What happens on Aberdeen is also a concern of drivers, not just residents, say some councillors

Overhead satellite view of Aberdeen Avenue, courtesy of Google Maps.

City council will vote this week on $190,000 in changes to Aberdeen Avenue. Some Mountain councillors say that impacts more than just the people who live there. (Google Maps)

Who has a bigger say in what happens to Aberdeen Avenue — the people who live on it, or the Mountain residents who drive it every day to and from work?

That question reared its head Monday when Hamilton city councillors voted over the objections of some Mountain councillors to spend $190,000 to calm traffic and make it safer to cycle and walk the street.

‘It almost looks like Aberdeen is the new King.’
– Coun. Chad Collins

Outcry from Aberdeen-area residents inspired council to look into the changes. But two Mountain councillors said it’s not as simple as appeasing local residents. A lot of their constituents rely on Aberdeen too.

“Typically, I do my darnedest not to get involved in localized issues,” said Coun. Tom Jackson of Ward 6. But some of his residents drive the street to get to work. And the changes have “ripple effects” on everyone.

The discussion touched on an increasingly heated city hall debate — the desires of complete streets advocates and lower-city urbanists versus those who rely on their cars.

Terry Whitehead, Ward 8 councillor

Terry Whitehead says changes to Aberdeen Avenue affect everyone. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

Terry Whitehead, Ward 8 councillor, stirred it up again last week when he wrote an opinion piece for the Hamilton Community News. He said a “small but vocal group of well-intentioned ideologues” want road diets, higher parking rates and light rail transit (LRT).

“They show no appreciation or understanding of the needs of the greater community,” he wrote.

The Aberdeen debate started in December 2015, when local residents asked for the changes.

Aberdeen is an arterial road, said Whitehead. Mountain residents and buses rely on it. In 2015, he proposed the city hold off on making major road changes until the city knows how traffic will flow with LRT. LRT construction along Main and King is scheduled to start in 2019.

Minister of Transportation Steven del Duca stands behind a "Cycling Infrastructure" podium.

The province is giving the City of Hamilton $295,000 to build a 2.3 km cycling route along Bay Street to connect the downtown to the waterfront. (Chris Seto/CBC)

On Monday, Whitehead’s arguments had some support. Chad Collins, Ward 5 councillor, wanted assurance the city wasn’t going to spend $190,000 on changes it’ll have to switch back soon.

With the LRT plan, he said, “it almost looks like Aberdeen is the new King.”

The city will install a pedestrian signal at Aberdeen and Cottage (cost: $100,000), some traffic calming measures worth $80,000 and a pedestrian crossover at Queen and Aberdeen (cost: $10,000).

City council’s public works committee also approved starting work on a new bike lane on Bay Street.

The province will pitch in $300,000 for the project, while the city will contribute $300,000. It’ll cost about $35,000 per year to maintain the lane.

City council will vote on Wednesday whether to ratify these decisions.

Collisions on Aberdeen from Queen Street to Longwood Road

  • 2005: 8 collisions. 1 pedestrian-vehicle, zero bicycle.
  • 2007: 21 collisions. 2 pedestrian-vehicle, one bicycle.
  • 2010: 18 collisions. 1 pedestrian-vehicle, zero bicycle.
  • 2015: 15 collisions. 2 pedestrian-vehicle, zero bicycle.

Source: CBC News