Special Report: Walkable Streets

Two-Way Streets Support Neighbourhood Equity

Complete streets, neighbourhood equity and an aging population are important considerations for the proposed two-way streets implementation committee.

By Sara Mayo
Published September 05, 2012

The Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton has an interest in urban design issues because of their impact on equity between neighbourhoods and the health of residents.

Two-way streets are one tool at Council's disposal to improve quality of life in Hamilton's neighbourhoods, and the proposal being debated at the General Issues Committee this week is an opportunity to do so for residents in wards 1 and 2.

The two-way street debate is also a time for the city to explicitly acknowledge a more holistic vision of street design, such as "complete streets", into the city's street planning initiatives.

Our chosen modes of transportation are fluid, not fixed

The traditional model of street design and planning needs to be flipped on its head. Hamilton, as with most cities across North America, has approached street design with cars as the main users.

More recently, the city integrated cycling within the transportation master plan, and adopting a cycling master plan to acknowledge their use of the road and need for safety.

A third set of users, pedestrians, will soon be more explicitly accommodated in street design when Hamilton's pedestrian master plan in completed in the coming months.

This siloed approach to planning does not reflect the reality of how residents use our city's streets. People are at time pedestrians, other times drivers, passengers, transit users, or cyclists; we are not simply each one single category of user.

Our transportation needs and preferred modes change with our age, our life stage and family situation, with the seasons, the day of the week, and even the time of day.

Complete streets is gaining momentum

A more integrated approach to street design, one that takes into account all users at all times, is being adopted in other cities and is called "Complete Streets".

Transport Canada explains that complete streets are "designed to be safe, convenient and comfortable for every user, regardless of transportation mode, physical ability or age."

Our neighbour Waterloo was the first city in Ontario to adopt a complete streets policy within its transportation master plan in 2011. Here in Hamilton, a complete streets forum was held this spring with positive support from City of Hamilton staff from many departments.

Some of the complete streets approach is seen in the city's new urban official plan (not yet in force) with principles such as a "balanced transportation networks that offer choice so people can walk, cycle, take transit, or drive".

A complete streets policy is designed to be applied to all projects, including new construction, retrofit and maintenance projects.

One of the key features of a complete streets policy is that there's a clear procedure for exceptions to the policy to ensure accountability for decisions on any roads where a complete street approach is not feasible. A complete streets policy also has a robust implementation component that includes steps to turn the policy into practice.

Complete streets improves equity between neighbourhoods

One important effect of a complete streets approach can be to increase equity between neighbourhoods. So far, many of the Hamilton neighbourhoods that have seen increases in walkability and cycling features have been in more affluent areas of the city such as Durand, Kirkendall, Ancaster and Westdale.

On the other hand, Cannon Street, which crosses many of Hamilton's lowest income neighbourhoods and is one of the top priorities in the city's cycling master plan, has not yet been selected for planning or design work.

Due to simple economics, it is often in Hamilton's lowest income neighbourhoods where more people commute to work by foot, bike or bus. For example, in 2006 males in the McQuesten neighbourhood near the Red Hill Valley cycled to work at three times the average rate for the city (4% vs. 1.8%), not counting all the non-work cycling trips taken by residents in that neighbourhoods.

Residents in Hamilton's lower income neighbourhoods have as much right to safe streets as anyone else, even if residents may not be as vocal about it. The city has a moral obligation to ensure that planning decisions level the playing field between neighbourhoods.

If improvements are made in higher income neighbourhoods before paying attention to the needs of other neighbourhoods, the existing disparities between neighbourhoods are made even worse.

A complete streets approach makes sure streets in all neighbourhoods are examined for improvements, not just where residents are most outspoken.

Complete streets approach addresses the needs of an aging population

The Social Planning and Research Council is a member of the Hamilton Age-Friendly Collaborative, which aims to improve the city by taking into account the needs of an aging population.

Street-level improvements for seniors has the added benefit of improving quality of life for residents of all ages. The Hamilton Council on Aging has been taking leadership in conducting walkability studies of Hamilton's neighbourhoods and bringing together transportation planners and seniors to find ways to improve streets and transportation options for older adults.

A complete streets model is entirely compatible with a vision for an age-friendly city.

Complete streets directive from council is needed

Explicit support from City Council for the integration of a complete streets approach into the two-way implementation committee's mandate would be very helpful to ensure that the committee's decisions improve neighbourhood equity and help the city adapt to an aging population.

A complete streets approach for this committee would also ensure that the momentum of this initiative is not stalled and gains consensus as one that takes all road users' needs into account.

Such a directive could also be the catalyst to the eventual development of a longer-term and city-wide complete streets policy that would help to improve quality of life in all our neighbourhoods and for all residents of all ages.

Sara Mayo is a Social Planner, Geographic Information Systems with the Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton.

94 Comments

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 12:50:52

What I don't understand is why is "two-way streets" conflated with "complete streets" on this site?

Ask yourself, honestly, if they made Main Street two-way, and it became exactly like Upper James Street, is that an improvement?

As a cyclist & pedestrian, I feel considerably LESS safe on Upper James than I do on Main Street.

The priority should be for improved pedestrian, transit, and cycle facilities. Two-way street is often inconsequential, and sometimes even detrimental to those goals.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 13:27:06 in reply to Comment 80465

only an idiot would design Main like Upper James (I say that tongue in cheek...look at the Main/403 design. Clearly we don't have the best engineers in the world working here).

Main has 5 lanes. It can turn into 2-lanes each way with bike lanes each way, or it can have wider sidewalks, street trees and 2 lanes of traffic each way during rush hour with curb parking durning non-rush hour times.

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By Ezaki Glico (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 14:06:53 in reply to Comment 80469

West of Longwood, Main is fairly like 1980s-era Upper James.

Gage to Red Hill, Main/Queenston is fairly like 1960s Barton Street.

Red Hill to Fruitland, Queenston is fairly like 1990s-era Upper James.

None of these two-way circumstances has produced much in the way of utopia. A notable asterisk in the current push for quick-fix conversions.

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 13:44:11 in reply to Comment 80469

If we're pushing for two-way over anything else, then yes we will end up with an Upper James, or Main @ 403. Drivers and engineers will demand a left-turn lane, taking the requirements up to 5 lanes of cars.

If it was a narrowed one-way street, the logistical requirements would demand only 3 lanes for cars. That allows for a bike path and improved sidewalks and patios.

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By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 13:14:55

Solution: Map out the downtown neighbourhoods with highest residential density and institute walkability measures/two-way conversions accordingly.

Prioritize projects on these grounds and the odds are you'll always be doing the most good for the most Hamiltonians.

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By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 13:39:34 in reply to Comment 80466

The city's eight highest density tracts seem to be:

Census Tract #s / 2011 Density

CT 5370039: 14,378
CT 5370038: 10,920
CT 5370036: 9,013
CT 5370035: 8,431
CT 5370050: 7,868
CT 5370037: 7,798
CT 5370051: 7,738
CT 5370052: 7,181

http://www.raisethehammer.org/static/presentations/hamilton_cts.html

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By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted September 09, 2012 at 17:27:34 in reply to Comment 80475

Looking more closely at this, I'm struck by the fact that Durand (ie. CT 5370039/ CT 5370038) is almost entirely made up of one-way streets. It seems as if only four streets (Caroline, Hess, Jackson and James) are two-way. Every other street in those tracts seems to be one-way.

Beasley has two-way on at least 10 streets (James, John, Wilson, Ferguson, Barton, Cathcart, Walnut, Kelly, Robert, Elgin and Murray, plus most of King William). Central has two-way on more than a dozen streets (James, York, Market, Napier, Vine, Mulberry, Sheaffe, Colbourne, Tiffany, Murray, Peter, Sheaffe, Railway, plus parts of Macnab, Caroline and Bay). And both of those neighbourhoods have about half the population density of Durand.

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By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted September 09, 2012 at 17:40:44 in reply to Comment 80795

Closer inspection of Durand reveals a handful of two-way streets adjacent to Aberdeen (Ravenscliffe, Turner, Undercliffe, St. James Place, Chilton and part of Inglewood) as well as three near Hunter (Wesanford, Wheeler and Charles) and that are also two-way. That'd bring Durand's two-way count to 13 streets. Still astonishing considering the population density.

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By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 18:06:32 in reply to Comment 80475

As it happens, those eight high-density tracts break down into a contiguous run of connected neighbourhoods.

In order of declining density:

1) Queen to James, King to Aberdeen
2) James to Wentworth, King to Rails
3) Wellington to Sherman, Cannon to Main

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By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 14:23:54 in reply to Comment 80475

You could probably make a case for CT 5370049 because once you compensate for the 4-5 blocks devoted to surface parking, the the existing density (5,549) would likely climb sharply.

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By brendan (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 13:20:18

I think you've set up a bit of a false dichotomy kettal. Of course you can have badly designed "incomplete" 2-way streets. However, to use your example, think of how much more hostile Upper James would be if all five lanes were one way! Sara's pitch is that 2-way reversion is only the first step in what should be a complete re-think in the way we do road use planning in Hamilton. I think you'd agree!

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 13:26:30 in reply to Comment 80467

Having seen what improvements Montreal has done to their one-way streets, with minimal resources and controversy, I can hardly see the relation.

Two way streets require more car lanes than one-way streets from a logistical perspective. That means one-way streets can give us more excess space for patios, bike paths, parks, and sidewalks than would the same street converted to two-way.

Comment edited by kettal on 2012-09-05 13:26:50

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 13:39:50 in reply to Comment 80468

Your logic is based on the false assumption that traffic volume is static. In fact, traffic volume is a function of lane capacity, which is why a lot of the traffic simply "disappears" when cities reduce lane capacity.

In any case, the law of diminishing returns applies to the number of lanes on a street, such that adding more lanes reduces the marginal capacity of each additional lane.

Of course, it's academic in Hamilton, which has vastly more lane capacity than it needs. At various times over the past year, we've cut the lane capacity on Main, King and Cannon in half with almost no impacts on traffic.

There is no reason for Hamilton's streets to be one-way. One-way traffic flow solves a problem Hamilton doesn't have and creates or exacerbates a bunch of problems Hamilton doesn't need.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-09-05 13:40:00

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 13:48:39 in reply to Comment 80476

I'm absolutely in favour of reducing car lanes, and I don't know how you arrived at the conclusion that I wanted more car lanes.

The benefit of one-way streets is that they allow the logistical benefits of two-way streets in less space. That means less car lanes over-all and more room for alternatives.

You and I are both big fans of the LRT proposal. Why do you think the LRT requires turning Main into one-way in the East end? Because it's logistically impossible to have a two-way street in the leftover space once the LRT is in place.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 14:15:36 in reply to Comment 80478

I'm responding to your desire to fit more traffic capacity into a given number of lanes. We have a huge excess of traffic capacity in our lower city streets and don't need the efficiency of one-way streets to funnel large volumes of automobiles.

The benefit of one-way streets is that they allow the logistical benefits of two-way streets in less space.

Except they don't. Logistics is about managing the flow of transportation between destinations, and one-way streets handle destinations much differently than two-way streets. One-way streets are good at funneling traffic between macro-destinations but poor at directing traffic to micro-destinations.

Why do you think the LRT requires turning Main into one-way in the East end?

Because our traffic engineers are obsessed with traffic flow. The Metrolinx BCA and recent MITL study recommend that LRT will be more successful if we convert our one-way streets back to two-way.

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 15:07:42 in reply to Comment 80488

It's not just the engineers who are concerned with traffic flow, it's the general public too.

A three-lane wide two-way arterial is a non-starter for a variety of reasons. A one-way can be two-lanes-plus-parking and still be acceptable to drivers, engineers, and voters.

It's not incidental that almost every arterial with cycle track in North America is along a one-way. From Braodway in NYC, to De Maissonneuve in Montreal, to Hornby in Vancouver, to Portland, and Chicago, and Minneapolis, and so on.

Comment edited by kettal on 2012-09-05 16:55:28

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 06, 2012 at 07:52:46 in reply to Comment 80501

Three lane wide, two way arterials work in other, bigger cities (we don't even have to go that far to see them, Toronto is just around the corner).

Is the problem that Hamilton is too small for 3-lane 2-way arterials - and too big for them too (since they work in smaller towns)?

Hamilton is JUST the right size that they won't work here!

I'm just playing devil's advocate here. I actually like the idea of main street being a 3-lane one-way (with 1 or 2 lanes of parking during off hours) with wider sidewalks and a fully separated, and separately signalled 2-way bike lane.

But to say the 2 way idea it's a "non-starter" makes no sense.

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 11:49:56 in reply to Comment 80580

I live in Toronto.

Off the top of my head, I can think of a two streets which are three lanes wide here. Neither of them could be described as arterials.

Comment edited by kettal on 2012-09-06 11:50:49

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 13:38:15 in reply to Comment 80468

That means one-way streets can give us more excess space for patios, bike paths, parks, and sidewalks than would the same street converted to two-way.

And you think the folks who howl "gridlock!" at even the most minor perceived delays, will go for those kinds of traffic calming measures? It's precisely because two way involves minimal reductions in lane capacity that it is a more pragmatic solution for this city.

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 13:51:05 in reply to Comment 80474

What is the problem we are solving again? Is an Upper-James style street the solution?

Because that's exactly what you'll get if you demand 'minimal reductions to lanes' and two-way traffic.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 14:33:51 in reply to Comment 80479

I am not demanding minimal lane reductions. I am pointing out the fact that through-drivers who want no lane reductions at all, are not likely to support one-way streets that have been reduced to the point where there is even less capacity than there would be in a two-way scenario, nor do I see evidence for your assertion that two-way conversion of downtown streets will, by definition, look and function like Upper James.

Comment edited by highwater on 2012-09-05 14:37:45

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 14:53:14 in reply to Comment 80491

You are confusing space with capacity. Narrow one-way streets have a higher capacity than wide two-way streets. The complexity of two-way traffic makes it quite inefficient for what you call 'through-drivers'.

Now I'm open to the debate of whether we should appease through-drivers or not, but I'm pretty darn sure that in practice they'd prefer narrow one-ways than wide two-way streets.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 08:30:23 in reply to Comment 80498

Our streets are already designed to appease through-drivers, and they suck for every other use. This is why two-way conversion makes sense - it is still usable by through-drivers but this use is balanced fairly with the needs of drivers who are going to local destinations.

If we just change to two way streets, we only solve the problem for drivers (as you said, Main St. becomes Upper James), which is why we also need to implement other complete street strategies such as bike lanes, street parking, and traffic calming features like low overhead trees.

You need to remember that we are not trying to find ways to screw through-traffic more - the streets are already optimized to work only for them, and it doesn't work.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 13:29:30 in reply to Comment 80468

Montreal is way bigger and busier than Hamilton. King St in the International Village is a good indicator of why we don't need 1-ways. It's down to 2 lanes, yet is still a freeway most of the day. Hunter is 2 lanes and is a freeway 24-7. Why leave these streets as 1-lane, one-way streets when we can just do the Toronto thing and make them 1-lane each way with curb parking?? Toronto is way bigger and busier than us or Montreal and gets along just fine with this design.

By the way, re: neighbourhood equity - don't tell that to Spec columnists who are living the good life in traffic-calmed, pedestrian-priority Dundas. They aren't interested in equity. Just selfishness.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-09-05 13:29:56

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 13:36:54 in reply to Comment 80470

Have you biked in Toronto? Have you biked in Montreal?

In Toronto you get to bike in the crack between the parked cars and the gridlocked cars (watch out for opening car doors, too). In Montreal you get to bike in a protected network of paths all throughout the city. Almost entirely possible due to one-way streets affording the excess space.

It's no wonder that the people I know who absolutely refuse to bike in Toronto happily pick up a Bixi when they visit Montreal.

If you think Toronto gets along 'just fine' you've got blinders on.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 14:48:01 in reply to Comment 80473

Montreal's bike lanes are far superior. Yet, Toronto's defacto bike lanes in the extra space beside parked cars is far superior to Hamilton's current set-up. In a perfect world we'd jump from a 1950's backwater to Portland or Montreal, but that's not going to happen. We'll be lucky to shed the 1950's backwater agenda at all.

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 14:56:22 in reply to Comment 80495

Am I missing something here?

Portland and Montreal have great, complete, one-way streets, but for some reason Hamilton has to strive for the dangerous, flawed Toronto model, where tension between road users has literally boiled over?

I don't get it.

Comment edited by kettal on 2012-09-05 14:56:45

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 19:35:04 in reply to Comment 80500

While I would prefer one-way conversion, I understand where Kettal is coming from.
My worse fear is turning dreadful one-way street (speaking mainly of Main/King/Cannon/Wilson here) into dreadful two-way streets. 2 lanes each way, no parking anytime, everything done on the cheap. Maybe better than one-way, but not by much.

The recent roadworks along King from Sherman to Wentworth are a great example. It has frequently been reduced to 2 lanes (50% capacity) for the last couple of weeks with little or no effect on traffic. I do accept there have been some delays.

Bike lane along the entire stretch from Delta to Downtown, all day parking along one side and two lanes off traffic. Cheap or less expensive, easy, effective.

While I appreciate your passion Ryan, you obviously have more optimism than me. King will not become James North with respect to road design. It will become a two-way freeway. I would love to see the road design you posted down below. Again my fear, especially with the narrower sections of King, it will just not happen.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 20:21:24 in reply to Comment 80524

One reason for my optimism is that the process will be guided by an implementation team - it won't simply be up to the engineers to contort the street so that it's ostensibly two-way while remaining dedicated to traditional one-way traffic flows.

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By Premium Rush (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:04:24 in reply to Comment 80526

Has it been decided who will be a part of the team? Might it be as surpassingly awesome and responsive to citizen needs as the teams that usually come out of City Hall?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:28:20 in reply to Comment 80536

According to the motion:

membership of the Implementation Team consist of the Ward 1 and 2 Councillors and appropriate Public Works staff, and include public consultation with interested individuals and groups including neighbourhood associations, affected residents, Business Improvement Areas and other commercial users, and other interested City Councillors.

It's anyone's guess who that will turn out to be.

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By Premium Rush (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:34:29 in reply to Comment 80542

No ceiling on membership numbers, huh? That strikes me as an empathetic but less-than-disciplined way to expedite things. Possibly a great cocktail party, though.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 16:22:24 in reply to Comment 80500

I can't speak to Montreal, even thought I've been there several times I only recall seeing a few major 1-way street and they were really calmed, with minimal traffic lanes and lots of parking etc....

Portland's downtown is a perfect square with short blocks. Again, very calm one-ways exist there and the lights are timed to turn red at almost every block or two. The opposite of what we do here. Considering our downtown is largely strung out along King/Main and James we don't have the advantage of several intersections where one has bustling action in all directions. In our lifetime, I'd be thrilled to see just King and James come all the way back. Main might never. Our downtown being much smaller and skinnier seems to make the one-ways more awkward...not sure if that makes sense, but having lived in Portland, I can attest to the fact that much of their 1-way system works pretty well. Many streets have sidewalk width wider than the roadway.

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 16:47:35 in reply to Comment 80507

I would absolutely love to see the sidewalks widened and traffic calmed in Hamilton, and I don't see that being any less feasible with one-way streets than a lot of two-way conversion.

Hopefully the LRT will be transformative in extending the reach of downtown.

The absolute last thing we need to strive for is Toronto's style. The traffic doesn't move, the streetcars don't move, the buses don't move, the firetrucks don't move, and the cyclists risk their lives every time they go anywhere.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:19:38 in reply to Comment 80510

The absolute last thing we need to strive for is Toronto's style. The traffic doesn't move, the streetcars don't move, the buses don't move, the firetrucks don't move, and the cyclists risk their lives every time they go anywhere.

Sorry, this is more hyperbole. I drive in downtown TO frequently, and have no trouble getting around. Mind you, I lived in TO and learned to drive there before I moved to Hamilton, so I have the perspective of someone used to normal city traffic. Only a Hamiltonian would make the claim that Toronto traffic "doesn't move."

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 12:06:33 in reply to Comment 80538

Funny you should say that. I live in Toronto. I wrote that comment from my apartment on College Street.

Traffic moves some of the time, but one accident anywhere downtown and the system grinds to a halt.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 12:35:41 in reply to Comment 80608

Funny you should say that. I used to live at Bay and College. You are spouting nonsense.

BTW, you should move to Hamilton. With your absurdly alarmist perception of city traffic, you'd fit right in.

Comment edited by highwater on 2012-09-06 12:37:32

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By Premium Rush (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:28:34 in reply to Comment 80538

Or that there are no one-ways in Downtown Toronto. They're not as prevalent as they are in Hamilton, but there are probably a half-dozen for every point on the compass in the heart of the city.

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 13:24:08 in reply to Comment 80543

There are exactly two major one-way streets in dt Toronto.

Richmond and Adelaide.

It's not incidental that these are the streets being considered for the cycle tracks.

Comment edited by kettal on 2012-09-06 13:25:21

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By desolee (anonymous) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 13:55:00 in reply to Comment 80612

It's also not incidental that they're the most desolate streets in downtown Toronto.

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 07, 2012 at 00:24:41 in reply to Comment 80618

They're not exactly Rue Sainte-Catherine, but they never were, not even before they became one-ways.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:35:45 in reply to Comment 80543

They are not arterial roads and do little to enhance overall traffic flow.

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By Premium Rush (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:49:09 in reply to Comment 80547

Never said otherwise. I would assume that the same would be true of many of the "100+" Hamilton one-ways that have yet to be converted. Most are devoid of traffic except when cars are using them.

If time, money and political will are scarce, I don't see the point of overreaching. Let's commit to a really good conversion in each ward (1/2) every year. That should be doable, and it slays the status quo.

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By wrong way (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:40:33 in reply to Comment 80547

They're also the most desolate streets in downtown TO. Hardly any pedestrians or street level retail.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:45:46 in reply to Comment 80548

Yeah. Kind of a lose-lose situation.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:25:55 in reply to Comment 80538

Yes, as another person from Toronto who also still drives the TO downtown a few times a year, I absolutely agree. The gridlock that others think of when they think of Toronto is on the Gardiner and the 401, not on the city streets.

Comment edited by Michelle Martin on 2012-09-05 22:31:57

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 18:53:40 in reply to Comment 80510

Who's recommending Toronto's style? The most elegant re-imagining of Main Street I've seen is this:

Two-Way Main Street

That isn't a Toronto-style street - it's just a well designed one.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:47:15 in reply to Comment 80517

Look at how much of the road space is available to cars compared to how much is available to bikes and pedestrians...yet 1950's style Hamiltonians look at that rendering and scream 'WAR ON CARS'! Amazing.

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 20:21:38 in reply to Comment 80517

Personally I have no problems with that rendering.

But it's not me you have to worry about.

When a car decides to turn left at that traffic light there, he will be holding up all traffic in that direction.

So of course, the engineers and the drivers will demand a left-turn lane in the middle of that road.

And where will the space for the left turn lane come from?

That's right. Bye-bye bike lane.

Comment edited by kettal on 2012-09-05 20:21:56

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 20:27:17 in reply to Comment 80527

If the engineers demand a left turn lane, they can simply take out a couple of curbside parking spots before the intersection.

These are not hard problems to solve.

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 20:30:52 in reply to Comment 80529

"If the engineers demand a left turn lane, they can simply take out a couple of curbside parking spots before the intersection."

Thereby reducing the throughput at the intersection to one lane during rush hour?

Good luck getting the voters support for that one.

Meanwhile I'll be here watching democracy remove a bike lane because it added 40 SECONDS to the AM commute along Jarvis St.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted September 06, 2012 at 08:10:45 in reply to Comment 80531

Were the one ways voted in? Just curious. Obviously we live in a democracy but I don't think every street change is based on votes. Who voted for the york boulevard conversion? Nobody, really. It's just part of the plan which is crafted by those who are paid to study and understand traffic dynamics. I mean in theory.

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 11:52:48 in reply to Comment 80582

The politicians who were elected approved the one-way streets, and their successors didn't make any promises to change it, as far as I am aware.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:40:35 in reply to Comment 80531

Last I heard, the Jarvis bike lane might be staying.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:46:00 in reply to Comment 80549

FTA:

An April report from transportation services found there were fewer collisions between both motorists and pedestrians and motorists and cyclists since the bike lanes were implemented.

Who could possibly have imagined.

As I recently pointed out:

The case has already been made over and over again that widespread cycling is better for public health, better for air quality, better for road maintenance (a 100 kg cyclist imposes an order of magnitude less wear and tear than a 1500 kg driver), better for neighbourhood economic development (bikes need a lot less room to park than automobiles), and better for safety for all road users, motorists included. [emphasis added]

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-09-05 22:46:08

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By wrong way (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:42:35 in reply to Comment 80549

Yay for democracy. It didn't take long for the Ford mystique to dissipate and reality to set in.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 21:30:05 in reply to Comment 80531

I don't understand what you're trying to say here. This is what I mean (forgive the low quality illustration):

Left turn lane

I see intersections that treat left turns this way the the time and they seem to work just fine, e.g. this turn lane on Brant Street in Burlington, which is far narrower than Main Street in Hamilton:

Brant Street left turn lane, Google Streetview

I understand you're traumatized by Mayor Ford and Councillor Minnan-Wong's war on cycling in Toronto, but that's no reason for Hamiltonians to domesticate their aspirations for better streets here.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-09-05 21:37:27

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 13:29:21 in reply to Comment 80533

Yeah that's what I imagined you meant. Down to one lane in each direction, or if a car has to wait to make a right turn, zero lanes.

Personally I loved the rendering when I first saw it. The reaction I got from others who I showed it to? Not so much. They were far more amenable to a road diet than that rendering.

"I understand you're traumatized by Mayor Ford and Councillor Minnan-Wong's war on cycling in Toronto, but that's no reason for Hamiltonians to domesticate their aspirations for better streets here."

Is that because Hamilton is immune from populist politics?

Comment edited by kettal on 2012-09-06 13:30:27

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 06, 2012 at 13:39:58 in reply to Comment 80613

No place is immune from populist politics. That doesn't mean we shouldn't bother trying to do the right thing.

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By Curlew (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 19:15:43 in reply to Comment 80517

Parking meters: Yes or no?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 06, 2012 at 12:50:25 in reply to Comment 80519

Actually, I find the price of parking downtown frustratingly expensive as a shopper. If I want to stay downtown for the day? Cheap as water. $5 or less to park for the full day. For folks working downtown, that's fantastic.

But what if I'm shopping downtown? What if I'm going to the market and then out to lunch? That's where the situation isn't nearly as good. The lots basically max you out at the full day cost as soon as they can, and some of them even have a magic pricing system where they ding you twice if you happen to cross the threshold between "daytime" and "evening" pricing.

That's my frustration with downtown parking... we have a paradox where we have too much parking, but it still is overpriced for shoppers that will stimulate the downtown economy. The only thing that's actually well-priced for shoppers are the parking meters ($1 per hour) and because of the silly "free parking on the weekend" feature, they're completely unavailable as every bit of street-side parking is filled up on the weekends. That and they've only a 1-hour limit, which isn't exactly encouraging a leisurely exploratory shopping experience.

So yeah, Parking Meters YES. More YES. More lots with the parking meter pricing structure instead of going for the easy and safe and consistent daily money of full-day commuters.

Just bump them up to a 2-hour limit and I'm happy, and ditch the stupid "free(wait, correction)no parking on weekends" thing.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2012-09-06 12:50:58

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 06, 2012 at 13:17:40 in reply to Comment 80610

But what if I'm shopping downtown?

If you're coming from Westdale, you jump on the LRT (for now: bus) and ride downtown in comfort and convenience. If you already live downtown, you just walk.

Every really successful downtown is built around residential density, mixed building use and high quality transit.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-09-06 13:20:25

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 20:23:29 in reply to Comment 80519

Yes. 'Free' parking is a bad idea.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:29:33 in reply to Comment 80528

Parking is ridiculously inexpensive here, compared to Toronto, that's for sure. We couldn't believe it when we moved here, it was like parking heaven.

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[ - ]

By John Neary (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 14:40:12

As has been mentioned on other threads, while this proposal is wonderful for Wards 1 and 2, it can hardly be said to promote neighbourhood equity until Ward 3 gets included. In fact, one narrative that can be taken from this is that Ward 2 -- even historically disadvantaged neighbourhoods like North End, Beasley, Corktown, and Stinson -- is finally starting to get some respect from the city, whereas Ward 3 is not. So Ward 2 gets to join the privileged communities (to a very minor extent), and Ward 3 continues to get screwed.

I say this as a Beasley resident who couldn't be happier for my own neighbourhood. But if I lived in Landsdale I'd be fuming, and I wouldn't see any neighbourhood equity here.

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By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 23:14:59 in reply to Comment 80492

Based on population density stats in the most recent census, Landsdale has a strong case. Beasley's key tract (0049) is not especially compelling in terms of downtown density. Cannon's most populated section is between Wellington and Sherman.

https://raisethehammer.org/comment/80475

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 14:49:11 in reply to Comment 80492

I had assumed that this was strictly due to support from the ward councillors. I could be wrong though. I have a hard time believing that if Bernie was just as supportive as Jason and Brian that they would have chosen to exclude his ward.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 14:51:08 in reply to Comment 80496

I assume the same thing. My point is just that regardless of why it's happening, the most neglected neighbourhoods are continuing to get dumped on.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 16:23:51 in reply to Comment 80497

Sadly, yes. But only because their councillor wants it that way (assuming we know why Ward 3 was excluded). I feel for Ward 3 residents, but this is consistent with what they voted for.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:02:37 in reply to Comment 80508

Come on, Jason. Are we all getting what we deserve when Bob sabotages LRT? We (perhaps not you and I, but Hamilton as a whole) voted for him, after all.

Don't blame Ward 3 residents for the fact that Morelli doesn't seem to be interested in this issue. You know as well as I do how hard it is to unseat an incumbent in a municipal election.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:50:31 in reply to Comment 80535

sorry if I didn't express my point clearly - I mean to say, he is representing the majority of folks in his ward. Farr and McHattie have been clear on this issue and got elected with platforms of pedestrian and cyclist improvements in their wards. However, you are absolutely right - no single person, mayor or ward councillor, should be able to halt logical, clear progress.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:24:41 in reply to Comment 80535

Bratina campaigned in support of LRT and flip-flopped after the election. Morelli on the other hand, has been in office for a generation. The people who voted for him knew exactly what they were getting.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 14:54:56 in reply to Comment 80497

Agreed, but I would hate to see this used as an argument to vote down the proposal. Ward 3 is being excluded for purely political reasons, not because of anything inherent in the proposal itself. Not to mention, Ward 3 will benefit indirectly if it goes through.

Comment edited by highwater on 2012-09-05 14:56:20

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 09:34:25 in reply to Comment 80499

Highwater, I agree, but I still think we need to call out the inequity here, particularly given how many complaints we've all made about Ward 2 being treated so poorly relative to Dundas, Ancaster, etc.

I hope that a Ward 3 resident will send a letter to the GIC (copied to RTH for publication) asking for that ward to be included in this initiative, and that everyone who has written in support of this project in Wards 1/2 will also write in support of the extension to Ward 3.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 06, 2012 at 09:37:28 in reply to Comment 80590

By the way, according to Carolyn Biggs she received 84 pieces of correspondence by noon yesterday. They will be uploaded to the city website after today's meeting.

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By Steve (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 15:46:14 in reply to Comment 80499

Can we now all agree that this, http://raisethehammer.org/article/1606/a_conversation_with_councillor_morelli was nothing more than a smoke screen, or a joke at RTH's expense, or way to see if he could still have people buy the crap he sells?

You don't have to agree with this statement, but my thought is the Morelli conversation in May was nothing more than a "set-up" to justify changes to Victoria's one way status (and I'll bet not all of Victoria, most likely same as Wentworth - Barton to Burlington) for a favoured developer at the Studebaker property, http://raisethehammer.org/blog/2510/listen_to_developers_on_two-way_streets

Just watch it's happening right before our eyes. Is it just me or can anyone else see it?

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[ - ]

By brendan (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 17:31:42

kettal: You make a convincing argument, and I might revisit my thoughts about Main street in particular, but there are two points to raise that might blunt your concern:

1) Cnclr McHattie's motion only talks about the streets already identified in the transportation master plan. These are secondary streets like Queen and Herkimer, and their reversion will not significantly impact the traffic flow, but it will reduce speeds in residential and commercial areas, which will make cycling and walking far more palatable.

2) If someone showed me a plan to reduce Main and Cannon to just two, adequately wide lanes of one way traffic, with parking, bike lanes and wider sidewalks to fill the gap I would jump all over that. I guarantee that's not going to happen in this town. 2 way reversion seems to be the only game in town, and I'll take it over the community-killing status quo for another few decades.

You might argue that if the 2-way conversions cause too much grief, there won't be any will left to make the other critical improvements. I've learned that politics is about small victories, and you'd be surprised how fast a change becomes the new normal. We just need to keep pushing things in the right direction.

Comment edited by brendan on 2012-09-05 17:52:47

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 19:14:51 in reply to Comment 80513

It all depends on context. Neither two-way nor one-way is superior in every situation. James Street becoming two-way has been undeniably positive.

Herkimer, Queen, and Charlton would all probably benefit from a two-way conversion, and I'm not going to deny that.

Simply we need at least one cross-town thoroughfare with Montreal-style bike paths for each cardinal direction, and this is really only possible on a one-way street.

My objection with some people on this site, it seems they've become so obsessed with two-way conversion that they have lost sight of the real goals, and have fallen into a sort of tunnel-vision orthodoxy about the mythical superiority of two-way streets.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 19:26:35 in reply to Comment 80518

Simply we need at least one cross-town thoroughfare with Montreal-style bike paths for each cardinal direction, and this is really only possible on a one-way street.

That just isn't true:

Two-Way Main Street

A complete street needs to serve all its users, and a one-way street inevitably harms people trying to drive to a destination on that street, as I argued in this essay on usability.

Your other contention - that drivers will object to two-way conversion but for some reason won't object to a road diet that results in wide sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes - just doesn't hold water.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 23:21:24 in reply to Comment 80523

at the end of the day, if we were able to convince city hall to give us this exact cross section, but with both live traffic lanes being eastbound, I'd take it. Although I'd probably prefer to see parking on only one side and the tree median removed....the space saved with one less parking lane and the removal of the tree median could be added to both sidewalks with trees planted along the curb edge of both sidewalks.

Did some Montreal digging and found these. All on one-ways:

http://pistescyclables.ca/Montreal/PhotosAxeNordSud/images/Piste%20cyclable%20de%20l'axe%20nord-sud%20(23).jpg

http://www.ibiketo.ca/sites/default/file...

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_9kbqlCgkUaY/TK...

This is 5-lanes like Main and Cannon. I'd like to see a two-way bike route instead of 1, with the planters/buffer, 2 traffic lanes and 24-7 curb parking.

http://inhabitat.com/protected-bikeway-c...

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By Quint (anonymous) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 06:57:09 in reply to Comment 80564

Cannon is 5 lanes?

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 08:59:22 in reply to Comment 80572

by me it is....perhaps it's 4 east of James?? Regardless, it's huge.

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 20:39:02 in reply to Comment 80523

You're probably right about car access, but a main street business which relies primarily on auto access is doomed to failure. Any successful urban main street has the majority of customers arrive on foot, bike, and transit.

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By Nova Hart (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 18:21:47 in reply to Comment 80513

If I'm not mistaken, as of the 2008 Five-Year Review, Cannon and Queen weren't recommended for two-way conversion -- just streetscaping/pedestrian improvements (2 of 20 streets/areas identified).

(Page 45: "The recommended plan sought to maintain access for commercial vehicles and through traffic on Main Street and Cannon Street while slowing traffic on King Street and York Boulevard/Wilson
Street.")

There were two cycling projects identified: Hunter Street and York Boulevard (Page 30: "While Hunter Street is listed in the Capital Plan with an entry for two-way conversion, it is understood that that amount has been reallocated to provision of bicycle lanes on Hunter Street.")

And there were seven two-way conversion projects identified:
Hess Street, Hughson Street, King Street, King William Street, Park Street, Rebecca Street and
York Boulevard/Wilson Street

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By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 18:45:06 in reply to Comment 80515

Curious: Why can't we have two-way through traffic?

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:52:35 in reply to Comment 80516

We do on virtually every main street in the city.

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[ - ]

By Premium Rush (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:25:24

I'm not familiar with the sibling city studiesn but how does Brant's traffic volume (in Downtown Burlington) compare to that of Main or King (in Downtown Hamilton)?

I concur about the turning lanes in principle. In practice, I have my misgivings. Look to Main West from Paradise to Rifle Range to get a sense of the number of car lengths consumed by turning flow once you move from drawing to implementation. Even Dundas' Cootes Drive has recently has its island gnawed down at Olympic/York to accomodate the number of turning cars from gumming up through traffic. Between that variable, the additional signalled intersections, mandated setbacks and sightline regs and the added factors of bus stops and driveways, this may not be exactly as pictured. Probably an improvement on the status quo, but the faster this is rolled out, the rougher the edges will be. That much seems certain. It'd be a shame for the outcome to be a quick and dirty two-way conversion that remained overwhelmingly predicated on the needs of motorists, but that seems like a resolution that is, based on Hamilton precedent, more than a little probable.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:33:19 in reply to Comment 80540

how does Brant's traffic volume (in Downtown Burlington) compare to that of Main or King (in Downtown Hamilton)?

Since traffic is significantly a function of street design (i.e. streets designed to accommodate more traffic induce and attract more traffic), it's hard to make any meaningful comparisons.

Brant goes from 7-8 lanes just south of the QEW, which has an exit onto that street, down to just two lanes and some left-turn lanes once you get close to the Lakeshore. Traffic moves slowly yet steadily through the narrowest part of the street, and local businesses are thriving with considerable foot traffic.

It'd be a shame for the outcome to be a quick and dirty two-way conversion that remained overwhelmingly predicated on the needs of motorists

Absolutely, and it's something that scares me, too. But it makes no sense to sit back and accept the status quo just because there's a chance that improvements won't be as good as we hope!

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By Premium Rush (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:54:41 in reply to Comment 80545

I'm of the Kasem mindset: Feet on ground, reaching for stars.

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By Premium Rush (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 22:42:24 in reply to Comment 80545

That's what I was curious about. I wouldn't have thought to equate a fairly drowsy stretch of Brant to a stretch of road that is commonly referred to as a highway. My suspicion, which I'll admit is subjective/anecdotal, is that Brant doesn't really get moving until you're on the outskirts of downtown (Caroline and points north) whereas Main is a bumpercar bonanza from the 403 on through to -- take your pick, really. Wellington? Sherman? Ottawa? Parkdale?

Hopefully we can arrive at a compromise that isn't compromised.

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By P Graefe (anonymous) | Posted September 05, 2012 at 23:57:31

The benefit of talking complete streets is that we avoid fetischizing two-way or one-way street designs in favour of using the available space to get to the goal we are seeking. There are probably cases where retaining one way and using the space for other uses will give a better result than a two way conversion. There are others where two-way conversion is best.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 06, 2012 at 15:11:33 in reply to Comment 80565

I probably fall into this camp, but am cautious about sounding like I support retaining any 1-ways because I know city hall will leave them fast freeways. 2-ways are still designed solely around cars, but at least it's slightly more humane than 1-way (i.e. - Wilson St east of James).

Someday when we have a progressive regime in city hall, I would absolutely support the Main St rendering shown above, but with both car lanes going eastbound.
I'd never suggest leaving Main 1-way today though because it would be left as a freeway with 3 or 4 lanes instead of 5.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 06, 2012 at 15:24:26 in reply to Comment 80630

Yeah, that.

I could live with a "rehabilitated" main/king/cannon/Queen/wellington/victoria. Close some redundant driveways, take away a lane on each side for a permanent parking bump-out, bike lanes, add bike boxes, etc. to get the fast live traffic away from the pedestrians, add more crosswalks, put up some jersey barriers and bollards where appropriate, whatever.

I could live with it... I don't honestly know if it would really help though, because losing those lanes might end up doing more damage to traffic flow than just going 2-way, plus you'd have the same 1-way problems with navigation and the 60km/h traffic blasting along the green wave threatening to obliterate any unfortunately ill-timed pedestrians.

But either way, I'd never send a letter to the city to that effect as they'd easily interpret it as "1 vote for 1-way streets!".

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted September 18, 2012 at 07:44:37 in reply to Comment 80634

The 60km/h portion of Main is the two-way section. Elsewhere it's posted at 50km/h. Maybe we should position two-way streets as a small price to pay for increased speed limits.

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