Archive for the ‘Hamilton’ Category

Today was the annual  ride in support of Bike for Mike, a charity that supports cycling for youth in Hamilton. Last year I did a 50 km road ride. This year I thought that I’d try the “Hambur Loop” a ride that includes quite a bit of trail riding, and also circles Hamilton Harbour. The website recommended against road bikes, but since it said that hybrids were OK, I assumed that the Tamarack would do just fine.

Here are the ride marshals getting briefed just before we departed. As it turns out, the three of them kept us more or less in a group the whole time which build up some camaraderie as well.


Now the announcements to the riders. There were roughly fifteen of us on the ride. Two fast people took off in advance of the group.


And off we go, north on Ferguson, which was a marked and signed bike route with bike lanes for most of the length.


In this short section between King and Main, I like the paving that mimics a rail line that must have cut through this neighbourhood.


Now we are already at the escarpment. Downtown Hamilton has the advantage of being relatively compact. From the start at the Harbourfront to this point was roughly 2.4 km of bike lane, the same length as the Bloor bike lane in TO, and yet we’ve traversed the entirety of the downtown area from south to north.


Riding up the rail trail was a breeze. The grade was very gradual all the way up, and most of it was paved.


Here is the crossing at Wentworth mountain access, with proper signage and signaling. From this point, the rail trail is part of the Bruce Trail. There was a bit of gravel, but then the trail reverted to mostly pavement.


Crossing the road that leads up to the Sherman Cut.


All smiles as we approach the top.


A brief stop at Albion Rd. to regroup.


Here we go down the mountain.


This was the only bit that was pretty marginal for a road bike. I was one of two that rode down, and I had to put my foot down a couple of times.


Along the Red Hill Valley trail.


Another regroup as we consider the next downhill section.


Another downed tree mandated that we walk down this hill. There were several rollers on this section of trail that had interlocking bricks to prevent erosion.


Riding alongside the Red  Hill Expressway. The last time I saw that highway sign was on the way back from ASME.


A long bridge across the expressway.


Now we are on the trail beside Beach Blvd.


A small detour through a parking lot packed with Mustangs, although I only saw one from the 60’s.


Mini rest stop at Hutch’s at about the 22 km mark. Drinks, granola bars, and bathrooms.


We had to pause because the lift bridge was up.



This bit of North Shore Blvd was the single most dangerous part of the ride because of all the on ramps and off ramps.


Now we’re on a much more peaceful section.


Regroup just before turning south on York.


Back on Multiuse trails as we pass Princess Point. That is marshall Matt in front. I had a nice chat with him. He also has an Xtracycle Edgerunner for shopping and family cycling.


Under the high level bridge back to the Harbour proper.


Riding along the lakefront.



These three are thinking about sprinting for that final corner.


A group picture of most of the Hambur group. It was pleasure to ride with you folks. Thanks also to our three guides.


Thanks also to Collective Arts Brewing for providing the start and finish facilities for the ride.


The interesting thing is that this weekend I did two back to back rides with about 18 km of off road riding. I’d have to give today’s ride the edge. In particular riding up the escarpment on that rail trail was fun, and it provided many good views of the city along the way.


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On a brief trip to Hamilton, I had a chance to try out the bike share system, which was run by Social Bicycles.  Hamilton Bike Share has several different rate plans. As a very occasional user, I am on the $4 per hour plan. I started at the Hamilton GO terminal.


They had recently added some more bikes and stations to the system, and the new bikes in white were an upgrade from the originals, going from three to eight speeds. Naturally I picked out the white one from this rack. I had the Sobi bike sharing app on my phone, but it appeared that I still had to punch in my user number and PIN manually.

Fun fact: there was a period of time when you could pay a fee to have a custom name put on a bike. Another fun fact: you can use their website or phone app to search for a particular bike by name.


Riding north on James St. S, I pass the former James St. Baptist church which appeared in the Handmaid’s Tale while it was in the process of being demolished. Facadism, anyone?IMG_6101

Downtown Hamilton traffic is a bit more low key than in Toronto 😉


One of the things I wanted to check out was the bi directional bike lanes along Cannon that were put in as a three year pilot in 2014. Cannon St. is a high speed arterial in the north end of the city, with one way traffic flowing west. One lane was converted over to a bi directional bike lane. One of the best features of this bike lane is that it cuts across a significant part of the city; it is 6.3 km long, which is about the distance from Keele to Church along Bloor St.


Riding east (against the car traffic direction), there are bike traffic lights at each major intersection.


There are also chevrons across major intersections.


The bike lanes themselves are protected by combination of bollards and rubber bumpers.


