Hamilton Centre station a great example of an integrated transit terminal. In a single facility there are GO Transit regional trains and buses, Greyhound and Coach Canada intercity buses, and Hamilton Street Railway local buses. Having all these different agencies operate out of a single facility makes transfers between services easy, which benefits all services involved. But the station’s integration isn’t just limited to transit services. It also provides some of the best bicycle parking options of a station in Ontario.
I did a walkaround of the station to tally up the parking options available, and here’s what I found.
The station’s handsome art deco tower is flanked by two of GO Transit’s standard bicycle parking shelters, which have space for 28 bikes each. These simple shelters are thankfully commonplace at stations and terminals across the province, because they save people from returning to a bike with a wet seat and a squeaky chain.
But the station’s most popular parking seems to be the City of Hamilton racks located right in the bus terminal. It is the closest parking for bus passengers coming from any direction, as well as the the closest parking for train passengers coming from the south. But accessing it involves walking the bike through the facility, so personally I’m surprised that it is so much more popular than the GO Transit covered parking on the north side.
Hamilton Centre is one of the few stations in Ontario that features secure indoor bicycle parking. GO Transit charges $50/year for a key to one of the station’s two small parking garages, which are located at the east and west ends of the station.
On top of the high-quality parking options described above, there are many ordinary racks and post-and-rings around the station, which would be useful when the covered parking is full.
All these parking options are great for Hamilton residents heading to the station, but what about people arriving in Hamilton from elsewhere? The station’s garages have a 72-hour maximum stay which actively discourages people from storing a bicycle in Hamilton for occasional use, and I doubt people would want to leave a bicycle sitting in unprotected parking for extended periods of time.
But not to worry! The station is served by the Hamilton Bike Share system, which allows passengers to pick up a bike at the station and ride it to any of the 118* other hubs across the lower city. There are two bike share hubs at Hamilton Centre Station, one each at the north and south entrances.
*As of May 2017, the Hamilton Bike Share website lists 120 hubs, but that number is continually increasing.
Hamilton Centre station provides a great example of how to provide bicycle parking at a medium-sized station in Ontario. It offers a full range of parking types and locations, the vast majority of which is protected from the elements. And based on my fairly limited sample it seems that there is enough capacity to accommodate future growth in bicycle traffic, though the demand is surprisingly concentrated into the racks on the bus platform.
Of course, parking is only half of the infrastructure puzzle – there also need to be safe and attractive cycling routes to get to it. The station is located on Hunter Street, which had bicycle lanes installed in 2014. But those lanes end a block away from the station in both directions, forcing people to cycling in traffic on a busy one-way road, or walking a fair distance on the sidewalk (or more likely, riding and conflicting with pedestrians). Completing the Hunter Street bike lanes past the station should improve access to the station from the east and west, while introducing contraflow bike lanes on Hughson Street would make it a safe and comfortable route from the north.
With those cycling network improvements in place, the station would see an increase in passengers arriving by bicycle, and the station’s array of bicycle parking means that it is well equipped to accommodate the new riders.
Hamilton Centre Station Bicycle Parking Statistics
Total public parking spaces: 187
Total bike share spaces: 20
Breakdown of public parking spaces
Secure and covered (paid): 45
Covered (free): 98
Exposed (free): 44