Queensdale Avenue Traffic Calming – Statement by Ward 8 Councillor John-Paul Danko

City of Hamilton Roadside Safety
Hello, Ward 8 Neighbours!

On Friday, August 16th, 2019 Hamilton City Council approved a motion by Ward 8 Councillor John-Paul Danko for the installation of three speed cushions on Queensdale Avenue at a cost not to exceed $16,8000, to be funded from the Ward 8 Area Capital Reserve Fund.

For a full statement by Ward 8 Councillor John-Paul Danko, please continue reading below.

Queensdale Avenue East Traffic Calming

In May of this year a young pedestrian was struck by a vehicle on Queensdale Avenue East in front of Bruce Park.

This incident led to a number of calls to the Ward 8 office to investigate options for traffic calming on Queensdale Avenue.

In addition to growing pedestrian traffic at Bruce Park, this section of Queensdale Avenue is also in front of Queensdale Elementary School which has a growing student population and a high percentage of students who walk to school daily.

Ward 8 families enjoying the Bruce Park Splash Pad this summer.
John-Paul Danko Ward 8 Hamilton City Councillor
Queensdale Elementary School fun fair this June.
Queensdale Avenue Traffic Calming Installation

Speed cushions are a proven tool (long established by industry professionals) to influence driver behaviour & effectively reduce travel speed.

As the Ward 8 Councillor, I’m proud that I was able to work with our professional City of Hamilton engineering staff to improve the safety on our central west mountain roads, as we work towards our citywide Vision Zero goals.

The speed cushions approved for Queensdale Avenue will be installed early in the construction season in 2020 at a cost not to exceed $16,8000, to be funded from the Ward 8 Area Capital Reserve Fund.

City traffic staff determined that three speed cushions would be effective in the configuration shown on the following diagram:

Queensdale Speed Cushions

Speed Bump vs Speed Hump vs Speed Cushion

Speed bumps, speed humps and speed cushions are all essentially bumps in the road designed to slow down vehicular traffic.

Technically speaking, speed bumps are small asphalt bumps (typical to what you see in parking lots and not suitable for public roadways), speed humps are more gentle, wider bumps and usually concrete, while speed cushions are a bit of a cross between the two and the latest iteration that has been determined to be the most effective, durable and user friendly option available.

The speed cushions to be installed on Queensdale Avenue will be asphalt (more cost effective than concrete speed humps) and designed to have enough of a bump to slow vehicles down but a gentle enough slope to make sure that they don’t impede snow plowing.

There are also spaces between adjacent cushions to allow for the safe passage of cyclists (cyclists can maneuver between the cushions and avoid the bump).

The City of Hamilton standard drawing for speed cushions is included below:

City of Hamilton Speed Cushion Standard Drawing

Traffic Calming and Hamilton’s Vision Zero Priorities

Normally Councillor initiated ward specific infrastructure improvements are accepted by Hamilton City Council without much debate.

However, my motion for the installation of three speed cushions in Ward 8 sparked a lengthy debate about the basic validity of traffic calming installations and when and where speed cushions are installed.

I found this discussion fairly surprising considering that in February of this year, Hamilton City Council unanimously approved the Vision Zero Action Plan (2019-2025) with one simple and clear goal: ZERO fatalities or serious injuries on roadways.

John-Paul Danko Ward 8 Hamilton City CouncillorIn the case of the speed cushions proposed for Queensdale Avenue, a spot speed study was conducted in May 2019. The speed study indicated that the 85th percentile speed was 47.1 km/h.

The posted speed limit is currently 40 km/h.

As this section of Queensdale Avenue is also a neighbourhood school zone, the speed limit will be reduced to 30 km/h within the next three years in accordance with Hamilton’s Neighbourhood Speed Limit Reduction Plan (passed by Council earlier this year).

While 7.1 km/h (or 17.1 km/h when the speed limit is reduced to 30 km/h) over the posted speed limit may not sound like much, the relationship between vehicular speed and impact force is exponential.

At 50 km/h a pedestrian has an 85% chance of serious injury or death. At 40 km/h the risk is reduced to 30%. At 30 km/h the risk is reduced to 10% or less.

To put it bluntly, if the driver that struck the young pedestrian in front of Bruce Park in May had been speeding, the consequences could have been much more severe.

Chance of Survival During Pedestrian Vehicle Collison

Ironically, while many Councillors were concerned about the installation of three speed cushions in Ward 8 many of these same councillors routinely move to have politically motivated stop signs installed in their own wards.

While a new stop sign may appear to the public as a traffic calming measure, traffic engineers have long established that stop signs are not an effective way of slowing down vehicles and are almost never recommended for this purpose.

In fact, engineering analysis has shown that the over use of stop signs often leads to a reduction in safety for all road users (especially drivers who may be involved in dangerous side impact collisions) as compliance is drastically reduced!

car crash accident on street, damaged automobiles after collision in city

City of Hamilton Standards and Guidelines for Traffic Calming

During the discussion about the need for speed cushions on Queensdale Avenue, concern was raised about the fact that there are no city wide standards that govern the installation of traffic calming measures (including speed cushions).

This is unnecessary for two reasons.

First, there is no such thing as standards when it comes to roadside safety – traffic engineers and industry professionals instead rely on guidelines.

This is a fundamental difference (standard vs. guideline) that allows engineers the flexibility to assess and implement the best roadside safety solution for any given application. The Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) is very clear that rigid standards are not helpful or in many cases not even possible when it comes to roadside safety design.

Second, there is no need for the City of Hamilton to develop our own standards or guidelines for roadside safety.

The Canadian Guide to Traffic Calming (published by the Transportation Association of Canada) is a rigorous, industry standard guideline for the design and implementation of traffic calming measures that was developed by professional engineers and industry professionals across Canada. (In fact, Hamilton’s own Director of Transportation Operations and Maintenance was a contributing author!)

Speed Cushion Warrants

Throughout Ward 8, residents often reference traffic and speeding as their two top concerns. Hamilton has seen significant growth which has amplified concerns about traffic and speeding City-wide.

It is important to note that although speed cushions were determined to be a suitable traffic calming measure for this particular installation, speed cushions or other traffic calming tools are not necessarily suitable for all applications.

I will continue to work closely with our professional traffic engineering staff to advocate for speed cushions or other traffic calming measures where appropriate – following TAC guidelines and site specific assessment of individual applications.

Questions or Concerns?

You can read a copy of the full motion to install speed cushions on Queensdale Avenue here.

If you have any questions or if you know of a street in Ward 8 that you think might need traffic calming, you can contact our office here.

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Councillor John-Paul Danko