Monday, June 30, 2008

Governor's future in the Dundas Downtown Transportation Master Plan

Transportation for Liveable Communities' (TLC) submission to the Downtown Dundas Transportation Master Plan contains much that applies to our area of town: some excerpts: (full document on line at
  • Transit riders face long waits and often unreliable service from the HSR; new residential growth at the west end of Governor's Road have no weekend bus service and only minimal service during the week.
  • Too many single occupancy vehicles pass three schools on Governor's Road while pedestrians and cyclists are forced to share narrow sidewalks, creating conflict between these modes of sustainable transportation.
  • Necessary traffic calming to address speeding should be undertaken as part of any changes to the road design, and done in a way that will enhance the pedestrian and cycling amenities.
  • Dundas is poorly served by public transit with hour long waits outside of peak hours and poor circulation for residents within the former town limits; TLC supports improvements to transit within the former town that would better connect people between homes and business/commercial areas, with the possibility of creating a transit hub that would allow convenient (protected from weather) and efficient (no long waits between buses) transfer to Hamilton-bound HSR buses like the Bee Line or Delaware.
  • Consideration should be given to Dundas transit users' needs when the Bus Rapid Transit and/or Light Rail Transit is planned. Ease of transfer between local buses and higher-order express service, including integration with GO transit terminal at McMaster, should be a priority for the HSR/TMP.
  • TLC strongly supports the use of roundabouts at key intersections to serve as an effective traffic calming and traffic safety measure, specifically at Governor's Road and Davidson; TLC also suggests a roundabout to replace the current traffic lights at Governor's and Creighton, and another roundabout at Ogilvie/South/Old Ancaster. Having roundabouts on the periphery of the downtown (i.e. just outside the study area) will make important contributions to the feel of the transportation system for people entering the study area.
  • The Governor's Road has need for such traffic calming, and more (wider sidewalks, bicycle lanes, etc) in the vicinity of the three schools between Creighton and Castlewood/Bridlewood. to encourage active routes to school and to deal with excessive traffic speed.
  • To ensure year round walkability, a sidewalk clearing strategy must be in place to remove snow and ice in a timely manner after snowfalls. Routes must be clear and direct, and not left to individual homeowners and businesses when that results in long periods of inaction and obstructed routes. The emphasis should be on pro-active pedestrian mobility, and not on by-law enforcement of non-compliant snow removers.
  • To support pedestrian activity, attention to making walking routes comfortable and attractive should be a priority
  • Attention to intersection turning radii are important so that crossing distances for pedestrians are not unduly increased to allow ease of turning movements for vehicles. Ease of turning for motor vehicles also means more danger for pedestrians crossing at intersections since drivers do not have to pay as much attention to making their turn. Main Street at Governor's/Dundas Street is an example of a car-centric design at the expense of pedestrian comfort and safety, especially the west side of the intersection; or the west side of the Governor's Road and Huntingwood intersection. Tight turning radii should be the norm for new intersections and retrofit to existing overbuilt intersections.
  • Further, pedestrian crossing signals at several intersections require a pedestrian to activate the crossing button and wait, often for a full cycling of the lights, before the walk signal activates. This alienates pedestrians in the transportation hierarchy, in direct contravention of stated goals to encourage active transportation. The argument that the increase in wait times for traffic queued at a secondary street results in an increase in idling with resultant pollution is not strong enough to override the needs of pedestrians, and indeed, marginalizes pedestrian activity. TLC wants this signal policy altered to better serve pedestrian needs, with the full cycling of walk signal as a default for intersections, in particular the Creighton at Governor's and the Castlewood/Bridlewood at Governor's intersections.
  • TLC supports the use of pedestrian signals with digital countdowns at intersections of multi-lane roadways in order to provide pedestrian support in making safe crossings.
  • TLC opposes the so-called "roadway improvements" identified previously in the City of Hamilton Road Network Strategy that would see "two-way left turn lanes along Grovernor’s [sic] Road between Creighton Drive and Bridlewood Drive and widening Grovernor’s [sic] Road from Creighton Drive to Osler Drive." After consulting with stakeholders with an interest in traffic safety on Governor's Road TLC would prioritize cycling and walking amenities identified in the Hamilton TMP (bike lanes) and traffic calming with no road widening. Road widening would not benefit active modes on this stretch of road with three schools (two primary/middle and one secondary schools), and the Road Network Strategy's emphasis on auto-mobilty detracts from the DDTMP's goal of increasing active modes. We also point to the Hamilton TMP for their recognition of the need for bicycle lanes extending from the current terminus of the Cootes Drive Bicycle Path, "Dundas Street-Governor's Road" from Cootes Drive to Castlewood Blvd as a medium term objective. Thus, the two objectives are at odds, with only the TMP serving the interests of active modes along Governor's Road, which positively contributes to cycling connectivity, directness, continuity and enhances safety and comfort.
  • Traffic calming should be part of any road changes to support shifts from automotive to sustainable modes. Speed limits through business districts, school zones, and residential areas should reflect the needs of pedestrians and cyclists for safety and comfort.
  • Cycling improvements identified for Dundas in the Hamilton TMP should be priority items for implementation: these the medium term, Dundas Street and Governor's Road from Cootes Drive to Castlewood Blvd (bike lanes)...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

YES: Roundabout...

Not the hit song by prog-rock band YES, but an important traffic calming device for Governor's Road:

Roundabout review part of master plan
Intersections expected to handle growth
Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News, Published on Jun 13, 2008

A review of a roundabout on Governor's Road will be combined with the ongoing Downtown Dundas Transportation Master Plan, more than two years after the traffic calming tool was suggested by former Dundas councillor Art Samson.

Natasha D'Souza of the City of Hamilton's environmental planning department is overseeing both projects.

She said feasibility assessments of roundabouts on Governor's Road at Davidson Boulevard, and Governor's at Pirie Drive will be completed for a scheduled fall open house on the local transportation master plan. A preferred option for a roundabout location will be presented at that time, but residents will have an opportunity to comment on it.

Meanwhile, the master plan background research indicates key downtown intersections will be able to handle future growth with few delays.

That means the master plan process will focus on providing alternative forms of transportation in Dundas, including public transit, bicycle lanes and pedestrian paths, in an area bounded by Matilda Street, York Street, King Street and Governor's Road, between Main and Ogilvie.

A preliminary public information session, introducing the master plan process and background information, was held last Thursday evening. At least 20 people dropped in.

The public session took place after a poorly attended stakeholder meeting, where only a few interested residents showed up to provide comments and ideas to the project team.

Under a "low growth" scenario, the background research found two problem intersections: Governor's Road at Ogilvie Street, and Hatt Street at Market Street.

Under a high growth scenario, those intersections are again projected to be problems, and the intersections of Hatt and Memorial, plus Governor's and Main Street, were also added.

Master plan research states these four intersections could "experience delays due to higher volumes of commuter traffic along Governor's Road, which functions as a major arterial roadway connecting Dundas to other communities."

Just a week before, participants in a safety audit agreed the philosophy of Governor's Road as a highway into Dundas must change to reflect its current use for education and residential purposes, with a recent increase in pedestrians and cyclists.

Analysis of collision data from 2002 to 2007 found two intersections of concern: Dundas at Governor's plus Main and Osler. Both intersections had a statistically significant number of left-turn, angle and rear-end collisions.

Ms. D'Souza said this week she was skimming through comments submitted by residents at the open house. A summary will be posted on the city Web site.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Governing Philosophy

Audit suggests changes to update road philosophy

Participants watch Governor's drivers ignore rules during school dismissal

Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News
Published on Jun 06, 2008

Governor's Road is still treated as a highway access to Dundas, despite a drastic change in its use, Dundas' public school board trustee said last week.

Jessica Brennan participated in a safety walkabout on Governor's Road, joining a group that focussed on traffic, pedestrian and cycling issues around the new Sir William Osler Elementary School. Another group focussed on issues around St. Bernadette Catholic Elementary School, less than one kilometre away.

"It's the philosophy of the road," Ms. Brennan said during a short discussion that raised no less than 19 issues to pursue, following last Thursday's safety review.

"It used to be thought of as a highway into Dundas. That doesn't address the current use."

She noted Governor's Road now revolves around educational and residential uses, with a new focus on pedestrians and cyclists. Ms. Brennan's comments echoed points made by many other participants.

Most agreed the philosophy of the road, and driver attitude, has to change to meet the reality of its current use.

To help address this, the City of Hamilton will reassess placement of crossing guards on Governor's Road, and consider a recommendation to move the current crossing guard at Creighton Road to Huntingwood, and potentially adding a second crossing guard at Bridlewood.

Governor's Road will also be reviewed for dedicated bike lanes. The Hamilton Wentworth District School Board will be asked to add more bike racks to accommodate a large number of students who ride to school.

Concern was also expresssed about the lack of sidewalks on Governor's Road, beyond Moss Boulevard.

Organized by Transportation for Livable Communities and city staff from public health and traffic services, the walkabout included Dundas councillor Russ Powers and his administrative assistant Arlene Vanderbeek, the local public school trustee, staff of St. Bernadette Catholic Elementary School and parents from Sir William Osler - but no staff representatives of Highland Secondary School or Sir William Osler.

In total, 17 people participated in the safety review, during Safe Kids Week.

St. Bernadette Catholic Elementary School Principal Rukshi Athulathmudali will request increased police and bylaw enforcement of No Stopping and No Parking areas in front of the school.

During last week's audit, a car made an illegal U-turn in front of the school then parked on the sidewalk, in a clearly marked No Stopping zone.

Several students dashed across Governor's Road from between parked cars crammed into a no parking area intended for emergency vehicles. School staff discourage parents from parking there, but the bylaw does permit parking for 15-minutes.

Ms. Athulathmudali would also like to see a curb, or sidewalk, placed across the street from the school, to dissuade drivers from passing on the soft shoulder or attempting U-turns.

It was suggested relocating a Creighton and Governor's crossing guard closer to St. Bernadette at Huntingwood, would provide a closer crossing option for young students.

Ms. Athulathmudali also said drivers are not obeying the 40 km-h flashing school zone that includes the three school stretch of Governor's Road.

Without assistance

Over at Sir William Osler, Ms. Brennan noticed there were more school children crossing Governor's Road than the single crossing guard could accommodate. That resulted in some students crossing at different areas without the assistance of a crossing guard.

A second guard at Osler and relocating a guard to Huntingwood will be part of the Governor's Road crossing guard analysis by the city.

Several vehicles speeding along Governor's Road illegally used the unpaved shoulder to pass another car waiting to turn left into the school's parking lot.

Ms. Athulathmudali, and a St. Bernadette teacher also participating in the safety walk, said drivers speeding by on the shoulder is a common occurrence that has resulted in a few staff members being rear-ended in front of the school.

Ms. Brennan also asked for an update on a proposed Governor's Road roundabout, and the potential widening of the street.

A list of 19 issues and questions raised during last week's walkabout, including investigation of traffic calming measures and increasing by-law and police enforcement, has been produced and representatives of the city, school boards, or Transportation for Livable Communities have been asked to follow-up.