Hamilton has been designated a Silver WALK Friendly Community for developing a city-wide plan that specifically addresses the needs and interests of pedestrians, harnessing the power of social media to engage residents in active transportation, an impressive traffic-calming pilot, as well as the City’s adoption of a Complete Streets policy.
Some highlights from Hamilton’s application include:
- Hamilton has a long-standing commitment to being a walkable city, with the signing of the International Charter for walking by the Mayor in April 2008, and the subsequent participation in the Canadian Walking Master Class in 2009.
- Addressing the issues facing pedestrian was a key factor in developing the Pedestrian Mobility Master Plan. The plan establishes a 20-year (2031) framework to improve the pedestrian environment and increase the opportunity for walking as a mode of transportation and recreation that is efficient, comfortable, safe, inclusive, accessible, in addition to improving the health of communities and increasing economic development.
- Hamilton has piloted an Active Transportation Benchmarking Program where automated counts are being conducted along trail corridors. In only two years, over 75 locations have been surveyed on a one-week basis per location, including multi-use trails, sidewalks, and bicycle lanes. This information is being used to develop seasonal trends, identify commuter trails, and destination-based recreational facilities in the City, as well as identify impacts of trail development and upgrades. The data is also being used to forecast annual active transportation use.
- A traffic calming pilot introduced a 30 km speed limit in a neighbourhood of about 5,200 residents and will be monitored to assess the impact on pedestrians, cyclists, and the overall well-being of residents. The City is further improving safety for pedestrians by regularly implementing ladder-style marked crosswalks at controlled intersections — a style that is more visible to motorists.
- The City is using social media to get the word out about walking. The City recently launched a free mobile transportation app, called Travelwise, designed to get residents to where they need to go using sustainable modes of transportation. The app provides citizens and visitors with instant access to information on getting around by transit, walking, cycling, carpooling, car share, and taxi. Hamilton also uses social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to promote walking initiatives, and redeveloping web pages to establish a cross-departmental, cross-organizational transportation-focused website with a one-stop shopping element.
- Hamilton has adopted a Complete Streets policy that is included in the Urban Hamilton Official Plan, and also reached out to residents through social media to establish a Complete Streets communications strategy. Using the Complete Streets policy, the City recently undertook two road reconstruction projects that saw pedestrian-friendly changes such as wider sidewalks, better lighting and improved crosswalk treatments.
- Open Streets events have been held in the City since 2010. The events have taken place on two different streets and have included the closure of 2–4 km of road. Approximately 10,000 – 15,000 people have participated in each event.
- To ensure that schools and workplaces have active transportation-supportive amenities and infrastructure available such as showers and lockers, bike parking, healthy food options, drinking fountains, benches, etc., the city conducts site evaluations for schools (as part of school travel plans) and workplaces (as part of Smart Commute).
- The City of Hamilton participates in the Smart Commute employer-based program and is leveraging the program by using employee survey data to identify the percentage of staff that are located in a walkable area. The City then uses the information to develop specific interventions to encourage more targeted behaviour change.