I am thrilled that progress is being made with LRT in Hamilton. The designs are well thought out, impacts considered and the public is being consulted during the whole process. One of the impacts that don’t appear to have been looked at up to this point are impacts to cyclists.
The routing of the LRT does not interfere with any major ‘on street signed bike routes’ or alter any dedicated bike lanes up to this point. For this reason there shouldn’t be any significant disruption, though there are a few small notes to consider.
Rack it and Ride it.
The Hamilton Street Railway is 100% bike accessible. Every vehicle in the fleet is equipped with bike racks, allowing seamless transition for cyclists to make use of the system. With the sometimes difficult geography of the city for biking (climbing the Niagara Escarpment for example) the ability to use the bus when biking is invaluable.
The one thing missing in the rendered videos is a bike rack. This is likely something that will not be added to the trains as bike racks would serve to slow down the train and ultimately affect reliability as passengers load and unload their bike.
The only option would be to allow bikes on the train at a specific location inside the train, similar to GO trains. Trains during the summer months have a train car dedicated to transporting bicycles. The logistics of allowing bikes on the LRT could be problematic with regards to securing the bicycles in place, thus putting passenger safety in jeopardy.
Bike Route Re-Route
The vast majority of the LRT route does not interfere with the city’s cycling network. The network was designed to avoid the King-Main corridor as these roads are major vehicular thru ways. There is only one spot in the route where an ‘on street signed bike route’ overlaps with the LRT and that is the heart of downtown.
The bike route uses King St E for about 100m between Walnut St and Mary St. This is the exact location of the proposed LRT stop ‘Walnut.’ The route, as it currently exists, travels north on Walnut, west on King and continuing north on Mary. This will require very minor changes in light of the LRT.
Currently traffic heading northbound on Walnut is prohibited from turning right on King (one-way traffic) or heading through on Walnut. The section of Walnut north of King St is 10m east and would require bike traffic to drive the wrong way on King briefly. When King St E is closed to vehicular traffic, to build the LRT station, the makeup of the King/Walnut intersection will change.
With the section of King St between Walnut and Wellington converting to two-way local traffic (shared with LRT) the restriction of through and right-turning traffic will be lifted, thus allowing bike traffic to continue on Walnut. The bike route could continue on Walnut, left onto King William and then right on Mary.
Other alterations may be necessary as well to the cycling network. While none of the rest of the network shares the roadway with LRT, it does cross the tracks in a few places.