Hamilton’s Cycling Master Plan

Hamilton’s Cycling Master Plan is intended to guide the development and operation of its cycling infrastructure for the next twenty years. This plan is an update to the previous cycling master plan, Shifting Gears (1999).

The purpose of the Cycling Master Plan is to take into account:

  • current cycling policies and programs
  • expands upon recommendations made in the:
    • Growth Related Infrastructure Development Strategy (GRIDS)
    • City-wide Transportation Master Plan
    • City-wide Hamilton Recreational Trails Master Plan
  • the movement towards increased emphasis on alternative modes of transportation such as cycling.

The City’s vision is to have a transportation system that offers a choice of integrated travel modes, emphasizing active transportation such as walking or cycling,public transit and carpooling.

Shifting Gears 2009 is a new Cycling Master Plan for the City of Hamilton, approved by Council in June 2009, to guide the development and operation of its cycling infrastructure for the next twenty years. This Cycling Master Plan study was undertaken by following the environmental planning process for Master Plans under the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (Municipal Engineers Association, October 2000, as amended in 2007). The project involved significant public consultation by holding open houses across the City to obtain public input and present the recommended cycling network.

The plan is an update of the current cycling master plan (Shifting Gears: A New Cycling Plan for Hamilton-Wentworth (December 1999, or Shifting Gears 1999) which included a ten-year action plan (1999-2008) for a City-wide primary route network of improvements of on-street and off-street infrastructure. Approximately 75% of the infrastructure projects outlined in Shifting Gears 1999 have been completed or are in progress. A more comprehensive plan is now required that takes into account current cycling policies and programs, expands upon recommendations made in the Growth Related Infrastructure Development Strategy (GRIDS), the City-wide Transportation Master Plan (2007), and the Citywide Hamilton Recreational Trails Master Plan (2007), and recognizes the movement towards increased emphasis on alternative modes of transportation such as cycling.


The City’s vision is to have a transportation system that offers a choice of integrated travel modes, emphasizing active transportation (walking and cycling),public transit and carpooling (adapted from Transportation Master Plan, 2007).The Transportation Master Plan (2007) describes what achieving this vision will mean for cyclists in 20-30 years:

  • Cyclists would become a common sight given the additional new on-street bike lanes and new multi-use trails; and
  • Fifteen percent of all daily trips would be made by foot or bicycle.

It is expected that the provision of well-spaced, continuous cycling routes with consistent design, will be successful in attracting a significantly larger cycling ridership overall. Efforts are already underway by the City to expand rapid transit and develop transportation demand management (TDM) strategies. Linking active transportation modes, such as walking and cycling, with rapid transit and TDM will go a long way towards making Hamilton a healthier City to live in.


Shifting Gears 2009 is primarily focused on developing new on-road facilities,connecting wherever possible to existing or planned off-road facilities, as identified in the Hamilton Recreational Trails Master Plan (2007). The focus is on commuter, utilitarian and recreational cycling, recognizing that recreational cycling is often the first step toward commuting or utilitarian use.

Thus, the objectives of Shifting Gears 2009 are to:

  • Develop a comprehensive cycling network for commuter, utilitarian and recreational cyclists through the expansion of on-street and off-street cycling facilities, including escarpment crossings;
  • Provide a preferred cycling grid in the urban area based on a 2 km spacing design;
  • Ensure consistency in design by providing separate facilities on streets with large motor vehicle traffic volumes and high speeds and shared facilities with low motor vehicle traffic volumes; and
  • Provide convenient and all-season access to all residential and employment areas and transit nodes.

Plan Development

The plan was developed using the following multi-step process:

  • Identify and evaluate network planning alternatives; Identify and compile a comprehensive inventory of all possible cycling routes; and
  • Evaluate and select link alternatives based on network continuity, safety, demand, construction and property constraints, and cost.

Map illustrates the Preferred Cycling Network and Appendix A contains a preliminary prioritized list of the streets and roads in the preferred network. A fold-out version of Map is available in Appendix B.The final preferred Corridors Network of 270 links consists of a combination of existing and planned cycling facilities, comprising on-street bicycle lanes, paved shoulders, signed routes and multi-use trails.


The total cost to complete the recommended network is $51.5 million, of which approximately $22.5 million is needed for urban areas and $29 million is needed for rural areas (in 2009 dollars).

The suggested implementation strategy is based on completing the network in the urban areas within 20 years, which would require $2.5 million annually.

Currently the City allocates approximately $890,000 annually to cycling infrastructure improvements. Additional funding occasionally comes from
individual road construction projects. It is the recommendation of this study that future cycling improvements, whether stand alone or as part of a construction project, be tracked collectively.

Supporting Actions

In addition to cycling infrastructure improvements, there are several other essential components to encourage cycling and promote safe cycling: increasing the amount of bicycle parking, providing more cycling education programs for youth and adults, supporting special events organized to celebrate cycling and increasing the availability of promotional cycling materials.

Hamilton's Cycling Master Plan - Shifting Gears

Chapter 1 - Introduction (PDF, 4MB)
Chapter 2 - Planning Context and Opportunity Statements (PDF, 4MB)
Chapter 3 - Existing Cycling Infrastructure and Context (PDF, 4MB)
Chapter 4 - Cycling Master Plan Development (PDF, 1MB)
Chapter 5 - Proposed Cycling Master Plan (PDF, 4.5MB)
Chapter 6 - Implementation Strategy (PDF, 0.1MB)
Chapter 7 - Supporting Actions (PDF, 0.1MB)
Chapter 8 - Process to Amend the Master Plan (PDF, 0.1MB)
Chapter 9 - Next Steps for Project Implementation (PDF, 0.1MB)


 Appendix A - Preferred Projects & Preliminary Implementation Schedule (PDF, 0.1MB)
 Appendix B - Preferred Cycling Network Map (PDF, 1MB)
 Appendix C - Public Consultation (PDF, 9MB)
 Appendix D - Stakeholder and Agency Consultation ( PDF. 0.6MB)
 Appendix E - Public Works Staff Report PW09-068 (PDF, 1.8MB)
 Appendix F - Public Works Committee Report 09-010 (PDF, 0.1MB)
 Appendix G - Summary of Public Final Review Period Comments (PDF, 0.1MB)