Special Report: Light Rail

LRT Needs Two-Way Streets for Success

Pedestrian-friendly streets are a necessary part of transit-oriented development. If Hamilton does not successfully support transit-oriented development, our LRT project will fail.

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published December 16, 2010

I would first like to thank Jillian Stephen and the City's Rapid Transit office for their detailed and convincing explanation of the decision to maintain one-way automobile traffic flows from the Delta to Gore Park as part of the city's Light Rail Transit plan. Most people I've talked to now understand and support this compromise.

However, there is still a great deal of concern, media controversy and disappointment over the perceived lack of attention to the needs of pedestrians on the major arterial streets along the transit corridor, especially King (West of Gore Park), Main and Cannon.

Pedestrian-friendly streets are a necessary part of transit-oriented development. If Hamilton does not successfully support transit-oriented development, our LRT project will fail.

Ms. Stephen's recent response to Raise the Hammer left the impression, perhaps unintentional, that significant pedestrian improvements would be considered only at some unspecified future time after the completion of the LRT line, so the effect on traffic can be assessed.

This "wait and see" strategy reminds me of the joke about Sweden changing from driving on the left to the right side of the road. Because it was such a big change, they decided to take it step by step and start with the trucks. If everything went well, they would switch the cars too...

The Ever-Receding Now

In addition to being a necessary part of all successful LRT projects, pedestrian-friendly streets are in fact official Hamilton policy: the Downtown Master Plan ('Putting People First'), the Pedestrian Charter, Pedestrian Summit, 8-80 workshops in Durand and McQuesten and numerous urban designers and charettes dating back to the late 1990s have all urged Hamilton to do two-way conversion and other pedestrian improvements now.

Unfortunately, we've seen that, although pedestrian-friendly streets are a 'long-term goal' of the City, 'now' never seems to be the right time to begin. In 2009, Hart Solomon explained his rejection of the pedestrian scramble on York Blvd that was strongly supported by the public:

Longer-term, we have plans and strategies to change transportation behaviour, although those will be most successful if we also change how we plan and implement land use, since transportation and land use are tightly connected.

The scramble was proposed for 2009 or 2010 and at that point in time the effects of changes like LRT, etc. would not be in effect.

Now we are being told that, although we are indeed implementing LRT and a comprehensive land use plan, it is still not the right time to make our streets pedestrian-friendly!

Make Downtown a Destination

We may plan for transit-oriented development, but we won't make the necessary changes because we still refuse to accept that we need to shift our downtown from an expressway to a destination.

The Metrolinx Benefits Case Analysis, prepared by our consultants Steer Davies Gleave, also strongly supported two-way conversion, both for its pedestrian-friendly benefits and because it makes destinations along the route easier for motorists to access:

The one-way system typically supports longer cross town trips rather than the shorter trips encouraged by the two-way streets. ... Furthermore, the two-way street system is more supportive of the City's objective to create a healthy, more pedestrian-friendly downtown. ...

In addition to the merits of the two-way conversion, the ability of the rapid transit system to compete with the automobile and generate travel time benefits is directly related to the operating speed of the rapid transit system.

When RTH interviewed Donald Schmitt, principal in the Diamond+Schmitt Architects - the firm designing McMaster Innovation Park - about Hamilton's dominant one-way street system, he said:

Two way streets slow cars down. The environment on the sidewalk, particularly if they are widened with parallel parking and street trees becomes more protected from traffic and more conducive to window shopping, outdoor food and sidewalk life.

Pedestrians cross the street more safely and both sides of the street start to work together as a true retail strip.

If we don't implement the two-way conversions on Main, King (West of Gore Park) and Cannon, there will be a significant decrease in the economic development benefit and competitiveness with automobiles. There is a risk that LRT will no longer have a benefit ratio greater than one.

Rebalance Our Streets

It is important to remember that, contrary to some alarmist letters to the Spectator, two-way conversion and other pedestrian improvements will not mean downtown will be somehow inaccessible to cars.

Motorists will still be able to drive through the city, but they will drive through more slowly, and priority will be given to motorists trying to reach destinations in the core, rather than taking a shortcut from Hwy 403 to the QEW.

I've personally done a great deal of research over the past five years into successful LRT systems, and they all involve re-engineering the streets to make them more pedestrian-friendly.

