Barton Bike Lanes Letter

posted on 28 Apr 2024 | HamOnt

So the other day I sent in an e-mail to the cycling office at the City of Hamilton (as well as the relevant councilors) to request a cycling accommodation in my area. I figured I may as well include the text of the letter here as well.

Barton between Wellington and Victoria

Hi. I'm a mostly-daily bike commuter to the Hamilton General Hospital from Westdale. While the Cannon track and Ferguson lanes (please re-paint these they're often invisible) get me to the General's bike lockup on Copeland pretty well, getting around the area can be a challenge. The Victoria lanes are a nice addition, but I can see a quick-win, paint-only opportunity for an enhancement on Barton itself.

West of the General, most of Barton is 5 lanes with no street-side parking, allowing confident cyclists to take the rightmost lanes without obstructing traffic (they can move to the left to get around).

The only place that really falls apart, and is a huge opportunity is Barton between Wellington and Victoria.

Barton between Wellington and Victoria

Barton between Wellington and Victoria

google maps view

There, Barton is 5 lanes wide with parked cars on both sides, and most of the middle is a blocked-out unused space, since it's a left-turn lane with no driveways to turn into. In this area, the cyclist must merge into the sole travel-lane and slow down traffic. I'm sure you can appreciate this is less than ideal.

The fix should be obvious, I think:

Proposal to add bike lanes without losing any travel lanes and minimal impact on

parking on Barton between Wellington and Victoria

by collapsing the unused centre turning-lane, bike lanes can be added without impacting automotive traffic flow at all.

Barton between Wellington and Victoria with Bike Lanes

The Downside

Unfortunately two parking spots would need to be lost (marked in red X's in the above image) , and I think the one in front of the Pharmacy & the Orthotics centre near Victoria looks important. I think that's the one egg that would have to get broken for this omelette, or else an impractically-short left-turning-lane at Victoria could be implemented.

Street-view of that parking spot

The main reason I want this: The SoBi rack

The HGH SoBi rack at Barton and Victoria is very handy. On days when the weather is bad in only the morning or evening commute, I can use that SoBi rack for the part of the commute that has good weather. Not only for commuting, I can take it to local shops and lunch-spots to the west along Barton. I'm a regular at Bonanza Bakery (on Murray near Mary), for example.

There are alternatives I could be using, of course. I could take the SoBi up Victoria to Copeland, then cut through the Ron Joyce Children's Centre parking lot (thanks for the road markings on Wellington and Copeland, by the way, it's nice to have that clarity). But that's quite a detour, and the left-turn from Victoria's wrong-side-cycle-track onto Copeland stinks because it has no way to trigger the push-button crossing light and left-hooking across traffic is weird and tricky.

Alternate Approach that does not eliminate parking at the Pharmacy + Ortho

By moving the centre-line further North at Victoria, the parking can be preserved!

Barton between Wellington and Victoria with Bike Lanes (alternate layout)

So here we can have our cake and eat it too.

However, there are some downsides to this Alternative Approach

  • The westbound bus stop now blocks westbound traffic (and there's enough left-turning traffic on Barton that squeezing past the bus into oncoming traffic isn't really an option).

  • The travel lanes no longer fully align on the far side of the intersection.

Extending Further

This design (in either form) could be continued east for one more block eastward, from Victoria to East Avenue, in which the layout is basically the same as here. After East Avenue, the streetscaping makes this impossible. Also, as I said before - sharrows from Wellington to Ferguson would be nice. I mean sharrows are useless for safety but still are nice for showing that cyclists are supposed to be here and allowed.


I hope you'll agree, these seem like pretty quick wins - at the cost of 1 or 2 parking spots and some paint, a nice little cycling connection to the hospital's front entrance and SoBi rack and adjacent bike-track could be added to Barton. No loss of automotive travel lanes at all.

Thanks for your time.

Martin Zarate, Ward 1 resident, HHS employee

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