Special Report: Bus Lane

Traffic on King While Main Sits Mostly Empty

If Main Street was two-way, it would be able to take some of the overflow from King Street during rush hour.

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 05, 2013

Last week, I wrote an article outlining the choice that underlies the controversial transit lane on King: the choice between easy motoring and a prosperous city.

One of the great strengths of RTH has always been the generally high quality of comments, but I had a real forehead-slapping a-ha moment when I read this short comment under that article:

If Main Street was two-way, the transit lane on King Street would be a total non issue.

Just saying.

Of course this is true, and it's something we've been saying on RTH for years. Yet I'm amazed that it didn't occur to me when I was writing the piece - such is the deeply ingrained pattern of Hamilton's one-way street system.

If Main Street was a two-way street, it would be able to take some of the overflow from King Street during rush hour. That's precisely the way a city traffic grid is supposed to work, but we have manufactured bottlenecks by artificially reducing the number of driving routes in a given direction.

Main Street Mostly Empty

During a walkabout yesterday mid-afternoon, I crossed both Main and King Street around the start of the transit lane. Here was the traffic on King Street at Mary Street:

Moderate congestion on King Street west of Mary
Moderate congestion on King Street west of Mary

Meanwhile, just 110 metres away, here was the traffic on five-lane Main Street at Walnut:

No congestion on Main Street west of Walnut
No congestion on Main Street west of Walnut

A five-lane thoroughfare and there were just a few cars zipping along in a single lane. What a wasted opportunity to accommodate some of the overflow from King!

Incidentally, the slowdown on King was already clearing around Gore Park, and was back to free-flowing by James Street.

King Street traffic at Gore Park
King Street traffic at Gore Park

Free-flowing west of James Street
Free-flowing west of James Street

West of James, King Street continues to open up and is back up to four lanes past Locke Street. So the traffic congestion we're talking about encompasses just a few blocks in the heart of the downtown core, a place one would expect to find some traffic congestion.

Two-Way Streets More Resilient

But back to Main Street for a moment. We've been arguing for years that two-way street networks are more resilient for drivers than one-way networks.

The city experienced this directly in September 2012, when a water main broke at the corner of James Street North and Cannon Street. Because Wilson Street had recently been converted to two-way west of Victoria, drivers on Cannon were able to divert south one block and bypass the blocked intersection.

Westbound traffic on Wilson Street at James (RTH file photo)
Westbound traffic on Wilson Street at James (RTH file photo)

Had Wilson remained one-way, drivers would have had to continue south another couple of blocks to King before they could turn westbound.

Inherently Wider Set of Uses

This summer, we experienced the other side of the coin: as Sean Burak documents, a transport truck hit a pole at Hunter and John and blocked the intersection. Because the streets around the crash remain one-way, they were far less efficient at diverting traffic.

Young was backed up westbound
Young was backed up westbound

Forest remained completely empty, unable to be used by westbound drivers
Forest remained completely empty, unable to be used by westbound drivers

Walnut was backed up northbound
Walnut was backed up northbound

Catharine remained completely empty, since it's one-way in the wrong direction
Catharine remained completely empty, since it's one-way in the wrong direction

Quite simply, a two-way street inherently meets a wider set of uses than a one-way street.

It's not like two-way streets are some radical, untested idea. Nearly every street on earth has been a two-way street for literally the past 10,000 years. Even Hamilton is full of two-way streets - outside the lower city. The point has been made before, but there's a reason no one on the mountain is demanding that their streets be converted to one-way.

Predictions of 'Chaos and Gridlock'

I'll close by noting that the dire predictions of "gridlock and chaos" and rage-quitting pronouncements have all been heard before. Every time the City does something, however modest, to make lower city streets more safe and comfortable for anyone other than fast cut-through commuters, the change is greeted with howls of outrage.

We saw it when James and John North were converted to two-way in 2002, and we saw it again when James and John South were converted in 2005.

After a little while, the dust settled, people figured it out, and the streets started to bounce back from their decades of punishment by fast, multi-lane commuter traffic.

If Council's resolve holds and staff respond to the King Street transit lane by making incremental changes as needed over the course of the pilot (like, ahem, allowing cyclists to use the lane), we'll get through this one as well.

One day we will look back and scratch our heads, wondering how people could ever make such a fuss about something as modest and reasonable as a dedicated transit lane on a high-capacity transit route through the heart of the city.

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.

84 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 09:33:46

I imagine that the main impediment to switching Main to two-way is not capacity but capital.

If you were to convert the strip of Main that runs roughly parallel to the bus lane pilot to two-way (ie. Dundurn to Wellington) you're looking at another 16 sets of traffic lights.

Even more cost-effective measures go wanting, but I hold out hope that one day the lazy laneway known as Main will feature proportionately as many zebra crossings as Locke, that infamous freeway of bistros and boutiques.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2013 at 09:53:17 in reply to Comment 94233

Yet we're happy to spend $10 million to install fisheye-lens cameras at intersections across the city.

It's not a matter of cost, it's a matter of priorities.

Permalink | Context

By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 10:54:22 in reply to Comment 94236

Wow, missed that.

Although, true to form, there's an asterisk:

"But most of the cash needed for 1,100-plus cameras, communications equipment and other electrical work will need approval in future capital budgets."

Still plenty of time to half-ass it.

Permalink | Context

By Mal (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 09:43:49 in reply to Comment 94233

NB: By "cost-effective" I am using council-speak for "lower-cost".

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Core-B (registered) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 09:39:37

Happy you had the "I could have had a V-8" moment. What a great article. Thanks. Can't wait to see how the naysayers put a negative spin on this.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 10:00:19

How about making Main Street just like Jarvis street in Toronto? Have 2 permanent lanes of travel in each direction with the middle fifth lane allowing easterly travel during afternoon rush hour, and westerly travel during the morning rush hour.

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 11:45:38 in reply to Comment 94237

Why? By all accounts the congestion isn't even that bad as it stands, despite the complaints of some. Why is it necessary to over-engineer this when the solution is already the defacto standard for roads almost everywhere in the world?

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2013 at 10:54:22 in reply to Comment 94237

We don't have the traffic numbers to justify this overdesign

Permalink | Context

By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 10:57:00 in reply to Comment 94245

So, are you saying that the two westerly lanes on King are enough, and that Main should stay one way. I'm not sure follow (Coffee consumption is late this morning)

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2013 at 13:02:18 in reply to Comment 94248

The numbers supported by Main now can be accommodated by two lanes all day, we don't need a third lane switching direction back and forth.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2013 at 11:07:48 in reply to Comment 94248

Main should be a two-way street with curbside parking and a protected two-way cycle track, a la this visioning:

A new vision for Main Street

Permalink | Context

By JustinJones (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2013 at 11:58:48 in reply to Comment 94251

This gives me so many urban design boners.

Permalink | Context

By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 13:12:55 in reply to Comment 94258

And lady boners, presumably.

Permalink | Context

By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 12:20:07 in reply to Comment 94258

Gotta admit ,at first seeing that (one lane in each direction) it's almost shocking, then the "No way is that ever gonna fly!", but the more I stare at it, the more I think about it and the thought slowly becomes, "I could live there." I went through the same education process during the James St N 2-way conversion. I was against, for the the ignorant reasons. Not only do I now endorse such changes, but I found myself actually going down to James N more than I ever have, and over the last couple of years, and even last few months, it's pleasing to see new businesses popping up almost continually.

Permalink | Context

By any on amous (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 18:51:53 in reply to Comment 94260

I just walked down Herkimer. Nightmare! Traffic calming blocking any movement. Reduced to one lane. no one moving at all. Sadly an ambulance trapped somewhere between bay and St. Joe's. Hope its not someone suffering and MI.

As in the picture 5 above. Sadly I expect it is a combo of Queen being closed and two way traffic around St. Joe's. I have seen it this bad even when Queen was not closed.

With one way streets there was residual capacity. Now there is none. I hope the poor person in the ambulance does not die.

Permalink | Context

By Anon (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 20:01:40 in reply to Comment 94384

The congestion you witnessed today on Herkimer is clearly out of the ordinary, but don't despair, c'mon back tomorrow for the morning rush. With no North Side curb parking it is wildly entertaining with never any traffic enforcement by HPS.

Speed away. You're unlikely to see a speed trap until you're leaving the city on Burlington Street. You know; where all the kids are walking to school........uh, wait, sorry that's in Durand.

Permalink | Context

By DM (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 19:00:14 in reply to Comment 94384

It would be interesting to hear emergency services take on one way vs two way.

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 16:34:57 in reply to Comment 94386

Just like two-ways work great for regular drivers in cities all over the world, they also work for emergency services in other cities accross the world. Are any cities clamouring for one-way throughfares so they can reduce emergency response times?

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 19:51:55 in reply to Comment 94386

I saw a study a year or two ago about EMS access to St Joe's after the two-way conversion of James and John South. It turned out to be a wash: slightly slower traffic balanced by more vectors of access.

Permalink | Context

By Dm (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 19:58:28 in reply to Comment 94388

Could be worth an interview with fire/police/amb to see their opinions on main/king. I feel these two roads are a different beast over John and James.

Permalink | Context

By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted November 07, 2013 at 09:15:08 in reply to Comment 94391

So then IF one ways serve emergency vehicles better, would you be in favour of converting all major thoroughfares throughout the mountain, Dundas, Ancaster, Waterdown and Stoney Creek for the same reasons? After all, they're much farther form the hospitals. Where are you going with this?

Permalink | Context

By Anon (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 20:03:54 in reply to Comment 94391

To your point; at a minimum they are spelled differently. Everything in Hamilton is different than everywhere else. That's why our roads look nothing like anything else in Southern Ontario.

Permalink | Context

By DM (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 20:16:47 in reply to Comment 94393

At a minimum yes they have different names (did you mean "at most"). In reality, these sets of roads play very different roles in regards to emergency services in Hamilton.

Permalink | Context

By highwater (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 18:59:24 in reply to Comment 94384

Hi Chasball.

Permalink | Context

By z jones (registered) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 12:24:51 in reply to Comment 94260

the more I think about it and the thought slowly becomes, "I could live there."

BINGO! When you stop thinking, "would I want to drive through there" and start thinking, "would I want to be there", it all starts to make sense.

Comment edited by z jones on 2013-11-05 12:25:14

Permalink | Context

By j.servus (registered) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 11:34:25 in reply to Comment 94251

Exactly. When Main is finally redesigned, it should NOT have five lanes for automobiles, no matter which way they're going. The current design of Main is an utter affront to pedestrians, and impossible for cyclists. It is an affront to pedestrians, because in many places you can't even walk two abreast. It is a narrow sidewalk more appropriate to a side street than to a thoroughfare where trucks are rushing by in the curb lane and practically clipping your shoulder. Then, too, the lamp posts and parking metres take even more from the sidewalk. It's absurd to do that to the sidewalk, to add a totally superfluous fifth lane for vehicles. Main has at least two and probably three lanes more than the traffic flow could reasonably justify. (They'd probably have done it to King, too, but there wasn't quite enough room so the sidewalks were spared.) Finally, I note that because it is a speedway, cyclists moving with traffic flow still use the sidewalk, and, of course, cyclists moving against the traffic also use the sidewalk. Which means the cars are five abreast in mostly empty lanes, while the pedestrians and cyclists are sharing a metre-wide strip of unsheltered sidewalk. No one responsible for that monstrous design, I'm quite sure, has ever tried to walk along Main Street between Victoria and Wentworth.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2013 at 13:02:51 in reply to Comment 94255

Even if Main never gets a 2-way conversion, I'd love to see it get a #YesWeMain treatment to mirror #YesWeCannon. Bi-directional concrete-protected bike lanes on Main would get traffic away from pedestrians on one side. Do anything on the other side (wider walks, permanent parking lane, whatever).

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2013 at 10:16:38 in reply to Comment 94237

Would that be the same Jarvis Street that installed bike lanes, then Rob Ford bullied Council into removing them a year later? Some quick facts:

  • The number of cyclists on Jarvis tripled when the bike lanes were installed.

  • Bike trips increased to 10% modal share on the street.

  • The average rush-hour automobile commute time went up 2 minutes.

  • The total number of collisions went down 23%.

  • The cost to remove the bike lanes: $300,000.

What Hamilton needs is city streets allowed to behave like city streets, not city streets being kicked around like political footballs by suburban councillors.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2013-11-05 10:29:08

Permalink | Context

By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 19:15:06 in reply to Comment 94239

There need to be real consequences for politicians that pull crap like this. But we barely hold dangerous drivers accountable, less the politicians that enable them.

Permalink | Context

By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 10:54:29 in reply to Comment 94239

My intent was to bring attention to the one lane that changes direction of traffic depending on the time of day and prevailing traffic direction, and not the political controversy Jarvis is associated with.