This is necessary both to attract the sort of investment necessary for transit-oriented development, and to make the transit experience attractive to users (especially the new users we are trying to attract).

Jean Sivardière, who has spearheaded LRT and alternative transport initiatives in Grenoble since 1975, told me that you can't build a successful LRT system while trying to maximize efficiency and convenience for motorists. If you do, your LRT system will be a failure.

Hamilton cannot afford an $800 million failure.

Pedestrian-Friendly

We need to ensure that streets - especially arterial streets - along the transit land use corridor are pedestrian-friendly. Main Street and Cannon Street (to take the worst examples) are now downright scary for pedestrians.

The sidewalks are very narrow, there is no buffer, there are no crosswalks for several blocks at a time, and traffic speeds are typically well over 60 km/h.

The traffic department recently proposed prohibiting pedestrians from crossing Main Street at Dundurn because of the danger - despite the fact this is a natural route for pedestrians going to the Fortino's plaza. (The City already probibits pedestrians crossing King Street on the west side of Dundurn.)

These streets aren't even safe for motorists: Main at Dundurn and King at Dundurn are the number one and number two accident intersections in the entire city.

Two-way conversion is the simplest way to slow traffic and make streets more pedestrian-friendly. If we reject two-way conversion, we would need to widen the sidewalks and add a buffer (e.g. trees or parking), which would drastically reduce traffic capacity.

Whatever choice we make, these changes must be implemented at the same time as LRT. Waiting "to see how traffic is" will doom our LRT project to failure. Remember, the goal of LRT is to transform Hamilton, not to run a streetcar through the same old decaying city.

The current system has not served our city well: that is why we are trying to change it.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.

39 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By Sarah Matthews (anonymous) | Posted December 16, 2010 at 17:52:54

Well done Nicholas!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted December 16, 2010 at 18:21:50

And as if we needed more evidence that balanced streets are vital to economic development, along comes our old friend Richard Florida:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/arch...

What's the point of even having an EcDev department when the traffic engineering department is allowed to determine our economic future?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted December 16, 2010 at 18:35:55

Ditto for our Chamber of No Commerce

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 16, 2010 at 18:44:21

I was bemused to find this month's Rapid Transit newsletter in my inbox. In the summary of the focus groups the City has been holding with residents and business owners in the rapid transit corridor, the participants identified the following common themes:

  • Complete corridors including diversity (people, design, affordability) and mixed uses
  • Economic uplift along the corridor and viable small businesses
  • High quality urban design and architecture
  • Pedestrian friendly streets and gathering places that are vibrant, green and human scale
  • Seamless connectivity between transportation modes

The Rapid Transit office concluded: "The results of these visioning exercises will help build the principles for land use change along the corridor."

I'm utterly at a loss to understand out how they could possibly conclude that now is not the right time - the perfect time - to reclaim our downtown streets from their current use as automobile expressways.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted December 16, 2010 at 18:48:23

I'm utterly at a loss to understand out how they could possibly conclude that now is not the right time - the perfect time - to reclaim our downtown streets from their current use as automobile expressways.

Yea, I got that too. Two words: Traffic Department.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By TomRobertson (registered) | Posted December 16, 2010 at 20:35:52

Were any tests taken of air quality along John and James before the 2 way conversion that can be compared to now. I am sure there is a great difference now due to the long line ups of idling vehicles waiting to make left hand turns and the increased length of time it now takes to make the same journey. Do we really want to expand the "Red Zone"? Are the streets really more pedestrian friendly when the people walking are exposed to a more polluted environment?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By crhayes (registered) - website | Posted December 16, 2010 at 22:31:48

@TomRobertson Don't you think it's possible the reduction in throughput on two-way streets offsets the increase from idling cars? If the route is not as efficient to take less people will take it resulting in less pollution.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted December 16, 2010 at 22:33:57

Are the streets really more pedestrian friendly when the people walking are exposed to a more polluted environment?

So, is the air on Main Street pristine and clean compared to James now?? IMO the street with the best air quality in Hamilton for pedestrians is George between Queen and Hess.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 16, 2010 at 23:12:00

Are the streets really more pedestrian friendly when the people walking are exposed to a more polluted environment?

