road during rush hours on weekdays.
3. Review signal synchronization for eastbound/westbound traffic at Main Street, Oglivie Street and Creighton Road.
4. Perhaps the school boards could review their starting/finishing times to reduce pedestrian traffic during rush hour (maybe stagger the starting/finishing times amongst the three schools to lessen the focused impact time slot).
5. Perhaps the School Boards should rationalize their individual busing services and possibly consider merging into a single provider…this may actually reduce the number of buses on the road with a corresponding reduction in operating costs.. "

[end of quoted text]
OK, some nifty ideas, but the overall thrust is dealing with automotive traffic efficiency, and very little to address pedestrians and cyclists concerns.

While most of the above ideas are acceptable, there are a couple of big bad ideas that stand out - like number 2 under" Governor's Road from Creighton Road, westbound to Pirie/Wainwright Drive:" widening Governor's Road?! Perhaps middle turn lanes at school entrances, but the entire length of Governor's? This type of engineering would induce traffic speeds and make the crossing wider for pedestrians.

Besides, there is no mention of bicycle lanes, although the city's transportation master plan has Governor's Road marked for them along the entire stretch. There's not a lot of room for widening, so the extra traffic lane would likely be at the expense of cycling lanes. Rather than traffic calming by lane narrowing and providing a buffer between cars and pedestrians by providing space for cyclists, road widening just makes it more dangerous for every user.

While this is about a kilometer west of the area we have been dealing with, the bridge widenings at Ogilvie and Governors fail to mention the need for wider sidewalks, the current sidewalks are horribly narrow on Governors, and only on one side of Ogilvie.

And why aren't we talking about traffic calming here? Think boldly: eliminate one bridge (on Ogilvie, north of Governors) and open Spencer creek to view (currently encumbered with bridges and sewer pipes): it would certainly make the intersection more beautiful, not to mention safer (drivers have alternative options a half block away at Main.)

As far as increased transit, there is a need for transit on weekends (there is currently no weekend service, meaning the nearest bus stop on weekends is at least one kilometer away, more like three for others on this route.)

So clearly there is room for improvement on this list of suggestions. I don't know how or when the list got made, but there it is. I certainly wasn't consulted, as the councillor suggested in a previous newspaper column, nor to my knowledge was Transportation for Liveable Communities (TLC) approached, though they sent a letter on the topic to the councillor December 2006.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Watch a live cam of the Ancaster Traffic Circle (in the city of Hamilton) - a similar roundabout is proposed for Governors Road at Huntingwood, which would be an effective way to calm traffic.

I'm fairly certain that the city has budgeted some money to bring this into reality.

It's "new" so it will likely frighten people at first, but it is actually safer in terms of lower collision rates, etc. than other intersection types.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Lay of the land

A view of Governors Road at the start of the eastern section that this web site is concerned with. Looking west from Creighton (the signalized intersection in the photo, above) the three schools are on the left (or south) side of the street in this order (starting at the crest of the hill): St. Bernadettes Elementary, Highland Secondary, and the new school, now named Sir William Osler elementary.

Governors is a straight road in this section which does little to deter speeding, with pedestrian crossings aproximately one kilometer apart (here, at Creighton) and at the next signalized intersection at Castlewood (below, viewed facing the site of the new school):

Another view, this time looking east down Governors from Castlewood (photo taken from the crosswalk):

I include this photo (below) of an intersection in between the two signalized intersections to show the kind of engineering that is pro-car at the expense of pedestrians. The rounded corner makes it easy for high speed turns, whereas pedestrians have a wider span to cross (in the path of those fast cornering vehicles) - this kind of engineering should be altered to become more of a "corner" rather than an "off-ramp."

Check back for updates as we continue to monitor the situation.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


A little bit west of Dundas, in Westdale, there have been a few minor traffic calming elements installed. This is one of them, a little traffic island on Forsyth. This is the kind of thing (pretty much) we're looking for on Governor's. (Better if it were a raised median though). Well done Ward One! More from that ward later...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Paper Powers

It's not much information, but the following appeared in this week's Dundas Star News, in Councillor Russ Powers' monthly column:

Any users of Governor's Road are well aware of the sometime challenges of that route. This year, a detailed study of all aspects of this transportation link will be conducted. Your participation will be solicited and very much appreciated as the decisions reached will determine how things are improved.
Users of Governor's Road include cyclists, pedestrians, transit and drivers. The current city wide transportation master plan, and the city's Vision 2020 planning documents talk about supporting sustainable modes of transportation. How hard will it be to see that Governor's Road gets the "balanced" approach so desperately required to make it a safe road for all users?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Letter for Liveable Community

PO Box 19, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton ON L8S 1C0
905-525-9140 ext. 26026

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dear Councillor Powers,

Transportation for Liveable Communities (TLC) is a working group of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) McMaster. TLC works to achieve balanced sustainable transportation solutions in the city of Hamilton.

