Special Report: Walkable Streets

Two-Way Complete Streets Safer for Pedestrians, Better for Business

My submission to The Hamiltonian's Perspectives Virtual Panel on two-way street conversion in Hamilton.

By Ryan McGreal
Published September 22, 2012

Civic affairs website The Hamiltonian has just published their latest Perspectives Virtual Panel, and the subject is two-way conversion/reversion of Hamilton's streets.

The entries are all worth reading, but here's my submission.


I am in favour of converting our one-way streets into complete, walkable two-way streets. Hamilton's one-way thoroughfares do one thing extremely well: they funnel large volumes of automobile traffic through the city at high speed. Unfortunately, the cost of that narrow efficiency includes higher risk of injury, lower levels of personal interactions, lower levels of retail business and overall lower quality of life.

Two-way streets are safer for pedestrians and particularly for children.

This conclusion may seem counter-intuitive, but the evidence supports it. One-way streets encourage faster driving by reducing obstacles and visual distractions. This increases the risk to pedestrians in two ways.

First, the kinetic energy of a car is related to the square of its velocity. That means a car going twice as fast has four times the energy. At 32 km/h, a collision with a pedestrian has a 5 percent chance of death, but that increases to 50 percent at 48 km/h and 85 percent at 64 km/h.

Second, a vehicle’s stopping distance also increases geometrically with speed. A car going 30 km/h on a dry road can come to a dead stop in about 20 m (65 feet), but a car going twice as fast at 60 km/h needs 70 m (230 feet) to stop.

The most effective way to reduce both the incidence and severity of vehicle/pedestrian collisions it to reduce vehicle speeds, but one-way streets optimize for fast driving – that’s their raison d'être.

One-way streets also increase the number of turns drivers need to make to reach a destination, since each destination can only be approached from one direction. This increases the number of potential collisions between turning motorists and pedestrians, and this is borne out by the evidence from several recent studies finding that pedestrians are at greater risk on one-way streets.

A 1999 transportation engineering study found, “there are 30-40 percent more vehicle conflicts within a one-way street network than in a comparable two-way system.” Similarly, a 2004 report published in the Journal of the Institute of Engineers found that pedestrians have more points of conflict with motorists crossing one-way streets than crossing two-way streets, due mainly to the increased number of turns drivers have to make.

Using Hamilton collision data, a peer reviewed public health study published in 2000 determined that children are 2.5 times more likely to be injured on a one-way street than on a two-way street.

And if you are wondering whether you should personally care about pedestrian safety, bear in mind that everyone, including every motorist, is a pedestrian at some point, even if it means a short walk from your parked car to your destination.

Two-way streets are better for retail business.

On a two-way street, motorists can approach a destination from either direction, making it more accessible. Two-way streets are also more comfortable and pleasant for pedestrians, since traffic moves more slowly and it feels safer to be on the sidewalk.

Just months after Hamilton's streets were converted to one-way in 1956, business owners on King Street were already begging the transportation and traffic committee to revert the changes, saying things like, "Business has taken quite a drop," and "Our windows are no good nowadays, people have no time to stop and look. Nobody comes from the west end of the city any more. We would like to see King Street two-way once more."

Nobody comes from the west end of the city any more.
-- King Street business owner, 1957

More recently, Aaron Newman, the owner of Newman's Menswear on King Street East, wrote, "Try telling someone to find our store from the west end. It's a complex set of directions, wastes both time and gas, creates more travel and really thwarts our accessibility to customers. For a retailer, making it hard for a customer is never a good thing!"

Numerous studies from cities all across North America have demonstrated that converting one-way downtown streets back to two-way results in a significant boost to business revenues, investment and property values. Converting Hamilton's one-way streets to two-way would allow downtown properties to increase in value and contribute more to the tax base, benefiting every municipal ratepayer.

Complete two-way streets will not result in "gridlock".

Hamilton's one-way thoroughfares have significant excess lane capacity. Over the past year, extended multiple lane closures on Main Street, King Street and Cannon Street have resulted in only modest slowdowns during rush hour and free-flowing traffic at all other hours.

We can easily use some of that surplus lane capacity for bike lanes, curbside parking and wider sidewalks, all of which improve the pedestrian experience and help local business.

Beyond that, traffic volumes are not static. Much of the traffic on Hamilton streets is "induced traffic" - trips that people take by automobile only because it is so easy to drive.

The evidence unambiguously demonstrates that when lane capacity is reduced, some of the traffic simply "disappears" due to a combination of route choice, time-shifting and modal shift (from driving to walking/cycling/transit). This is called "reduced demand" and it reflects the economic principle that demand for a good goes up when the cost goes down, and goes down when the cost goes up.

Note also that when Hamilton converts its streets to two-way, it will be possible for drivers to take any of several routes to a given destination. If eastbound traffic on Main Street is slow, you will be able to drive east on King. If westbound traffic on Cannon is slow, you will be able to drive west on Wilson/York.

That will make the transportation network more flexible and more usable for drivers as well as for pedestrians and cyclists.

Hamilton is not exceptional.

Literally dozens of cities across North America have already converted one-way downtown thoroughfares to two-way, and the consensus is that the change is good for business, good for local neighbourhoods, good for safety and good for urban revitalization. All of the arguments brought to bear against conversion in Hamilton were also brought forward in those cities - and they were wrong.

We heard the same arguments when James and John North went two-way, and the predictions of traffic chaos and failure were proven wrong. We heard them again when James and John South were converted to two-way, and once again the sky did not fall as predicted.

Instead, both streets have improved significantly in the past decade with new businesses, new investments and increased foot traffic. The Downtown BIA surveyed its members after James and John North were converted and learned that most businesses saw their sales increase.

Since 2002, we have converted sections of James North, John North, James South, John South, Charlton, Herkimer, Hess, Caroline, York, Wilson, and Park, and not one of those conversions has resulted in "gridlock" or any other scary adjective. How many more examples do we need that the sky does not fall when cars are allowed to drive in either direction on a city street?

Council approved a program of two-way conversions in 2001 and reaffirmed its support in 2008, but the pace of conversions has been extremely slow. Lower city Hamilton still has more than 100 one-way streets, and we need to get serious about converting them into complete, liveable two-way streets in a timely fashion.

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 jason (registered) | Posted September 22, 2012 at 09:32:19

well written. Leadership and vision are really the missing keys. City hall knows the evidence and has seen it, along with the rest of us, on the streets we've already converted. Their refusal to keep up the momentum is simply due to downtown's placement on the civic priority list.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 22, 2012 at 09:32:41

by the way, what portion of Herkimer has been converted? I can't think of any conversions there.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted September 22, 2012 at 10:22:08

This post isn't about whether I'm in favour of one way or two way streets. It is about clearing up misleading (and I believe false) information in the article.

but one-way streets optimize for fast driving – that’s their raison d'être

I don't believe the above quote to be true. It's misleading at best.

One way streets are designed for consistent speeds to reduce the frequency of starting and stopping. To make my point more clear, although admittedly they often are not, one way streets CAN be optimized for slow driving. Our one way streets happen to be optimized to encourage a steady speed of around 50 km/h. They are not designed to optimize fast driving. Another example to illustrate my point are two way rural roads. Those streets are, in fact, optimized for high speed. It would be silly to argue that, therefore, two way streets are optimized for high speed. Would drivers drive any faster if the same streets were one way? I'm guessing not. Interestingly, it would be safer though because of the negated risk of head on collisions.

One could easily argue that two way streets encourage fast driving just as much and more than one way streets because there is potentially no penalty for driving fast. When one consistently drives fast on one way streets, they will quickly find themselves stuck at a redlight.

I can't remember how long it's been, perhaps a year or so, but some of you may remember that I posted a video of me driving along One Way Main St. and Two Way Barton St. I followed along with the flow of traffic and the speeds on Barton were consistently higher than they were on Main. I know this is just a small sample from one day and is anecdotal, but this is the reality I see whenever I drive on our city streets.

To all the naysayers who think "but I see cars speeding down our one way streets all the time", I ask if you have any way of knowing how fast they are going (if not, perhaps not as fast as you think) and if you think that if they really were speeding like maniacs, if you think those idiots would slow down because of a two way street.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 25, 2012 at 07:47:20 in reply to Comment 81156

First, as the Ontario Coroner recently pointed out, 50 km/h is fast traffic, assuming the goal is to minimize pedestrian deaths.

Second, as Nicholas Kevlahan has pointed out, traffic on streets in Durand routinely exceeds that already-too-high speed limit:

the 2002 Durand Traffic Study found that over 40% of vehicles travel at over 50km/h on minor arterial streets in the neighbourhood (such as Bay, Herkimer and Charlton, ...) and more than 200 vehicles a day travel at >65 km/h.

So your anecdotal, a priori belief that our one-way streets don't encourage speeding is simply not supported by the evidence.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted September 22, 2012 at 10:37:12

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 22, 2012 at 15:47:45 in reply to Comment 81157

Yes, that was the watermain break on Cannon. A street can be 12-ways and it'll back up when Old Faithful emerges from the roadway. I was on Cannon that day. Did a wonderful thing - I went 20 seconds south on Catharine, and continued west on Wilson with zero delays. Prior to the Wilson conversion, I would have been forced to sit on Cannon until the water stopped.

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted September 23, 2012 at 13:16:52 in reply to Comment 81166

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By z jones (registered) | Posted September 23, 2012 at 20:00:13 in reply to Comment 81180

And that's supposed to make us think one way streets are better than two way streets?

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By SpaceMonkee (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2012 at 15:56:35 in reply to Comment 81166

Unless it was a coincidence that they were resurfacing 2 lanes at the time, I think we're talking about two different incidents Jason.

After sitting in the mess, and not wanting to do so any longer, I also used an alternate route. Now that I've looked at a map, it's refreshed my memory. My incident occurred on King and I used Maplewood and/or Delaware to get to my location. To add insult to injury, once I reached my destination, I found out that the person I was visiting was no longer at that address.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted September 22, 2012 at 10:59:23 in reply to Comment 81157

Dont worry last Saturday night it took me 10 minutes to get from the Southeast corner of James and Wilson to the NorthWest Corner. The whole freaking street was shut down.

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By Rob (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2012 at 10:57:39

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By brendansimons (registered) | Posted September 22, 2012 at 13:36:08 in reply to Comment 81158

Any kind of construction brings major gridlock to the downtown area. To say otherwise is really misleading. This article got that point completely wrong.

That's just not true. We've had a lane of Main blocked off for over a year in front of the old Federal Building at Queen. We've had another blocked off at Hess and King for at least that long. King St, East of Wellington had half of its lanes blocked off for a month in August. And I haven't even started on the bridge work across the 403, where half of the lanes of King and Main have been out of commission since 2009.

All of these closures continue with absolutely minimal impact to Hamilton traffic. We are no where near gridlock.

Comment edited by brendansimons on 2012-09-22 13:38:42

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 22, 2012 at 15:48:50 in reply to Comment 81161

this is exactly right. I live right near all of these spots and see them daily. Don't forget King was down a lane for almost 2 years during Good Shepherd construction...nary a traffic problem in sight.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted September 22, 2012 at 13:32:44 in reply to Comment 81158

There's major construction right now. I commute across downtown daily. It is not gridlock.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 22, 2012 at 14:01:54

Here's a light cycle at King and James, the heart of the downtown core, in the middle of a weekday:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kblgZXUTkKg

Here's a light cycle at Main and Caroline in the middle of a weekday (note that a lane is blocked on Main next to the old Revenue Canada building):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GA875DjKxM8

Here's a photo of the water main break at James and Cannon Street a week ago Thursday:

Water main break, James and Cannon.

Cannon was closed completely for a while and then just one lane was open. Traffic moved slowly through the single lane, as it would if only a single lane was open on a two-way street.

But wait! Thanks to the two-way conversion of Wilson/York last year, cars were able to cut over one block, drive west on Wilson/York and detour around the closure.

Westbound traffic on Wilson

Cars flowed smoothly through the intersection and proceeded west.

Westbound traffic on York

Thank goodness Wilson/York is two-way and provided the flexibility to allow cars to detour around the closure on another westbound street.

By the way, here's Wilson looking westbound from Catharine on a normal midday:

Wilson westbound from Catharine

Explain to me again how two-way traffic is bad for motorists and less flexible in the event of a street closure?

