Special Report: Walkable Streets

Hamilton 'Must' Convert Streets Back to Two-Way: Architects

Following a long history of advocacy for livable streets, the Hamilton Burlington Society of Architects has delivered a strongly written demand that Council convert downtown streets back to two-way traffic.

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 31, 2013

The Hamilton Burlington Society of Architects (HBSA) has thrown down the gauntlet in a letter to Hamilton City Council today, calling on the City to convert its one-way streets back to two-way.

The letter opens by stating, "We firmly believe that we must eliminate many of our One-Way Streets in order to bring back quality to those streets and our downtown".

After defining "great streets" as desirable public places that facilitate safe interaction and support community, the letter states, "One-way streets are designed to carry huge volumes of vehicles at high speed. One-way streets through a downtown have a huge negative impact on the quality of our urban commercial and residential neighbourhoods."

The letter blames one-way streets for deterring pedestrians, hurting businesses and creating noise and air pollution.

It specifies that both local streets like Hughson, King William and Rebecca and major arterials like Main, King and Cannon "must" be converted back to two-way "in order to promote urban commercial viability and improvements to quality of life in residential neighbourhoods."

Taking aim at opponents of two-way conversion, the letter states, "Those who oppose street conversion limit commercial success and quality of life for those living and/or working in Hamiltonls downtown core."

This is a refreshingly strong, bluntly-written letter from a professional organization, but in the case of the HBSA it follows a long history of advocacy for more livable streets in Hamilton, dating back to a design charette in 1996 that first called for two-way conversion and other pedestrian and cycling improvements.

The letter also follows an inspiring recent exercise of community engagement in which the HBSA hosted a workshop, public lecture and direct actions on tactical urbanism.

Tactical urbanism is the principle that community transformation can come from low-cost, low-risk changes that can be measured and iteratively improved. The workshop inspired a group to install DIY bumpouts at Herkimer and Locke, and after an initial negative reaction, the City has since responded with a new pilot project to test more pedestrian-friendly infrastructure.

Following is the full text of the HBSA letter to Council on two-way conversion.

May 31, 2013

Dear Mr. Mayor and Members of Council,

The HBSA is composed of architects who very much care about our community. We firmly believe that we must eliminate many of our One-Way Streets in order to bring back quality to those streets and our downtown:

Great Streets Require Two-Way Traffic

A great city is built of great places like parks, squares, and great streets to connect our community. Great streets are places that promote walkable, stimulating, and engaging environments. A strong pedestrian presence usually supports vibrant commercial shops, cafes and restaurants. These environments support people and community interaction.

What should a great street do?

  • First and foremost a great street should help support community.

  • Facilitate safe interaction and recreation to achieve in concert what they might not achieve alone.

  • A great street should be a most desirable place to spend time, to live, to play, and to work - at the same time that the street markedly contributes to what a city should be.

  • A great street is physically comfortable and safe.

Great streets are NEVER one-way streets. One-way streets are designed to carry huge volumes of vehicles at high speed. One-way streets through a downtown have a huge negative impact on the quality of our urban commercial and residential neighbourhoods. Examples, such as King and Main Street, are poor quality environments, with limited pedestrian activity or commercial vitality with the exception of Gore Park.

One-way streets, as a consequence of fast moving traffic, are disconcerting to pedestrians, create high levels of noise pollution, and are the most significant contributor to noxious odour in our downtown. Pedestrians avoid these areas, which results in minimal street life and commercial viability.

Our downtown must have side streets like Hughson, King William, Cannon and Rebecca converted to two-way traffic. Arterial Streets such as Main and King must be converted back to two-way in order to promote urban commercial viability and improvements to quality of life in residential neighbourhoods.

Those who oppose street conversion limit commercial success and quality of life for those living and/or working in Hamilton's downtown core. Those who may oppose street conversion we would expect to be people who do not live, invest, work or play in our downtown.

There is magic to great streets. We are attracted to the best of them not because we have to go there but because we want to be there. The best are as joyful as they are utilitarian. They are symbols of a community and of its history; they represent a public memory. [Great Streets, by Alan B. Jacobs]

One-way streets detract from our downtown's quality, and reduce our standard of life. Let's create exciting memories for our next generation of Hamiltonians by recreating how people move downtown.

The Hamilton Burlington Society of Architects (HBSA) request that Council continue to support the highly successful conversion of One-Way Streets back into Two-Way Streets downtown. Our members are happy to assists in any way required to make this essential downtown renewal happen.

Yours Truly,
Members of the HBSA

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.

114 Comments

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By mkuplens (registered) - website | Posted May 31, 2013 at 14:32:23

There is one other realistic purpose for one-ways: when the width doesn't allow for two-way traffic.

Rebecca / King William are good examples of roads that are reasonably one-way to allow for active mixed use (easy for pedestrians to cross, etc.)

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By JM (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 09:39:26 in reply to Comment 89201

only with proper streetscaping!

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By Graefe (anonymous) | Posted May 31, 2013 at 14:35:30

I agree with the general thrust of the argument, but are great streets NEVER one way? What of St. Laurent and Ste. Catherine in Montreal?
That said, we do have to discipline the one-way car sewers in Hamilton if we wish to improve livability and commercial success, and so huzzah to the HBSA!

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted May 31, 2013 at 17:21:08

Two way conversion won't hurt. But what makes Hamilton's one way streets so bad is how they OPERATE, not the fact that they are one way. As mentioned above, one way streets in Montreal are much more livable, but that has to do with wide sidewalks, curb side parking on both sides, non-synchronized signals etc.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 31, 2013 at 18:33:24

We don't need expressways running through our downtown anymore. We have the Linc and Redhill for anyone who has to get from one end to the other. If we wanted to be REALLY AMBITIOUS, (by the way that used to be Hamilton's motto.... "The Ambitious City" not this lame " a city of many communities" slop we have now) we would be pushing to revive the perimeter road/tunnel concept which would virtually eliminate heavy truck traffic from downtown save for local delivery.

It could be a Hamilton version of Boston's big dig, an infrastructure program with a lasting legacy of helping to make our downtown walkable and livable and vital for people to make their home.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 12:08:09 in reply to Comment 89205

You could build the whole LRT network in Toronto for the cost of Boston's big dig.

Hamilton doesn't need a big dig or perimeter road ... it needs a political strategy to reduce road capacity thru the downtown core sensibly. It has too many large one-way streets. For the foreseeable future some of this capacity will be needed, but not all or even most of it (definitely not in its present form anyway).

I like the strategy of focusing on specific streets for conversion, as long as bike lanes and pedestrian/streetscape improvements are the main focus. Two-way streets are not a magic bullet ... bad two-way streets can be worse than well-designed one-way streets. As a system they can be complementary and part of a well-integrated transportation network.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 31, 2013 at 19:51:43

comment from banned user deleted

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By troll hunter (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 09:14:01 in reply to Comment 89207

Seriously Allan, you need to gat a freaking life.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 31, 2013 at 20:06:59 in reply to Comment 89207

I didn't say they service the east and west lower city. They remove vehicle traffic (if used) from the lower city by keeping vehicles out of downtown. Two waying King and Main would only hasten this.

Frankly I'm not sure what you're talking about. Working all over the city I use both of them all of the time to cut travel time between suppliers in the east end and jobsites in the west end, and vice versa. You don't need to travel in a straight line to get to where you need to go quickly.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 31, 2013 at 20:56:57 in reply to Comment 89209

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 31, 2013 at 22:36:35 in reply to Comment 89211

I guess there are no supply companies in Vancouver then eh....

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By RobF (registered) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 11:56:32 in reply to Comment 89222

You should really refrain from your constant use of Vancouver to make rhetorical points about Hamilton. It's a more complicated place than "Vancouverism".

Downtown Vancouver is mostly made up of one-way streets. They aren't as nasty as King, Main, and Cannon in Hamilton, but they exist for the same reason. The recent addition of protected bike lanes on a couple of streets has been an improvement, especially for cycling across the core. But the streets (Dunsmuir and Howe) are still one-way and used to moved traffic around the core efficiently.

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 31, 2013 at 21:13:53 in reply to Comment 89211

Its faster and actually pollutes much less than sitting in traffic. No brainer.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 31, 2013 at 21:33:03 in reply to Comment 89213

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 31, 2013 at 21:21:05 in reply to Comment 89213

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 31, 2013 at 20:54:47 in reply to Comment 89209

comment from banned user deleted

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted May 31, 2013 at 21:15:00 in reply to Comment 89210

If you live in Stoney Creek and use King/Main to get to Mac. I would suggest that is the time consuming, polluting way to do things.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 31, 2013 at 21:20:02 in reply to Comment 89214

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 31, 2013 at 19:54:05

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted May 31, 2013 at 22:07:48 in reply to Comment 89208

Hmmm...where have I heard that before? Please, give it a rest.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 31, 2013 at 22:32:06

with all due respect to everyone involved here, are we really debating the merits of whether a 15-minute crosstown trip is better or worse than a 15-minute highway trip?? That's the big deciding factor as to whether we allow our urban neighbourhoods to flourish and boom back to life, or keep them as horrible, dangerous, depressed inner city dead zones??

I could understand if the difference was 30 minutes driving time vs. 15 minutes, although even then I'd firmly be in the camp of vibrant neighbourhoods instead of saving myself a few minutes. I live near Victoria Park downtown. It takes me 15 minutes to visit friends at Greenhill Ave via 403-Linc. It takes roughly 15 via inner city streets too. That's our big debate??

Let's keep what is most important in mind: the health, safety and vitality of our oldest, poorest neighbourhoods and their retail/commercial streets.

One of Canada's greatest urban neighbourhoods: http://goo.gl/maps/uyDbm

It's quite a drive to the closest freeway. I don't hear anyone clamouring for St Laurent to have sidewalks hacked, parking restricted and the street turned into a 4-lane defacto freeway with timed lights just because there's no highways around. King Street could look like this someday if we give it a chance, and stop being our own worst enemy:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/punxutawney...

How about another example closer to home. Midtown Toronto:

http://goo.gl/maps/tbyJL

Literally some of Canada's most desirable urban real estate and streetfront retail/commercial space. Should we kill it for the convenience of residents who have no freeways in sight? It's a long trek to the 401 or Gardiner.

http://www.peterrussellrealestate.com/ac...

It's mind-boggling that with our totally convenient ring highway system we would even fathom continuing to kill the lower city for more freeway-type streets that aren't needed. Again, from Victoria Park to Confederation Park on the lake it's 10-15 minutes via Burlington Street.
We're not talking massive time savings by having Cannon, King, Main, Victoria, Wellington etc..... in fact, we're not talking ANY time savings.

Toronto and Montreal have vibrant successful urban cores, despite freeways being quite a distance away....perhaps we can learn something and begin to make changes that will allow Hamilton to flourish again. Instead of being an imaginary shortcut for folks who suddenly don't want to use our half-billion $ freeway network that they begged for.

Comment edited by jason on 2013-05-31 22:35:25

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By RobF (registered) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 13:24:06 in reply to Comment 89220

I basically agree with what you are advocating for Hamilton in terms of addressing the awful one-way streets in the lower city, but I find your comments about other cities puzzling.

"Toronto and Montreal have vibrant successful urban cores, despite freeways being quite a distance away....perhaps we can learn something and begin to make changes that will allow Hamilton to flourish again."

It's a "long trek" to the Gardiner from downtown Toronto? Really. Toronto still has Richmond and Adelaide as one-way streets designed to move traffic (particularly service vehicles and transport trucks) to and from the downtown core to the DVP.

Montreal has an expressway that runs literally under the downtown core. Crumbling and dangerous, but there nonetheless.

Comment edited by RobF on 2013-06-01 13:25:24

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 14:50:04 in reply to Comment 89233

I was intentionally comparing central Hamilton with inner city neighbourhoods such as the Plateau in Montreal and midtown Toronto. I wasn't referring to either of their downtown cores. Hamiltons downtown core is well served by the 403 much like TO downtown has the Gardiner and Montreal has the underground freeway.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 16:49:46 in reply to Comment 89235

You and I have a different view of what constitutes "urban core", especially with regard to Toronto.

Comment edited by RobF on 2013-06-01 16:50:01

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 08:59:08 in reply to Comment 89220

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By matter (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 11:25:35 in reply to Comment 89225

exactly. two way conversion will actually decrease travel times in hamilton. fact.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 17:54:44 in reply to Comment 89229

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By perspective (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 18:20:20 in reply to Comment 89239

Reverting to twoway is only a "traffic slowing measure" from the perspective of those looking for an alternative to highways shaving 1 or 2 minutes off their through-route. For the rest of the local traffic, two way streets mean more route options and less circling of blocks to reach destinations. It also means fewer car Kim's driven within the boundary of the core

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 18:27:08 in reply to Comment 89240

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By matter (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 20:47:27 in reply to Comment 89242

nope. its actually going to make traffic flow more efficiently both locally and across town AND increase safety and make for more livable streets. it will also lower taxes and reduce pollution while increasing viability of businesses.

why? because it is a fact.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 31, 2013 at 22:33:15

Moderator alert: looks like Allan Taylor is back.

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By pearlstreet (registered) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 09:56:49

'...thrown down the gauntlet letter! I love this article. Go Hamilton go!

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 12:21:48

Yes, please lets convert King St to two way, and put and LRT line with it's own rail there, right where is cuts down to two lanes as one enters international village. We'll only have to rip up how much sidewalk and how many trees to facilitate that?

My position remains the same, convert everything but King and Main to two way, but leave those two alone, it's part of highway 8 and there is a need for east west traffic to flow. To anyone advocating Burlington St. for one, it's far away from the major urban areas in Durand, Corktown and Stinson, it's the gloomiest highway around, it's in a state of complete disrepair, and will always be in a state of disrepair due to the heavy industrial traffic that utilizes it, and it is need of a major costly overhaul and most of all, doesn't link to the 403 and cannot link to the 403 without ruining the area around bayfront park.

Mixed use means just that, having a place for car traffic and having a place for slower moving traffic, which a converted Cannon, York/Wilson St and Charlton can provide in spades. Especially if you create a continuous bike route from McMaster innovation park, down Charlton till Ferguson and link up with the Rail Trail as well as Cumberland/Gage Park/Lawrence and eventually to the Red Hill Valley Trail.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2013-06-01 12:30:15

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By AlHuizenga (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 15:26:55 in reply to Comment 89232

My position remains the same, convert everything but King and Main to two way, but leave those two alone, it's part of highway 8 and there is a need for east west traffic to flow.

Your position is untenable. We need to convert King and Main first, because they hurt the lower city the most. They are one-way, five-lane, high-speed freeways that slash through the city core, killing neighborhoods and crippling businesses, and they gotta go.

If you need a fast and unfettered east/west corridor, take the 403 or the Link. But if you choose to drive your car across the downtown core, you should have to take it slow and stop often. That's how great downtowns are built.

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By johnny (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 20:01:48

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted June 17, 2013 at 18:01:11 in reply to Comment 89247

I'll just leave this here.

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By Yep. (anonymous) | Posted June 02, 2013 at 15:01:17 in reply to Comment 89247

That's offensive.

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By johnny (anonymous) | Posted June 02, 2013 at 18:40:50 in reply to Comment 89258

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 02:41:50 in reply to Comment 89260

Zombies are cool now. I say we take better advantage of the apocalypse and let drivers view them from both street directions. ;-)

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted June 01, 2013 at 23:30:09

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By breeze (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 10:44:37 in reply to Comment 89249

You mention John North as a prime example of two-way failure, but since you're likely never downtown you wouldn't know about Trebble Hall (John north of King)'s overhaul, and the two new stores which have opened up within it's retail shops.

You also neglect to realize that the most northern part of John Street (before the one-way segment north of the tracks) is vastly giant surface parking lots. It's difficult for asphalt to liven-up a neighborhood, unless of course the land speculators sitting on them wish to put a couple dollars into developing them (heaven forbid).

That brings me to John South, an area of the two-way conversion you neglected in your comments. Since conversion, more shops and pubs with patios have opened, existing retail has renovated, and residential development is returning (St Joseph's Mews on Young at John, along with a place called The Royal Connaught come to mind).

So before you point out all of the negatives (I don't even think you had an example), maybe you should come downtown, take a walk along the streets you criticize so hastily, and actually see what's happening first-hand. It's pretty exciting, I can't lie!!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2013 at 10:56:59 in reply to Comment 89299

About a year ago, I put together a bit of a rundown on the state of John Street since the conversion. Soon after, I wrote a bit more about the role of old buildings in urban revitalization - and the difficulty of bootstrapping a revival when the original building stock has been demolished.

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By LOL@LOL (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 07:04:19 in reply to Comment 89249

Thank Goodness we have an anonymous commenter named after internet slang to correct the mistakes of the association of professionals who's job it is to design the built form that makes up our cities.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted June 02, 2013 at 22:02:56 in reply to Comment 89249

Since you bring up Toronto, I would like to raise the example of Yonge St brought in Ken Greenberg's book. In the 1970s, it was a seedy strip of body rub parlours, prostitution, and drugs. Planners attempted to take control of the street in order to make it more attractive to diverse groups of people. One of the recommendations was widening the sidewalks, but since the Highway was under the jurisdiction of Metro Toronto, the plan was stalled. Metro's goal was to maintain traffic flow since Yonge St. was an arterial road. Eventually traffic was calmed, Ryerson U. exapnded, and Dundas Square was built. The place is now a destination, but it wasn't always. Encouraging greater pedestrian use along with other improvements is a good idea. Framing the issue as "trying to cause traffic congestion" misses the point. Slowing down traffic is one part of a complex system.

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By Go Go (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 11:37:32 in reply to Comment 89264

A big part of the change that happened to Younge St. came after the brutal sexual assault and murder of 12 year old Emmanuel Jaques above a body rub parlour.

"Jaques's murder stunned and outraged the citizens of Toronto since a crime of this nature was considered unthinkable. It caused many to question how safe the city, and more specifically Yonge Street, really was. Some[who?] marked this as the point where Toronto lost its innocence and that its downtown was becoming too squalid.
Numerous protests and marches occurred, demanding that the city clean up the Yonge Street area. Alderman Ben Nobleman of York sent telegrams to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and the media encouraging the return of capital punishment.

These protests became a catalyst for shutting down the numerous adult stores, body rub parlours, and shoeshine stands along Yonge Street. Over time, Yonge Street would become a more people-oriented district and new developments such as Dundas Square would revitalize the area."

Remember the murder like it was yesterday... used to hang out on Yonge as a young teenager. The all night movies were something that is for sure.

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By james n (anonymous) | Posted June 02, 2013 at 11:44:30 in reply to Comment 89249

i can assure you that a major reason james street north is doing as well as it has is that it is now two way. the other reason is that it survived the great bulldozing decades relatively unscathed.

john street has been slower to come around because, with the exception of one block, it has lost most of its buildings in its historic commercial residential area.

hamilton simply does not have real traffic congestion. waiting for a traffic light is not congestion.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 02, 2013 at 08:49:52 in reply to Comment 89249

Barton Street has always been 2 way and has been hit incredibly hard. King is one way and is starting to make a strong comeback, things are really starting to change.

We all know why Barton was hit hard. Imagine how much worse it would have been had it been turned into a 4-lane, one-way expressway. King is making a strong comeback?? Are you living in Toronto now?

Take a 'virtual stroll'. If this is a 'strong comeback' I'd hate to see what depressed and struggling looks like.

http://goo.gl/maps/noX6f

And since you probably won't take the virtual stroll all the way to the end, yet will attempt to accuse me of comparing central Ham neighbourhoods with Westdale, here's the last one-way portion IN Westdale:

http://goo.gl/maps/Poe87

And one block away:

http://goo.gl/maps/MHdb6

We don't need Westdale to prove this phenomenon of booming streets and dead streets in the identical neighbourhood:

Locke S vs. Main W/King W James Street vs. Main/King/Cannon Hess vs. Main W

etc....

Fast freeway style streets are dead, while safe, mixed-use streets are doing very well at attracting and retaining business.

And for the 87th time that you've mentioned John St - check out all the new businesses that have opened on John between King William and Young since conversion.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 09:09:45 in reply to Comment 89252

Umm....no offense but you do realize that 4 out of 7 streets along Young between John and King William, including King William itself are one way streets. Just sayin' it kinda hurts your arguement.

Also, should probably add the incredibly successful Hess Village is one a one way street boarded by two other one way streets. Just sayin'.

Also probably should add the large new developments that are getting pushed between King and Main, like the Staybridge Suite, Homewood Suites the Blanchard Development as well as the Buffalo Anchor Bar, the George Hamilton.

Just sayin' if you want to use examples of the failure of one way streets, you probably shouldn't mention streets that are one way and currently successful or are attracting new development.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 20:27:03 in reply to Comment 89269

Make every one-way street in the city like King William and Hess, and I'm all in for one-ways.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 09:24:28 in reply to Comment 89269

Nitpick, but Caroline was converted to two way specifically because Vranich wanted it for the condos on George between Caroline and Bay.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 10:33:09 in reply to Comment 89270

That is true, and certainly a valid point to bring up. Probably because it's vital to have a hotel with an easily accessible parking garage that your guests don't need to navigate an entire block to go out.

I'm all for converting everything but King and Main. I'm just saying, it's not fair to say "One way streets cause dead neighbourhoods" when you have successes occuring on them. It's not a nitpick, a large swath of King William has benefited from the Lister Block improvement yet has remained two way and successful regardless. Hess has always been successful. The newer developments on King and Main do give some credit to the idea that the street design isn't as important as other factors and developments in the area.

Another point I would add as well is that jason didn't really answer the question as to why Barton St. that was never converted to one way. He just sorta said "Oh well it would've been worse" which isn't much of a valid arguement.

Some reason as to why Barton pretty much upitomizes a dead, if not a horrible flesh eating zombie street would be nice. I for one know that there are other factors at besides it's street design, but some reasoning at why two way streets the traffic slowing (around Barton Village) hasn't really accomplished much on Barton would be desired.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2013-06-03 10:35:33

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 20:25:53 in reply to Comment 89274

Probably because it's vital to have a hotel with an easily accessible parking garage that your guests don't need to navigate an entire block to go out.

Some of us happen to believe that every business downtown deserves this same level of operation and easy access, not just city hall buddies.

Comment edited by jason on 2013-06-03 20:26:12

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By AlHuizenga (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 16:10:18 in reply to Comment 89274

Hey -Hammer-,

There is so much compelling evidence that King and Main, as currently configured, are a blight on the downtown core, that the people who live there, the businesses that operate there, the architects who work there, and the many urban design professionals who have considered the issue all agree: they gotta go.

(A quick stroll along their eastern stretches at any time of day will pretty much confirm it for any but the most willfully blind.)

In the face of all that, if you still want to insist that King and Main should remain as they are, you really have to make the case that there is a compelling reason for us to suffer all the damage that they cause.

And it's got to be better than "It's Highway 8, it helps east/west traffic flow, and we like to call ourselves the 20-minute city."

If you can't do better than that, people will rightly dismiss you as an one-way fetishist who is quite willing to ignore the best interests of downtown, not to mention the long-term economic viability of the entire city, to maintain a lousy status quo.

So instead of all the yeah-buts and what-abouts, maybe you could try to make the positive case for the status quo: How do Main and King, as currently configured, benefit Hamilton really?

Comment edited by AlHuizenga on 2013-06-03 16:10:44

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 20:55:23 in reply to Comment 89284

Well, first highway 8 which is the major tourist route for Southern Ontario. Keeping it intact and flowing, and not clogged like it is around Queenston is a way to get people going through the city, instead of around it via the Red Hill.

Second, it is the only effective east west thoroughfare through lower Hamilton. Burlington St is not effective, it's one of the worst streets in the country and is plagued by heavy industrial traffic, doesn't link up to the 403 and can't without ruining Bayfront park. This is the point you said wasn't enough, so lets move on.

Third, several of the most successful major urban areas this site so frequently espouses have similar configurations that have large, car centric through fares right through or near their downtown cores, similar to Hamilton's Hwy 8 & Linc Configuration.

Toronto and the DVP/Gardiner and 401, Portland and the Banfield Expressway as well as Interstate 5 and 405, Seattle Hwy 5, Hwy 90 and the Alaskan Way Viaduct/Aurora Rd, Hwy 405, San Fran Dwight D Eisenhower, The El Camino Real and New York...with too many expressways to name.

In these cases though, total separation is typical and in most cases are full on highways, with slower traffic is routed to multiple other streets which brings us to four. Cycling and pedestrianization initiatives are more successful on streets which boast smaller amounts of car traffic, particularly on smaller three lane roads and not four/five lanes. Also traffic isn't going to be eliminated through two-way conversion. It might be reduced via LRT and better mass transit, but that is years away, and is a discussion that can be had after it's implementation.

Five, congestion is a real economic problem that needs to be avoided. Toronto is crippled by it right now, and they have an incredibly efficient mass transit subway system. Congestion has caused a massive economic problem in their city, that has only been kept at base by their insane housing market that looks like it's about ready to burst.

Thankfully, Hamilton has avoided this, because of it's excessive car centric street design. It is excessive, there's no question and there is ample room for conversions to happen, hence why I fully advocate for the conversion of the rest of the street scape. York, Charlton, Aberdeen, Cannon, Barton and the overwhelming majority of north/south routes save for possibly Wellington and Victoria which would require major, costly overhauls the the entire Clairmont access. This leaves ample room for both forms of traffic to flow, independent of each other, and maybe even in the extremely far future, a consideration to conversion if will still are not suffering congestion issues after what will hopefully be a decade of smaller two way conversions, but I have severe doubts on that one and certain isn't a risk I would want to take by an en mass conversion, vs a more progressive conversion of other streets and reassessing.

