This is the first in a series of articles looking at the ‘signed’ bike routes around the city to see if they are sufficiently signed. While a cyclist could carry the official map of bike routes and trails with them out on the road (and I recommend that you do have a copy) there needs to be adequate signage on the roads for cyclists. Just the same as it would be ludicrous to not have signs on the road indicting that the upcoming roadway is the entrance to the 403, there needs to be proper signage on the roadway for cyclists as well.
The point of ‘signed’ bike routes is to present cyclists with an option for safe and comfortable cycling through the city. Choosing the right path to get from one end of the city to another is a challenge, especially when peppered with busy arterial roadways, dead end and inconsistent short secondary roads. Without a strong knowledge of the city layout it can be difficult to traverse from east to west, or north to south, with the confidence you won’t lose your way, or end up facing five busy lanes of Main St E.
This article aims to take a look at a few of the bike routes within the city and note any signing deficiencies along the way. You can take a look at the signs yourself (Google Streetview is invaluable for this) or you can better still hop on your bicycle like I did and take a ride.
I planned a trip around the downtown area following the ‘signed’ bike routes as listed on the city’s bike map. The route I chose begins on Ferguson at Simcoe and travels counter clockwise around the downtown core ending at Cumberland at Sanford. The following are the issues discovered along this route:
View Bike Trip around Hamilton in a larger map
1) Much of this tour follows one-way bike routes, though nothing on the map indicates that these ‘signed’ bike routes are only signed in one direction. Due to the great number of one-way streets in the downtown the route is split into an east/south route and a west/north route. Nothing on the map suggests that some of the routes listed are ‘one way’ only.
2) There are no signs on Ferguson St N between Simcoe St and Dock Service Rd.
3) There are no signs on Dock Service Rd between Ferguson St N and Catherine St N.
6) There is a junction sign at Bay St N and Stuart St showing the route turns west on Stuart (to Dundurn Park) and continues straight on Bay (to Gage Park) but according to the map the signed route does not continue on Bay. There is another sign on Bay at Barton directing the cyclist to continue east on Barton
7) There is no junction sign on Tiffany at Barton guiding the route eastbound (Gage Park) or westbound (Dundurn Park) on Barton St W
8) There is no westbound junction sign on Barton at Tiffany guding the route westbound (Dundurn park) or northbound (Pier 4). This sign is instead on Barton at Bay directing cyclists northbound onto Bay St, which is not listed on the map.
9) There is no sign at Market at Caroline guiding the route southbound onto Caroline. The first sign on Caroline is south of King St W and is not visible from Market. Without a preexisting knowledge of the path the route seems to disappear
The majority of the rest of the route has adequate signing to guide any cyclist through the streets of the downtown with ease. There are enough signs on the roadway to let the cyclist know that you are on a bike route as well as signs at intersections alerting the cyclist that the route is turning onto another roadway. With the few exceptions noted above the route is well signed.
Make not mistake, however, that signing deficiencies are very troublesome. One missed sign on the path and a potential cyclist will have no idea where the bike route is or how to return. This coupled with erroneous signs (like noted above in point six) causes even more confusion. Since the sign at Bay and Stuart incorrectly directs that the route continues on Bay St there are no further signs on Bay directing a cyclist where to go next.
Signs are an important component to the signed bike route network in the city. We need more of them where they are lacking, but first and foremost we need to make sure that they are correct. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if a roadway sign for motorists was put up telling you that the upcoming offramp was for 403 East when it was in fact for 403 West. Signs for the bike network should be treated with the same concern.