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-09-22 14:02:40

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 22, 2012 at 21:52:48 in reply to Comment 81163

Ryan, open your eyes. Look at the mass mayhem on that abomination of a two-way street.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted September 22, 2012 at 14:58:56

A detour?

Seems to me that all we've seen so far are interventions that may re-set the concrete and do some decorative stamping, but do precious little to broaden the sidewalks one iota. The lone exception that I can think is perhaps directly outside the Library/Market, where streetside parking was annexed to allow for a broader walkway. (This would be the York Boulevard Streetscape Master Plan's "where feasible, widened sidewalks to a width of four meters" mention, I suspect. We'll overlook the whole "street trees"/"urban canopy" aspiration.)

Am I missing a larger concession to the notion of "putting people first"?

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 22, 2012 at 15:50:38

Also, to those who say the one-ways handle too much traffic and would result in mayhem if converted to two way, have a read: https://raisethehammer.org/article/1670/...

I've NEVER heard anyone say "avoid Concession Street. It's a constant parking lot!". Never, in 35 years of living in Hamilton.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 22, 2012 at 15:51:43

The immediate danger on Cannon St is that the West Harbour (Setting Sail) Secondary Plan also requires a 26.21 metre right-of-way width along Cannon Street.

Cannon currently is around 11.8 to 12 meters wide. It needs to be narrowed down (like Intnl Village), to achieve a urban scale and not widened with set-backs.

The desire for such excessive right-of-way widths in the core is what has destroyed the street walls on Main and King.

Our urban planners are seeking major set-backs from the road for all new development on Cannon... A broken saw-tooth street wall is all they will achieve from this escapade.

This foolish approach to city re-building has to be shut down fast. If not, it may well be enacted in a month or two.

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-09-22 15:56:39

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 24, 2012 at 03:17:22 in reply to Comment 81169

My quick and dirty measurement of Cannon at Macnab St shows an existing ROW width of about 20 metres.

Right-of-way width includes the sidewalks and utilities, not just the paved roadway.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 25, 2012 at 09:28:44 in reply to Comment 81188

Yes, it does. I wonder if their 26 meter section is the area from Bay to Queen? It's the widest part of Cannon, and is directly south of the West Harbour. I see no reason why the west Harbour planning process would involve Cannon St near James, or even east of James?

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 25, 2012 at 17:14:47 in reply to Comment 81226

No, Jason - unfortunately the 26 meters section as planned, encompasses the entire stretch of Cannon from Bay thru to Wellington.

Had a fruitful discussion with some very sympathetic planners who do recognize the value of a street wall on Cannon - and are equally frustrated with traffic requirements.

The fact that many old, gorgeous buildings like the Knitting Factory, the Good Shepard bldg opp, w/the Hamilton Hostel across, and many more smaller buildings provide the existing street wall character and street width definition --was acknowledged--, as also was the resulting devastating effect of widening Cannon in a piecemeal manner as and when new buildings are proposed.

It is crucial at this stage to visualize the stretch of Cannon from James to Ferguson/Wellington as a New Village (much like Intnl Village) - which ties the Murray to Cannon neighbourhood into the Downtown Secondary plan; and thus making it come under the pervue of a higher density and architectural guidelines resulting in a more defined downtown identity.

This stretch from Murray to Cannon & James to Wellington - as it stands, neither belongs to the north-end nor the downtown core - and is being perceived by the planners as a suburban model with suburban densities.

Such urban visualization for this stretch needs to be communicated --by all-- to the Ward councillor and the planning staff in large numbers, as the preferred community response, because the alternative most likely will result in a "zombie zone".

This does need to be tackled as soon as possible, not withstanding the two-way conversion thrust... before things get etched out further in the PLANS.

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-09-25 17:16:20

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 25, 2012 at 01:21:44 in reply to Comment 81188

you are correct kettal, the ROW width is approx. 19.25M -- and the road (with 4 lanes) is approx. 11.25 meters.

However, the increase as stated earlier of the ROW is 26.21 meters, which is a proposed increase of 7 meters. (i.e. an increase of more than the width of 2 existing centre lanes).

This increase of ROW (3.5 meters x 2) is coming from the properties on either sides of the road -- which also will have to bear the additional brunt of standard front-yard setbacks of around 3 meters for any new building.

This makes it an increase 3.5+3 meters on either sides of the road. i.e. (3.5+3) + (3.5+3) = 13 meters total or 42.65 feet -- which is literally setting the stage for doubling the road width!

Do you think it will really matter which way the traffic is flowing when we will literally have another freaking highway in the core?

Although the Built Form Character that was once proposed in some parts of downtown appears to be very noble - we all know what exactly happened with the Stinson project on John & Main!

The problem in Hamilton is not the Planning Act, it is the perverse way our city planners choose to interpret it.

I don't think there is a conspiracy here, as I have done a fair bit of research on planning/architecture schools in Ontario viz their philosophy and curriculum etc., and I seriously doubt that any of our local schools are capable of delivering the kind of planners/designers who have the sensibilities to help shape humane and tempered cities that we all aspire for. That is the tragic reality.

Our planning department is saturated with such sensibilities, and the few exceptions who visit us from time to time - the 'divas', are simply not invested long enough in any city to make a lasting difference.

Sadly, all our local urban rejuvenation battles are being fought from behind the eighth ball.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 25, 2012 at 09:27:40 in reply to Comment 81222

FYI, I've emailed Councillor Farr on the issue, and he is in touch with the lead planner on this project.

If you could add further info re: the 100 unit residential project, that would help greatly.

Cheers

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 22, 2012 at 21:52:02 in reply to Comment 81169

for real?? where did you find these numbers? Are they trying to turn the W. Harbour to Upper James?

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 23, 2012 at 11:14:24 in reply to Comment 81174

It is for real. I came across it while pursuing an 100+ unit infill project on Cannon a few block off James -

This West Harbour (Setting Sail) Secondary Plan should be getting the OMB approval very soon - and it contains some very bizarre 'low densities' and 'land use' targets for Cannon and parts of the core.

This will not only turn the West Harbour area, but many blocks of Cannon on both sides of James, into a mini Upper James for sure!!

Rather than go thru the painful/costly amendments of the "official plan and zoning by-law" many property owners/developers will simply walk away and leave these properties and uses, the way they are now. (much like the mess on Main and John).

There may be very little time left to prevent this disaster on Cannon.

The way I see it, this whole planning process has been setup as a money grab. It is designed to force property owners/developers into lengthy and expensive amendments to the "PLAN" - whose intent is to first make these properties un-viable thru absurdly low densities and the death-lock of zoning/set-backs.

Who is in charge of planning in our city?

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 23, 2012 at 14:28:43 in reply to Comment 81179

this is some great info Mahesh. You should have the developer of the 100+ unit project (I presume it's dead now?) write an article for publish about this issue. Can you add any links to the OP and WH plan you are referring to?

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 23, 2012 at 15:47:10 in reply to Comment 81181

thanks Jason, will surely do so in a few day, as more info trickles in or pried out!

In the meanwhile, here is the link to the WH secondary plan.

And a funny snapshot on how a twisted traffic planning study can get translated into zoning and bylaws via Hamilton's renowned circular logic:

From, Transportation Impacts of the Preferred Land Use Strategy - (pg 27):

"Future traffic volumes are more likely to be less than the forecasts since maximum densities will not be realized for every developable parcel of land. However, basing trip generation on maximum densities is considered a conservative approach."

And so, why would maximum densities not be realized on every developable parcel?

Because our conservative forecast of 'trips' tell us that there will be a large traffic volume. So now we are worried sick about the inevitable future traffic chaos!! and so we "must" quickly lower densities -- before them developers show up with their plans with appropriate densities that would make a development project work financially.

Next you have a pumped up developer ready to go to work, and who is quickly deflated on being told:

"Hey, you can only build 10 units in two stories (spread over half an acre of urban land which is ripe for cleanup and intensification after decades of waiting)... and for good measure, there will also be setbacks from the road, because, you see we have a traffic study of high volumes, for which we need to be prepared -(so screw that street-wall concept of your, it just won't work in this city,you know!)... and by the way, just for fun, we have also thrown "green" on your property - without you knowledge!!! because you see, we desperately need more parks in our city after all -- for them kids who are planning to leave the city in droves upon realizing that the streets in Hamilton are only meant for fast cars and trucks,(never mind that we cannot maintain the parks we already have). -- now you see, why we will most definitely require an official plan amendment and zoning by-law amendment in order for you to put up 10 units in two stories."

A shake of head is all the developer is left with in the end... and an open jaw, gasping for breath :O)

You do need a fast car and wide open roads to get out of this city!!

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-09-23 15:52:44

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 25, 2012 at 18:11:44 in reply to Comment 81182

I've been in touch with the lead planner on this project and we are the midst of our discussion. so far, I've found out that the ROW includes all public space needed from property line to property line and includes everything out to sidewalks, planting strips etc... The ROW proposed to be extended by 6 metres will NOT be for road widening, but rather for potential bike lanes, planting boulevards, trees and wider sidewalks.

I've sent back a reply asking how this future ROW will be made possible considering the location of current buildings right to the sidewalk edge - Cannon Knitting Mills, McCallum Sather, Good Shepherd, Hamilton Artist Inc etc.... I'll post the reply when it comes.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-09-25 18:12:11

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By kettal (registered) | Posted September 24, 2012 at 03:32:41 in reply to Comment 81182

The reason why zoning by-laws in Ontario tend to underplay density & height, is due to section 37 of the Planning Act.

In short, it allows the city to negotiate benefits from developers in exchange for 'extra' density & heights beyond what the zoning allowed.

No, this is not how zoning is supposed to work, but municipalities have to get money in the ways that they can.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 24, 2012 at 08:53:46 in reply to Comment 81189

True enough, but wouldn't it be swell if they were getting it from sprawl developers instead of infill developers. This is one of the perverse incentives that needs to change.

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By ThisIsOurHamilton (registered) - website | Posted September 23, 2012 at 08:30:21

Lower city Hamilton still has more than 100 one-way streets, and we need to get serious about converting them into complete, liveable two-way streets in a timely fashion.

My beliefs about reversion are to a great extent aligned with Ryan's (and Jason's and Adrian's), but this intractability worries me. Especially when compared with the intractability of those against reversion, which is based on a) what they're used to and b) their -flawed- perceptions of the consequences of reversion.

Neither one are conducive to dialogue, to discourse or discussion.

I mentioned in my contribution to The Hamiltonian's 'Perspectives Virtual Panel' a 'test-case' scenario called 'The Red-box One-way Reversion Proposal'. The idea was to 'localize' a concerted effort as well as making the impetus behind it not the leadership of any councillors, but the 'will of the people'. The area east of Dundurn, west of James, south of Main and north of Aberdeen was the 'red box' on the map I'd provided. The idea was to get the two neighbourhoods -Kirkendall and Durand- to decide for themselves what streets they feel are needing reversion. (None of the contained streets, not even Charlton or Herkimer, are 'arterial roads', none of them need to be 'thoroughfares', so it's not like 'non-locals' should be deciding what form they take. Yes, this is a foundation belief for me, that neighbourhoods have the overriding right to determine what's best for them to promote the highest level of Quality of Life possible, and as I'm currently visiting Toronto, I'm witnessing up-close-and-personal how the needs of communities I've been walking through come first; I'll be posting a snap-shot album later as evidence found in this teeny-tiny sliver of Toronto.)

I chose this 'red-box' area because it's sequestered, even though my first choice was Cannon Street. It is a truly 'residential' area, the existence of which is almost entirely predicated on Life lived. In fact, aside from Locke Street, people living their lives in houses, condos or apartments is almost the entire story. So...

So the truth is, as much as I presented the notion more as an opportunity to muster engagement, to foster dialogue, to aim for consensus, the truth is that my bet, even if you were able to get the vast majority of people involved in the education, examination and conversation processes, you may well find that many of the one-ways would not be targeted for reversion. That people would be fine keeping them the way they are, thankyouverymuch.

Now; regardless of whether these people could be considered 'right' or 'wrong' in their beliefs, I'm curious as to how Ryan et al would respond to them wanting to keep certain one-ways, if that's what the majority polled expressed. Because there seems to be this 'ALL one-ways have to go!' mentality that's being pushed forward alongside all the reports and papers being cited ad nauseam.

Intractability.

So this is what I fear: that what might be accomplished in getting some sorely-needed reversions done (I'll leave it to the reader to create a mental list of 'Top Ten One-way Streets That Simply Must Be Reverted For The Sake of All Residents') will be lost in the process. That the zealotry being expressed by some, because it doesn't seem to leave room for compromise, because it often comes across as being so annoyingly arbitrary to the bystander, is going to set the cause back...or even torpedo it.

The truth is that I've lived in both Durand and Kirkendall over the past quarter-century. I've walked, run, ridden and driven the streets. Would I, as a firm believer in the greater humanity (and humane-ness) that two-ways foster, see the logic in reverting all one-ways in this 'red-box' area as is being constantly hammered home? No. Not at all.

Even acknowledging that this discussion doesn't even register on the radar of most Hamiltonians, it still pains me that so much of how we express our desire for change isn't framed by a sincere desire to come to agreements. I guess this is the result of long-term frustration. However, I do have to once again remind the principals here that 'Sometimes, it's not enough to be right.'

Comment edited by ThisIsOurHamilton on 2012-09-23 09:23:05

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted September 23, 2012 at 21:36:34 in reply to Comment 81176

The idea was to 'localize' a concerted effort as well as making the impetus behind it not the leadership of any councillors, but the 'will of the people'.

The will of what people? You? Residents of Kirkendall and Durand? (The ones I know would want all neighbourhoods to be treated equally.) Certainly not the will of people in all of the other lower-city neighbourhoods that one resident of Stoney Creek has decided to leave out of his own plan. I'll take Jason Farr's plan over yours, thank you very much. It starts with a basic premise that all of wards 1-3 are in this together.

Yes, this is a foundation belief for me, that neighbourhoods have the overriding right to determine what's best for them to promote the highest level of Quality of Life possible.

We had a vote at the last BNA meeting about whether to ask for two-way reversion (BTW, good point re: the word "reversion") of all of our two-way neighbourhood streets. Support for two-way reversion exceeded 80%, with most of the nays being from residents who feared that street parking will be lost. (It won't). What about our overriding right to self-determination?

I chose this 'red-box' area because it's sequestered, even though my first choice was Cannon Street. It is a truly 'residential' area, the existence of which is almost entirely predicated on Life lived.

This strikes me as simply another excuse for not taking quality of life seriously in the neighbourhoods that have suffered the most from sixty year of terrible urban planning. ("Beasley and Central aren't really residential, and anyone who lives there has implicitly stated that they don't care about the physical environment, so we don't need to worry about them.")

The truth is that my bet, even if you were able to get the vast majority of people involved in the education, examination and conversation processes, you may well find that many of the one-ways would not be targeted for reversion. That people would be fine keeping them the way they are, thankyouverymuch.

See my second point above.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 23, 2012 at 17:12:57 in reply to Comment 81176

I really, really don't understand what you're trying to argue here.

For a number of reasons related to outcomes along a variety of social and economic dimensions, I have come to believe that the best policy for Hamilton to pursue is to convert the one-way lower city streets into complete, walkable two-way streets. Toward that end, I have been attempting to engage in a variety of activities that I hope will help develop and promote a compelling case for complete two-way streets that will be effective at convincing a majority of councillors to support it.

There is nothing "intractable" about being persuaded by the evidence that a course of action is necessary, desirable and achievable, and then taking action to promote that course of action. It is the very stuff of civic engagement and participation to become informed, build a coalition and press for change.

In fact, intractability is by definition an obstinate refusal to be persuaded, so I really don't understand what purpose is served in this framing, other than to assert a false equivalence between people who want to preserve the status quo out of convenience/familiarty/fear of change and people who support conversion to complete two-way streets after having considered the full weight of evidence.

The solution is not to find some kind of compromise between converting streets and not converting them - any more than the solution over LRT would be to find some kind of compromise between building it and not building it.

The solution is to get organized, develop a compelling case, build a broad base of community and stakeholder support, and then leverage that community support to convince a majority of councillors to support it as well.

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