Hamilton’s roads are hostile to pedestrians. Stepping out into the street to get from A to B through any other mode than the automobile is a risky and unpleasant business. The roads are arenas of lawless and aggressive drivers in ever larger and louder vehicles. Parents who send their kids to walk to school should know they will be safe. A parent can’t know that in Hamilton where colliding cars coming to rest on sidewalks are an all too common sight.
Today, Wednesday, city council will decide on a resolution to allow parking on both sides of Aberdeen and a reduced speed of 40kph. For Ward 1 Councillor Maureen Wilson, it is a simple calculation: “The health and well-being of our children should come first.” For Ward 12 Councillor, Lloyd Ferguson, and Ward 14 Councillor, Terry Whitehead, the calculation is just as simple: The time and convenience of commuters comes first.
Whitehead goes further, though, and claims there is an anti-car ideology at play in Councillor Wilson’s motion. However, in the so-called War On The Car that exists in Coun. Whitehead’s imagination, the tally is Cars 18 and Pedestrians 0. Since 2003 there have been 18 collisions involving pedestrians along Aberdeen that includes five schools and daycares along with churches, community centres, businesses and homes on both sides of the street.
There is indeed an ideology at play and it is not Wilson’s. The ideology represents a toxic automobile culture that views all other road users as inconvenient at best and potential targets at worst. One only needs to read the social media postings on the Hamilton Spectator’s Facebook page to appreciate the depravity expressed by some drivers toward other road users including, presumably, children.
An example (this is a public posting but I have omitted the poster’s name): “Just run them over, their lives, as pedestrians, are worthless. Society should confine them somewhere they’ll be safe, not Aberdeen Avenue!” That is not an outlier comment and I would encourage anyone to read the comments for themselves.
Over and over again, the City of Hamilton engages citizens, collects views, information and data, and produces plans to make Hamilton the best place to raise a child and to age successfully. And over and over again, councillors, some of whom have been sitting around the horseshoe at City Hall for many years, fail to implement those plans.
It is has been an objective of the City of Hamilton for as long as 30 years or more to increase the modal share of pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. In that period councillors, whose job it is to implement the plans they have adopted, have missed each and every objective, and not just by a little bit but entirely.
Today, Hamilton’s roads are the wild west. Every night, drivers race along Main and King and the mountain accesses. In all of Ontario, the ratio of vehicles in rollover collisions is four percent. I don’t know what it is in Hamilton because collision data is a well guarded secret except when rationed out at intervals, but I would bet a cold beer it is higher and probably a lot higher.
Councillor Wilson’s resolution is one small step to civilize the roads and make them safe for all users at all times of the day. Hamilton’s congestion is a direct result of councillors failing to invest in other modes of transportation as they have committed to doing time and time again. Rather then accept their responsibility and their duty, they have instead sacrificed entire neighbourhoods. Councillor Wilson is trying to win one back. Let’s help her.
Please phone or email your councillor before the end of the day, and express support for Councillor Wilson’s motion and tell them we want all of Hamilton’s roads tamed. If past councils did their jobs, we would have more people on buses and walking and we wouldn’t have to choose between sacrificing the safety of some for the convenience of others. Maybe this council can get it done.
Ward Councillors contact info: