Special Report: Walkable Streets

Two-Way Streets, Not More Studies

Hamilton needs to follow the footsteps of those cities that already mustered the courage to do right by their downtown streets and are enjoying the fruits of the urban renaissance we also claim to desire.

By Ryan McGreal
Published February 21, 2010

A week ago, the Spectator published an article titled "Mayor not sold on converting streets for LRT" that quoted Mayor Fred Eisenberger saying it's "premature" to assume that Hamilton's east-west rapid transit plan will entail the two-way conversions of Main Street and King Street.

Five-Lane Juggernaut: Main Street is no place for mere pedestrians
Five-Lane Juggernaut: Main Street is no place for mere pedestrians (RTH file photo)

The article quoted the Metrolinx Rapid Transit Benefits Case Analysis saying that two way "conversion is considered a positive move from a city-building perspective that will create a more pedestrian and transit-friendly environment."

The Mayor cautioned that the city needs to "look at how the transportation flows in our inner city" and that such study "has yet to be done in thoroughness."

I was disappointed to see a call for more studies from a mayor who has in the past argued that "downtown should be a destination, as opposed to a pass-through" and recommended creating a pedestrian plaza in Gore Park.

The Metrolinx BCA was prepared in close cooperation with city planning staff and reflects prudent, conservative best practices of urban planning. We don't need more studies to re-confirm its recommendation that two-way conversion accompany the city's rapid transit system.

We don't need more studies to tell us that one-way streets are more dangerous for children or that a traffic system optimized for automobile traffic contradicts the goal of being the Best Place to Raise a Child, let alone the kind of broad "urban renaissance" that Eisenberger has promoted during his term in office.

I contacted the Mayor for clarification of his position on two-way street conversion. He replied:

I believe two-way conversions provide benefits and can help make neighborhoods and business districts more friendly for pedestrians and generally improve the vitality of our city. A great example of this is the successful conversion of John Street and James Street to two-way traffic.

With regards to the possible conversion of King and Main streets, I want to clarify my view, which is that it is premature to make a judgment on this option before our city staff has completed the necessary traffic studies and modeling.

It is important to make an informed decision on this and that means we need all the necessary facts and details to be worked out by staff in advance of any proposal.

Until then, I am confident that King Street is the preferred option as the corridor for Light Rapid Transit and will mean the best safety, the most convenience for commuters to getting on and off the LRT, less impact on traffic flow and a greater opportunity for economic uplift.

I respect the Mayor's careful, prudent approach and have defended it on this site and elsewhere. Eisenberger understands that a successful policy must achieve buy-in from the various institutional and community organizations that have a stake in the policy's outcome.

However, I've also argued that there's a time to consult and a time to take a stand. This has been studied to death. (Literally.) The Mayor needs to draw the obvious conclusions from the overwhelming evidence we already have and become a public champion of two-way, livable downtown streets that serve the people who live, work and play on them.

As I wrote a couple of years ago in relation to light rail, "The hard work and risk-taking have already been undertaken by cities bolder and braver than this one."

Once again, Hamilton merely needs to follow the footsteps of those cities that mustered the courage to do right by their downtown streets and are enjoying the fruits of the urban renaissance we also claim to desire.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted February 21, 2010 at 21:48:23

I started a long comment on another post and then abandoned it before posting, but essentially I was saying this exact thing. Just make the streets two-way now.

I speak as a person who strongly supported the idea of getting through the downtown as quickly as possible; driving east to west I made sure that my car doors were locked when I hit Victoria. I stayed tense until I hit the safety of Queen again. I despised the city I lived in. But the James Street conversion was eye-opening. I've seen the light; I was wrong, and now I want to proselytize.

Getting through the city as quickly as possible has to stop. I've walked downtown many times and only once felt the same dread I do when I'm driving. Driving depersonalizes. Driving quickly dehumanizes.

Hamilton has problems which won't be solved by converting the streets. But converting the streets, slowing the traffic, getting people out of their quick car commute to either a slow car commute or into buses/bikes/walking will bring people back to viewing this city as the place they live. It's a nice city.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted February 21, 2010 at 22:00:42

I also reminded Mayor Fred that the conversion of King downtown was already laid out in the transportation master plan - and only being delayed because of rapid transit. Now that rapid transit recommends 2 way conversion, there are simply no more excuses. I don't know what the point of a traffic study is - any study will inevitably predict slower traffic and congestion during peak times. This is reality in any city which is considered a desireable place to live. Is there some level of congestion beyond which it is preferable to maintain our current lethal system of one ways?

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 21, 2010 at 22:23:30

sigh. I applaud you for writing another common sense piece Ryan. You might just have to move out of town one of these days if you want to enjoy proper urban life before your 80th birthday.

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By lukev (anonymous) | Posted February 21, 2010 at 22:41:40

Let's be fair here, it is an election year, and how could he get Stoney Creek to vote for him if he shuts down their favourite expressway?

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted February 21, 2010 at 23:14:24

lol, lukev. You are soooo right.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 06:11:47

Manhattan is all one-way streets. Why do you think it works there, but not here? What if instead of converting to two way, the city just increased the width of the sidewalks by taking out one lane of road.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 08:10:30

Why do you think it works there, but not here?

Hmmmmmmmm. Maybe because Manhattan is about eighty times more dense than Hamilton??

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 08:22:03

LOL. I thought it worked there because the tax rates were 0.2%.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:45:55

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 11:51:08

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2010 at 12:47:10

I'm determined to take "Correlation does not imply causation" and turn it into a jingle.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-02-22 11:48:41

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 12:54:04

Ryan >> We don't need more studies to tell us that one-way streets are more dangerous for children

This is a quote from the study you provided...

"Finally there is higher volume of traffic on one-way streets in Hamilton (documented as a 10 to 50% increase after
the change), a variable associated with up
to a 13-fold increase in injury risk."

A more telling study would look at accident rates were per car, not simply per km of roadway. Since most of the one way streets in Hamilton are downtown, where population density is highest, its little wonder there are more car-pedestrian collisions.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 13:00:27

xkcd

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 13:02:16

Here is a quote from this link...

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3734/is_199808/ai_n8815091/?tag=content;col1

"In 1959, for New York City, Wiley found a 25 percent reduction in intersection pedestrian accidents at one-way street intersections after conversion from twoway operation.4 Karagheuzoff, in 1972, reported an average reduction of 22 percent in intersection accidents after conversion to one-way street pairs in New York City."

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 13:24:03

A Smith,

The higher induced traffic volumes are an important part of the problem of one-way streets. One way streets induce more traffic and higher speeds and cause more deaths and injuries (especially of children): this is the conclusion of the 2000 study on Hamilton.

You also neglect to mention that the difference is very significant: one way streets have 2.5 times the child pedestrian injury rate per km than two-way streets. This increase is much higher than the increase in traffic volumes! One way streets are intrinsically more dangerous, and produce traffic conditions that pose a higher risk to pedestrians (driver inattention, speeding).

I can't understand why you're pointing to 1959 and 1972 studies from New York as being somehow more relevant than a 2000 study from Hamilton, especially since one of the aims of the 2000 study was to correct deficiencies in the earlier studies! These shortcomings are clearly explained in the 2000 study report.

In addition, as mentioned earlier, New York City streets have low average speeds, whereas Hamilton's one way streets encourage speeding, and as explained by Ryan speed kills.

In brief, the New York examples are not relevant because:

  1. New York City's one way streets have low average speeds, whereas Hamilton's have illegal average speeds well above 50km/h.

  2. The 2000 study focuses specifically on Hamilton (we don't have to guess whether it is relevant), and fixes many shortcomings of the studies you mentioned (such as only counting accidents at intersections).

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2010-02-22 12:25:37

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By michaelcumming (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2010 at 13:55:00

Turning Main & King back to two-way seems like a no-brainer. Being a good expressway with lovingly synchronized lights is obviously incompatible with the comfort and safety for anyone not in a vehicle travelling at a steady 60kph.

Calm the traffic and property values rise like magic; businesses get more pedestrian traffic; parents become less stressed that their kids will be squashed under the wheels of a truck.

If there was a user-pays principle to driving east on Main, then each driver would have to pay a $5 toll each time they inflict their vehicle on Hamilton. Congestion charges -- providing disincentives for people who mess up the quality of life of others -- are coming to a downtown near you! Let's pool those externalities and with the money build things that are of benefit to the city at large.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 16:12:48

Ryan, can you point out to me where on this site you mention the cost of building the LRT is pegged at over $700 million? I can't find that anywhere.

Just to throw some numbers at you:

Federal deficit - $56 billion
Provincial Deficit - $24.7 billion

Recently the Premier said that Hamilton is not guarenteed LRT funding. The prov is providing alot of money for Pan Am.

With the financial situation we are in LRT is looking more like a fantasy.

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By Rod (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 16:41:41

Maybe two-way on King is the way to go. But, out of curiosity, I wonder what factor is more important in making a main thoroughfare, like King Street (or Main, for that matter) a more liveable, pedestrian-friendly milieu: light rail or two-way traffic flow?

In other words, would the end result be better with a two-way street devoid of light rail, or a one-way street with light rail? Are there any other cities in the world with one-way light rail lines along major streets, and what has that experience been?

And I am thinking that perhaps the volumes of traffic on an east-west LRT system/line in Hamilton may build to such a level that over the long term perhaps double track routes on both King and Main may be appropriate and necessary.

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By lukev (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 16:42:23

I've always wondered if they could finance LRT this way:

HSR (or Metrolinx) gets a real estate arm, and buys all underutilized properties along the future route. Once the LRT is open, and land values go up, they sell the properties to developers for a huge profit.

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By schmadrian (registered) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 17:44:01

While I think anyone paying attention knows where I stand on vehicular traffic, I do have to point out realities...even when I'm on the side being touted:

"If there was a user-pays principle to driving east on Main, then each driver would have to pay a $5 toll each time they inflict their vehicle on Hamilton."

Oi vey... I honestly don't know where to start. I get the idea behind this thinking, I get the pedestrian-friendly mindset, I get all that... But seriously; no politician is going to touch this. Not in a kajillion years. (I'm not saying that the proposal would ever even get introduced, I'm commenting on what amounts to naïveté regarding just how entrenched the car mentality is society-wide. Yes, it's me, the Broken Record again.)

Look; this afternoon, I walked across Aberdeen at Kent. You know, where they now have the sign 'requesting' pedestrians cross at Locke or Queen. If THIS is the sort of mindset government has...and remember, this is government that's probably representing the wants/needs of its many car-driving constituents...then what makes you believe that trying to 'attack' drivers with a 'we don't want you here' approach would even get past the protest march stage?

It's one thing to chat within a like-minded group about 'ideal circumstances' down the road, but when you start throwing around references like "...people who mess up the quality of life of others..." you're not only playing with fire...you're going to be grouped by the general public in ways you're really not going to like.

Let me reiterate, before Ryan breaks out his metal ruler: I want not only a pedestrian-friendly downtown, I want a pedestrian-WELCOMING downtown. I'm not the enemy here, I want what most of you want. But some of the ways to present -and fight- this fight are better than others. I don't see 'congestion' charges (as in London) ever coming here. Different environment entirely. So let's look at another approach, shall we? (OK, Ryan; now I'm ready.)

Comment edited by schmadrian on 2010-02-22 16:45:22

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By quemsilvae (registered) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 22:02:26

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2010 at 22:36:34

quemsilvae, the problem with your analysis is that it only takes into account the current vehicular road users. Yes, some (maybe many) will divert to other routes - the skyway, or the Linc - as they should.

The loss of those drivers (who never stop downtown anyway) will be more than made up for by the new residents who will be attracted to a more livable downtown and all of the amenities it provides.

It sounds to me like you hate downtown - so, two way streets and LRT will give you a new personal reason to avoid it. But all of the newly attracted residents who appreciate these things (and there will be many of them) will pay taxes to the city, helping to offset yours.

Really, there is nothing for you to lose if these changes are made...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2010 at 22:53:55

I wonder what factor is more important in making a main thoroughfare, like King Street (or Main, for that matter) a more liveable, pedestrian-friendly milieu: light rail or two-way traffic flow?

The two are both necessary factors and will actually reinforce each other. Neither by itself is a magic bullet. LRT and two-way conversion are both material acts in the service of making the streets livable. (Also necessary is the proper regulatory framework for the transit corridor to allow and encourage high quality intensification and mixed use development.)

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 22, 2010 at 22:58:29

OK, Ryan; now I'm ready.

I agree with you. Congestion charges are way premature for Hamilton. First we'd need congestion. I think Donald Schmitt of Diamond Schmitt Architects put it best in an interview a few years ago:

The pendulum needs to swing away from the dominance of the car and pedestrian showing a lively street, with greater emphasis given to the pedestrian. I certainly do not think that the pendulum should swing to the opposite extreme of pedestrian only environments; vehicles and pedestrians can and should co-exist in lively urban neighbourhoods.

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By lukev (anonymous) | Posted February 22, 2010 at 23:45:47

quemsilvae, you point out that downtown has deteriorated over the years, as people move to other parts of Hamilton. The parts of Hamilton which don't have high-speed death traps running through them.

Hmmmm...

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 08:28:47

But the reasons began with low-lifes and parking Nazis in the core

Godwin!

On a serious note, if you see downtown streets as your way to get from Westdale to Stoney Creek, that is exactly why we need two-way conversion. Turn it around: would you want all the residents of downtown Hamilton driving past your house on a synchronized five-lane highway all day? No? Then stop complaining when we stand up for our own neighbourhoods.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 10:06:14

and don't forget John, we're the ONLY ones who will stand up for our neighbourhoods. City Hall, the Chamber, trucking companies etc.... continue to oppose basic and simple changes that will enhance the quality of life for urban residents. We know we are down the totem pole and don't matter as much as new home buyers, but we're still taxpaying human beings (paying more taxes than the new home buyers, by the way) who deserve the odd crumb of respect and safety for our kids (who are just as important as everyone else's kids).

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By Really? (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 10:58:56

Council & Staff clearly don't care or want to change anything; Change is scary and difficult.

It's very clear Council & Staff all know Sprawl actually costs a City money. The problem in Hamilton, which is becoming more-and-more obvious, is that our Politicians are afraid to lose their jobs so they stick to the Public Interest Groups in which they feel will get them the most votes.

Merulla today, for example, retracting his plea to sue the Province (you know, the hand that feeds?) over Municipal Downloading. Why? Is it because he feels he made a mistake? (ya right) No, it was because of pressure from those with enough insight to say "Dude... what are you thinking? Remember those Provincial hand-outs every budget?!?!"

The problem (especially this year) is trying to convince Council to sway their opinions for the better of the City, rather for fear of being out of a job! It's too bad that 2010 is full of real, serious issues that NEED to be addressed: LRT, Two-Way Streets, Area Rating... just to name a few important ones.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 14:53:35

From the cited study...

Other possible factors accounting for the increased injury rates can be divided into those that impact on quantity of exposure...
the downtown core of Hamilton consists almost entirely of oneway
streets as does most of the surrounding and poorer neighbourhoods,

Also, poorer kids are more likely to walk to school 28,29 and play on the streets and so they are exposed to more street crossings
and vehicles...

So, according to the authours of the study, kids that live downtown Hamilton spend more time near roads. How much more time? If they spend twice as much time near roads, then that would account for the difference in collisions. Does the author tell us how much more time they spend around roads? No.

Without data about the kids exposure time to one way streets, this study tells us nothing regarding the safety of one-way streets.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 16:30:52

A Smith,

The main conclusion of the article is that one-way streets are more dangerous, the only question is why. The authors themselves suggest speed, traffic volume and driver inattention as likely factors.

The authors themselves consider your socio-economic (SES) "exposure" argument, and reject is as explaining the higher injury rates on one way street:

"We conclude that the one-way street rates therefore exceeded the main sources of variation due to SES, age and sex."

This is very clear, and since you insist on twisting the analysis and conclusions of this article, I will quote the relevant passage in its entirety. I am beginning to suspect you are not arguing in good faith as you neglected to mention that the paper specifically addresses and rejects (on statistical grounds) the argument you have just advanced (claiming support from the paper to do it). This is not the way to foster honest, open discussion!

"We must qualify the results of the present study because the relationship between street type and injuries was not adjusted using SES data for each individual child. However, in observing Tables II and III together, it is noteworthy that the pattern of rates by age and sex for the different levels of SES were identical to the pattern of rates by age and sex on one-way and two-way streets. We conclude that the one-way street rates therefore exceeded the main sources of variation due to SES, age and sex. This suggests that one-way streets represent an independent effect separate for these other variables. For example, the low SES group rate for all ages and both sexes was 33.3. The one-way street rate was 46.4 for all ages and both sexes suggesting that one-way street rates could account for a 12.1 excess rate of injury if we assume all other factors which might influence the rate are equal."

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 19:56:28

kevlahan >> The main conclusion of the article is that one-way streets are more dangerous, the only question is why.

And you blindly accept that conclusion because it matches your goals, nice logic.

>> The authors themselves consider your socio-economic (SES) "exposure" argument, and reject is as explaining the higher injury rates on one way street:

It's not my argument. My argument would be to find out the total volume of traffic that kids are exposed to on one way streets versus two way streets. Once this number was established, you would then have an accurate data set to make comparisons as to the safety of each type of road.

If, for example, one way streets carried twice as much traffic per km of roadway than two way streets, then it would be expected that there would be twice as many collisions.

>> For example, the low SES group rate for all ages and both sexes was 33.3. The one-way street rate was 46.4 for all ages and both sexes suggesting that one-way street rates could account for a 12.1 excess rate of injury if we assume all other factors which might influence the rate are equal."

And if the authors hadn't diluted the traffic collision numbers between three SES groups, rather than two, both the high and low income groups numbers would be almost the same as the numbers for the street types.

For example, if we take the intermediate SES group collision numbers and divide it equally to the high and low categories, we get 45.55 for the low SES and 21.45 for the high. Compare that to 46.4 for one way streets and 19.6 for two way and there is not much of a difference at all. When you consider that even their SES groups are rough approximations of exposure to traffic, it hardly suggests anything conclusive about the relative safety of either one way or two way streets.