We are writing to draw attention to the traffic situation on Governor’s Road in Dundas.

With the new Dundas West elementary school under construction on Governors Road at Bridlewood, there will be three schools (including Highland Secondary School and St. Bernadette’s elementary school) on this short stretch of highway (less than 1km).

The statement of a problem can make all the difference when seeking solutions. TLC is concerned that a solution you offered on your web site during the recent election campaign begins with the assumption that “traffic flow” is the problem on Governor’s Road, and offers road widening as a solution.

TLC feels that this is the wrong assumption and a desperately wrong conclusion.

The problem, as we see it, is traffic flows all too well the majority of the time on Governor’s, and that the speed of that flow puts school children and other pedestrians, cyclists and drivers at risk.

As you are likely aware there is a direct correlation between traffic speed and pedestrian fatalities:

Fig. 1 U.K. Department of Transportation, 1987. Killing Speed and Saving Lives, London, UK DOT.

Generally the only time traffic slows down on Governors is during “rush” hours, when the presence of too many single occupancy vehicles all going in the same direction at the same time creates a situation that is, from a pedestrian and cycling point of view, actually safer in terms of collision impacts. We should be aiming for a 30km/h maximum speed limit in the school zone.

TLC would thus prefer to pose the question: “what measures can be employed to create a safe and healthy environment for children using active methods of getting to school (i.e. cycling, walking) and to engineer a safer roadside environment for area residents outside of school hours?”

The City of Hamilton’s Public Health department recognizes the need for safe routes to school:

“Concerns about health and pedestrian safety among our children and air quality issues are prompting us to rethink the way we choose to get around in our communities,” said Sue Connell, Public Health Nurse with the City of Hamilton. “Obesity and inactivity in young children are reaching unprecedented levels and are creating serious health problems in our children. Vehicle transportation contributes to air pollution and smog and our children are especially vulnerable to the impacts of poor air quality. Many of the school zones in the Hamilton area are unsafe because of traffic concerns because large numbers of children are being transported to and from school. By walking to school with their parents or caregivers, children have an excellent opportunity to learn and develop their pedestrian skills.”

newsandpublications/newsreleases/ 2005news/september/05-09-30.htm

Road widening would only allow for increased vehicle speeds and make crossings more dangerous than the current situation, and run counter to the goals of the Transportation Master Plan currently under consideration by the city, and the goals outlined in Vision 2020:
  • To develop an integrated sustainable transportation system for people, goods and services which is environmentally friendly, affordable, efficient, convenient, safe and accessible.
  • To encourage a shift in personal lifestyle and behaviour towards transportation choices that enhance personal health and fitness, save money, and have the lowest environmental cost.

It is imperative that we get the necessary improvements in place as opportunity presents itself. And it is important that proper engineering is applied to ensure safe outcomes.

When slowing or ‘calming’ traffic, the right design invites the right driver response. The guiding principle of traffic calming is to influence motorist speeds and behavior through good design whenever possible, rather than by traffic control measures such as traffic signals and STOP signs.

There are many design and engineering tools that can be used to slow down traffic and make it safer for children to walk and bicycle to school including;
  • Narrow lanes
  • Chokers and chicanes
  • Speed humps
  • Raised pedestrian crosswalks
  • Neighborhood traffic circles
  • Reduced corner radiiSpeed sensitive signals
Source: http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/guide/engineering/slowing_down_traffic.cfm

Proper consideration must be given to effective traffic calming design if we are to be supportive of active modes of transportation like walking and cycling. Lane narrowing, the addition of bicycle lanes, wider sidewalks, a traffic median, a pedestrian crossing are all potential treatments that could enhance the safety of the school zone.

Surely the concentration of schools on this dangerous roadway makes safety considerations a priority for the city to address in a timely fashion.

TLC is happy to assist by being part of a public process that effectively deals with the worthy goals of providing safe and active routes to school, and improved cycling and walking facilities for area residents.

TLC would appreciate your prompt response and an outline/timeline of the next steps you intend to take.

We look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Randy Kay

For Transportation for Liveable Communities