Here I am at my destination.


Why did I come to this particular station?  It was to take this picture.


Comparing the old and new models, one major difference is that the new basket is a bit smaller, but is made up of plate with small holes, rather than the old design of tubes. As noted in this detailed blog post, this allows smaller items to be carried in the basket.


A “be seen” headlight is integrated into the front of each basket.


The bike named “Mika” was looking a little worse for wear since the last time I saw it, which was two years ago, but it still looked functional. You can see the U shaped lock sticking out to the right.


This pictures show the ends of the “U”


When you unlock a bike, you stow the “U” in the handy carrier.


Riding back to the GO station, I note the green boxes that show where bikes are supposed to wait before crossing both lanes of bike traffic as well as Cannon St. The placement of this one seems a bit odd, but all of them are place as far as possible away from car traffic.


At the end of the trip, the phone app shows the charge. The LCD screen showed it as well, but the display reset before I could take a photo.


By all accounts, Hamilton Bike Share has been a raging success. Reviewing press on the Cannon St. bike lanes, I see articles both in support, and somewhat more mixed.   They were put in in the first place with significant local support. In addition to significant increases in ridership, some data shows improved car traffic flow. I’ll be watching to see if they are made permanent.



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Bike for Mike

Bike for Mike is a charity ride in Hamilton that raises money to put kids on bikes, to teach them the rules of the road, and to encourage them to ride to school. Their annual ride was today, and it turned out to be a very pleasant day for biking. I registered for the 50K ride.

Arriving for registration at Collective Arts Brewing.


Our host, Mark Chamberlain, gives us some facts and figures about their charitable work. This was the 7th annual ride, and in that time, they’ve put 2250 kids on bikes. This year, registration, announcements and some vendors were indoors, rather than outdoors at Waterfront Park as in the past. Worked like a charm: this insured that the weather would be good, despite the lousy forecast all week.  Bonus: we all got a beer ticket at registration.


I had the pleasure of meeting Mark on my ride with Cycle Hamilton last November.

Here are the 75k riders eager to start.


Unfortunately, riding under the neat looking arch meant that you were treated to a water hazard within the first 100 meters of the ride.


Having a wet bottom is not the optimal way to start the day. Note that most of this crowd did not have fenders.


These guys are going to do the 75K with their Bullitt cargo bikes. Bikeables is a Hamilton based goods (food, etc) delivery service. I was told that the fact their bikes also have Toronto listed reflects the fact that their partner coffecology is expanding to Toronto.


In honour of the Giro, I’m wearing socks in the same style as my Italian colleague and rider, Andrea Gallo.


Just before we started, this interesting bike pulled up.


The 50K crowd was about half the size of the 75K group. We were smart enough to stick to the road at the start to avoid the water hazard.


The lead group heading south towards downtown.


Roughly 50 years ago, our family used to live in this apartment building in West Hamilton, and it used to be a huge treat to be allowed to go downstairs to get a treat from the variety store.


The sign that says “Ancaster” gives no indication that we’re about to climb the escarpment.


Fortunately, it is a gradual climb with a marked bike lane on the wide shoulder. Check out that blue sky!


My parents couldn’t quite get their head around the fact that I was going to bike 50K, so they met me in Ancaster to make sure I was doing OK. We took turns taking bad pictures.



The cargo bikers also made it up the hill.


At this point, the two routes split off. I turn right.


Beautiful rolling hills with little car traffic.


2nd rest stop in Dundas, at a cafe called Grupetto. There were some families here resting at the halfway point of their 25K route.


Looking inside, I’m blown away by the cycling theme, along with the TV showing the Giro. Turns out that this is the successor to the very well knows Domestique-Café that out grew its old home.


The frame for this very pretty private label bike was made by Marinoni.


I had a nice chat with the proprietor, Chris (wearing the toque), who started talking to me when he saw my Tamarack. He certainly knew the history of this very obscure brand. When the first wave of 75K riders arrived, he seemed to know many of them.


Setting off again.


Passing through the Mac campus.


Almost finished. I really like this bump outs with bollards that look like they are for traffic calming.


Finished, and cashed in my beer ticket.


A very pleasant ride in support of a great cause. Thanks to our hosts, the Chamberlain family, all the volunteers, and the sponsors, especially Collective Arts Brewing.

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Cycle Hamilton  is a relatively new cycling advocacy group. They were running a Cycle Advocacy Week, and I figured that a ride they ran today would be the perfect opportunity to check out some of the bike infrastructure  and to get a bit of a feel about what was going on in my hometown. Given that it’s been 40 years since I’ve actually lived there, I knew that a lot had changed.

We gathered at City Hall. Kudos to them; this is the first bike related event that I’ve ever been to where more people showed up than were “going” on Facebook. There was a mix, everyone from a bike dad with son to a bunch of roadies in Lycra.


Johanna (co-founder of Cycle Hamilton) gives us the scoop on the ride before we start. She says that today’s ride focuses on the fact that a popular route up the escarpment, Sydenham Rd, is due for some infrastructure improvements, but that bike lanes are not included in the plan, even though this route is on the Cycling Master Plan.


And off we go. Look, a bidirectional bike lane!


Parking buffered bike lane on Charlton.


Note the wayfinding signs.


Entering a section of trail that goes along the northern border of Chedoke golf course.


Stop to regroup.


Here we go.


The lead group.


The rail trail.  Very nice and wide.



Threading through the Mac campus.


and down towards Dundas along Cootes Dr.




Pulling up to the Shed Brewery.


A brief stop to figure out who was going to brave the hill. It turns out that pretty much everyone was going to do it.


Here we go.


Not steep yet.


OK, time for the granny gear.


People arriving.


Proof that I made it. Thanks to Mark for taking the photo.


The historical marker talks about how this is called Clara’s Climb, after Clara Hughes.


These folks rode Sobi bikeshare bikes.


Group shot.


That’s Dave, chair of Cycle Hamilton, in the centre.


The ride down was quick, and then it was time for beer. The Shawn & Ed Brewing company was kind enough to let us bring bikes in. I hauled a heavy lock up that hill for nothing!


A good turnout. I was told that the building used to be a firehall, and then a curling rink, and now a beautifully retrofitted brewery.


It was great to talk to these guys about what was going on bike wise in Hamilton. We argued over who had the more dysfunctional city council. Of course, I could always pull out the Rob Ford card. Their main issue with the bike lanes is that they don’t form a continuous network. Sounds familiar.


The fellow on the right Mark Chamberlain, runs a ride called Bike for Mike that raises funds to provide underprivileged youth with bikes. They have a multi pronged approach to getting young people on bikes, including having them earn their bikes by pledging to bike to school, etc. They are taking the long view on encouraging the next generation of bike riders and potential bike advocates.  I can’t remember the exact date of the next ride, but I believe that it is going to be the first Sunday in May.

A few pictures of infra on my way back downtown. We biked by this sign on the way out.


I like this bollard shielded bump out for pedestrian safety and traffic calming.


The bike lane on Herkimer which is the one way complement to Charlton. These bike lanes just went in this year just went in this year.


Thanks to Cycle Hamilton for running this event!


Update: Don’s much better pictures on facebook.

Update #2: my ride report from Bike for Mike 2017.

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Was in Hamilton this weekend, and I noticed some changes on Locke St since our last visit to the neighbourhood. Firstly, I see that Steam Whistle Brewery bike repair stations have made it to the Hammer.

Also, it seems that the bikeshare system is a hit, and I noticed some nice enhancements at this station. I like the fact that the advertising on the rack and sign is hyperlocal.


Also, it looks like wayfinding has been added as part of a 100 in 1 day project. This should be done in Toronto.



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Hamilton Bike Share

We were in Hamilton this weekend to take in a little PanAm Soccer. It’s been years since I’ve been downtown, and one of the brand new things is a bike share system. Although I didn’t ride any of the bikes, it was interesting to take a brief look at their bike, in comparison to the Bikeshare Toronto machines.

The main difference is that the racking system is very simple, and all the smart tech is carried on the bikes themselves. The bike is a basic aluminum framed city bike that is significantly lighter than the ex-Bixi bikes.

Here is the tech that displays the status of each bike. The yellow loop is the bike lock that is opened when you rent a bike via a smartphone app.
DSC05881 The small loops to the left are a lock holster.

One quirk of the system is that each bike has a name. This one is named after one of my daughters.
DSC05879 According to the FAQ, if you signed up for a founding membership, you got to name a bike. Other bike names on the same rack were “Skeletor” and “Linus Blanket”.

The bikes also feature shaft drive, as well as a very sturdy front basket.

You can read this early review of what it’s like to actually use this system.

The next time I’m in town for an extended visit, I’m going to have to check out all of the new bike infrastructure that has gone in all across town over the last five years. It’s surprising that these improvements have gone in despite the actions of a City Council that often seems more dysfunctional that our own here in Toronto. Thumbs up to the citizen advocates such as those that are behind Raise the Hammer for pushing a progressive agenda.

Update: a Toronto based article comparing the two cities bike share system, and liking Hamilton’s better.

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