Sixth, traffic conversion in Hamilton has not been as important initiative to recovery as increased density has been. The successful areas in the lower city have almost always been a direct result of nearby population density, regardless of streets nearby. Hess St is a resounding success, especially in terms of pedestrianization and it's one way and surrounded by one way streets. Just about every St. Locke intersects with is one way. James St. North has a couple one ways in King, King William and Canon. Conversely, Westdale has barely any. Westdale has barely any one way presence except King and Main and Augusta barely anything nearby one way.

This is why, as great as Ottawa St. is, it's two way area pales in comparison to the other locales. This is why the similarly configured two way Barton Village is still in a state of stagnation. This is why Kenilworth leading up to Centre Mall is a mess. This is why after you leave International village and the high rise drops off, more dereliction seems to occur. They lack population density within effective walking distances.

Seven, public opinion needs to be heeded in a democracy. The majority of Hamiltonians want King/Main left alone. That being said, there is an appetite in Hamilton for testing out and performing other conversions, whose success may one day alter public opinion. Making sweeping radical changes based on the evidence of the times is what happened when Victor Copps was in office, and look how that turned out. Building a case based on other conversions and evidence that restricting traffic flow of the busiest streets in Hamilton after Upper James will not cause congestion after other streets have been converted is far more prudent, far more politically possible and far more capable of our ponderously slow bureaucracy.

As a side note, if we walk to talk about the East, can you honestly say that the unconverted sections of Canon along the crown point neighborhoods and Barton St East have fared even remotely better then King and Main?

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By AlHuizenga (registered) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 08:27:03 in reply to Comment 89289

Thank you -Hammer-! Appreciate you making the positive arguments. I don't think they are very compelling, though.

Keeping it intact and flowing, and not clogged like it is around Queenston is a way to get people going through the city, instead of around it via the Red Hill.

Why are you so eager to sacrifice downtown Hamilton to Southern Ontario through traffic? Wouldn't it be great if people actually used King and Main to access the downtown, not speed across it?

Second, it is the only effective east west thoroughfare through lower Hamilton.

I gather by "effective" you mean super fast. Why does there need to be a super fast east/west thoroughfare through lower Hamilton? If getting from Stoney Creek to Dundas or Ancaster is your goal, why not take the Linc or the 403? Isn't that what they're for?

Third, several of the most successful major urban areas this site so frequently espouses have similar configurations that have large, car centric through fares right through or near their downtown cores

As jason points out, most of those cities are struggling with how to constrain or dismantle their downtown thoroughfares, and they're a lot further along than we are.

four. Cycling and pedestrianization initiatives are more successful on streets which boast smaller amounts of car traffic, particularly on smaller three lane roads and not four/five lanes. Also traffic isn't going to be eliminated through two-way conversion.

Traffic adapts. It isn't a constant. You can definitely reduce traffic volume and speed on King and Main by narrowing them, converting to two-way, widening sidewalks, building a tree barrier, and adding bike lanes. Wouldn't that be great?

Five, congestion is a real economic problem that needs to be avoided. Toronto is crippled by it right now, and they have an incredibly efficient mass transit subway system.

The Toronto subway is woeful. It's an international laughingstock, really. The entire TTC is suffering from massive, chronic under-investment. But you're right, we need to avoid congestion in the core. The way to do that is to develop public transit, not accommodate cars. So hey, let's get moving with LRT. It's only years away if we decide we don't want it now. And why in heaven's name would we decide that?

Sixth, traffic conversion in Hamilton has not been as important initiative to recovery as increased density has been.

Two-way conversion encourages density. If you really want density, you should support two-way conversion.

Seven, public opinion needs to be heeded in a democracy. The majority of Hamiltonians want King/Main left alone.

Like traffic, public opinion adapts. It can be influenced by facts, arguments, and especially appeals to rational self-interest. It can take a long time to hit critical mass, but when it changes, it can happen really fast. You certainly don't get there by sticking to what's prudent and politically possible, or acquiescing to a ponderously slow bureaucracy. Why have you allowed your expectations to be reduced so dramatically?

Comment edited by AlHuizenga on 2013-06-04 08:28:58

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 09:42:56 in reply to Comment 89295

The recent CAA survey illustrates this perfectly. Only 57% of respondents were opposed to the conversions of King and Main, and the CAA emphasized the fact that "the majority of reasons for not supporting changes are emotional, not safety or financially founded" and are therefore open to shifts in public opinion.

It strikes me as the height of foolishness to continue sacrificing the economic potential of our most critical downtown streets to the current whims of such a small majority.

Comment edited by highwater on 2013-06-04 09:48:21

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By IRC22 (registered) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 11:10:30 in reply to Comment 89296

There is no compelling evidence that two-way conversions would lead to increased pedestrian safety. Link a study that finds two-way streets are safer for pedestrians.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 12:43:06 in reply to Comment 101970

That wasn't my argument at all. I think you're replying to the wrong comment.

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By IRC22 (registered) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 13:11:44 in reply to Comment 101972

My point is some people are opposing the conversion because of pedestrian safety concerns, and it's not an emotional response.

Two-way streets have not been shown to be safer for pedestrians.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 04, 2013 at 09:46:51 in reply to Comment 89296

Not to mention that clear majorities already support the two-way conversion of north-south and secondary east-west streets. To the extent that the survey was a snapshot of a public opinion in transition, we can expect that the majority support for keeping Main, King and Cannon as one-way thoroughfares will continue to erode.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 03, 2014 at 11:15:15 in reply to Comment 89297

Which is why I find the stagnant pace of local/secondary/collector conversions so frustrating. There's no substantial opposition to these conversions, but the level of foot-dragging is astonishing.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 21:57:09 in reply to Comment 89289

Keeping it intact and flowing, and not clogged like it is around Queenston is a way to get people going through the city, instead of around it via the Red Hill.

No, no no. People wanting to cut through to somewhere else should absolutely use the freeways. That's the whole point.

Toronto and the DVP/Gardiner and 401, Portland and the Banfield Expressway as well as Interstate 5 and 405, Seattle Hwy 5, Hwy 90 and the Alaskan Way Viaduct/Aurora Rd, Hwy 405, San Fran Dwight D Eisenhower, The El Camino Real and New York...with too many expressways to name.

Hamilton has the 403 downtown well connected to the Linc/RHVP/QEW ring road.
King and Sherman is like Yonge and Eglington in TO. Distance to 403 or Linc is absolutely fine. Vancouver has 1 freeway and seems to be doing just fine thanks. Toronto preserved one of it's most popular neighbourhoods by scrapping the Spadina Expressway, as did NYC with the Lower Manhattan freeway. Portland tore down their waterfront/downtown freeway and turned it into a park. Seattle wants to bury the Alaskan Viaduct, San Fran cancelled many freeways especially the one planned for urban neighbourhoods near the Bay Bridge etc....

Hamilton is well-served by freeways. Burlington St is an absolutely fine cross-route. I use it to get to the east end from Victoria Park. Eastgate Square from my place in less than 15 mins via Burlington St/Centennial. It's longer than that via the Main St expressway.

Enough of the nonsense. City streets are supposed to be places of business and commerce. I was out tonight and there were loads of people in Vic Park and strolling down to Locke. King was completely empty. No cars for several minutes before the next small wave. In any normal city a street like King would have looked this tonight:

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_wU720vwn-ec/TH...

And yes, that's a one-way street in Montreal. One was streets CAN be great. But not as life-sucking, treeless freeways.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 11:42:08 in reply to Comment 89274

Correction: One way and successful

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By ViennaCafe (registered) | Posted June 02, 2013 at 00:38:02

If the argument is about the fastest route across the city, the point is being missed. Big time. The point is that the downtown is a community, a place of business, a centre of innovation, an incubator of new businesses, a place for entertainment, a potential engine of urban revitalization and economy. It is not an impediment to getting from Stoney Creek to McMaster. The greatest impediment to progress, all too often, is a constricted, narrow vision informed by the obliviousness of self.

Comment edited by ViennaCafe on 2013-06-02 00:38:31

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 02, 2013 at 21:17:46 in reply to Comment 89251

The greatest impediment to progress, all too often, is a constricted, narrow vision informed by the obliviousness of self.

...and tattoos. Don't forget tattoos...

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By johnny (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 11:25:53 in reply to Comment 89263

Yes, you can mock all you like. Funny thing is, the joke is on the folks that can't see the obvious: societies are nothing but the ethical/moral value of their citizens, when the latter go down the tubes so too does the former. I didn't make it up. Read what historians say. Hamilton's real problem is that its inhabitants are lost. And don't blame poverty. There is such a thing as the dignified poor. Alas, the people have lost their self-dignity, hence the public nakedness and tattoos, alcoholism, broken and single parent families, etc. The truth hurts. But the sooner we wake up and face reality the better.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 14:56:36 in reply to Comment 89275

Ah yes.

The truth hurts.