If I was cynical, I might even think the authors of this study presented the numbers in such a way as to produce the result they were looking for.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 20:10:32

I am beginning to suspect you are not arguing in good faith

Sigh. A Smith argues in many different ways, but "good faith" isn't one of them.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 20:38:39

z jones, why would the authors of this study dilute the traffic collision numbers between three SES groups, then use those diluted numbers to suggest that one way streets collisions were higher than would be predicted solely by income status?

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 20:45:18

Arbitrarily splitting the intermediate SES rates between the low and high SES bins is not justified statistically, since it assumes that the rate distribution is symmetric about median income, which it clearly isn't (the rate distribution is clearly strongly skewed to lower SES, which is the whole point of this statistic).

If you really wanted to re-assign the rates from intermediate SES bin to the other bins you would need to take into account this asymetry, which would mean much more than half the rate would be assigned to the lower SES bin, giving much the same result as reported in the paper.

Part of the reason one relies on peer reviewed publications is that statistical analysis (and other knowledge) is non-trivial, and making apparently 'fair' assumptions is often not justified. This is a good example. If you really understand the statistical analysis, or find obvious flaws, that's fine, but not just any re-jigging of the numbers is acceptable.

This reminds me of the member of the Indiana State legislature who tried in 1897 to pass a law defining the value of pi to be 4 since irrational numbers are so difficult to calculate with (actually there were six different values in his bill), but I digress.

I agree that in an ideal world including exposure would make the study stronger, but that would be very hard to measure accurately.

It would have been nice if there HAD been a follow-up study, but this report has just sat on the shelf for the past 10 years. I am frankly appalled that the City did not look at the results and say 'This is shocking, let's try to follow-up and double check the analysis: our preferred road design may be injuring our most vulnerable children at 2.5 times the rate of an alternate design'. Instead, the report was either dismissed out of hand, or ignored.

Of course, there are actually reasons to expect the exposure rate might actually be lower on one-way streets since pedestrians try to avoid walking along busy one-way streets like Main and Cannon if possible (because they feel unsafe and unpleasant).

The City has been advised by experts on walkability, urban design and safety to convert to two-way. There are multiple reasons this is a good idea, safety is just one.

We also have our very own control-study in James N, which was written of by its own councillor Ron Corsini in the early 2000s as having no future commercially. It has experienced a commercial renaissance, and two-way conversion was clearly one of the reasons. It is also not a coincidence that the successful commercial streets in the old City are all two-way (e.g. Concession, Westdale Village, Locke St, Ottawa St).

The frustration comes from the fact that the one-way conversion happened over night 50 years ago with no consultation or 'phase-in', and yet the bar for going back is now being set impossibly high. All over the US smaller and medium size Cities are doing successful two-way conversions (e.g. Minneapolis, where I was in November), so we don't even have to be a pioneer!

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 20:48:06

A Smith,

You're not making sense when talking about 'dilution'. Please see my previous response, and note that the overall rate for all three bins taken together is still 2.5 higher for one-way streets.

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By Rod (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 20:49:31

Again, I am neutral on the debate: two-way versus one-way streets, although the preponderence of opinion seems to favour two-way - on King. But, while respecting the arguments that two-way slows down traffic, and in this way creates (so the reasoning goes) a more pedestrian-friendly milieu, by the same token, this would also mean that LRT traffic/trains would be similarly slowed down.

To the supporters of LRT, who also support street conversion to two-way flow, that is surely a point one has to ponder. In short, by moving to two-way conversion, one is sacrificing LRT speed (and its attractiveness to many potential riders) for perceived improvements in street aesthetics and safety. (I wonder how much two-way conversion would add in terms of time to an LRT journey from M.U. to Eastgate?)

That said, I am with the majority here: get on with LRT ASAP! And to add that I think suggestions that it be placed underground make no sense - very unnattractive as well as prohibitively expensive.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 21:06:43

LRT would run on dedicated right of ways, and so would not be slowed down (or impede) traffic.

This is one of the important ways in which LRT design differs from streetcar design.

In addition, LRT would have signal priority at intersections (in fact, its own special signals, so as not to confuse drivers).

In brief, LRT + two-way conversion increases the attractiveness of a street as a place to live, work or shop, while retaining relatively high speed transit (McMaster to Eastgate, a distance of 14 km, would take about 24 minutes according to the Metrolinx study. This calculation is door to door, including stops).

Metrolinx states very strongly that two-way conversion is necessary to achieve the full economic advantages of LRT for many of the reasons that have been outlined on this site.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 21:32:24

kevlahan, look at how the authors come to the conclusion that one way streets are more dangerous than two way streets...

For example, the low SES group rate for all ages and both
sexes was 33.3. The one-way street rate was 46.4 for all ages and both sexes suggesting that one-way street rates could account for
a 12.1 excess rate of injury

... The authors are suggesting that because the low income group collision number of 33.3 is LOWER than the one way street collision number of 46.4, it must be that one way streets are inherently dangerous, regardless of neighbourhood income status and all the things that follow, like more walking, more playing around traffic, etc.

However, because the authors used three income groups, the total number of collisions that are labeled under "low income" are not as high as they would have been if they had only used two groups, as is the case in table II. In effect, the authors are diluting the number of collisions by adding an extra "intermediate" category, which if it didn't exist, would have increased the number in the low SES group.

>> much more than half the rate would be assigned to the lower SES bin

Okay, but this just strengthens the idea that there is something beyond street configuration that is leading to higher collision rates. If there are more collisions in low SES neighbourhoods, a higher rate than is found on one-way streets, then how can anyone conclude that it is one way streets that are responsible for higher collision rates.

If anything, it is suggestive of something about low income neighbourhoods that is leading to higher rates of accidents.

>> note that the overall rate for all three bins taken together is still 2.5 higher for one-way streets.

That is true. But like I said before, if we don't know the traffic volume per km on one-way streets, then how can we conclude that one way streets are more dangerous. It may simply be that because one- way streets are in more densely populated areas, there is simply more traffic and kids using those streets.

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By zookeeper (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 21:37:34

Kevlahan, please stop encouraging this well known troll by assuming he's interested in an honest debate.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 21:59:47

zookeeper, please point me to the exact quote where I said something dishonest.

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By geoff's two cents (registered) | Posted February 23, 2010 at 22:32:09

Funny, I thought the whole point of down-voting was to help eliminate trolling, not merely to vote out opinions that don't match one's own. As I understand it, we can express disagreement by registering our contrary opinions on the forum itself.

While I am generally in favor of two-way streets, in fact, I can see A Smith's earlier point (http://raisethehammer.org/article/1024#comment-38301). For example, while Vancouver's most vibrant streets tend to be two-way, there are very functional, pedestrian-friendly one-way streets as well (Howe and Seymour, say). In my view Hamilton's major problem is not necessarily one-way streets per se but rather that they're accompanied by narrow sidewalks, little or no beautification of the pedestrian experience (i.e. street furniture), high speed limits, no speed-limit enforcement, wide roadways and timed lights.

As I see it, the best and most logical inducement for Hamilton to make the enormous investment to switch Main and King to two-way is to help facilitate LRT (or BRT, as the case may be). The other disadvantages to one-way streets can be mitigated in other, less expensive, ways.

Comment edited by geoff's two cents on 2010-02-23 21:34:09

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By zookeeper (registered) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 07:39:55

I thought the whole point of down-voting was to help eliminate trolling, not merely to vote out opinions that don't match one's own.

Look at how carefully kevlahan presents the evidence from the traffic study. Now look at how A Smith abuses that same evidence to push a nonsensical argument that the study itself refutes. The issue with Smith isn't that he has a different opinion, it's that he does not argue honestly. He's not interested in a real debate. He's a troll.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 09:32:17

Smith,

I already explained that your "dilution" argument is based on an elementary mathematical error. I assumed you would immediately recognize this, and admit your mistake. Instead, you continue to play around with the figures, even after demonstrating you have no understanding of the most basic aspects of mathematics or statistical analysis.

The only reason I am replying is that I don't want our readers to be left with the impression that there is any merit whatsoever in your "dilution" argument. It is simply wrong, in the same way that saying a+b=1 implies a=b=1/2 is wrong.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 11:50:50

kevlahan, the battle is not between you and I, it's between you and your conscience. Good luck.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 12:17:02

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By unconvinced (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 12:22:25

The experiment with two-way streets has been a complete failure. [citation needed]

I fixed it!

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 12:38:42

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 13:13:52

It must be sad to realize that ONE-WAY Cannon St is now kicking your butt and stealing what's left of your retail. If you were smart, you would start pushing for the return of one-way streets. The sooner the better.

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 13:32:00

Interesting comment by geoff's two cents, one which I agree with.
Like Vancouver, we have plenty of friendly one-way streets. I am thinking the Durand/Locke St area. I would suggest a return to two way streets in these neighbourhoods would be to the detriment of the local residents. You would probably lose street parking on some of the tighter streets, resulting in increased driving speeds and less of a buffer.
I know we are not converting streets in that area, but it shows one-way streets can work. (Yes, While Main/King are a little different to the Durand area). As Geoffs two cent said "In my view Hamilton's major problem is not necessarily one-way streets per se but rather that they're accompanied by narrow sidewalks, little or no beautification of the pedestrian experience (i.e. street furniture), high speed limits, no speed-limit enforcement, wide roadways and timed lights.
There are plenty of simple solutions out there if we want to create safer and friendlier streets, many of which have been discussed on this website.

One of Hamilton's problems - always wanting and then waiting for a BIG event to transform the city. Because of this we tend to lose focus on the small changes that really matter.

NHL - years of wanting that city transforming NHL team. This becomes a major distraction resulting in lower levels of support for the Bulldogs (both public and corporate). In other cities smaller than ours, the local AHL teams are an economic driver. Not here.
Do not forget all of the delinquent property owners who are mentioned on this site. They too are letting their properties crumble while waiting for the big pay-off should we land an NHL team. 10 years of waiting for the NHL is pretty much 10 lost years of potential progress. Copps was built for an NHL team. At what cost?

Now the LRT. Is it reasonable to suggest the LRT, if it comes to Hamilton, is most likely more than a few years away. Why will the council spend money (and maybe lose votes!) improving the Main/King corridor when major changes and spending might be down the track. Again, property owners with boarded up store fronts are not likely to sell there properties any time soon or even make any improvements, while waiting for a potential bonanza. Meanwhile my property/neighbourhood becomes a little less friendly every year while we wait.

Wait for what?

Just my rant for today.








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By jason (registered) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 14:36:39

I have no problem with the tight one-ways in Durand and Kirkendall, or even a street like Hess or King William. Hamilton is no Vancouver or Manhattan. We don't have millions of residents and we don't have as huge an influx of people coming to work everyday. Big cities can use some well-designed one way streets. Hamilton is half a million, yet we have this one-way freeway network that would make NYC proud. The only dead streets in downtown TO are the one-ways. The two ways are all wonderful streets to be on. Let's not complicate it. Hamilton is a small city. We don't need to copy massive cities and their ways of moving people. That's the last of our problems.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 15:17:44

Jason >> We don't have millions of residents and we don't have as huge an influx of people coming to work everyday.

The ONLY reason why downtown Hamilton is not currently a hub of economic and cultural activity is because of our weak local politicians, who have allowed themselves to be kicked around for decades by citizens and industry.

When this city realizes that strong governments create strong cities, Hamilton will start slapping Toronto, Vancouver and Manhattan around something silly. Pay down debt, raise taxes, repair all the roads, fix the sidewalks, push out industry that has destroyed the waterfront.

In fact, if you own property in Hamilton, I would look to start buying more, because once City Hall finds its legs, Hamilton's cheap land values will be no more.

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By Rod (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 16:50:13

Geoff:

You make some very valid points re: the matter of narrow sidewalks on main thoroughfares in Hamilton -especially applicable to Main.

While the debate on one-way versus two-way may go an and on, I think that is one point on which all can agree. Whether a street is one-way or not, a very busy street with very narrow sidewalks, is not at all attractive and pedestrian-friendly.

As I say, if one-way does not impact significantly on LRT transit times, then I am OK with dual-flow streets. But the best way to enhance the aesthetics of streetscapes is surely to install wide sidewalks, preferably with lines of trees thereon. And an LRT along the middle, one or two, completes the picture. Of course, Main and King have been nothing like that for years.

But if businesses en route have genuine objections to two-way conversion, they should be listened to. As others have thoughtfully pointed out, one-way streets are not necessarily the problem per se. Barton is two-way - but that doesn't exactly make it a tourist attraction!

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 18:49:32

A Smith must be joking to say that Cannon is stealing retail from James North. Shoppers is moving to Cannon and Wellington because no one else wanted the old post office and all the land it sits on, so they could put in a big store with lots of parking for very little money. Buying up that much land on James North would cost far more. This isn't Cannon stealing from James North, this is high-end uses on James North pushing low-end retail out into less desirable real estate.


FenceSitter, the problem is not mainly with one-way streets per se. It's the high-speed, high-flow automobile traffic that is enabled by the network of one-way streets with synchronized lights. If I could choose between

  1. converting one lane of Cannon St. to eastbound, but keeping the lights synchronized for westbound traffic
  2. desynchronizing all of the lights, but keeping it one-way westbound

I can tell you that the latter would do far more to make the street pedestrian-friendly.

By contrast, the human-friendly one-way streets around town (Hess, Markland, Robinson, Herkimer, Charlton, +/- King William) all have four-way stops or unsynchronized lights that keep traffic speed and flow down.

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By beancounter (registered) | Posted February 24, 2010 at 23:14:57

Whatever happened to my suggestion to limit the number of comments that any one person could post on any one topic?

Comment edited by beancounter on 2010-02-24 22:15:57

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2010 at 00:29:58

Jason, I had no idea that Adelaide St. and Richmond St. in downtown Toronto were dead. There are thousands and thousands of people who will be overwhelmed by the news.

quemsilvae, be careful what you post you might replace A Smith or myself as the most downvoted posters on the sight. I am sure that would make it difficult to sleep at night.

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By rusty (registered) - website | Posted February 25, 2010 at 10:02:35

Mr Meister, Of course Richmond and Adelaide are dead streets. So, for the most part is Jarvis. How many pedestrians and patios do you see on these thoroughfares? Not many! Any street that facilitates fast moving traffic at the expense of pedestrian safety and convenience is going to lack street level vibrancy. You get what you build for.

As for the two-way one-way debate, I don't believe anyone at RTH is blindly advocating two-ways streets always. What we are saying (well, me at least) is that in order to reduce the speed and prominence of cars along King and Main the best solution would be to convert the streets to two-way. Widening the sidewalks and adding bike lanes would be an added bonus also.

It comes down to a question of what we want. Do we want our downtown streets to be expressways or pedestrian friendly boulevards? Decide what we want and design the streets accordingly.

The question I have now is the same question I had 9 years ago when I first moved to the Hammer: What are we waiting for?!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 25, 2010 at 10:45:20

It comes down to a question of what we want.

For me, two-way conversion isn't just about making the street more livable, although that's certainly a major part. It's also about transforming a road from a thoroughfare optimized for fast travel to a macro-destination into a local street optimized for direct travel to a micro-destination.

By macro-destination I mean "the other side of town". If I'm in West Hamilton, Main Street gets me to East Hamilton nicely. It moves me through the city very efficiently.

(Just yesterday I had to drive through the downtown and I was struck again at how effortless it is to ease onto Main Street and let the flow of traffic bear me along. It's like riding a canoe downstream in a wide, deep river.)

However, if I want to reach, say, a building at the corner of Main and St. Clair, the road is suddenly not so good. The same effortless one-way flow makes it surprisingly difficult to get over to the bank - sorry, curb - and stop.

It's even worse if you want to get to, say, the corner of King and Wentworth. Not only can you not approach the corner straight along King (from the west), but also you can't approach the corner straight along Wentworth (from the south).

Instead, you have to approach the corner on a different street, overshoot (and figuring out how far to go - difficult if you have an address but not an intersection), cut left on a cross-street going north, and then backtrack to your destination. Once you get there, you still face the same problem of trying to resist the flow of traffic and stop.

That's what I mean about our thoroughfare system making it more difficult to reach micro-destinations (like the corner of King and Wentworth).

I recently commented that when I moved to Hamilton, I at first hated one-way streets, and then learned to accept them, and finally came to hate them again. I know I'm not alone in this pattern, and I think this is why:

  1. I hated the one-way streets at first because of the micro-destination issue. It was frustrating as hell trying to reach anywhere specific.

  2. I learned to accept them when I gave up trying to reach micro-destinations downtown by car. This is why downtown businesses have a hard time surviving.

  3. I finally came to hate them again as I came to realize just how much local micro-vitality we're sacrificing to accommodate express traffic to macro-destinations across town.

This is what jumped out at me from Michelle Martin's recent piece, Walkability? We Can't Manage Drivebility.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-02-25 09:46:31

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2010 at 13:18:55

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2010 at 13:41:54

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 25, 2010 at 21:56:10

to clarify, Richmond and Adelaide are dead compared to surrounding streets in TO. Compared to any street in Hamilton they look like Times Square on NY Eve.

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By Ford (anonymous) | Posted March 01, 2010 at 05:51:56

Why do some of you hate cars so much?

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted March 01, 2010 at 22:10:37


QUOTE from ASmith:
"When this city realizes that strong governments create strong cities, Hamilton will start slapping Toronto, Vancouver and Manhattan around"

I have to disagree here. I am going to agree with your namesake on this issue - once businesses move in and more affluent people move in downtown, then the city will turn around. If we leave it up to government, nothing will ever happen. All government does is try to stay in office.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted March 02, 2010 at 08:18:38

"Why do some of you hate cars so much?" asks Ford.

I'll answer that one, speaking as one one of the bike riding, downtown walking, two-way streeters here on RtH: I don't hate cars. I love my car ... my SUV, actually: it's shiny, big, bouncy and takes 4x8 sheets of dry wall or two kayaks through the back window.

But I prefer to walk or ride my bike when going about my daily business. I want to be able to do both more often, especially downtown. But the expressways which run through our city makes walking and biking and just _being_ downtown far more unpleasant and awkward than they should be.

Downtowns are for people and shopping and hanging out, not for expressways. We have other ways of driving fast from here to there ... we only have one downtown.


Kenneth Moyle

Comment edited by moylek on 2010-03-02 07:24:20

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