Obviously Main St has excess lane capacity, so how about one lane converted to two bike lanes, and the other 4 for two way traffic, with one of those cah nging direction as needed.

I hope I've made my point a little more clearly this time.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2013 at 11:06:44 in reply to Comment 94247

The thing is, that centre reversing lane is tied up in the political controversy. The bike lanes were ripped out so the city could restore it, even though rush hour commutes were only two minutes longer without it.

Beyond that, I just don't think the demand for lane capacity justifies the sheer expense and complication of a lane that reverses direction based on time of day. We already bend over backwards to accommodate through traffic; we need to get a lot more assertive about making our city streets complete, safe and accessible to everyone.

Permalink | Context

By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 11:14:03 in reply to Comment 94250

Well, how do I argue the "2 minute" stat? As a driver, I've been saying often now that If I had to drive 5- 10 minutes longer to get somewhere, ti's a very small price to pay for the benefits that ensue. I've been using alternate routes to get around downtown with no problems, so hopefully the bus lane will force others to do the same and leave most of downtown traffic for downtown patronage.

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2013 at 13:18:20 in reply to Comment 94254

Funny that driver delays should be brought up...

It seems the city is happy to accept pedestrian "solutions" that require walking 300m extra to a dedicated crossing.

But could you imagine having a left turn restriction or other blockage that required drivers to go 3km out of the way? That's the distance from the 403 to Victoria (Canadian Tire) and is the distance covered at 50km/hr in the same time a pedestrian covers 300m at 5km/hr. If the pedestrian is elderly or young or has restricted mobility, it's even more ludicrous.

We act like the impositions on pedestrians and cyclists of this dysfunctional network is akin to asking a driver to circle the block. But the functional equivalent is more akin to asking drivers to circle the core.

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 16:36:25 in reply to Comment 94269

Yes, and that is ignoring the fact that a cyclist/pedestrian has to use their own energy to do it, whereas drivers can just..press the gas.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Graefe (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 10:05:49

I was interested to see that last week Councillor Collins was retweeting anyone who agreed with his view that the bus lanes were a mistake, but not anyone who felt they were fine. You would think that someone who has been sitting on council so many years would know better than too rush to judgement.

Permalink | Context

By Jim Street (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 10:40:57 in reply to Comment 94238

We are coming up on election season...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 10:26:53

for anyone who cares, Hunter, Wilson and Cannon are sitting mostly empty 24-7 and all have westbound lanes through downtown.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2013 at 12:56:36 in reply to Comment 94241

I'm surprised that more drivers haven't learned what every single trucker in this city already knows. Cannon->Queen->King.

Permalink | Context

By DM (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 11:11:46 in reply to Comment 94241

Promise not to screw with Hunter?

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 18:52:04 in reply to Comment 94253

Lol...yea, it's such a gorgeous city street. Nobody better dare try to improve it. Can I quote you next time city hall wants to make improvements to a street in your neighbourhood??

Permalink | Context

By Dm (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 11:15:57 in reply to Comment 94281

Jut pointing out that there could be no commute friendly routes if all goes to RTH. No compromises could hurt your causes. Holds me back.

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 12:04:57 in reply to Comment 94332

What does "goes to RTH" mean?

Permalink | Context

By DM (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 14:09:16 in reply to Comment 94340

Apologies - "Just pointing out that there could be no commute friendly routes if all wishes of Raise The Hammer are applied".

Permalink | Context

By j.servus (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 15:59:35 in reply to Comment 94363

I'm not sure what you mean. The people riding the bus are commuters, too. Some commuters would like to ride their bikes along Main, but they don't, unless they are foolhardy. Sometimes they ride them on the sidewalk, probably because pedestrians are not as hard as cars. A lot of people in my neighborhood are commuting by foot, but there aren't many commute-friendly routes for them. I commute on foot into downtown. I walk along King, which is unpleasant until you get past Wellington, but pretty nice after that. I do pass a lot of parking lots, though, which don't enhance my commute and don't add a lot of interest and life to downtown. In fact, they make downtown a less interesting place, which I suppose could be a coherent strategy, up to a point: by increasing supply we are also reducing demand.

It would save me a good five minutes to walk along Main. Five minutes isn't a lot of time, in the grand scheme of things, but it's probably more than the average driver stands to lose by going to two-way streets, or by shooting down to Cannon to skip the International Village. But it's not worth it to me, because I'd have to walk along Main. I don't know if you've ever tried to commute by foot along Main Street. I would guess most people in City government have not. Many people in our neighborhood do walk along it, but it's very unpleasant for them, because it's been made so very pleasant for the people from other neighborhoods who like to speed along it back to their quiet streets in the suburbs. I confess I find it a little difficult to understand why the people who live here have designed their streets to be unpleasant to themselves, in order to make them pleasant to passers-by who seldom spend any money in our neighborhoods. But then I remember that its actually the passers-by, who live in the suburbs, that prefer this design for our neighborhoods. Maybe it's because they know fast, wide streets are safer for kids to walk to school, and that's just what they would want for their kids. Or maybe it's because they don't actually think about our neighborhoods at all, or because in their suburban world everyone has to drive for every errand anyway. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the suburbs having more councilors and more money. But I do find it odd when Lloyd Ferguson complains that our neighborhoods don't generate enough tax revenue while at the same time insisting on traffic patterns that enhance the value and convenience of suburban homes while destroying value, commerce, and vitality in our neighborhoods.

But perhaps you're only thinking of the people who commute by car? Lots of people on the Mountain commute in their cars along West Fifth, which is two lanes each way. I haven't heard any clamor from Mountain residents to pair West Fifth and Upper James as one-ways so there will be a "commute-friendly" route for them. I don't know why two lanes each way is adequately "commute friendly" on the Mountain but not on roads carrying the same volume of traffic in the core, but maybe that's one of those Hamilton exceptions I keep hearing about.

Permalink | Context

By DM (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 17:02:49 in reply to Comment 94378

By commute, I meant cars as it related to the previous comment. Please stop offering these other routes (Hunter, Charlton, etc) as they are going to be just as troublesome. I empathize with your causes, however, the alternatives and compromise just aren't there, yet are consistently offered and I find the routes offered to be highly residental over current highly commercial routes. "Not through my neighborhood!" is what I hear. Let me be the possibly first to say on RTH, please feel free to use the streets in my neighborhood to get somewhere else in the city. I just don't see the destruction as a result of the direction of traffic. But I am trying to. When I look around I see dramatic progess. Please come up with a RTH master plan.

Permalink | Context

By j.servus (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 20:24:06 in reply to Comment 94382

I don't mind Main being used as a through-street. I mind it being configured as a speedway with pathetic sidewalks and no room for cyclists.

You say, "...the alternatives and compromise just aren't there." Why not?

Let's imagine a possible compromise. We'll take the streets with the heaviest traffic, and make them one way. And we'll take the streets with the lightest traffic, and make them two way. The top streets for per lane traffic are Garth, Upper James, and Main around McMaster (where it is currently two-way).

Something is wrong. The most heavily traveled streets are all two way. Apparently the criterion for one-way streets is not that they have heavy traffic volume. Wentworth, which is one way, carries less than one fifth the volume of cars as Garth, which is two way. Go figure. I don't know what the criterion is for making streets one-way, but I can't help but notice that they're all downtown, and nobody in the other parts of town is asking for them to be implemented where they live.

So why can't we have the same alternative and compromise on Main, that already functions fine on Upper James and Garth, Golf Links and Mohawk, and Main itself once it gets out to Westdale and Dundas? These all carry comparable traffic, or even more traffic, than most of Main.

Comment edited by j.servus on 2013-11-06 20:36:48

Permalink | Context

By DBC (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 20:46:49 in reply to Comment 94396

Apparently it has something to do with ambulances.

I have no idea how they're getting the patients to Juravinski alive. In the lower city St. Joes is getting by on dumb luck I suppose.

Permalink | Context

By DM (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 20:43:24 in reply to Comment 94396

Compromise for the best scenario for all:

...one way street can accommodate relatively high traffic volumes with only two (2) travel lanes, given that turning movements can happen from one lane or the other. By comparison, a two-way street will need a wider, three (3) lane cross-section to accommodate a turning lane.

The capacity of one‐way streets can be approximately 10% to 20% greater than that of two‐way streets. Increased capacity can translate into fewer lanes and fewer through streets within a one‐way grid system, or alternatively, the option to reprogram any surplus capacity/space for other purposes (i.e., dedicated parking lanes, bicycle lanes, wider sidewalks).