The mewling defense of the sort of people who preface their bigoted remarks with "I don't mean to offend anyone, BUT..." I'm just surprised it took you that long.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 12:08:27 in reply to Comment 89275

Most of the people I'm friends with have tattoos. From small ones in a discreet place to full sleeves and everything between. None of them are criminals, or lack self respect or dignity, or are dissolute, or go around naked in public, or abuse alcohol or other drugs. Many of them are vegetarians and vegans, all of them are opposed to violence. How can you say society is going "down the tubes" when every form of violence is going down, not up? Stop judging people based on whether they show a bra strap or have a tattoo or a piercing. That stuff's fashion, not ethics or morality. Just because someone dresses a way you would feel uncomfortable in, that doesn't tell you ANYTHING about what kind of a person they are.

OK I've said my piece, now I'll get off your lawn.

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By johnny (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 13:00:08 in reply to Comment 89278

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 00:56:52 in reply to Comment 89279

I'm surprised you've yet to bring craniometry into this.

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By AlHuizenga (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 16:51:52 in reply to Comment 89279

A stable person isn't inclined to ugly their body with tattoos, plain and simple.

Hey, that's my wife you're talking about.

Just keep on doubling down on the ignorance there, anonymous johnny.

Either way, I'm staying away from you.

Promise?

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By johnny (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 10:27:23 in reply to Comment 89285

Read this,

http://courses.ttu.edu/jkoch/Research/Revised%20Resubmission%20SSJ%20May%2009.pdf

It's common sense but apparently we need to make studies out of these things nowaday.

Again, disproportionately high number of individuals with tattoos = undesirable place to live, no matter how many two way streets you have, or how many skyscrapers.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 11:46:05 in reply to Comment 89298

OK so I read it. You had to go to people with 4 or more tattoos or 7 or more piercings to find a correlation with tattoos and "deviant" behaviour - mostly victimless actions like smoking marijuana, which shouldn't be a crime anyway. There was no correlation for actually unethical things like cheating or actually harmful things like binge drinking.

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By johnny (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 13:43:20 in reply to Comment 89304

So tattoos over four are no good but tattoos under four are okay? Agreed the more the more problematic, but I believe one is too many. Conversely, if there is a positive correlation between tattoos and delinquency, then none are better than one.

If I had a teacher or caregiver for my children, I'd rather he/she have no tattoos at all, wouldn't you? Again, when you go to an interview, do you cover up your tattoos? Would you even want your prospective employer (assuming he's not a pimp) to know you have a tattoo? If not, ask yourself why?

The real question is why people need to get tattoos in the first place? Personally, I belive it speaks to an emptiness inside or perhaps a boredom or low self esteem. Thankfully, they can be removed nowadays. But if this is about fashion, then why not just use something temporary like henna or something instead? Isn't fashion always changing anyway? Why ugly your body permanently?

Anyway, I say all of this because I believe it is at the heart of any development problem. You can't have an economically prosperous city, Hamilton or anywhere else, without healthy people, and for healthy people you need healthy families, and for healthy families you need life giving values, but today we don't have that, not in Hamilton and in fact, not in many cities throughout North America and the world over, hence the feeling of crisis everywhere you look. Did you know that around 70% of children born today are born out of wedlock = no fathers = more crime = more social costs/tax = broken system.

A statement attributed to the prophet Muhammad says something to the effect of, when bastard children become prevelant amongst you, prepare for the wrath of God.

READ this article: http://www.oleantimesherald.com/editorial/article_07d01576-c863-11e2-a3c5-0019bb2963f4.html

Taken from above article:

"In 1940, fewer than 90,000 children were born out of wedlock. In 2010, approximately 1.8 million children were born to unmarried women in this country — a twenty-fold increase in about two generations. Forty-one percent of all children born in the U.S. are born to single women.

In addition, there has been a dramatic rise in co-habitation without marriage. Only 61 percent of American children live with both biological or adoptive parents. This has resulted in higher poverty rates for children, increasing domestic abuse of children and a rising tide of violent crime from these abused children as they become teenagers. The decline in marriage and the rise in illegitimacy are the prime factors in the crime, poverty and social decay permeating American society.

As traditional marriage breaks down, so does society."

In conclusion, yes, fix our streets, make them two way, and safer, more asthetically pleasing, but don't forget to beautify/ rectify the souls of our brothers and sisters that walk those beautiful streets.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 14:10:19 in reply to Comment 89306

I don't have a tattoo but my employer, a successful small business owner, didn't hide his tattoos when he interviewed me. I don't have kids but I wouldn't judge a babysitter for having a tattoo. So...

If someone gets a tattoo but doesn't hurt anyone, fail to do their job or fail to support their family, why is it wrong?

If someone gets a piercing but doesn't hurt anyone, fail to do their job or fail to support their family, why is it wrong?

If someone smokes marijuana but doesn't hurt anyone, fail to do their job or fail to support their family, why is it wrong?

If someone decides not to get married but doesn't hurt anyone, fail to do their job or fail to support their family, why is it wrong?

Sure, fewer people are getting married (but look how conservatives freak out when gay/lesbian couples try to celebrate the institution of marriage) and more people are having kids without getting married. But that's mostly economic. It's mostly working class couples not getting married because there's no point. Why would a woman bother marrying a man when there aren't any good jobs he can get to support his family? If you want more people to bother getting married, our economy needs to be more fair to people who don't have graduate degrees.

For the people who do get married, divorce rates have been falling for along time. That tells me alot of people who used to get married shouldn't because the marriage didn't work. In the olden days you miss so much, people didn't get divorced because they weren't allowed to. Most women who were in unhappy, unfair, abusive marriages had to stay because they had no way to escape.

You think that's more moral or healthy than things today? No thanks, you can keep your nostalgia for misogyny. I'd rather have a family of people who love each other and want to be together than a family afraid to flee.

Bottom line, if society is breaking down and people are losing their values, why does every kind of violence keep going down? The worst you can come up with is people with lots of tattoos smoke pot and don't get married, big deal. Seriously. Who cares. We're a kinder society than any time in the past.

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By johnny (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 16:38:59 in reply to Comment 89308

Kinder society than we ever were in the past? In many theoretical ways maybe (we have the charter, tolerance and anti-discrimination laws, etc.), but in practical ways not at all.

Racism is just as pronounced as ever, if not worse. If you don't think so, take a quick glance at poverty and the prison systems accross this continent. We have both institutionalized and non-institutionalized forms of slavery, racism, tribalism, gang mentality, throughout this entire country.

Misogyny is alive and well also, probably worse than ever before. The only difference is, thanks to an unguided feminist movement, today women are treated like sexual objects, but somehow they are made to believe that it is their 'choice' to dress and act in the ways they do. But the consequences of harm to women and society at large remain the same, nay worse nowaday. Again, just take a quick glance at the problem of single mothers on welfare, and look at the articles I cited earlier.

What's more, the rights to abort only further allow men to victimize women by having sex with them without any committment or obligations, because one can always just kill the consequences, quite literally. Don't get me wrong, I think if there is a risk of harm to the mother, abortion may be necessary. But in most cases, it's just another case example where we demand rights without responsibilities and is screwing society in the end.

The economy is a whole other story and requires its own essay. But I'll stick to the issue of personal and social values here, and rest assured, it all ties into the economy anyway, as was my main point in all of this.

Every type of violence go down? No disrespect, but tell me what planet you live on so that I can move there. The planet I'm on is getting too violent for me. Ah, of course, you may be talking about violence in your neighbourhood. Last time I looked, downtown Hamilton, where there happen to be a lot of people with tattoos, has a significant crime problem compared to say Burlington or Oakville, violence being one type of crime.

But on the whole, this is the era of death and killing. We are a more violent species than we have ever been, thanks to technology, mass communication, and yes, loss ethics and morality. Ask the Syrians how they feel about violence right now. Bashar Al-Asad has even outstripped his father's killings. The cases of violence, both state sanctioned, and indvidually perpetrated are obviously too many to cite.

Suffice to say that the West, more than previous world super powers in history, has been in war after war since it's inception as a super power, resulting in untold numbers of deaths. Western societies themselves are increasingly violent. I ask you, what society in the past anywhere was as violent as the one we live in today? I'd question the stats that tell you otherwise. Instead, why don't you read up on what experts in the field say, for example, look at works by Lt. Dave Grossman.

In terms of violence towards women. Not marrying them/ not committing to care and support them, but still taking advantage of their bodies is a form of violence, though most people are too stupid to realize that and they go about harming women this way. In its more obvious forms, one in three women in Canada experiences some form of domestic or sexual violence in their lifetime, and this is only what is reported.

You may say that this was the always the case or even worse, but I would question your sources. Marriage in society is an indicator of the rights of women. If they are not being married, how are people having sex? I'll tell you: in ways that ultimately harm women, and therefore society, that is, without committment.

Of course, people shouldn't stay married if they are not happy. Divorce is not a problem, and in allowing women to divorce whereas they could not before, we have advanced. However, to suggest marriage itself is unnecessary is a dangerous idea.

Now, on the issue of gays and lesbians getting married, one has to ask what possible reason would these folks want to get married in the first place when they can't reproduce, which is fundamental necessity for life to exist? I believe it is more about making a statement than anything else. The proliferation of such rights and mass acceptance of the same sex act is a result of special interest groups and not more.

Now to answer your initial group of questions, if someone does xyz but doesn't hurt themselves why is it wrong? First, we live in systems. What I believe and do in my life ultimately effects those around me. It is not possible for you to exist in society without making your mark on others in some way. If I walk around naked on your street with my head phones on, and I'm not harming anyone, is it still wrong and if so why? Likewise, you can sit at home all day alone and drunk thinking you're not harming anyone. First, you're harming yourself. Killing your potential to live life to the fullest, and secondly, you are contributing through your money to the business of buying and selling alcohol (i.e. from the profit of human suffering).

Again, tattoos, though relatively harmless compared to say alcohol, are only a symptom of everything else that is wrong with the values of that person, and specifically, disregard for one's own body. Tattoos are risky from a medical/ health perspective alone, which should be enough for one to avoid it. Then there is the issue of why people get them to begin with?

Coincidentally, I only know a handful of people in my personal life that have tattoos, and none of them are married or even thinking about marriage (I don't blame them, I imagine they wouldn't know how to act and so it seems more trouble than its worth). Conversely, I know quite a few people that are married, and none of them have tattoos.

Please don't take above as a personal insult to anyone. Rather, I am only criticizing social values and behaviour that I believe is harmful to individuals and ultimately, as we live in social systems, to us all.


All of the above and more is a sure sign that we are in crisis.

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By johnny (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 16:44:48 in reply to Comment 89310

* correction, I don't believe we are a more kinder society today in theoretical ways either. We've had plenty of scripture in the past (think 10 commandments here) teaching the same lofty values we aspire to today, except now we just take the word God out of it.

So, if today is a kinder society than any other time, I'd would have rather lived in the past.

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By johnny (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 13:46:23 in reply to Comment 89306

* correction, 40% born out of wedlock. I imagine the figure is similar in Hamilton.

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By Kevin (registered) | Posted June 02, 2013 at 09:15:55

Good for the architects. In yesterday's Spec travel section, "Reykjavik, a walkable city with no need for a car, is rich in architecture, shopping, nightlife, and literacy," which sounds nice and easily achieved. Let's get going.

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted June 02, 2013 at 15:31:10 in reply to Comment 89254

Reykjavik is very walkable in the central area. The architecture downtown has a European style to it, with a good mix of residential and commercial, and there is little wasted or empty space.

Reykjavik does have a robust and fairly sophisticated road network. There are a lot of one-way streets in the central part of the city, and most of the parking in that area is on-street.

It is a lot less walkable once you get outside of the core. There are large low-density suburban areas on the eastern and southern fringes.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted June 02, 2013 at 12:34:11 in reply to Comment 89254

Except that Reykjavik is the largest city is Iceland (by a long shot), as it is their capital and their economy has recently collapsed and the country had to file for bankruptcy.

Also Reykjavik has a population of 120,000 and is around a fifth of the size of Hamilton and is on an island that's smaller then Ontario, so of course catering to automobile traffic isn't going to be as high a priority in what is effectively the only Urban area in the country.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2013-06-02 12:35:02

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By ViennaCafe (registered) | Posted June 02, 2013 at 20:52:07

When I said, "The greatest impediment to progress, all too often, is a constricted, narrow vision informed by the obliviousness of self," I could have added, "and the rest of the time it is the bliss of damned ignorance."

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By ViennaCafe (registered) | Posted June 02, 2013 at 20:56:51

"For a city of its size, (London) is very car-dominated,” says Toderian. “And if you continue to grow in a car-dominated pattern, you dig yourself deeper into the failure hole.” -- http://www.lfpress.com/2013/05/30/gilles...

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 02:35:13 in reply to Comment 89262

Some of the comments on that story had a very familiar ring to them.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 09:46:37

Can we once and for all establish that the one-way streets that we are talking about are one-way arterial roads, e.g. King, Main, Cannon, etc...? If King-William is your shining example of why one-ways are good, then we should be reducing Main and King each to one lane of traffic plus parking.

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By Core-B (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 13:38:30

As a supporter of one-way conversions, my support was mildly affected by a weekend visit to Peterborough. Observations: 1. I'd never been to this nice city before but now I understand why newbies to Hamilton dislike one way streets. I had to go to a store in the core and was a bit surprised to find it was a one way street. I had to make 2 runs around the block to get to what I was looking for. Not tourist friendly. 2. In spite of this, the core was quite nice and seemed to be doing ok commercially. There was parking on both sides of the street and the sidewalks were nice and wide for pedestrians. The one glaring difference was that there was not the sense of speeding traffic. I don't know if that was due to designed traffic calming or that the pedestrians have the protection of parked cars. 3. I didn't see any bicycle lanes and the street where our hotel was ( George St) didn't have any pedestrian crosswalks!

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 13:49:17

Flashy revamp. Am I remembering correctly that this banner was beta'd briefly last year? (I don't recall the tweaked comment field.)

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 03, 2013 at 20:50:03

How can this letter be taken seriously when it contains something as ridiculous as "Great streets are NEVER one-way streets"?

Tell that to the city of New York and Hess St

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By Mal (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 11:25:04

Kirkendall is home to a dozen or more HBSA members (including the chair and vice-chair) who would have an intimate aquaintance with one-way streets: As in the neighbouring Durand, the neighbbourhood is almost entirely made up on one-way streets.

Fixes in residential neighbourhoods such as these would come cheaper and faster than downtown streets, which typically feature signalized intersections.

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By confused (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 16:39:23

So not to be negative here, but what reason does an architecture assocation have on commenting about road design and traffic? Not saying that 2-way conversion is a bad thing (actually, I'm totally for it!), but let's hope they don't start commenting on ER procedures next or the education system. Leave it up to relevant professional associations to do that.

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted June 04, 2013 at 17:34:21 in reply to Comment 89311

what reason does an architecture assocation have on commenting about road design and traffic?

Quite simply, because of the linkage between streets and the streetscape.

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By BORRT (anonymous) | Posted June 05, 2013 at 18:04:56

Of course if these architects had any valid arguments they would have included provisions for cyclists as anyone knows that is these cyclists that reduce the amount of cars on the road contributing to less traffic and less pollution. they too support commercial shops, cafes and restaurants as it is easier to get around on a bike than a car.

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By infowarrior_block (registered) - website | Posted December 04, 2013 at 03:41:03 in reply to Comment 89328

It is easier to get around on a bike than a car? What planet are you living on? That's like saying it's easier to get around in a wheelchair than by walking. Give me a f*ck'n' break! If you pinkos ever prevail we'll all be crawling around in the mud and telling ourselves it's better than the faster alternative, whatever that may be.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted December 05, 2013 at 15:35:19 in reply to Comment 95485

It is easier to get around on a bike than a car? What planet are you living on?

This planet. The one on which I can bike faster than I can walk and on which I can lock my bike directly in front of the stores I need to go to instead of hunting for parking. It is not only easier to use my bike for short distances (say, under3 km), it's hardly any slower.

For example ....

I can go from Westdale to the Dundurn liquor store and back in 22 minutes; the same trip takes me 16 minutes by care: that six minutes buys me some fresh air, hassle-free parking, and a the feeling of blood pumping in my veins.

Comment edited by moylek on 2013-12-05 15:35:56

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By fodder beware (anonymous) | Posted December 04, 2013 at 09:29:29 in reply to Comment 95485

The faster alternative is being shot out of a cannon. I'll let you take the first spot in line for that.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 04, 2013 at 08:40:28 in reply to Comment 95485

It is easier to get around on a bike than a car?

For years I've been telling the half-joke that I ride a bike because I'm cheap and lazy. Let me break that down:

  • Cheap: It costs around $10,000 a year, total, to own and operate a car. That means $10,000 worth of your year's net income - and the work you have to do to earn it - gets swallowed up by your car. When you're evaluating the labour-saving benefits of driving, you need to take into account the labour you already worked to own it.

    Bonus: people who commute by bike live on average 3-4 years longer than people who commute by car (yes, even when taking the relative injury risk of driving and cycling into account), and they suffer less disease. How much money is a year of life worth to you? How much are you currently paying for the dubious privilege of a shorter life?

  • Lazy: Here's a secret for people who haven't been on a bike in a long time: it's easy to ride a bike. It's easier than walking. The thing has a seat, for crying out loud. Of course, you make it challenging if you want a workout, but commuting by bike is relaxing and downright fun. Every time I ride a bike, I arrive in a better mood than when I left.

For medium distances - say, 2-5 km - cycling is about as fast as driving, and when you arrive at your destination, especially downtown where buildings aren't surrounded by off-street parking lots, a bike is a lot faster and easier to park than a car.

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By infowarrior_block (registered) - website | Posted December 04, 2013 at 03:31:16

Unbelievable nonsense. You two-wayers are in a commie inspired delusional trance. Progress to date has been unbelievable chaos, delay, unnecessary idling, more pollution, more aggravation, less safety, ... and a criminal waste of resources. No wonder the commies are so fond of it.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 04, 2013 at 08:22:06 in reply to Comment 95484

You two-wayers are in a commie inspired delusional trance.

Come on. Please tell me this is just a really subtle parody and I'm a victim of Poe's Law.

If two-way streets are somehow communist, I expect you to join the campaign to convert all the mountain and suburban streets in Hamilton to a more liberal, market-friendly one-way configuration.

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By infowarrior_block (registered) - website | Posted December 05, 2013 at 03:00:36 in reply to Comment 95487

The fundamental motivation behind Communist ideology is a desire to tie down, cut down, ensnare, chain or otherwise punish the individual. No one should be allowed to deviate from the herd.

The automobile symbolizes liberation - the very antithesis of communism. The push for two-way streets, at root just another nasty attack on the freedom and independence afforded by the automobile, thus dovetails perfectly with communism.

It's so obvious.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 05, 2013 at 07:34:26 in reply to Comment 95545

So you're saying that a street that forces everyone to drive in the same direction provides more freedom and choice than a street that lets people drive in both directions.

Let's just stop and think about that for a moment.

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By infowarrior_block (registered) - website | Posted December 06, 2013 at 03:26:25 in reply to Comment 95549

No, Ryan that is not what I am saying but it is a clever point on your part.

What I am saying is that a system that facilitates efficient movement in the direction people wish to go, I.E. one-way streets is more compatible with freedom and choice than a system which just bogs people down in a pointless, chaotic morass which is the obvious goal of the two-way club. (For example, see the stunningly successful results of the two-way conversion on John and James Streets. Gridlock. Traffic vandalism. A commie orgasm. A tingle up David Suzuki's leg.)

The automobile offends the authoritarian left precisely because of the freedom and independence it affords. The ideal of the authoritarian left is the cattle-car mode of transportation, I.E. Government run public transit the slogan of which should be, "Not going your way? Too bad. Call your representative. (he he)"

I suspect you do not drive a car hence your difficulty understanding some of the principles involved here.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 06, 2013 at 09:35:09 in reply to Comment 95581

The entire problem with your argument is that you have confused the word "fast" with the word "efficient". There is nothing efficient about our one way system:

  • It caters to the least efficient mode of transportation at the cost of all efficient forms.
  • It is the most expensive transportation "solution"; we are over a billion dollars in the hole and every year we add 80 million dollars to that deficit via maintenance we can't afford to perform.
  • It requires the greatest amount of space to move the smallest number of people.

You are correct that a system that favours maximum efficiency and maximum choice is the one that best represents freedom.

But you are wrong to say that a one-way grid fits that description.

What you are actually celebrating is the freedom to drive fast from the start to finish of your own trip; the rest of the citizens' freedom has not entered your mind.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 06, 2013 at 07:35:55 in reply to Comment 95581

No, Ryan that is not what I am saying but it is a clever point on your part.

Thanks, but I'm not trying to be clever. I'm quite serious: a street that allows people to move in either direction is intrinsically more free than a street that requires the entire "herd" as you put it to move in the same direction.

A street that allows people to choose among a variety of ways to get around is intrinsically more free than a street that forces everyone to drive (and to drive the same direction the same street, no less) whether they want to or not.

But you seem determined to keep moving the goalposts until you manage to score a point, so let's move on to "efficient movement in the direction people wish to go".

One-way streets force people to go out of their way because any given destination on a street can only be approached from one direction, not both. The immediate result is that anyone who wants to head upstream to a destination needs to drive up on a different street, overshoot the destination and then double back.

This is cognitively difficult to do and raises the marginal cost of choosing a destination on a one-way street vis-a-vis an alternate destination on a two-way street. The larger result is that destinations on one-way streets begin to suffer lost business and the street as a whole goes into economic decline.

One-way streets also increase the risk of injury and death in three ways. First, one-way street designs encourage dangerously fast speeds, and the kinetic energy of a car increases exponentially as speed increases linearly. Second, one-way street designs encourage more cut-through driving, and cut-through drivers are more prone to hitting pedestrians than local drivers. Third, one-way street designs require more turning movements at intersections, which increases the risk of collision with a pedestrian.

As for "gridlock" on James and John, I'm not sure what plane of existence you're living on but neither street ever experiences anything even remotely resembling gridlock. Unless by "gridlock" you really mean "I had to stop for a red light. That's bullshit!" in which case I really don't know what to say. If you want to drive really fast without stopping, I suggest going down to Cayuga Speedway and paying them to drive on their track.

A bit more on efficient movement: you clearly don't like public transit (though for some reason you don't seem to mind 100% publicly subsidized roads), but the transit lane on King Street carries more people a day than the other 2/3/4 lanes combined. One quarter of the street carries more people more efficiently than the other three quarters.

In a healthy city, people choose among a variety of ways to get around. They choose whichever mode makes the most sense for a given trip. In a car-dominated city, people don't have the freedom to walk, cycle or take transit. They are forced to drive, and families are forced to arrange their finances around the necessity to own one or two or three cars.

Finally, a note on "social engineering", a term you use in your other comment. Some time you should read up on the history of how cars became entrenched in North America. It was a massive exercise in social engineering that included:

  • Lobbying to have statutes written that overturned centuries of common law around right of way. Before cars, bigger vehicles always had to yield to smaller ones, but new jaywalking rules actually made it an offence to cross the street except in a few circumscribed locations. Yay freedom.

  • Automobile companies buying public transit operations, particularly streetcars and trams, and systematically dismantling them - not because they weren't popular and successful but because they were a competitive threat.

  • The National Defense Highway System (and similar investments in Canada), a massive government-funded plan to build expressways between, around and through cities.

  • A vast array of public subsidies, incentives and regulations to artificially lower the cost of suburban sprawl while simultaneously mass-demolishing existing blocks, dropping in megaprojects, bisecting neighbourhoods with urban expressways and so on. (Incidentally, the most valuable, highly-sought-after real estate in most North American cities today are those urban neighbourhoods that survived the razing of the mid-20th century.)

In short, your shiny car culture of freedom and etc. is the product of what is arguably the most massive government/corporate social engineering program in history.

That culture is now showing many signs of having run its course. People are increasingly coming to the conclusion that a lifestyle built around cars does not deliver the "freedom of the open road" that it promises, and that a more balanced, more coherent lifestyle that includes walking, cycling, using transit and driving where applicable offers a much better quality of life with more freedom, more choice and more opportunity to enjoy the diverse kinds of voluntary exchanges that living in a healthy neighbourhood make possible.

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By IRC22 (registered) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 12:56:19 in reply to Comment 95586

One-way streets also increase the risk of injury and death in three ways. First, one-way street designs encourage dangerously fast speeds, and the kinetic energy of a car increases exponentially as speed increases linearly.

The assumption is one-way streets lead to faster speeds than two-ways. When traffic signals are very close together, they can be timed for a set speed limit. As an example, downtown Portland, Oregon times their network of one-way streets for 12 mph. You don't have this "throttling back" ability with two-way streets. If downtown Portland were all two-way streets, the operating speeds of drivers would undoubtedly increase.

Second, one-way street designs encourage more cut-through driving, and cut-through drivers are more prone to hitting pedestrians than local drivers.

Ehhh.. any study to support this claim?

Third, one-way street designs require more turning movements at intersections, which increases the risk of collision with a pedestrian.

A pedestrian crossing the North leg of a typical intersection with two-way traffic has a lot of potential vehicle conflicts to avoid: -NB thru. -SB thru. -SB right turns. -SB left turns. -EB left turns. -WB right turns.

A pedestrian crossing the North leg of a one-way street network has fewer potential vehicle conflicts to avoid (assume the one-way routes travel NB and EB): -NB thru. -EB left turn.

The number of pedestrian/vehicle conflicts are greatly reduced along one-way streets.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 03, 2014 at 14:13:01 in reply to Comment 101973

The assumption is one-way streets lead to faster speeds than two-ways.

That is the observation, not an assumption. It was also the purpose for Hamilton's one-way conversions in the first place.

Ehhh.. any study to support this claim?

"The study shows a link between high-levels of commuter traffic — as opposed to local traffic — and higher levels of pedestrian child injury."

The number of pedestrian/vehicle conflicts are greatly reduced along one-way streets.

This is empirically false. The issue is that one-way streets require a lot more driver turning movements than two-way streets because they force drivers to make more overshoot-and-backtrack movements.

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By IRC22 (registered) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 16:30:32 in reply to Comment 101977

"The study shows a link between high-levels of commuter traffic — as opposed to local traffic — and higher levels of pedestrian child injury."

The full name of the study is called "The effects of local and non-local traffic on child pedestrian safety: a spatial displacement of risk." Here is the abstract:

In most places, motor-vehicle traffic volume is associated with increased risk of child pedestrian injury; however, the burden of risk is geographically complex. In some neighbourhoods, proportionally fewer drivers may be local, meaning that the moral and practical responsibility of risk to children is displaced from one place (e.g., the suburbs) to another (e.g., downtown). Using the City of Toronto, Canada, as a case study, this research asks two related questions: 1) what is the variation in traffic volume by neighbourhood of origin and socioeconomic status and 2) what is the relationship between the geographical origin of traffic and the risk of collisions involving child pedestrians and motor-vehicles? We find that low-income downtown neighbourhoods have the highest proportion of non-local traffic. We also find that while higher local traffic activity is associated with lower risk of collision, higher flow-through traffic activity (excluding traffic from major thoroughfares) is associated with higher risk of collision. We interpret the former as very likely a proxy of parents' frequency of chauffeuring children to school, and the latter an illustration of the spatial displacement of risk between Toronto neighbourhoods. Our results suggest that more attention needs to be paid to account for the externalization of harm experienced by children, particularly in low-income downtown neighbourhoods.

There is no mention made between one-way streets and two-way streets. Linking a study that has little if any relevance to the subject at hand doesn't bolster your claim that "one-way streets increase the risk of injury and death".

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 03, 2014 at 20:35:05 in reply to Comment 101982

The expressed purpose of 1-way streets is to efficiently maximize the throughput of traffic, and they are primarily effective at non-local traffic. Local 1-way traffic suffers from wayfinding problems and lots of loop-around-to-your-destination problems, while long straight streams of synchronized lights are obviously where the 1-way grid excels... which caters to longer trips, obviously, which implies non-local traffic.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 05, 2013 at 09:46:21 in reply to Comment 95549

I just wish our communist dictators would stop preventing me from driving in the sky.

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By infowarrior_block (registered) - website | Posted December 06, 2013 at 03:30:09 in reply to Comment 95552

Wow. That's very clever except that.... should you actually come up with a means of driving in the sky it will be the commies that will try to stop you. Deviation from the herd is frowned upon. Be a good boy and just take the bus.

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By infowarrior_block (registered) - website | Posted December 06, 2013 at 04:27:00

Oh. One more thought. I keep seeing the slogan "walkable streets" as I peruse the contents of this social engineering site.

I am almost 60 years old now and I have been living in Hamilton for most of that stretch. During that time I have done my fair share of walking.

Until these authoritarian leftists showed up there was no confusion as to whether certain neighborhoods in this city had "walkable streets." Most of Hamilton's streets have had both sidewalks and roads all along. (And plenty of other footpaths and amazing places to explore... despite the existence of roads.)

In other words... Hamilton has ALWAYS BEEN walkable. This whole notion that "walkable streets" is some kind of revolutionary new concept is utterly bogus. It's nothing more than just another example of how the authoritarian left (I.E. - communists and fellow travelers) love to dump their specious products into the minds of a dumbed-down populace as if human minds were nothing but receptacles for intellectual waste. Toilet brains.

Don't piss in my face and tell me it's raining.

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By IRC22 (registered) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 00:51:56

According to the New York City Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan, major two-way streets account for 47% of pedestrian fatalities in Manhattan but only make up 12% of the road network.

The Park Avenue Tunnel at 33rd Street was one of the top pedestrian crash locations in the city from 1996-2007, averaging 12 pedestrian crashes per year. The city converted the tunnel to one-way operation in 2008 and the intersection saw a dramatic drop in both pedestrian injury crashes (100%) and all injury crashes (74%).

See: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pd...

There is a strong possibility that injury accidents in Hamilton would increase if the streets were converted to two-way. Anybody who completely dismisses that possibility isn’t being honest and/or has been misled at some point in this debate.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 03, 2014 at 07:32:22 in reply to Comment 101947

According to the New York City Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan, major two-way streets account for 47% of pedestrian fatalities in Manhattan but only make up 12% of the road network.

Those numbers are useless without context. What percentage of the fatalities occurred on all major streets, and what portion of the road network do those streets represent? Do major two-way and one-way streets have the same density of pedestrian activity?

The report in the link doesn't address these questions directly, but here is an interesting hint:

Arterial streets account for ~60% of pedestrian fatalities but only 15% of the road network

Which is to say that most of the arterial streets are two-way, not one-way. So it's no surprise that 78% of the fatalities occurred on the 80% of the major arteries which are two-way, no?

Comment edited by moylek on 2014-06-03 07:32:40

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By IRC22 (registered) | Posted June 03, 2014 at 10:14:01 in reply to Comment 101957

Good points. A study of traffic statistics in Hamilton from 1978-1994 concluded a child was 2.5 times more likely to be hit by a car on a one-way street. Of course, those numbers are useless without context. What percentage of the fatalities occurred on all major streets, and what portion of the road network do those streets represent? Do major two-way and one-way streets have the same density of pedestrian activity? Anybody can cherry pick a vague study that supports their view.

However, I also cited a very specific before/after analysis of Park Avenue Tunnel and 33rd Street. When the tunnel had two-way flow, the intersection was one of the most dangerous intersections in the city, averaging 12 pedestrian crashes per year. After the conversion to one-way, the pedestrian accidents dropped to zero, and total injury accidents dropped by 74%. NYC fully understands the safety benefits of one-way streets.

One-way streets are safer for pedestrians. Every before/after safety analysis that I've read on this topic would support that claim. I challenge you to find a before/after safety analysis that concludes two-way streets are actually safer for pedestrians.

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By IRC22 (registered) | Posted June 04, 2014 at 00:00:34

Listed are some before/after safety studies indicating one-way streets are safer for pedestrians than two-way streets.

PORTLAND, OR (1949): Portland converted most of their downtown two-way streets to one-way streets in the late 1940’s. After conversion, vehicle accidents decreased from 6,127 to 3,361 (-45.1%). The number of pedestrian accidents decreased from 237 to 126 (-46.8%). Volume of traffic in downtown increased from 12,734 to 16,708 vehicles (+31.2%) and average speeds increased from 7.9 mph to 14.2 mph (+79.7%).

CINCINNATI, OH (1975): Cincinatti converted Vine Street between Central Parkway and Mc Micken Ave. from two-way operation to one-way in 1975. After conversion, vehicle accidents decreased from 212 to 128 (-39.6%). The number of pedestrian accidents decreased from 16.6 to 13 (-21.7%). Volume of traffic increased from 24,520 to 28,025 (+14.3%).

NEW YORK CITY, NY (2008): The Park Avenue Tunnel at 33rd Street was one of the top pedestrian crash locations in the city from 1996-2007, averaging 12 pedestrian crashes per year. The city converted the tunnel to one-way operation in 2008 and the intersection saw a dramatic drop in both pedestrian injury crashes (100%) and all injury crashes (74%).

Cities that have converted one-way streets to two-way streets have seen a dramatic rise in pedestrian related crashes:

DENVER, CO (1986): Denver converted several one-way couplets to two-way streets in 1986. After conversion, the vehicle accident rates at intersections increased 37.6% while the mid-block accident rate increased 80.5%.

LUBBOCK, TX (1995): Lubbock converted a couple of downtown one-way streets to two-way in 1995. After conversion, total accidents increased by 41.6%

CINCINNATI, OH (1999): Cincinatti converted Vine Street to two-way operation in 1999. After conversion, vehicle accidents increased from 75.9 to 164 (+116%). Pedestrian accidents increased from 5.9 to 12 (+103%). Volume of traffic increased from 30,900 to 35,600 (+15.2%) and the average speed decreased from 18.0 to 12.4 (-31.1%).

ALBEQUERQUE, NM (1999-2003): Albequerque converted most of their downtown one-way streets to two-way streets between 1999-2003 (62 blocks total). After conversion, vehicle accidents increased from 778 to 824 (+5.9%). Pedestrian accidents increased from 14 to 26 (+85.7%). Bicycle accidents increased from 5 to 12 (+148%). Volume of traffic decreased from 359,430 to 284,180 (-20.9%).

Sources: City of Denver, One-Way Street Monitoring Study, Phase 1 Conversion Report, January 1990.

City of Lubbock, Main and 10th Street Accident Analysis, Before/After Study, 1998

City of Cincinnati, Over-the-Rhine/Vine Street Circulation Study, February 2003.

NYC DOT, The New York City Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan, August 2010.

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