It is very well understood and empirically supported that when you optimize streets for traffic flow, more people drive longer distances more often and increase the overall air pollution.

If you want people to get out of their cars and walk, cycle, or take transit - and hence reduce impacts on air quality - you must make it easier, safer and more pleasant to do those things.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By DBC (registered) | Posted December 16, 2010 at 23:21:26

@TomRobetson

Are you for real? Do you live, work or play anywhere near the Durand neighbourhood at all?

Such gridlock 24/7 since the conversions.....NOT. More liveable neighbourhood......YES!

You surely cannot be serious. The journey is lengthened by literally such a minute amount of time that all of those whose sole purpose is to cut throgh a neighbourbood lose all credibiltiy. God forbid someone should have to sit at a red light in the lower city. Ridiculous.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 17, 2010 at 08:46:06

I think that there are few areas of modern Life where there's as an entrenched mindset that comes close to that of the Automobile Culture. It's pervasive, it's myopic, extraordinarily defensive...as well as staunchly unwilling to consider most other approaches to getting around.

Observing exchanges with people such as TomRobertson are fascinating, compelling...as well as downright bewildering.

It reminds me of trying to discuss the merits of a fit-conscious lifestyle with a couch-potato; the resultant 'argument points' often end up resembling something from the theatre of the absurd.

And of course, the really disturbing thing is that this culture holds sway in most situations of governance. Not everywhere. In some places, forward thinking holds sway. But it sure hurts to be held prisoner by it when you know in your heart that most everything the Automobile Culture stands for in an urban setting is just...plain...wrong.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted December 17, 2010 at 09:06:32

These streets aren't even safe for motorists: Main at Dundurn and King at Dundurn are the number one and number two accident intersections in the entire city.

Amen. I've always maintained that I'd rather drive more slowly and feel safer doing so. These urban expressways are ridiculous, and we noted them as such the very first time we drove here to house hunt. What you've got on Main and King is people driving like it's a freeway, making it nearly impossible to change lanes safely. Someone used the expression theatre of the absurd above: I give you cars coming off of the main exit from the 403 trying to get over one lane to the right so that they can avoid the parked cars just past the Main and Dundurn intersection, as everyone else in every other lane whips along 10-20km over the speed limit whenever the light for eastbound traffic is green. Talk about a poor introduction to the city for visitors-- even those who prefer/need to travel by car!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 17, 2010 at 09:12:25

Someone used the expression theatre of the absurd above: I give you cars coming off of the main exit from the 403 trying to get over one lane to the right so that they can avoid the parked cars just past the Main and Dundurn intersection, as everyone else in every other lane whips along 10-20km over the speed limit whenever the light for eastbound traffic is green.

Not that long ago, the Hamilton Express GO buses used to enter the city this way. Every time I was on a bus and we'd approach this merge-point...I'd cringe. And I wasn't the one driving.

When I look at all this, I can't help but think that down the road, when we've finally come to our collective senses, we're going to look at it in the same way we look at TV commercials from the 50s that had physicians endorsing one cigarette brand over another: with incredulous, drop-jawed stares.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2010-12-17 08:18:37

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted December 17, 2010 at 09:28:22

Every time I was on a bus and we'd approach this merge-point...I'd cringe. And I wasn't the one driving.

Yes, and the first car accident I ever saw in Hamilton was an eastbound driver, coming through that intersection, and spectacularly rear-ending a parked car in the left-most lane.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Advisor (anonymous) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 09:34:10

Good article but all LRT enthusiasts are missing the basic point that LRT hasn't any support among the general public. Fighting about two way streets or one way streets or King or Main or whatever is just a futile argument when the precondition for spending millions of dollars has yet to be met.

LRT enthusiasts are caught up in their own reverie and have lost sight of the most basic of political principles: all politics is local. And unless the LRT elites see it from the street level, this expensive project is just not going to happen.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 09:57:16

Advisor said: "Good article but all LRT enthusiasts are missing the basic point that LRT hasn't any support among the general public."

I'm sorry, but I don't think the evidence supports your conclusion. Everything I've heard from the City indicates that the majority of Hamiltonians support the development of LRT.

Now, LRT detractors may have more prominent voices in some local media establishments, but that shouldn't reflect the fact that most people would love to see light rail in Hamilton. They might not all agree about the route, or two way/one way streets or even how much the city should pay versus Metrolinx, but the majority do support light rail.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 10:10:07

Good article but all LRT enthusiasts are missing the basic point that LRT hasn't any support among the general public. Fighting about two way streets or one way streets or King or Main or whatever is just a futile argument when the precondition for spending millions of dollars has yet to be met.

Ummmmmm, ok. Have you been to the public information sessions or talked to any of the planners? Because I really think you're wrong about that. I saw full houses at all the downtown PIC's I attended and 90-something percent approval on the survey for B-Line LRT.

I went to the recent kick-off for the A-Line on the mountain and that was a different story, but that line is only beginning to be planned and its funding is more uncertain. In the next few years as we go through another cycle of rising gas prices, I expect to see more interest in rapid transit even on the mountain.

In the lower city, people not only support but demand better transit.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By nobrainer (registered) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 10:18:30

Have you been to the public information sessions or talked to any of the planners?

NO! Of course not! Having or not having actual knowledge has never stopped Hamilton hating Hamiltonians from explaining why every progressive idea ever proposed can't possibly work here and has no public support anyway. Haven't been downtown in ten years? Feel free to tell us at length in angry letters to the editor what downtown needs (more demolitions, more parking, wider streets, duh). Haven't taken transit in.....ever? Feel free to share with us why no one else will ever take transit either no matter how good it gets. Never walk anywhere except from the hallway to the garage? Don't let that stop you from telling us how one way streets are safer and better to walk on and downtownies should be grateful for such an efficient road network and nice clean air. Why wonder whether things can change when we can shout down every idea and make sure things never change so we can go on bitching?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 10:23:12

I went to one of the public meeting sessions. I showed up excited and looking forward to LRT. I left nervous about the future of our city.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 10:28:59

Shouldn't the title of the article be that LRT needs pedestrian friendly streets for success?

As I've pointed out before, the majority of the world's most pedestrian friendly cities and the majority of cities with successful transit systems are dominated by one way streets. One way streets are not the problem.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 10:45:45

Why would anyone down vote a fair and honest answer to a question?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By George (registered) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 10:49:15

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By PseudonymousCoward (registered) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 10:52:14

There are only two reasons to have one-way streets: 1) Wide multiple-lane thoroughfares that funnel high volumes of automobile traffic across town quickly. 2) Narrow medieval streets with centuries-old building stock pressing in on either side that physically can't accommodate multiple lanes of traffic side-by-side and are only used for local traffic.

The pedestrian friendly cities you mention fall squarely into the latter category, whereas the one-way streets Jillian Stephen and the traffic engineers are trying to preserve fall squarely into the former. The only reason to maintain those streets one-way is to maintain their current role as traffic funnels. But as long as we maintain them as traffic funnels, it is impossible for them to function as pedestrian friendly places and urban destinations. A corollary: if we really are committed to making these streets pedestrian friendly instead of traffic funnels, there is no longer any point to their remaining one-way.

Given the choice between keeping them as one-way (out of sheer spite?) but adding concessions to pedestrian friendliness (curbside parking, wide sidewalks, bumpouts at crossings) and making them two-way, there's no conest. Any concessions that are significant enough to make the street pedestrian friendly will be more detrimental to overall traffic flows than two-way conversion and more expensive than two-way conversion. But if the concessions are not significant enough to make the street pedestrian friendly, then they amount to tokenism we cannot afford.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By race_to_the_bottom (anonymous) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 10:54:55

"Why would anyone down vote a fair and honest answer to a question?" It's not fair and honest though. You keep comparing apples to oranges even after other commenters pointed this out to you. Eventually people tune you out if you keep repeating yourself and ignoring what others say about it.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 11:03:30

Race to the bottom, I was referring to the response I gave that I attended a public meeting about LRT (true) and that I went there excited about LRT (true) and that I left worried about the future of our city (true). That has nothing to do with my views on one way or two way street conversion.

As I've stated before, I'm a fan of the idea of LRT and support the idea of better public transit. Anyone who doesn't is a fool. What left me worried was the current plan and the "we'll deal with it when the time comes" attitude rather than planning for the future and having contingency plans.

If people would respond to me intelligently with fair and factual statements (like Pseudo did recently), i do not ignore them. I plan to respond in time. I do, however, ignore the personal attacks and fallacious responses.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 17, 2010 at 11:04:42

(Please forgive my lack of pithiness, but I believe the greater discussion here...going well beyond the merits and pitfalls of LRT...warrants some non-linear thinking.)

Yesterday, I was referred to 'Wicked Problems and Social Complexity'. http://cognexus.org/wpf/wickedproblems.p...

As well as a general bit backgrounding W.J. Rittel and the concept of 'wicked problems'.

-Simple problems (problems which are already defined) are easy to solve, because defining a problem inherently defines a solution.

-The definition of a problem is subjective; it comes from a point of view. Thus, when defining problems, all stake-holders, experts, and designers are equally knowledgeable (or unknowledgeable).

-Some problems cannot be solved, because stake-holders cannot agree on the definition. These problems are called wicked, but sometimes they can be tamed.

-Solving simple problems may lead to improvement—but not innovation. For innovation, we need to re-frame wicked problems.

-Because one person cannot possibly remember or keep track of all the variables (of both existing and desired states) in a wicked problem, taming wicked problems requires many people.

-These people have to talk to each other; they have to deliberate; they have to argue.

-To tame a wicked problem, they have to agree on goals and actions for reaching them. This requires knowledge about actions, not just facts.

-Science is concerned with factual knowledge (what-is); design is concerned with instrumental knowledge (how what-is relates to what-ought-to-be), how actions can meet goals.

-The process of argumentation is the key and perhaps the only method of taming wicked problems.

-This process is political.

-Design is political.

Having noted this (fodder itself for some potentially great discussions), I have to say that what worries me is the usual tendency to have discussions get conflated with others...even though some of the essential elements of each are germane to all. The risk when in having one viewpoint stomped on, others tend to suffer ill-effects, too.

From my standpoint, we have discussions on:

-LRT

-One-way streets

-Making cities more livable, more humane by focusing on pedestrian activity

Attached to these:

-The calcification of the grip on the status-quo

-Defining what would make Hamilton 'better to live in'

-A general 'can't do, won't ever get better' attitude. (Most often found by those who seem to have nothing at stake in the core of Hamilton pulling itself out of its morass.)

No, I'm not providing any answers here, nor am I really putting forth any focused opinions. Just a heartfelt desire that we find ways to continue the dialogue...keeping in mind the point offered previously: "Some problems cannot be solved, because stake-holders cannot agree on the definition. These problems are called wicked, but sometimes they can be tamed."

(Additional apologies for formatting problems.)

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2010-12-17 10:07:19

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By nobrainer (registered) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 11:46:32

"the usual tendency to have discussions get conflated with others"

I don't get it. What you seem to call getting conflated, I call recognizing that they're connected and should be decided together or we're just knocking heads. We know LRT without two way streets doesn't work that well. Just like we know LRT without a secondary plan doesn't work that well. That's why we're worried that the city wants to build LRT now and maybe possibly look at two way streets some other time that never seems to get here.

(Heck, maybe SpaceMonkey is worried about the same things but his comments always seem to make excuses for our one way expressways by pointing at a one way lane in Amsterdam so I have my doubts.)

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By H+H (registered) - website | Posted December 17, 2010 at 12:20:04

When your city has more lanes of one-way traffic moving quickly through its downtown on a single street than do the majority of provincial highways throughout this country, including most of the 401 and the rest of the 400 series of highways; and is a city where its municipal planning experts counsel to maintain this situation, while at the same time assuming the lead role in managing the implementation of light rail transit; one is left with so many questions not only about the future of that very same city, but also just who the hell is running this madhouse?

A made-in-Hamilton solution indeed! It's time to get busy kids. I fear we're about to wallow in mediocrity again.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By d.knox (registered) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 14:37:40

It's not my comment to contribute, but I'll pass it on. My husband was discussing stop signs on residential streets with a Hamilton traffic planner. The traffic planner was opposed to them. The reason he gave was that "traffic wants to move". There was really no room for discussion with him, because hey, traffic wants to move. That's our traffic department.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Peddle2dameddle (anonymous) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 15:59:55

The needs of car are considerable easier to accommodate then the needs of humans.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 17:30:48

The only reason to maintain (Main and King) one-way is to maintain their current role as traffic funnels. But as long as we maintain them as traffic funnels, it is impossible for them to function as pedestrian friendly places and urban destinations.

I regret having to bring up Paris right now. I wish there was a better example that I could think of in another city, because I worry people are going to roll their eyes and think "not this again", but please stay with me on this one.

The busiest street that I can think of in the entire city of Paris is the Champs Elysees. I looked for stats on the volume of traffic, but couldn't find the data. Suffice it to say, its busy.. like way busier than Main and King combined. Yet, this extremely busy road is the most walked road in all of Paris.

This proves that a street can have a lot of traffic and also be very inviting to pedestrians. I realize that The Champs Elysees is unique in many ways. It has some of the widest sidewalks I've seen anywhere, so this is an obvious factor that we're missing on the one way streets in question. My point is only that we have and will have a lot of vehicles in Hamilton for the foreseeable future. I think our goal should be to think of ways to move those vehicles efficiently and safely while also catering to improving the attractiveness (not just aesthetically) of our streets to pedestrians.

Traffic needs to move into, within, and out of a city. The addition of LRT will help to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, but there will remain a need for a high amount of traffic to move in Hamilton. In order for an industrial city like Hamilton (where the industry is in close proximity to it's downtown) to function, there will remain a need for a fair bit of traffic to get into, around, and out of Hamilton.

The term "pedestrian friendly" is used often, but I don't remember it ever being defined. Before we can discuss ideas on how to make things more pedestrian friendly, we must define what it means to be pedestrian friendly. It is my feeling that, if defined in an objective manner, how pedestrian friendly a road is will have more to do with a lot of things other than whether the traffic flows in one direction or two directions.

A corollary: if we really are committed to making these streets pedestrian friendly instead of traffic funnels, there is no longer any point to their remaining one-way.

Unless we build alternates (extremely unlikely) these streets will remain traffic funnels. I wish that wasn't the case, but it's our reality. If steps are taken to extremely limit traffic efficiency on the streets in question, the cars and trucks will just become someone else's problem. Maybe they'd even choose Kent.. Yikes! heh

Given the choice between keeping them as one-way (out of sheer spite?) but adding concessions to pedestrian friendliness (curbside parking, wide sidewalks, bumpouts at crossings) and making them two-way, there's no conest. Any concessions that are significant enough to make the street pedestrian friendly will be more detrimental to overall traffic flows than two-way conversion and more expensive than two-way conversion.

What makes you so sure about that? Until a cost analysis has been done, it's just your opinion...hearsay. I won't, but could say the opposite (which doesn't make it true).

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 17, 2010 at 18:10:22

Unless we build alternates (extremely unlikely) these streets will remain traffic funnels.

Here's an alternative to using Main and King as traffic funnels: don't have any traffic funnels. I know, I know - where oh where will the cars go? I'm being a bit facetious, but the answer, empirically, seems to be: a lot of them simply go away. That is, a lot of the trips that are made today because Main and Cannon are 'funnels' simply wouldn't happen if Main and King weren't funnels.

Remember: supply induces demand. Reduce the supply of lanes, and some of the demand disappears. It seems counterintuitive, but it's strongly supported by actual evidence (as opposed to static traffic models) and makes perfect sense in an economic context.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By George (registered) | Posted December 17, 2010 at 18:37:43

"Half a million people go through Times Square each day. It's 90% pedestrians and 10% vehicles, yet 90% of the space has been allocated to vehicles. In an urban environment as complex as New York's, with more than 6,000 miles of streets, in-demand public space, and another million people expected to come here in the next 20 years, we can't accommodate everyone by just triple-decking our roads. We're changing our streetscape's DNA with more trees, benches, and good design, and with bus and bike lanes and pedestrian areas, so that it's about more than just moving cars from point A to point B. These changes improve the flow of the city, better people's health, and it's also great for the environment. We're not going to be able to maintain the quality of life and the economic attractiveness of world-class cities by continuing to jam more and more traffic and congestion through them."

Taken from http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/138/...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2010 at 05:59:57

George - Do you not find it amazing that a questionnaire primarily advertised in the rapid transit newsletter would somehow come up with the vast majority of respondents in favour of LRT?

Lets advertise the same questionnaire through Car and Driver and see what the results are like.

Ryan - You are absolutely right that if we reduce the number of roads and lanes we will reduce the amount of cars. If we just get rid of all our roads we will get rid of all of the cars. Would that improve our city?

You are very fond of comparing Hamilton to so many other cities across the continent especially Portland. Since Hamilton is basically a metro area of 600,000 how many other cities with a similar population have LRT. Add to that the fact that Hamilton is not that large destination city in the area, Toronto is. Use reasonable comparisons and see how many you can come up with.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 19, 2010 at 10:26:43

Portland is a great example of a city that is dominated by One Way streets. In fact, in the entire downtown core, I think there are only about 6 streets that are not one way. Every single one of the main streets, with one exception, are One Way.

To say that Portland has a successful LRT system and then say that LRT "needs" two way streets is a logical fallacy. Portland proves that you do not need two way streets for LRT. Here is a streetview of Portland . Aside from the guy on the bike, look familiar? I suppose this also supports my earlier post that steps can be taken (eg bike lanes) to make One Way streets better for everyone, not just drivers.

One of the major differences between Hamilton and Portland that I haven't seen mentioned here is that it has two major highways running right through it. You can be anywhere downtown and be within about 600 meters of a major highway like the QEW. Without that highway access, unfortunately for us, our streets (rather than highways) are required to carry fairly high volumes of traffic.

Comment edited by SpaceMonkey on 2010-12-19 09:31:23

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By George (registered) | Posted December 19, 2010 at 12:49:40

Mr.Meister wrote, "George - Do you not find it amazing that a questionnaire primarily advertised in the rapid transit newsletter would somehow come up with the vast majority of respondents in favour of LRT? "

Not really. From what little I've read on LRT in other cities (trying to educate myself) it's apparent that people prefer LRT over buses. It's not just a Hamilton thing.

And why wouldn't it? LRT has a good track record in many other places (pun intended)

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 19, 2010 at 14:28:12

George, Ensure to include a read about what the majority of the public thinks of LRT in Kitchener/Waterloo when doing your research/education. This post is not meant to suggest LRT is a bad idea. As I've mentioned before, I like the concept of LRT and improving public transit.
I think Mr Meister raised a good point. This post is meant to balance George's opinion of people's apparent preference. I don't think many people would try to argue that they prefer to ride buses over LRT. I think the debate is more about if LRT is the right solution, at the right time, in the right place.

From Therecord.com
Waterloo council may withdraw support for electric trains on city streets, after the public railed against the rapid transit proposal during the municipal election.

Councillors elected Oct. 25 met for the first time Monday for an orientation session. They said that they heard loud and clear on the doorstep that residents oppose light rail transit (LRT), a plan endorsed by the outgoing council.

“There’s a sense in the community that LRT is not the way to go,” Coun. Mark Whaley said. He was surprised by the strong opposition.

“I really think we have an obligation to let the region know what’s on the minds of the citizens of Waterloo,” he said.

“In uptown Waterloo, it was ‘no’ to LRT and ‘no’ to amalgamation,” said Melissa Durrell, one of two new members elected to city council.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By George (registered) | Posted December 19, 2010 at 16:50:04

There are other issues at play in K-W.

For example, it was tied to amalgamation and Waterloo does not want to join up with Kitchener

Other issues were only BRT was planned for Cambridge, which was unpopular, and the coup de grace was the financing. The senior levels of govt let K-W down, and as a result it would have cost the locals well over $200m.

Now in Hamilton, we have yet to find out about financing, but unlike K-W, we have metrolinx looking after this as part of the GTHA.

I tried to find survey or poll numbers for LRT support in K-W and could not find any. Does anyone have such numbers?

Not sure, but it looks like it may have been a case of loud vocal opposition, but I wonder how representative that actually was. Add to that the politics of the local elections, it was easy to oppose something for the sake of re-election that would have cost the locals hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hopefully here, In Hamilton, we'll get much better fianancial support from the province since it was they who identified us as a top 15 priority.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By George (registered) | Posted December 19, 2010 at 17:06:00

BTW, SpaceMonkey, are you sure about it being a majority?

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds