Friday, December 14, 2007

Here comes a storm

This post is confirming that there is no continuous route for sidewalk-clearing after snow storms, according to current standard of practise in the city.

This effectively strands many people, including the elderly, people with mobility devices (electric scooters, walkers) and people with young children (in strollers) who wish to go about their business but do not drive.

This approach irks, especially since it does nothing to encourage - indeed it marginalizes - people who don't use a motor vehicle: the kind of person the city is supposed to be encouraging according to their planning documents, for example:

"Direction #6
Expand transportation options that encourage travel by foot, bike and transit and enhance efficient inter-regional transportation connections."
GRIDS Directions to Guide Development

or in more detail:
1.2 The Importance of Walking and Bicycling

In healthy communities walking, cycling and other kinds of non-motorized transportation (e.g. roller blades, scooters, skateboards, etc.) are a normal, routine part of daily life. These active modes contribute to the quality of life and public health, provide options for getting around, and are important elements of the integrated transportation solution the City of Hamilton wants to achieve.

Specifically, walking and cycling are directly related to the following GRIDS strategic directions:

Four: Design Neighbourhoods to improve access to community life.

Six: Expand transportation options that encourage travel by foot, bicycle and transit and enhance efficient inter-regional transportation connections.

Promoting and encouraging walking and cycling through the provision of facilities and programs helps build active communities, and reduces the dependence on automobile transportation and the associated infrastructure costs, air quality, safety and congestion problems. With the increasing focus on the health costs of our sedentary lifestyles, daily walking and cycling are seen as essential components of a healthy lifestyle. Many communities are attempting to redesign themselves to facilitate non-motorized travel by: Providing walkways and bikeways that accommodate and encourage non-motorized travel, rather than only designing communities around the automobile; Managing traffic and road design to allow pedestrians, cyclists and other travelers as well as motorists to use the roads. Features that facilitate automobile use such as wide roads and intersections, large parking lots, drive-through businesses can create an uncomfortable and unsafe environment for non-motorists; Encouraging walking and cycling within and between communities by managing the shape of urban growth and promoting more compact development.

Within transportation plans, policies that affect walking and cycling involve the planning, design, implementation, operation and maintenance of linear facilities (sidewalks, crosswalks, trails, bikeways, and bicycles on transit) and other amenities (benches, shelters, bicycle parking, etc.), and may also complement policies in other City programs that encourage cycling and walking (safety and education programs, bikeway maps, etc.).

City of Hamilton
DEVELOPMENT OF POLICY PAPERS FOR PHASE TWO OF THE TRANSPORTATION MASTER PLAN FOR THE CITY OF HAMILTON
WALKING AND CYCLING POLICY PAPER

and this from City of Hamilton's PEDESTRIAN NETWORK STRATEGY Working Paper, May 2007: 6.2 Providing and Maintaining Pedestrian Facilities

Implement a non-motorized maintenance program. Expand programs to clean and remove snow from pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Develop a program for quick repair of infrastructure such as street/sidewalk repair, catch basin repair, removal of road hazards, signage repairs, traffic signal modifications, etc. Place priority on safety-related spot improvements.

and meanwhile:

Hamilton will catch edge of major U.S. storm
Blizzard menaces northern states from Oklahoma to Maine. The Hamilton area may see the heaviest snowfall.

All of Southern Ontario is under a winter storm watch this afternoon as forecasters warn of a major blizzard starting tomorrow.

Local accumulations of 25 centimetres in less than 24 hours are possible, Environment Canada predicts, adding that blowing snow and freezing rain may make travel difficult.

The Hamilton area may see the heaviest snowfall.

"Travel should be postponed or alternate travel arrangements should be considered," the weather service warns.

Meanwhile, another wintry blast was forecast today for the midsection of the United States, where hundreds of thousands are still in the dark after a deadly ice storm brought down power lines, snapped trees and coated roads.

The system could complicate restoration efforts to the some 500,000 homes and businesses in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri still without power after the first storm darkened 1 million customers at its height earlier this week.

Between five and 15 centimetres of snow was predicted for parts of Kansas and Oklahoma, said Ken Harding, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Topeka, Kan. The National Weather Service issued winter weather watches for the northwest two-thirds of Oklahoma from this afternoon through Saturday morning.

Many emergency shelters already were filled, with some residents on their fourth or fifth day of waiting for power to return. Kim Harrel has been staying at an American Red Cross shelter in downtown Tulsa since Monday.

"It's a very humbling thing in life," Harrel said, watching her kids play a game of Twister in the gymnasium on Thursday.

Meanwhile, residents in the U.S. Northeast were hard at work shovelling driveways and walkways. As the storm moved east, it changed from ice to snow, and dropped anywhere from five to 30 centimetres across the region.

While it didn't cause the same problems as it did in the middle of the country, it made travel difficult. Flights were delayed or cancelled and the heavy snow snarled traffic with fender-benders from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts. Most schools cancelled classes, but in Rhode Island, the storm left many Providence children stuck in buses or at school for hours.

Janet McCaulley, a doctor, tried to drive from Boston to work an overnight shift at Cape Cod Hospital, but couldn't get there. She found a replacement and checked in at a motel for the afternoon.

"In just an hour, the roads went from being bare to being covered in snow," McCaulley said.

David Rose, who owns an auto body and repair shop, expects to be one of the few beneficiaries of the storm.

"We'll have a lot of collision repair, batteries, tires and a lot of things people realize they needed, wipers for the snow,'' said Rose, whose shop is in Columbia, Conn.

The region was readying for another major storm this weekend. Harding said the storm heading for Oklahoma will intensify. Starting Sunday night, the system will drop "huge amounts of snow, probably blizzard conditions in New England," he said.

More than a foot of snow was predicted for places in Vermont, New Hampshire, upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

IN THE TIPS SECTION AT END, NO MENTION OF DUTY TO CLEAR SIDEWALKS:

'Intense' winter storm expected tonight TheSpec.com - Local - 'Intense' winter storm expected tonight

Eric McGuinness
The Hamilton Spectator

(Dec 15, 2007)

Shop today. You'll be snowed in tomorrow.

Environment Canada expects a major winter storm to hit tonight, with heavy snow and strong wind continuing all day Sunday.

Forecaster Sarah Wong said: "We have a very, very, strong winter storm coming in from Texas. For Hamilton, you'll probably see a couple of flakes Saturday afternoon, with the main band arriving after dinner and lasting right through Sunday.

"It will be quite intense, with northeast winds gusting to 60 km/h, so you could see periods of blowing snow with visibility near zero. Overall, it will be quite treacherous for travel, so do your shopping Saturday and stay home Sunday."

A storm watch issued yesterday could be upgraded to a warning this morning when the storm's track and effects can be more precisely predicted.

Early prospects, according to Wong, are for an average snowfall of 20 cm across Hamilton, with moisture off Lake Ontario adding as much as 10 cm more lake-effect snow above the escarpment.

Toronto is likely to get only 15 cm, while amounts in St. Catharines-Niagara will be similar to Hamilton or higher, she said. "Sections of the QEW and 401 will at times be impassable due to blowing snow, and quite slippery."

The temperature at Hamilton International Airport is expected to reach -5 C today and remain there overnight before rising to near zero during the day tomorrow.

Bill Weaver, acting manager of Hamilton road operations and maintenance, said city crews have already dealt with several early blasts of winter, notably the snowstorm Sunday, Dec. 2, and: "We're ready to go. There are no ifs, ands or buts on that one.

"We'll make sure all our trucks are repaired and ready today (Friday), that we have enough salt and sand on hand and alert employees to be available on the weekend. Then we'll load a few trucks up to be ready for first response."

A decision on spraying anti-icing brine on Mountain accesses in advance of the storm will be made according to the temperature. If it's too cold, brine freezes on the road and crews instead spread salt to break the bond between pavement and the first snow, making it easier to plow and keep clear as the storm continues.

With 29 of his 32 years on the job spent in operations and maintenance, Weaver's seen his share of bad weather.

"I missed the big storm in 1978, but have been here for memorable ones in '81, the late '80s and early '90s." He called the storm two weekends ago fairly significant, saying, "We were fully activated and called in all our contractors to clear subdivisions."

While the Mountain generally sees more snow than the lower city, Weaver said there are also microclimates such as the Stoney Creek plateau, where conditions may vary, and the city is now big enough that storms may hit only the east or west, sometimes covering areas east of Centennial Parkway with snow while the sun shines elsewhere, or dumping only around Rockton.

Stephanie Nassel, senior marketing director at Lime Ridge Mall, said the two weekends before Christmas are the busiest of the year, so retailers will be ready Sunday no matter how bad the weather. "Snowy days are generally good for business. Snowy days help get people in the Christmas spirit."

If people are determined to shop in a storm, she figures climate-controlled, indoor malls have an edge over big-box centres where you may be inclined to drive from store to store.

emcguinness@thespec.com

905-526-4650

Winter storm tips

For the latest on highway conditions, go to www.mto.gov.on.ca, look under Traveller's Information on the left side and click on Winter Road Conditions. Do not phone the OPP.

For Environment Canada weather forecasts, watches and warnings, go to www.weatheroffice.gc.ca

For bus schedules and information, call the Hamilton Street Railway's Bus Check line, 905-527-4441, or visit www.hamilton.ca/hsr

Here are some winter-storm tips from

Hamilton's public works department:

* If you have a driveway, use it. The more cars that are off the street, the better job we can do clearing snow and the less likely it is that your car will be plowed in, splashed or the victim of a collision.

* Please give our plow operators room to perform their duties. Stay back at least 25 metres from snowplows, sanders and other equipment so the operator can see you.

* When clearing your driveway, consider the direction of travel of the snowplow. If you move snow toward the side of your property where the plow finishes crossing your driveway, less snow will accumulate across the driveway when the plow passes.

* If you must drive, reduce driving speeds and drive according to road and weather conditions. Stay alert, slow down and stay in control.

* Keep children off snowbanks and from tunnelling into snowbanks. The snow can collapse or be pushed back by snowplows.

* Keep catchbasins clear and uncover fire hydrants near your home.