Hamilton’s Pedestrian Mobility Plan is here

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And what it means for Complete Street policy

By Audrey Naluz

There is potential for making a big step toward a more pedestrian friendly Hamilton this month, a city where people would be able to enjoy the economic, social and health benefits of a walkable city. That is, if City Council adopts the Pedestrian Mobility Plan just released by city staff. 

 At 244 pages in length, the plan is comprehensive and extensive. We have prepared a shorter, detailed summary for those who want to have a big dive into the content of the plan.

 In general, the plan is aligned with a Complete Streets policy:

  • Calls for a reversal of street design

Consideration would first be made for pedestrians and cyclists, then motor vehicles, instead of the reverse as it is currently. 

The plan could be make a better argument about the economic development benefits of this kind of approach that other cities are experiencing, and how designing streets right in the first place saves money in reducing requests for costly traffic calming retrofits later.

  • “Routine Accommodation” strategy

By default, all road projects, including re-paving would make improvements for pedestrians.  This means that no special studies or council motions would be needed, and starting right away one-by-one of Hamilton’s streets would see pedestrian improvements over about 20 years.

(“Routine Accommodation” is the former name for Complete Streets.)

  • 36 specific “countermeasures” illustrate the suggested changes

These would lead to big improvements in pedestrian safety, access, and beautifying our streets.

  • A detailed implementation plan is included
  • Focus on equity

Specifically attention on improvements for pedestrians in areas within the city’s neighbourhood development strategy

Even if the Plan is adopted, we still need a complete streets policy to better serve all users.  The Pedestrian Mobility Plan and Complete Streets Policy have similar objectives, and the plan makes good links with cyclists and transit users. But the Plan falls short on several elements needed for a robust Complete Streets policy:

Complete Streets policy element

Pedestrian Mobility Plan

Strong language and intent


All users and modes


Applies to all projects

Very good

Clear exception procedures

Not clear

Encourages connectivity


Cites use of latest and best design criteria

Very good

States community context

Very good

Performance measures

Not clear

Implementation plan

Very good

More specific reasons how a Complete Streets policy could help the city achieve its goals faster are described at the end of the summary document we have prepared.

It promises to be a very interesting debate at the General Issues Committee. We will be keeping an eye on Councillors’ reactions to the Plan. If you support this plan, but you are not sure that your councillor is on board, you may want to contact your councillor to let them know.

If you would like to attend the meeting, it is on Wednesday, November 6, at 9:30 a.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, 71 Main Street West. You can find the meeting agenda here

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