Turning right on a red could soon be illegal at all Hamilton intersections

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Council committee tells city staff to study the idea’s feasibility after cyclist death. 


City of Hamilton staff will soon be studying the feasibility of banning right turns on red lights city-wide after a motion from Ward 2 (Downtown Hamilton) Councillor Cameron Kroetsch was passed unanimously by the Public Works Committee.

Kroetsch’s motion, which was seconded by Ward 1 (Chedoke-Cootes-Westdale) Councillor Maureen Wilson, also included asking staff for an immediate review of the intersection at James Street North and York Boulevard.

A number of intersections along Main Street and King Street already have the no right on red requirement after councillors approved the measure last year.

The motion comes after a cyclist was killed last Thursday (September 28) after being hit by a cement truck that was turning right onto James Street.

Kroetsch notes in his motion that the Transportation Division of the city is already examining the feasibility of expanding no right turn on red restrictions and leading pedestrian intervals at intersections.

Leading pedestrian intervals are when the pedestrian signal turns to “walk” a couple seconds before cars get a green light.

Even though staff are already studying those measures, Kroetsch wants the Transportation Division staff to accelerate the timeline on their report.

The motion calls on the Transportation Division to report back to the Public Works Committee by quarter three of 2024 or earlier on whether or not the city should expand the no right on red rule to all city intersections.

Kroetsch posted on X (formerly Twitter) that “every single pedestrian and cyclist death in our city is one too many.”

He continued that the city’s “Vision Zero” means “zero pedestrian and cyclist deaths.”

It’s unclear what the associated costs would be to implement the rule city-wide.

While the no right on red rule likely only requires the city to put up multiple new road signs at each intersection, the city has hundreds of lights.

It’s also unclear at this time whether adding leading pedestrian intervals to lights requires any equipment changes to the lights or whether the feature is simply a matter of programming.

The changes would also have an impact on traffic.

Nevertheless, the motion is simply for staff to review the possibility of the decision and not to actually implement anything at this time.

As has been detailed by city staff when discussing other issues with Council, the accelerated timeline for city staff will likely either lead them to put off other work or shorten their overall analysis.

During the debate at the Public Works Committee, two amendments to the motion were proposed and approved.

Thus, the motion also calls for all future pedestrian/cyclist fatalities and major injuries to require city staff to prepare a report to the Public Works Committee.

Additionally, leading cyclist intervals at all lights city-wide will be a part of the review.

It should be noted that the committee results still have to be ratified by Council, but in this case that appears to be a formality given the unanimous support at the committee stage.

The next City Council meeting is on Wednesday, October 11.


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