Permalink | Context

By j.servus (registered) | Posted November 07, 2013 at 10:10:23 in reply to Comment 94399

If what you're suggesting is that we pare Main down to three* (or even four) lanes, make some real sidewalks appropriately scaled for an urban thoroughfare, put in a two-way protected bike lane, and add some trees: I could be content with that. It would make Main a hospitable street for all users, and a more pleasant street for residents and businesses nearby. (There is still a lot of evidence that one way streets are far less safe for pedestrians.)

*Three lanes on Main east would result in each lane carrying about the same amount of traffic now carried by Garth and Upper James lanes, assuming traffic volume remains constant (but it has been dropping on Main, and would probably drop further if the road were narrowed). That would be a much more "space efficient" use of that real estate, quite adequate for the car users but also making a lot more space for other users. And the other users would enhance local commerce a lot more than through drivers do, so it would also be an economic boon. Why don't we do it tomorrow?

Now, as for your suggestion (in the next comment) to lower the speed limit, first, I think the speed limit should certainly be lowered. 50 km posted speed gets you 60 km driving, and that's way too fast in so dense an area. But second, the main determinant of how fast drivers go is not the posted speed limit but the "feel" of the road. That's how speed traps work: the road "feels" like a highway, but is posted for a slower speed. Main feels like a highway, and its current configuration, five lanes of one way traffic and relatively few cars compared to the amount of available space, certainly adds to the speedway feel. If you added trees, a protected bike lane, wider sidewalks, you could go a long way to changing the feel of the road. But some such steps would, I think, have to complement lower speed limits, if the lower speed limits are to be effective.

Permalink | Context

By DM (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 20:40:16 in reply to Comment 94396

Lower the speed limit.
Add a bike lane.
No changes to direction needed.

Similar to Ottawa's recommendations. http://bit.ly/124W2ZG

From the discussion paper: Although the John and James Street conversions have been viewed as successful
by those that supported the original conversion (in terms of being a significant economic development engine), the City of Hamilton has no firm evidence to
support either position.

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 16:43:44 in reply to Comment 94398

Lower the speed limit. Add a bike lane. No changes to direction needed.

I simply cannot understand this argument. What are you trying to preserve by keeping the streets one-way? Making them complete streets already will take away the high speeds and convenience - keeping them one-way serves absolutely no purpose other than to make them less versatile. You can't satisfy the need for complete streets without seriously reducing travel times for through-traffic, and keeping one-way streets will not affect this incompatibility.

Permalink | Context

By Any on amous (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 21:53:43 in reply to Comment 94398

But if you keep Main and King one way - can you still have the LRT?

Permalink | Context

By Commutalicious (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 14:27:53 in reply to Comment 94363

There's always the ring highway that goes right around the city. Commute to your hearts content! Just don't think you have the right to speed through my community to shave a couple minutes off your day.

Permalink | Context

By z jones (registered) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 12:27:28 in reply to Comment 94253

Because Hunter is such a great urban street we want to preserve? No thanks.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By durander (registered) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 13:26:23

Great article. I guess one other issue (although not pertaining to the specific location where the transit lanes are located), it the reconfiguration of the Highway 403 interchanges that would be required for both Main Street and King Street. That's surely a large ticket item.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2013 at 13:32:01 in reply to Comment 94270

That's especially frustrating as they're terrible in the ramp-style slip-road form anyways. They never should have been built like that even with the city's embracing of 1-way streets. Those ramps are frustrating to cross as a pedestrian, frustrating to merge into traffic properly when planning to turn on Dundurn. Even accepting the 1-way nature of King and Main, they should've been built as proper intersections, and the city missed an opportunity to rectify that mistake when they rebuilt those bridges.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Brian Cumming (anonymous) | Posted November 07, 2013 at 00:04:00

Can't we just put the LRT onto Main St.?

Keep the main arteries one way, synchronise lights to reduce speed of traffic. Allow curbside parking everywhere. That article DM linked to http://www.ibiketo.ca/blog/ottawa-study-concludes-one-way-streets-only-way-accommodate-cycle-tracks-its-downtown makes the most sense I've read in a long time. There are many more effective ways to make streets pedestrian and cyclist friendly than converting to two-way.

Permalink | Context

By DM (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 15:53:48 in reply to Comment 94414

Thanks for reading the article Brian. It makes a lot of sense to me as well. Add in lowering the speed limit and it could be a win for everyone and at minimum be a building block towards further refinements (including 2 way in the future). Changing one way on main & king is a hard sell to many. Safety doesn't sell to the masses (whether it should or not I am not here to debate). Perhaps Ryan has hard data on property value increases as a result of bike lanes, etc. All I can find is fluff "data". Money talks to property owners. If sitting in traffic everyday results in 20% increases in property value, some could digest easily.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 07, 2013 at 00:57:07 in reply to Comment 94414

The city wants to protect the Main/Cannon east/west high-speed paired streets, I think. That's why LRT lies on King instead of Main.

Let me show you something:

http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/ABC2...

Hamilton's trucking industry has influence at city hall, and they protect this. This is why Bay Street is one way in defiance of all common sense no matter how much it screws up wayfinding in this city.

Look at King Street - notice that King's involvement with the truck route ends at Queen. That's why LRT goes there - because the trucks are no longer involved where King is too tight for both LRT and automobile traffic.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2013-11-07 01:04:32

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 07, 2013 at 10:07:36 in reply to Comment 94417

Here's a map detail from that document:

Map detail, Hamilton Truck Route

Interestingly, the legend says the dotted green line means a one-way truck route, but the lines on Queen and Bay are solid, even though they're both one-way streets.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2013-11-07 10:10:10

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 07, 2013 at 10:40:01 in reply to Comment 94444

Perhaps the dotted line means "1-way on 2-way street" that is, it's a two-way street but trucks are only permitted to travel in one direction?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 08:09:29

King Street is a driving nightmare. Took me 12 minutes to get from Victoria to Hughson. That is not going to get people downtown. That is not going to attract money and jobs downtown.

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 08, 2013 at 11:01:16 in reply to Comment 94523

12 minutes? I hope you packed your emergency rations kit! And to think you used to go downtown and spend money every day! oh how the businesses will suffer from losing you

Permalink | Context

By WMD (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 22:13:37 in reply to Comment 94539

Do some arithmetic. 10 minutes a day in a year for 5 day work days is 2500 minutes for a 50 week work year. That's 41 hours a year or one full work week. Over 25 years that's 1041 hours or about one half year of work in a lifetime stuck in traffic.

When you build a toilet you don;t build it with a one inch pipe because most of the time you don't use it. You build it with a 3 or 4 inch pipe so that when you flush if the shit does't fly all over the bathroom.

You guys want to permanently slow down traffic and worse, eliminate any high volume capacity which is dangerous.

Don't say silly thing like "pack your emergency kit?" That like saying "stop showing us stupid pictures of empty roads."

Just admit it. You want to permanently disturb the the majority of people for the sake of the minority. If everyone agrees fine. Have an election and vote in people who agree with you.

If you do not value your own life fine. But have some respect for those who value theirs.

Permalink | Context

By TB (registered) - website | Posted November 09, 2013 at 08:41:35 in reply to Comment 94570

Interesting analogy. So you and your ilk and your cars are shit being flushed through my neighbourhood. No thanks.

Permalink | Context

By New Here (anonymous) | Posted November 09, 2013 at 10:34:04 in reply to Comment 94583

LOL. Classic NIMBY.

Permalink | Context

By WMD (anonymous) | Posted November 09, 2013 at 10:16:35 in reply to Comment 94583

Essentially yes. But we all have to shit. So let's minimize it fairly for everyone. Don't let those very few who don't have to drive get the clean bathroom, while the most of the people who have to drive get all the smelly stuff.

You don't want to live in a bathroom. Don't buy a house on a major artery.

Permalink | Context

By a new low even for RTH trolls (anonymous) | Posted November 09, 2013 at 14:27:18 in reply to Comment 94586

Do you really think that your metaphor of taking a shit on people who live downtown is going to endear you to someone? Or to anyone for that matter?

I have an idea. We all need to shit. So we might as well build a moat around your house and put it there.

Or..... we can put the shit somewhere that people don't live. Like the linc...

Permalink | Context

By TB (registered) - website | Posted November 09, 2013 at 13:09:54 in reply to Comment 94586

Many streets in Hamilton, what you call major arteries, were configured for industry that no longer exists. The city is evolving, the requirements are changing and you need to keep up. Use the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of ring roads that have been built for your benefit instead of moaning about not being able to race through the heart of the city.

