Special Report: Walkable Streets

Take Action to Support Two-Way Implementation Team

Take a few minutes to send a letter of support for Councillor McHattie's two-way implementation team before noon on Wednesday, September 5.

By Ryan McGreal
Published September 04, 2012

If you support Councillor Brian McHattie's motion to establish a one-way to two-way implementation team, take a few moments to write a letter in support of the motion and send it to City Clerk Carolyn Biggs before noon on Wednesday, September 5. Please address the letter to "Chair and Members, General Issues Committee".

When you do, kindly post a copy in the comments section below as an inspiration to others to do the same. Here's the letter I just sent:


Chair and Members, General Issues Committee,

Please give your full support to the motion by Councillor Brian McHattie to establish a one-way to two-way implementation team. Listen to what the experts keep telling us: our fast, wide one-way streets are hurting the communities they cut through and need to change so that the lower city can flourish again.

The case against one-way streets is compelling:

We need to stop letting a fear of congestion stop us from making progressive improvements to our streets. Quite simply, we have far too much automobile traffic capacity on our urban thoroughfares. Major lane reductions on Main, King and Cannon over the past year have produced no gridlock and only minimal slowdowns. We can convert our streets to two-way and make room for bike lanes, attractive sidewalks and dedicated LRT lanes.

Notwithstanding our downtown secondary plan, which is titled "Putting People First", city policy continues to prioritize fast automobile traffic flow over every other use of the street: not only walking, cycling, socializing and commerce but even driving to local destinations.

Cities all across North America converted their streets to one-way in the 1950s. Many of those cities have since given up on the experiment after having decided that the cost in danger and lost vitality was not worth the slight convenience of a faster drive. They did this despite facing the same opposition that two-way conversion faces in Hamilton. The vast majority have experienced significant positive results in terms of business and community growth.

The voices opposed to the two-way conversion of James and John streets predicted gridlock, mayhem, failing business and carnage. They were completely wrong.

James North has absolutely flourished since conversion, but James South and John have also experienced new business investment and improved fortunes as livability has increased.

This, incidentally, is what happens every time a city converts streets back to two-way: detractors predict gridlock and chaos, but gridlock and chaos do not occur and it quickly becomes clear that it was the right thing to do.

This is what we keep hearing from a steady stream of traffic engineers and planners: Dan Burden, Donald Schmitt, Richard Florida, Storm Cunningham, Christopher Leinberger, Richard Gilbert, Bronwen Thornton, Paul Young, Denis Corr, Dave Cieslewicz, Peter Lagerwey, and Ken Greenberg, among others.

It is also what we have been hearing from the International Village BIA and Downtown BIA and from the various neighbourhood associations - Durand, Central, Beasley, Corktown North End Neighbours and Stinson - that suffer the worst brunt of our one-way thoroughfares.

Similarly, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce recently commissioned a study finding that walkable streets are "economic infrastructure that attract employment and should be invested in accordingly."

It is time to stop making excuses. It is time to stop prioritizing a few minutes' convenience over the livelihood and well-being of entire communities. It is time to stop living in the past and clinging to failed transportation models.

Let's join Berkeley CA, Calgary AB, Cedar Rapids IA, Columbus OH, Crystal City VA, Danville IL, Denver CO, Fort Collins CO, Greensboro NC, Iowa City IA, Jacksonville FL, Louisville KY, Milwaukee WI, Minneapolis MN, Oklahoma City OK, Oregon City OR, Rochester NY, Sacramento CA, San Francisco CA, St. Catharines ON, St. Petersburg FL, Texarkana AR, Vancouver WA, Wichita KA, and Wyandotte MI in reclaiming our city streets for everyone and taking part in their renewed success.

Respectfully,

Ryan McGreal

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 Borrelli (registered) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 10:01:03

The Beasley Neighbourhood Association agrees:

Dear Chair and Members of the General Issues Committee,

We write to express the Beasley Neighbourhood Association's strong support for Councillor McHattie's proposal to establish a Ward 1 and Ward 2 One-Way to Two-Way Street Implementation Team.

One-way streets are a great detriment to Beasley. Unidirectional flow on major streets such as Cannon, King, Main, and Wellington promotes high-speed, high-volume traffic which makes the streets inhospitable to all users other than motorists. Cannon Street in particular divides our neighbourhood in half, with residents on either side of Cannon finding it difficult and unpleasant to walk to destinations on the other side. Main and Wellington Streets act as barriers to pedestrian and bicycle traffic between Beasley and the adjacent neighbourhoods of Corktown and Landsdale. The safety of children who must walk across Cannon and Wellington (and Victoria) streets to reach Dr. J. Edgar Davey School is a particular concern.

On neighbourhood streets such as Hughson, Catharine, Mary, Rebecca, and King William, one-way traffic makes it difficult for cyclists and motorists to navigate to their destinations and encourages motorists to travel at inappropriately high speed. As a result, our neighbourhood is made a less attractive place in which to live and to do business.

Almost all of the one-way streets in our city are in Wards 1-3. The residents of the remaining wards do not want one-way streets in their communities, and they have not been compelled to accept them. We ask for equal treatment in our own neighbourhood and through the rest of Wards 1 and 2. Please support Councillor McHattie's proposal to establish a Ward 1 and Ward 2 One-Way to Two-Way Street Implementation Team.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Borrelli & Sylvia Nickerson Co-Presidents, BNA

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By brendan (registered) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 11:44:13

Great letter Ryan. I'll succeed if I draft something half as convincing. I really want to blunt the "waste of money" argument. I wish I could authoritatively show how much the one-ways are costing us, in comparison to how cheaply we can revert them to two way.

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By mikem (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 13:19:58 in reply to Comment 80384

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 11:47:51 in reply to Comment 80398

The One Way traffic scheme has worked for 60 years plus in Hamilton.

...

The traffic moves fast and you can get across the city pretty fast.

...

people coming down Ancaster Hill [...] are heading away from the city in the morning and back in the evenings they are NOT headed to downtown Hamilton

The One Way traffic scheme has worked for 60 years plus in Hamilton?

Comment edited by seancb on 2012-09-05 11:48:21

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 04, 2012 at 13:45:13 in reply to Comment 80398

The traffic moves fast ... I just don't see the problem at all.

The problem is right in front of you.

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By Catherine@WestHarbour (registered) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 11:48:46

Dear Chair and Members of the General Issues Committee,

I write as a taxpayer, mother of small children, and resident living in Ward 2 to express my support for Councillor McHattie's motion regarding the Establishment of a Ward 1 and Ward 2 One-Way to Two-Way Street Implementation Team.

One-way streets serve the interest of a single group: long-distance motorists. They are detrimental to all other users of our roads, including pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and short-distance motorists. They make our neighbourhoods challenges places in which to live, work, and play. They encourage high-volume, high-speed traffic with its attendant noise, danger, air pollution and collisions. Indeed, for example, traversing these streets with two small children and a leashed dog makes the routine process of crossing the street exceptionally stressful as a single misstep could be fatal due to the wall of traffic flying by.

I urge you to support Councillor McHattie's motion to establish a Ward 1 and Ward 2 One-Way to Two-Way Street Implementation Team to better serve all of the residents of the City, especially those living near these dangerous streets.

Sincerely,

Catherine

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By Shawn Selway (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 11:52:24


Sept. 3, 2012

Chair and Members
General Issues Committee

re: McHattie/Farr motion on one way to two way street conversion in Wards 1 and 2

Dear Councillor:

As a resident of Ward 2, I am writing in support of Councillor McHattie's motion (seconded by Councillor Farr) that a one-way to two-way street conversion implementation team for Wards 1 and 2 be established in order to hasten these conversions where justified.

I believe that conversions will improve connectivity in these wards for motorists and all other users of the street grid.

The present street hierarchy, which has the effect of reserving some streets almost entirely to high volumes of traffic moving at high speed is detrimental to all other users.

Flattening the current hierarchy to facilitate travel on all streets by many modes of transport will allow all users, including motorists, to travel in greater comfort and safety. This in turn will increase the attraction of Wards 1 and 2 for prospective residents and retail business people.

Please approve the McHattie/Farr motion, and send a strong signal to staff that you are in favour of continuing positive change in our downtown.

Respectfully

Shawn Selway

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 04, 2012 at 12:15:06

Dear Chair and Members of the General Issues Committee,

I am writing in support of Councillor McHattie's proposal to establish a One-Way to Two-Way Street Implementation Team.

I own and operate a business downtown. My first location was on Cannon Street at James North. Despite the success of James, I was constantly frustrated by the negative impact on my business caused by the speed of traffic on Cannon Street. I eventually decided to move.

A year and a half ago, I relocated to John Street North. Despite being on a block with very little retail activity, and despite being located across from a horribly managed methadone clinic (which dissuades casual shoppers from walking down our block) my business has grown and thrived. I believe that part of its success can be attributed to the fact that it is more comfortable to drive, cycle and walk on John Street due to moderate traffic speeds. It is also easier to access my business by car because customers can come from both directions and can easily slow down to look for address numbers and parking spaces without worrying about the speed of traffic approaching them from behind.

In addition to being a business owner, I am a resident of downtown. I witness first hand the negative impact of one way streets every day. The major arteries are horribly uncomfortable for anyone not moving 50-70km/hr in a car. The one-way side streets feel safer than the major streets but they make it very difficult to get to a destination. Even worse, they create major frustrations for visitors.

There are enormous financial costs associated with the maintenance of our wide freeway-style streets. The social costs are also huge. The citizens who benefit most from our one-ways are the ones who live at the outskirts of the city (and beyond), and who rely on our neighbourhoods as a short cut. Yet only a fraction of the cost of upkeep of this unnecessary lane capacity is shouldered by these beneficiaries. The majority of the cost is subsidized by residents who never use these streets, or who live near them, rely on them daily and who would prefer calm usable streets over maximum throughput. We cannot afford to continue providing these thoroughfares to short-cutting drivers.

We need to start building our city to attract new residents and to put on a good face to visitors (who may one day become residents). The only way we are going to be able to afford our increasing infrastructure costs is to grow our tax base. The most affordable place to grow our tax base is in the lower city, where we have the capability to increase density without building new infrastructure.

The only way we will accomplish this is by creating a lower city that is a desirable place to live. This means that we have to start treating wards 1, 2 and 3 as neighbourhoods rather than freeway bypasses. Changing our one-way grid is the first (And easiest) step towards a more livable downtown.

Surely we have great challenges ahead of us, but unless we take this important first step, all of our other endeavours will be less likely to succeed.

Thank you for your time,

Sean Burak Ward 2 resident and owner of Downtown Bike Hounds

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By David Lee (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 13:13:35

It is especially noticeable how James Street North has flourished in recent years, with both new businesses and old. I look forward to seeing what would happen to King Street between John and Wellington if it was converted to two-way traffic. In the ten years I've been in Hamilton I've admired the hard fight that businesses on this strip have made against the decay which threatens downtown. Let's make this street 2-way and give them some help, and the neighbourhood will blossom just as James Street North has blossomed.

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By JasonAAllen (registered) - website | Posted September 04, 2012 at 13:15:33

Chair and Members of the General Issues Committee I am writing to express my unqualified support for the idea of two way street conversion in downtown Hamilton. As councillor McHattie's motion states, the vast majority of these streets are in the downtown, and for some peculiar reason we have allowed residents in the suburbs and exurbs to place a higher value on speed and efficiency, than we are allowed to place on quality of life, or indeed life itself.

The one-way expressways that cut my old neighborhood of Strathcona in half, and leave me tightrope walking my way down a ribbon of sidewalk on King/Main on the way to the GO bus are not only strangling activity and vibrancy on our streetscapes, but are literally killing people.

Enough is enough. The Transportation Master Plan clearly identifies this need, as does every single urban renewal expert to visit Hamilton in the last five years. The foot dragging needs to stop. We know what to do to make downtown Hamilton a vibrant and safe place again, we just need to shut out the ill-informed protests of those who would never, ever agree to have the same situation in their neighborhoods. We just need to do it. Now.

Please relay my wholehearted support for this motion to council.

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By WolsakandWynn (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 13:18:32

Chair and Members, General Issues Committee,

I am delighted that Counciller McHattie and Counciller Farr have brought this motion before council. As a business person who has operated in downtown Hamilton for the past five years I cannot emphasize enough how much of a problem these one-way streets pose for me. People continually cannot locate my office, and the emptiness on the streets due to the high volume of traffic and low number of pedestrians has made my area a burglar's delight. My office has been broken into three times since we've been here. In contrast the entire time we had office space at Queen and Spadina in Toronto, there was not one incident.

There are wonderful streets in downtown Hamilton, all two-way of course, and I enjoy walking down them and shopping at them. They are a large part of what drew me to this city and keeps me here. If we want to attact more offices like mine - I would say I fall into the creative business catagory - we need more streets like James North and Locke Street. Filled with people, bustling, and inviting. Where you don't wait gingerly on the corner hoping that once the light has turned you'll be able to dart across the street before the next onslaught of cars.

Sincerely,

Noelle Allen
Publisher
Wolsak and Wynn

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By Steelcitygirl (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 13:22:40

Chair and Members, General Issues Committee,

I am watching, with great interest, how our city council handles the issue of conversion of one-way to two-way streets. I live on the mountain but I have, in the past, worked in the downtown. I can tell you that there were many times when I was crossing major arteries that I feared for my life, due to the volume and high speed of the traffic on Main and King. I also witnessed several close calls.

It has been proven that one-way streets, combined with synchronized traffic lights, serve only those that are looking to move through the area quickly. Two-way streets slow traffic and put less emphasis on moving as many cars through as possible, making it much safer for pedestrians.

According to an article in the National Post, the consulting firm, Urban Strategies, stated “Two-way roads would help to ‘normalize’ the streets, by slowing traffic, creating a greater choice of routes, improving wayfinding, creating a more inviting address for residential and commercial investment and improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists”. (The next line in the article stated “In 2005, even Hamilton, Ont., began to end its addiction to fast-flowing urban streets by cutting the ribbon on two-way traffic on some of its most prominent thoroughfares” which did make me chuckle.)

I urge you to support Councillor McHattie’s proposal to establish a One Way to Two Way Street Implementation Team.

Kind regards,

Lori-Anne Cunningham

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By anitar (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 13:37:32

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 17:11:47 in reply to Comment 80400

'Noone goes downtown - there's too much congestion!'

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 17:25:29 in reply to Comment 80419

Wha?

No one goes downtown because there are too many people downtown?

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By Brahmin (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 22:18:00 in reply to Comment 80419

Maybe we'll end up with two-way streets with 50km/h limits. Nothing surprises any more.

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By jamesandcannon (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 13:47:44

to mikem and his comment above:

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=146928&page=4

"Michael Hooper has lived on King Street East near Spadina Avenue for the past six years. He remembers the night in December 2002 when a horrific crash a block away took the life of a 19-year-old driver.

The speeding car took out three hydro poles, a light standard, a bus shelter, several parking meters and two trees, damaged a storefront and ultimately left 1,800 people without power.

"It's a 50 (km/h) zone," Hooper said. "People shouldn't be dying in a 50 zone."

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By wait a minute (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 15:20:14 in reply to Comment 80405

I remember that incident. IIRC the driver was drunk, speeding excessively and ran a red late at night when nobody was on the road. Not sure 2 way changes a thing

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By jamesandcannon (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 15:48:52 in reply to Comment 80412

Are you defending a one-way street here? Not sure what you are trying to say...either way someone's life was lost and it was due to our dangerous road systems.

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By wait a minute (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 15:57:16 in reply to Comment 80416

I'm not defending one way or two way. I'm simply saying that someone's life was lost because of drunk driving and our road system made almost no contribution to that. This is simply a bad example, I'm sure you could come up with a legitimate one.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 11:59:03 in reply to Comment 80417

But the road system does contribute.

When we design a road like this: King@Spadina, Hamilton King@Spadina, Hamilton

It sends signals to drivers that it's not a bad idea to drive like it's a highway.

Try driving like that at the same intersection in Toronto - with parked cars on both sides and two way traffic: King@Spadina, Toronto King@Spadina, Toronto

It;s a lot harder to do. The road design plays a HUGE part.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 12:16:04 in reply to Comment 80458

and the streets look to be the identical width...and TO has 5x the population with much more than 5x the downtown workers. Yet somehow they survive on that same standard cross-section: 1 lane each way, parking both sides. Done.

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By jamesandcannon (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 16:13:34 in reply to Comment 80417

Haven't been able to find the drunk reference - a link perhaps?

Here's another one for you:

http://www.thespec.com/opinion/article/231299--better-engineering-may-cut-pedestrian-deaths

One ways or two ways - badly designed roads that cater only to vehicles will only keep Hamilton from fully realizing its potential.

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By jamesandcannon (anonymous) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 08:29:32 in reply to Comment 80418

Local roadside memorials on the rise:

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/793643--making-sense-out-of-the-senseless

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By adrian (registered) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 14:57:09

Dear Chair and Members, General Issues Committee,

I'm writing to express my support for the motion submitted by Councillor Brian McHattie, "Establishment of a Ward 1 and Ward 2 - One-Way to Two-Way Street Implementation Team".

I'm keenly interested in seeing these long-awaited two-transformations take place, not just because I'm a Ward 2 resident who would directly benefit from having some of these streets made two-way (such as Queen), but also because I strongly believe they will have a beneficial impact on the city as a whole.

The evidence suggests that two-way streets are better for children, better for communities, and better for business. And as anyone who has walked along Main Street can attest, they are much better for pedestrians.

Sincerely,

Adrian Duyzer

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 15:43:55

Chair and Members, General Issues Committee

I am writing to express my strong support for the motion by Councillor McHattie to establish a two way street implementation team.

As a resident and business owner downtown, I have witnessed first hand the destruction to city life that is caused by one way streets like King, Main and Cannon which move traffic at high speeds. These streets are dangerous and inhospitable to pedestrians, which is why businesses continue to struggle. I have also witnessed the positive effects of complete, pedestrian friendly streets.

I opened a business on James Street North, which used to be a one way street moving traffic south. Around the time it was converted to two way, very few businesses remained and many buildings were vacant. This street has been properly converted and now features ample sidewalks and street parking. Traffic moves slowly, but I have never seen gridlock conditions, which many had claimed would occur. Most of my customers are pedestrians, and those who are driving are able to slow down and park. I firmly believe that I would not have been able to succeed in opening a business on this street if it were still configured as a fast one way street.

There is no reason other streets should not be given the same chance to succeed. My shop is three doors down from Cannon Street, which is four lanes of fast moving traffic. Heavy trucks roar down this street traveling well over the speed limit. I have seen three accidents right outside my shop in as many months of business. One time, a cyclist was hit and injured. Cannon Street has mostly developed as low density, automotive uses which stands in stark contrast to the mixed use development on James. Nonetheless there are businesses on Cannon which open to the street and would benefit from two way conversion and traffic calming. There are empty and underutilized lots which would be given a chance at development if the street were not so utterly bleak and inhospitable.

Likewise, King Street suffers from fast one way traffic flow. The heart of our city, Gore Park, is cut off from the street by a metal fence separating parkland from four lanes of traffic. No matter how much money is spent on superficial aesthetic enhancements, the Gore will not function as it is intended until traffic is slowed down and the pedestrian is given their rightful place. It is not enough to create a pedestrian zone and keep it fenced off from traffic. Parks and public places need to blend into each other and be surrounded by a variety of uses, business and residential, to be used and appreciated. Hamilton's failure to recognize this has led to so many wasted spaces and often, traffic is what is blocking them off from their surroundings.

As someone who is active in community groups and the business community, I can attest to the fact that a great majority of downtown residents and business owners are supportive of two way street conversion and traffic calming. The current one way street configuration only moves traffic through the downtown at the expense of business, safety and livability. Downtown refuses to be used as a traffic conduit between suburbs. I urge you to support this motion and give our downtown the same respect given to other wards.

Thank you

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By Christopher Horrocks (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 17:17:46

Please include my support for Councillor Brian McHattie's motion to establish a one-way to two implementation team.

Chair and Members, General Issues Committee,

Please give your full support to the motion by Councillor Brian McHattie to establish a one-way to two-way implementation team.

As a resident/property owner of ward 1, there is nothing more exciting than the opportunity to re-establishing a walkable city and the experts are all suggesting it starts with a more attractive walking space. One way streets are just plain dodgy for walking or cycling. The level of traffic and speed of travel is actually insane. I even find myself guilty when driving through on one ways streets/ fast streets that I pay very little attention to the surroundings/environment and I live here and know my environment. What would outsiders think?

Gen Y's like myself want to identify with a core of the city and further want to share and be proud. I was elated when the news broke out about a new grocery store opening up in Jackson Square. I shared it with everyone I knew. A grocery store in Jackson Square people replied ? They thought I was crazy person suggesting this was coming to fruition.

As a positive spin on the "change" occurring here, it's just plain exciting. We have a huge opportunity to transform our downtown core to something really special. I think there are enough young people around to support a city that identifies other methods of modern transportation (such as using our own feet, a bicycle and public transit). From Costner's 'Field of Dreams' "if you build it, he (they) will come". But truth be told we are already here, so let's just build it.

Thank you,
Christopher Horrocks.

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By NouveauSteve (anonymous) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 17:25:05

Dear Chair and Member, General Issues Committee,

I'm writing to express my support for the motion submitted by Councillor Brian McHattie, "Establishment of a Ward 1 and Ward 2 - One-Way to Two-Way Street Implementation Team.

I moved into Corktown in Hamilton (downtown Ward 2) three years ago. I love being so close to the downtown and to many amenities and not having to own a car to get around. However, I strongly dislike being so close to a 5-lane highway (Main Street). My wife and I are weeks away from having our first child, and I fear the day when they are old enough to cross Main Street on their own. It is just plain scary, dangerous, and intimidating to be anywhere near that street on foot or bicycle.

Having lived or travelled to 20+ countries (including various places in Europe & Japan) prior to moving to Hamilton, I can honestly say that I have never seen a successful city turn its historic core into thruways. It seems like a "Hamilton-only" solution, and I believe that the downtown suffers in terms of livability and vibrancy because of it.

I would also like to suggest that - regardless of whether Two-Way streets get implemented anytime soon - that the speed limit is lowered OR the lights are "untimed" immediately on King and Main Streets. Simply lowering the speed limit or "untiming" the traffic lights would serve as relatively simple solutions to making the roads less intimidating and dangerous for walkers and cyclists.

Thank you for your time,

Steve Newberry


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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 07:36:04

Dreschel has weighed in. Apparently 'urbanists' who favour two-way reversion are engaging in hyperbole, but we can't touch King, Main, and Cannon because of all the ZOMG GRIDLOCK!! in the core.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 08:52:55 in reply to Comment 80438

Time for a little fisking:

Thanks in large part to coverage by The Spectator, converting Hamilton's one-way streets to two-way has suddenly become the urbanist cause of the moment.

Right, because we didn't start talking about two-way streets until the Spectator made it an issue.

You can count me in - up to a point.

This is a grudging shift from Dreschel's position in 2000, when he wrote, "The theory, of course, is that two-way streets will calm traffic and improve access to stores - as if it's traffic flow and not the scarcity of shopping destinations that's challenging retail activity in parts of the core. Although at some point there may be an argument to be made that converting James North to two-way will help the evolution of the harbour, it's bogus to suggest that it will boost business activity in the area."

But first I have to tell you, after reading some of the damning commentary against this city's profusion of one-way streets, I was amazed we haven't all been run over by cars against a backdrop of boarded up storefronts and dystopian dog-eat-dog neighbourhoods.

We can have a productive discussion about this important civic issue if we set aside the hyperbole and straw man attacks.

I thought the now corrected lack of a supermarket in the core was to blame.

A complex, multi-faceted problem often requires a complex, multi-faceted solution, even if that doesn't play well with the strictures of conventional wisdom.

Anyway, from what I've gathered, it seems if we can only get rid of one-way streets, businesses, pedestrians, cyclists and neighbourhood residents alike will be doing happy handsprings on their way to a much perkier future.

More hyperbole.

At least that's what the urban planners, academics and advocates all tell us.

And what do those idiots know?

I can hardly wait. It sounds even rosier than the benefits we'll eventually derive from having restored the Lister Block.

I guess Dreschel's still bitter about having insisted that it was unrealistic to restore the Lister Block and that the building's champions were deluded utopians.

I see no harm and very little disruption in changing over any number of one-way side streets and secondary roads.

Who cares about them? They don't really matter to motorists anyway.

Fair enough. But despite what some advocates and enthusiasts may want, councillors should keep their mitts off King and Main and, arguably, Cannon as well, at least for the foreseeable future.

Fast, high-speed traffic flow is more important than neighbourhood vitality - for other people's neighbourhoods.

Given that the lower city has no ring road to effectively move traffic and relieve congestion

We have a continuous ring road around the city: Linc, RHVP, QEW, 403.

converting those key east-west arteries require some serious study and consultation, particularly since Main and King are intimately wrapped up in a potential light rail transit system.

Both the Metrolinx Benefits Case Analysis and more recent McMaster Institute of Transportation and Logistics study strongly recommend two-way conversion to help ensure the success of the B-Line LRT.

With King already gridlocked through the core

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. Gridlock means traffic in every direction is completely jammed. Having to wait for a light cycle is not gridlock. Having to slow down below 50 km/h is not gridlock.

Cannon is the only viable westward alternative. It may become even more important if light rail becomes part of the transit mix.

Earlier this summer, two of Cannon's four lanes were closed for construction. There was no "gridlock" and barely any slowdown.

Also - and one-way defenders seem to forget this - if all the major streets are converted to two-way, a given driver has many more choices of which route to take.

Certainly the two-way conversion of James Street stands out as shining success story, turning an already thriving commercial district into a much more friendly and convenient environment for motorists and pedestrians alike.

James North was not thriving when it was converted to two-way in 2002. Its own councillor said, "Forget about it. Shops and businesses are never going to return to James North. They're gone forever." In any case, Dreschel predicted prior to the 2002 conversion that it would was "bogus to suggest that it will boost business activity".

But James runs north-south. And the key traffic patterns in the lower city are east-west.

Except that the arguments against converting our east-west streets are the same as the arguments that were used against converting our north-south streets.

By all means, let's get on with the small-sale conversions.

After all, they don't matter to cross-town drivers.

But for now the big one-way roadways should be left as working symbols of the effective and efficient marriage of traffic flow and synchronized lights.

And to hell with pedestrians, cyclists, local businesses and neighbourhood cohesion. It's a working symbol, all right.

There's not only a terrible beauty in being able to drive from one end of this city to another in 20 minutes or so, it's also a practical workaday necessity.

Because you've got to have goals, and driving across the city really fast is the apparently highest aspiration our civic leaders can imagine.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 12:17:25 in reply to Comment 80441

And what do those idiots know?

haha...I had the same thought when I read that. I wasn't sure if I was reading the Sun or the Spec.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 09:54:08 in reply to Comment 80441

I love how Dreschel tries to dismiss this is as a brief fad, yet he was writing about it, in response to citizens like us, back in 2000.

A few points from me: - York used to be 5 lanes eastbound and is now 2 lanes eastbound and it hasn't added a second to my trip on it in the morning. And this is without converting Cannon. In other words, those 3 lanes are simply gone. Vanished. Why should someone assume that converting Main/King will add any time to their trip? It will simply balance the lanes across 2 streets instead of 1.

  • Do we have stats showing this crushing load of thousands of people who live in Westdale and work near Eastgate Square?? And if they exist, why are none asking for Main/Queenston to be converted to 1-way past the Delta? More than half of their trip is on two-way streets yet traffic moves just fine. Is there some magical load of thousands of cars that drop out of the sky west of the Delta, and disappear east of it??

  • I live at King and Locke. It takes me 15 minutes to get to Eastgate Square via Burlington Street. Main/Queenston takes about 20. So, the shorter route already exists.

I would like Andrew, and any other 2-way opponents to deal directly with these questions....or we can just throw around strawmen phrases like 'urbanist cause of the moment' and 'downtown supermarket' as a smokescreen for the fact that there are no problems or flaws with my above points. Hamilton will continue to function just fine with 2-way streets, as is evidenced by everything east of the Delta and everything from Stoney Creek to the Mountain to Ancaster to Dundas and Waterdown.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-09-05 09:55:56

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By interestica (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 11:19:35 in reply to Comment 80448

Traffic Evaporation is an interesting phenomenon.

http://www.onestreet.org/resources-for-i...

Comment edited by interestica on 2012-09-05 11:20:26

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 11:28:12 in reply to Comment 80453

Absolutely! Induced and reduced demand are well understood traffic phenomena, but most current traffic modelling systems - including the systems Hamilton uses - do not take them into account.

Accurate traffic forecasting must take into account the feedback effects of spare capacity (to increase demand) and congestion (to reduce demand), as well as the broader land-use implications of roadway design.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-09-05 11:29:41

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By mainwest (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 10:57:55 in reply to Comment 80448

Don't forget Main Street west of Paradise, somehow it manages to be two way and all hell doesn't break loose.

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[ - ]

By FRanklin (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 10:27:45

The two-way conversion was great (and more are needed), but other elements have also helped spur James North's "organic" revitalization:

LIUNA's multi-million-dollar restoration of CN's Stuart Street Station (2000)
Hamilton Downtown Property Improvement Grant Program, aka Enterprise Zone Grant Program (2002-present)
Ricahrd Florida's Creative Class theory (2002-present)
Establishment of Downtown Urban Development Corporation (2004)
Clustering of galleries and relentless hyping of same (2005-present)
Hamilton Downtown Renewal Community Improvement Funds (2005-present)Multi-million-dollar renovation of Central Library/Farmer's Market (2007-2011)
Multi-million-dollar restoration of Lister Block (2008-2012)
Relocation of City Hall to City Centre (2008-2010)

Et cetera.

Two-way streets do wonders for street-level experience but as economic stimulus mechanisms they've never functioned in isolation.

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[ - ]

By sselway (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 12:14:19

Dear Chair and Members of the General Issues Committee,

North End Neighbours, the neighbourhood association of the North End, wishes to join with other Ward 2 neighbourhood associations to show strong support for Councillor McHattie's proposal to establish a Ward 1 and Ward 2 One-Way to Two-Way Street Implementation Team.

In the North End Traffic Management Plan (currently awaiting decision at the OMB) all one way streets in our neighbourhood will become two-way, as agreed upon by both NEN and the City. Given the number of years this plan has been in process, we are hoping it can be implemented sooner rather than later.

Our effort over the past years, in getting our traffic management plan in place, is focused on making our neighbourhood safe for all, a Child and Family friendly place to raise our children, a liveable community.

Please support Councillor McHattie's proposal to establish a Ward 1 and Ward 2 One-Way to Two-Way Street Implementation Team.

Sincerely yours,

Sheri Selway, Vice-President North End Neighbours

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By DTompkins (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 17:28:49

Chair and Members, General Issues Committee,



As someone who is a resident and homeowner in Ward 2, as well as a commercial property owner with a business in Ward 2, I appeal to you support Councillor McHattie's motion to install a one-way to two-way implementation team.

As I live and work downtown, my life is adversely affected by wide lanes of speeding traffic every single day. Walking and biking is more dangerous and less pleasant so I routinely avoid certain streets when I can. Even driving becomes incredibly inconvenient when a natural route is obstructed, takes blocks longer than it should or forces drivers along a residential street rather than a through street.

It is well documented that reverting to Hamilton's original 2-way street grid is what needs to be done. Further discussion is not necessary. Implementation IS required. Immediately.

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[ - ]

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 06, 2012 at 21:07:27

None of this effort mattered because none of the councillors read any of these letters

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