Why Is Street Furniture So Boring?

SIDEWALK SOUNDOFF – We get political here sometimes at BlogHamilton. This time we’re taking local civic planners to task with the complete and utter lack of innovation when it comes to street furniture – and specifically – bicycle-based street furniture.

DSC03677Locally, there’s a few installations worth noting. In Burlington, there’s several bicycle repair stations along the downtown trail network.  Also, Hamilton has a solar-powered smartphone charging station in a park in the Barton Village while way out west in Edmonton, Alberta they are bringing similar smart chargers to park benches.

This summer, the Yaletown neighborhood in Vancouver, British Columbia is introducing free public outdoor WiFi in that city.

Basically at heart of the issue is that politicians responsible for public furniture procurement need to focus on building better, more usable cities.  Take trends in cycling for instance. Fat-tire bikes and winter biking are becoming more popular in our urban centres, yet outside of one highly controversial climate-controlled 24-hour bike locker in downtown Toronto, planners are NOT making it easier for citizens to adopt a lifestyle that reduces stress on the environment.

Clearly the appetite for expanding what and how we define public space and activity is changing as technology, hearts, minds, climate… as well as family incomes, adapt for a dynamic economy.

So here’s the challenge.  Someone out there design a better bicycle rack. Something that incorporates security, fitness tracking, competition and social media and is not simply just an afterthought, thrown haphazardly into public space design where the only differential is colour of paint.

Because locking your $5000 bike to a hunk of metal worth fifty dollars seems a little ridiculous.


High Speed Rail Or Improve What We Have?

BLOG.HAMILTON – The Ontario government is spending $15 million dollars to commission a multi-year study aimed at bringing high-speed rail to fruition across several Southern Ontario communities in a two-phase plan.

That’s well and good in a universe where the QEW and 403 highways aren’t a parking lot, but the $55 million dollar West Harbour GO Station only being open for one hour and fifteen minutes a day for four trains is ridiculous.  We were promised all-day service.  This is unacceptable!

While a high-speed train is something we could afford in the best of times, it seems a bit over the top when people around here just want to get to work on time and stop worrying about polluting the environment.