If you’re in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) — whether you’re here for an event or you live here — it’s always a good idea to know how to stay safe on the streets. It’s not a matter of crime, necessarily, but rather a matter of accident awareness, alertness about your surroundings, and good old practical sense. This guide offers those of you who find yourself GTHA some practical local advice about safety on the streets of Hamilton and how to get help if you become injured as the result of an accident.
Safety Begins on the Streets in Hamilton
Accidents can happen any time but if you’re anywhere outside the cozy and familiar realm of your own home, you’re most likely to be injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident. In other words, while falling down tops the list of things that send people to the doctor, there’s usually a vehicle involved if it’s not a fall. Driving is changing — not just the cars we drive but the way we drive. People are more distracted, streets are more congested, and accidents in most urban areas are on the rise, including in the “Golden Horseshoe” here in Southern Ontario. That makes it more important than ever for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers to be alert, practice defensive driving, and obey the laws at all times. That goes double for pedestrians. Even when you’re obeying the law — crossing only when you have the right-of-way or using crosswalks, for example — you’re in danger because of dangerous driver behavior. During the period from 2014 to 2017, by far the most incidents involving pedestrians occurred when the pedestrian was crossing the street with the right-of-way.
The Changing Terrain of Driving in Hamilton
In the last thirty years, traffic congestion has increased at distressing rates all over Hamilton and surrounding areas. That happens anytime there’s an increase in population, of course. And in Hamilton, the population has grown steadily for years. Between 2006 and 2011, it grew by over three percent. Experts agree that it’s a growth driven by nearby Toronto and GTA residents to Hamilton for the lower cost of living. Whatever the reason for growth, the end result is the same: more cars and trucks on the roads of Hamilton. More vehicles equals more congestion. It’s not just a rise in population, either. It’s behaviour, too. In 1986, for example, over half of school kids walked to school in the GTHA region. Thirty years later and the number is cut by more than half for a rate of just over one-quarter of all kids who walk to school. So how are they getting to school now? You guessed it: by automobile. That’s a lot more cars on the road in the late afternoon, which represents a wave of traffic congestion that merges with the early beginnings of rush hour. The result is one long continuous rush hour that begins far earlier than it used to.
Hamilton’s Less-Than-Stellar Reputation for Pedestrian Safety
Intersections can be dangerous for not just motor vehicle drivers but pedestrians as well. The most prevalent behaviour leading to an incident caused by a driver is when the driver fails to yield the right of way.
Sadly, if you’re walking or cycling on the streets of Hamilton, you’re more likely to suffer a fatal incident here than in any other city in the province save one (Windsor). Pedestrians have a 42 percent higher chance of being injured here than in other parts of Ontario. These are only some of the more recent fatal incidents involving pedestrians in Hamilton. Unfortunately, the trend has continued even after the 2013 report penned the dubious title of “2nd Most Dangerous City in Ontario for Pedestrians”. There are several larger cities in Ontario which have much better pedestrian injury and fatality rates. And, says the report, the rate of pedestrian and cyclist injuries has not improved in almost twenty years. The bottom line here for you is that as a pedestrian or a cyclist, it’s better to avoid a collision altogether. Drivers are in a much better position to survive or escape injury-free because they’re protected by the vehicle they’re driving. As a result, they fare much better in a collision, especially at higher speeds.
The Most Dangerous Intersections in Hamilton
But drivers aren’t always at fault. In fact, the second-most common cause of accidents involves a situation when the driver was actually driving properly! The easiest place to see evidence of this is at the worst intersections in Hamilton. Here are some of them:
- King and Dundurn
- Main and Kenilworth Streets (the worst for pedestrians)
- Cannon and Wellington
- Red Hill Valley area
- Kenilworth and Britannia
- Main and Emerson
- Charlton and Wentworth
Where to Go if You Need Quick Medical Attention in Hamilton
Anyone who’s injured in an accident should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you think that you sustained no injuries, it’s possible that you were injured without being aware of it. Here’s a quick guide to getting different types of medical attention when you’re in Hamilton, Ontario.
Hamilton’s Top Emergency Departments
If you suffer a medical emergency or life-threatening injury, seek help at one of the city’s four hospital emergency departments. They receive patients for conditions and injuries like poisoning, deep cuts, broken bones, trouble breathing, injuries to the head, loss of consciousness, severe pain, chest pain, bleeding that won’t stop (this is not an exhaustive list). Keep in mind that emergency departments treat people in order of severity of injury, not in the order in which they arrived in the ED.
- Juravinski Hospital. On Concession Street
- Hamilton General Hospital. On Barton Street East
- McMaster Children’s Hospital. For children 17 and under only
- St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. On Charlton Ave West
Hamilton’s Top Walk-In & Urgent Care Clinics
Urgent care clinics are typically open during business hours or business hours into the late evening. The following are open 9 AM to 9 PM at time of writing:
- Telehealth Ontario. This is a number you can call with questions about a health issue, seven days a week. It’s provided by the Ministry of Health: 866-797-0000.
- Hamilton Health Sciences West End Urgent Care Centre. Open seven days a week to 9 PM and is located at 690 Main Street West.
- St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton – King Campus.
- Urgent Care of Hamilton. Located at 1 North Brookwood Avenue and open 8:30 AM to 8 PM seven days per week.
- Walk-In Clinic at Walmart Hamilton by Jack Nathan Health. On Upper James Street and open every day with limited hours on the weekends.
- ChoiceOne Urgent Care. This is a partnership with Gwinnett Medical Center and there are two locations: one in Hamilton Mill and the other in Sugar Hill.
Here’s a general idea of the locations of some of Hamilton’s urgent care and walk-in clinics.