Hamilton: 10 years of removing barriers

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Looking back to a 2007 map of barriers to cycling and walking, and benchmarking this to 2016, we can see that Hamilton has had a step change in removing barriers for the average person wanting to move around our city. (The average person in Hamilton is reasonably healthy and 32 years old.)

In the 2007 local council elections, Living Streets Hamilton and Cycle Action Waikato gave a flier to each of the candidates, which included a map showing long stretches of road with few safe crossing points for the average person choosing to walk or cycle.

hamilton-barriers-to-walking-2007 hamilton-barriers-to-walking-2016

In the last 10 years lots of improvements have been made. The stand-out areas are along our urban State highways, Avalon Dr – Expressway path and Ohaupo Rd improvement moving to 8 to 80 year old standard. For Hamilton city council roads, the years of minor works projects have produced many small steps that combined result that will in time give change. However, Boundary Rd is one that keeps being missed from the safety improvements list and is becoming one of Hamilton’s most dehumanising city streets.

Now if we look to missing links in the cycle network we can see the focus on small projects gives lots of cycle lane starts and ends throughout the city. Bicycle Lane on Google maps & HCC cycle route network pre 2016

hamilton-cycle-paths-2016

Walking/Biking infrastructure can be statically confusing if presented as total km of paths/lanes. A transport route is only as good as its weakest point. Should the cycle lane/path not began or end at a destination (like a school or a bus stop) or if the gap between the cycle lane end and restart does not feel or look safe (i.e. for the parent of an 8-year-old or in the informed opinion of a wise 80-year-old), only the fearless and the confident (a minority of about 8%) will be seen using it, excluding the majority of people who are interested in walking/biking but concerned about safety.

So now that the 30-year-old athletic cyclists have options, let’s get on with connecting/creating a city in which both 8-year-olds and 80-year-olds can move about safely and enjoyably.

Category: News

Hamilton CCTP looks at smaller cities in North America

These three earlier posts, Hamilton as medium sized city in Netherlands,  Hamilton compared to a medium sized city in Australia and Hamilton as a medium sized city in German all show that Hamilton can be seen as a city of  normal density.

To take this a step further, Hamilton’s Central City Transformation Plan (CCTP) has ‘been prepared after reviewing academic research papers … and understanding what has worked in smaller sized cities around the world similar to Hamilton’.

The following are the cities from North America that were part of the review. Again, they show that Hamilton is not a low density city.

america-small-town

Now for a quick review of the lead paper The Successful Few Healthy Downtowns of Small Metropolitan Regions, Pierre Filion, Heidi Hoernig, Trudi Bunting, and Gary Sands. Journal of the American Planning Association. Vol 70 No3. Summer 2004

This study is based on a survey of hundreds of planners with interests in downtown revitalization in North America. The paper starts by stating:

Early strategies of the 1950s and 1960s … focused on … radial expressways and widened arterial roads were meant to channel the flow of cars towards downtowns, increasingly well provided with parking space.

Policymakers became convinced … downtowns had to gloss their image and embrace suburban shopping formulas. This phase, which ran from the late 1950s into the early 1980s … The assumption that by replicating … downtown areas could compete successfully with suburbs.

The 1970s … early revitalization attempts were often held responsible for downtowns’ downward spiral.

Moving forward to the 21st century, here is what planners believe are factors in the success of downtowns

american-successful-down-town-p5

The survey notes

Many respondents emphasized the importance of a resident population and a wide variety of land uses to assure 24-hour activity

Interestingly, Hamilton’s CCTP takes a ‘precinct’ (meaning an area with specific or restricted use) approach, ‘each with a dominant activity’ or non-activities at predictable times of the day.

To quote what Gehl Architects repeatedly remind city planners, this is from the Hobart 2010 Public Spaces and Public Life report http://www.hobartcity.com.au/Hobart/A_City_with_People_in_Mind/Gehl_Architects_Report Page 30 [file:///C:/Users/No805/Downloads/02_Final_report_-_Analysis.pdf]

The outcome could be non-functional areas of the inner city that are perceived as unsafe. This is particularly problematic when people have to pass through the areas in order to get to night time destination, home or to public transportation nodes

To finish, a second report from north America the CCTP reviewed is on Revitalizing Small city Downtowns The Case of Brandon, Manitoba, Canada  pop 46,061; density 599pkm2

The ‘revitalization’ was summarised in page 13 as

amounting to a taxpayer subsidy to the mall owners

Category: News