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 09, 2013 at 10:44:59 in reply to Comment 94586

That is some serious self-entitlement.

Permalink | Context

By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 09, 2013 at 06:10:56 in reply to Comment 94570

Dude, look at Dubai or New York or some place where vehicles and population grew together. The result was a sea of cars regardless or road widths. This GTHA region will not grow indefinitely, and have lane capacity to support this kind of thinking. We and our descendants are going to lose a lot more time than you are worried about at present, if we don't work toward a sustainable city, and like a tumor, the longer you wait, the harder to fix. There is so much hyperbole about the effects of complete streets, understandable, what we have now is all that most people know, and you are scared you will sit in permanent gridlock. These arguments are going to seem ridiculous if GTHA tries to keep growing like it is, and not improve some options to push some users away from cars. It's not always easy to articulate a bigger picture and future consequences of inaction!

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 08, 2013 at 23:29:41 in reply to Comment 94570

I have equal respect for people no matter what mode of transport they choose. If the bus lane saves a bus two minutes of travel time, and it's loaded to half of its 50 person capacity, then that bus lane has saved 2 x 25 x 5 x 50 = 12,500 minutes in a work year which equals 208 hours which is over 5 work weeks. If the bus lane saves 5 minutes of a bus at a 60 person capacity, it saves 1041 hours in one year - the same as your 25 year figure for the car. If it's an articulated B-Line bus, then it saves twice that.

Arithmetic rocks!

Permalink | Context

By WMD (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 23:40:25 in reply to Comment 94572

x 30000 people a day on main street is what? a kajillion hours more.

You're right. Arithmetic rocks.

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 09, 2013 at 10:42:12 in reply to Comment 94573

30,000 cars times zero delay on main is still zero.

Permalink | Context

By Dm (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 14:28:31 in reply to Comment 94539

Perhaps they were trying to go downtown? Condescending won't get any support.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 08, 2013 at 14:39:12 in reply to Comment 94550

We all know that a lot of the traffic along King Street is people driving across town. That needs to change, and as those drivers start developing alternate strategies involving the Linc or the QEW or Cannon Street, congestion on King will ease. The delay will shrink but remain, and will be tolerable for people travelling to downtown from the east end.

Well, that's the theory at least. These things take time. People aren't rational and don't automagically know or go to their best route.

Either way, last time I heard the LRT plan is to close King Street altogether in the International Village. So no matter what, the city has to figure out how to get on without King Street in that area.

Permalink | Context

By Dm (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 14:54:15 in reply to Comment 94551

Fair enough. But, we can't assume people that complain are all drive through. Are there stats that detail drive through traffic?

Permalink | Context

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 08, 2013 at 16:17:57 in reply to Comment 94552

LOL is a known troll who routinely makes derogatory comments about downtown, and who takes pride in having moved away as soon as (s)he could "afford it".

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted November 09, 2013 at 09:27:05 in reply to Comment 94558

I hear housing is cheap and traffic is light in Simcoe.

Permalink | Context

By Dm (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 17:46:20 in reply to Comment 94558

That's cool. Others who aren't frequent RTH readers may not know and may judge as a result. I didn't know. No worries.

Permalink | Context

By Anon (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 09:45:14 in reply to Comment 94523

You're absolutely correct. What it will do is discourage people from driving THROUGH downtown.

Permalink | Context

By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 09:23:26 in reply to Comment 94523

I'm out of town at the moment so I don't know if it's still there - but before I left there was a bunch of other lane reductions for construction or utility work of some kind - orange pylons were closing a segment of lane here and there.

Could the congestion you experienced have been caused by something unrelated to the bus lane?

The Spec did the same thing the day after the bus lane opened. They talked about horrible backlog in context of the transit lane, but there was unrelated construction bottlenecking King!!

Permalink | Context

By DM (anonymous) | Posted November 08, 2013 at 10:02:55 in reply to Comment 94527

Lane reductions were back between Emerald and Wentworth at end of October. Separated traffic prior to International Village and made international village slightly better during that time.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By DM (anonymous) | Posted November 14, 2013 at 16:22:04

Interesting brief article that may be relevant to discussion: http://www.thespec.com/news-story/4208129-traffic-jams-and-economic-growth/

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds