Special Report: Walkable Streets

Longwood Road Should Follow Complete Street Guidelines

According to Chicago's complete streets design guidelines, Longwood Road is an excellent candidate to be one lane in each direction, not four lanes with a centre turn lane.

By Ryan McGreal
Published January 10, 2014

As we have written several times, the redevelopment plan for Longwood Road through the McMaster Innovation Park District between Aberdeen Avenue and Main Street continues the City's practice of prioritizing automobile traffic over more sustainable transportation choices, a human-friendly environment and even the economic success of the Innovation Park.

City staff are entrenched in their position that the automobile traffic on Longwood will require four wide travel lanes plus a dedicated centre turn lane.

An otherwise commendable plan to build an off-street cycle track depends on Council's willingness to spend millions of dollars on a second bridge across Highway 403. In the meantime, the plan is to build a cycle track that goes as far as Frid Street and then dumps bicycles into mixed traffic on the street.

It's completely unnecessary. Longwood Road carries 18,000 cars a day, making it an excellent candidate for one travel lane in each direction with a dedicated centre turn lane.

City staff argue that once you take turning movements into consideration, having just one lane in each direction would produce an unacceptably poor level of service. Even with a dedicated left turn lane, drivers will have to wait behind people making right turns if they don't have a second passing lane in each direction.

Chicago Guidelines

Compare the City of Chicago's Complete Streets Design Guidelines [PDF], which specify that a so-called "Connector" street with less than 25,000 vehicles per day should be - wait for it - one vehicle lane in each direction.

Chicago Complete Streets Design Guidelines by roadway form and function
Chicago Complete Streets Design Guidelines by roadway form and function

Again, there is no good reason to make Longwood Road four vehicle lanes plus a centre turn lane. It will significantly overbuild the lane capacity, which will encourage more driving and increase dangerous vehicle speeds.

It will also force the addition of millions of unnecessary capital dollars (plus lifecycle costs of a new bridge) to provide a cycle track - or, more likely, put off the construction of a continuous cycle track indefinitely. That, in turn, will deter people from choosing to cycle to MIP, forcing more automobile trips in self-fulfilling predict-and-provide prophecy.

It will also undermine the mixed, pedestrian-friendly character of the innovation economic growth district. (Astonishingly, the administrators of MIP seem to support the five-lane Longwood Road design.)

Declining Automobile Traffic

City staff assume that, like background radiation, automobile traffic volumes will continue to grow year after year. However, overall traffic volumes across North America stagnated nearly a decade ago and have been falling steadily ever since.

That holds true in lower city Hamilton, where traffic volumes fell significantly between 2000 and 2010 according to the City's own data.

Daily Traffic Volumes, 2000 and 2010
Location 2000 Volume 2010 Volume Change % Change
Cannon E of Sherman 16,000 10,800 -5,200 -32.50%
Cannon W of Sherman 11,000 9,100 -1,900 -17.27%
Cannon near James 18,000 16,700 -1,300 -7.22%
Bay N of Main 15,700 12,400 -3,300 -21.02%
James S of Herkimer 30,000 18,700 -11,300 -37.67%
Main at Dundurn 41,100 37,300 -3,800 -9.25%
Main E of Bay 31,000 28,400 -2,600 -8.39%
Main near Kenilworth 32,000 20,300 -11,700 -36.56%
Queen S of Charlton 13,000 12,200 -800 -6.15%
Hunter W of John 11,000 7,500 -3,500 -31.82%

Policy in Hamilton needs to embrace and drive that trend into a future in which the demand for transportation is met by a complete, balanced, multi-modal approach that increases the share of walking, cycling and transit trips and reduces the share of driving (especially single-passenger-vehicle) trips.

We need only look at models like Vancouver, which has managed to reduce automobile traffic by 20-30 percent on downtown streets while its downtown population has boomed.

Longwood Road is particularly well-suited to this approach, given the economic development strategy of this innovation-based, urban-form employment cluster.

Chicago's guidelines are to have one travel lane in each direction for any Connector street with under 25,000 vehicles per day. Longwood Road, with only 18,000 vehicles per day, is a shoo-in.

Let's do the right thing instead of letting a great opportunity to make a positive, transformational change slip by.

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.

68 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By Billy (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:00:33

Isn;'t reasonable to assume that many of the new downtown condo dwellers will be working at MIP and other downtown lactations?

Permalink | Context

By Steve (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 18:31:07 in reply to Comment 96631

Perhaps. But that is a pretty big assumption, with no factual or scientific backing.

Permalink | Context

By Mac_Alumni (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 18:34:18 in reply to Comment 96679

Horrible assumption.

Permalink | Context

By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 16:43:34 in reply to Comment 96631

*Locations

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Comment edited by StephenBarath on 2014-01-10 16:43:57

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Mac_Alumni (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 12:56:44

Traffic volume is 18000 in 2014 or is that 2010?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By durander (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 13:05:24

Chicago is also a MAJOR city with a huge population base...obviously things are going to be different there. I would also argue that Longwood isn't exactly a 'connector' road...within the road network it serves the purpose of a more 'traditional' arterial road, connecting Highway 401 to Westdale (namely McMaster). Also, the 18,000 vpd AADT I'm guessing is a bit skewed...what is the peak hour volume? Going to one lane in each direction might have serious traffic impacts (I'm thinking particularly in the AM peak), and might back traffic onto the 403...something that would not be a good idea.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 10, 2014 at 13:22:32 in reply to Comment 96636

The traffic is one lane coming from the 403 right now. There's only one lane turning left from Aberdeen westbound to the 403.

Longwood is long. It's got room for cars to back up very far.

As for the traffic coming Westbound from Aberdeen and going up Longwood, I'd say encouraging that traffic is solving the wrong problem - much of that traffic is coming down Beckett/Queen hill and crawling up Aberdeen. Aberdeen's usage as a throughway is bad for Longwood and bad for Kirkendall.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-01-10 13:29:15

Permalink | Context

By Keith (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 17:24:05 in reply to Comment 96637

So you'd rather have that traffic going through Durand to King along alternatives like Hess?

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 10, 2014 at 17:27:54 in reply to Comment 96665

I'd rather see the traffic split between Aberdeen->Longwood, Queen->Charlton->Frid->Longwood, and Queen->King rather than everybody crowding onto Aberdeen and making one residential street bear the brunt of all that traffic. And either way, the 403 should be the first choice for coming down the escarpment in the West end.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 23:17:56 in reply to Comment 96666

This. I'm tired of people in all the other parts in Hamilton wanting calmer, safer streets, but then acting like it's their right to use these neighbourhoods as their short-cut, even with new luxurious freeways that literally run right where they need to go. Make it harder for them to use Queen/Aberdeen and they'll start using the highway.

Permalink | Context

By durander (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 17:42:00 in reply to Comment 96666

I for one would not consider Aberdeen to be a residential street...at least not that acts, or should act, as a local road. It's meant to move traffic. I agree with your comment about using Highway 401 as the primary route down the escarpment, but as a user of the Queen Street Hill, sometimes going that far west to only come back (to Bay Street in my situation), just doesn't make sense.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 10, 2014 at 18:05:49 in reply to Comment 96667

I for one would not consider Aberdeen to be a residential street

Aberdeen has been pressed into service as a thoroughfare but it's almost entirely residential along its full length. Those buildings you're speeding past on your way from Queen Street to Longwood, they're all houses.

Permalink | Context

By durander (registered) | Posted January 13, 2014 at 10:45:45 in reply to Comment 96675

OK...but by that argument, everyone 'main' street on the mountain is residential other than maybe Upper James. And for the lower city, a lot of the main arteries would be 'residential' as well. Like it or not, we need some place for vehicles to travel.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:19:48 in reply to Comment 96754

we need some place for vehicles to travel.

Certainly we do. People who want to get from one side of the city to the other in a hurry can use our fast, convenient ring highway and everyone else who wants to drive can drive at a safe speed through neighbourhoods where people live, work and play.

Permalink | Context

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:14:02 in reply to Comment 96754

I agree that the term "residential street" is not very helpful, since almost all urban streets are residential. Even downtown, most streets have many residents and street level businesses, and the fact we are planning for higher densities and mixed use means that downtown will actually have by far the highest residential density in the city (Ward 2 already has by far the high residential density).

"Residential street" is also not a recognized road classification, which divides streets into expressway/freeway, arterial, collector (sometimes called minor-arterial), local.

Rather than arguing whether a street has enough residences to be considered "residential", we should be doing what many other cities (including Vancouver, Bristol, Paris, ...) have done: every urban street should be designed so that it is safe and convenient for all road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.

A generalized 30km/h speed limit on all local and collector streets is a good start, combined with engineering re-designs such as narrower lanes, two-way conversions, more crosswalks and wider sidewalks.

Eventually, the only streets that should be designed for high speed (greater than 50km/h) "free flowing" traffic should be limited access expressways/freeways and highways with speed limits of 80 km/h.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:24:08 in reply to Comment 96756

Eventually, the only streets that should be designed for high speed (greater than 50km/h) "free flowing" traffic should be limited access expressways/freeways and highways with speed limits of 80 km/h.

Related: a great piece posted on Strong Towns about the dreaded stroad, a street flanked by more or less urban (as opposed to rural) uses but designed for fast, high-volume automobile traffic flows:

A STROAD is a street/road hybrid and, besides being a very dangerous environment (yes, it is ridiculously dangerous to mix high speed highway geometric design with pedestrians, bikers and turning traffic), they are enormously expensive to build and, ultimately, financially unproductive.

I'm looking at you, Upper James.

Permalink | Context

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 13, 2014 at 12:25:55 in reply to Comment 96758

And, exasperatingly, the City is in the process of making Longwood even more STROAD-like, with the addition of a central turning lane. EVEN THOUGH the stated goal of the re-design was to make a complete street that encourages cycling and walking! At least the STROAD in the video has wide sidewalks; Hamilton's STROADS have all the bad features of the STROAD in the video, but with extra narrow sidewalks!

It seems that Hamilton has decided that ALL arterial streets (and some collectors) should be designed as STROADS, forgetting that trying to build a high speed road in an urban street environment just doesn't work for anyone.

In some cases, the City has gone pretty far in making arterials look like freeways (think Main West), even to the extent of limiting access and building multiple physical barriers to stop pedestrians and vehicles coming from side streets (the blocks just south of Main St East between Wellington and Victoria are an appalling example of cutting off a residential neighbourhood by freeway type on-ramp barriers), but at the cost of extreme damage to livability and the local economy.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-01-13 12:27:12

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 23:19:28 in reply to Comment 96675

When the Queen St hill was closed this summer Aberdeen was a ghost town.
I'd say 80% of it's traffic is from the Mountain. Why did we build the Linc/Red HIll again if nobody wants to use them??
No other city would allow their downtown neighbourhoods to be a dumping ground and traffic sewer for everyone else, but here we not only allow it, we have councillors resisting any change to end this idiotic practice.

Permalink | Context

By Keith (anonymous) | Posted January 12, 2014 at 22:28:25 in reply to Comment 96695

So you're advocating for freeway expansion if it removes vehicles from local roads? So from your POV, the Red Hill was a saving grace to the City then?

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 13, 2014 at 07:09:08 in reply to Comment 96747

It's the other way around: if the Red Hill is going to be built no matter what, let's at least salvage some benefit by using it to remove through traffic from downtown streets. After all, that was one of the benefits promised by its proponents, a promise that has yet to be fulfilled since traffic still flows so quickly through the lower city.

Permalink | Context

By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 23:32:13 in reply to Comment 96695

The Dutch model of Duurzaam Veilig (English translation: Sustainable Safety) would be to require cut-through car drivers to use the freeway and prevent "rat-running" cut-through car traffic in a residential street. Only walking, cycling or public transit should be able to cut through a residential neighbourhood.

Permalink | Context

By JohnnyVelvet (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 13:34:32 in reply to Comment 96637

As a current resident of the area with an young toddler who's daycare happens to be accessed from Longwood only, I will have to disagree with this post. Whereas I am in agreement 99% of RTH, my personal experiences with Longwood have not been positive. While it's great to see the foot traffic of students and some young professionals along Longwood, it is equally frustrating to try and get around the area due to the amount of cars. Taking into account that Longwood is a truck route, a bus route, and vehicles going to work, school and, in my case, daycare, it is quite a treacherous commute. Add to that, when there are events at Careport Centre, it feels like you are in Mississauga! I have tried walking along the route with baby in stroller and can say I have tried my part to promote less vehicular traffic on Longwood, but I think just due to the sheer layout alone, any traffic adjustments should be more in line to help deal with the peak load times for Longwood. Now, if you turn Aberdeen to a non-arterial road and force highway drivers to get off the highway at Main W instead of Aberdeen...I'll gladly back that proposal!!

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 23:21:56 in reply to Comment 96641

I don't think anyone is saying we should make it hard for cars on Longwood. The stats being presented are showing that we are way overbuilding a road for no reason. 1-lane each way can easily handle it's traffic volume. Hamilton is not rolling in dough. There's no reason we should be literally throwing money down the toilet building a street 2x as wide as it needs to be. We did this back in the 50's and now have millions of dollars in extra maintenance costs each year for traffic lanes we have no need of.

We should be building this street to handle the traffic on it, not 2.5x the traffic on it.

Permalink | Context

By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted January 13, 2014 at 20:42:16 in reply to Comment 96696

I happen to have kids at Westdale whom I must drive to school due to their schedules. The intersection at Main is a disaster. Because they eliminated the through lane, traffic heading northbound is stuck as cars hold to turn right for pedestrians. I have sat at that intersection for 8 red lights in the morning. Before the changes I used to wait for one. It was never a bottleneck. Now it is.

Similarly, for southbound traffic out of Westdale, you sit through five or six lights trying to head south at evening rush hour because they eliminated one lane through making a mandatory left turn lane.

When you build roads you have to build capacity for the high volume times. It appears to be wasteful on off times, but it meets capacity at high volume times.

Using your throwing things down the toilet analogy, one would never build a house with a one inch black water pipe just because a big pipe is rarely used and is expensive. Yes it's expensive to use a larger pipe, but when you flush the toilet, the waste is eliminated as opposed to just sitting there - or worse, backing jup into your home.

Why does everyone want to punish people in cars forcing them to sit for ten minutes at an intersection polluting away? Don't get me started about that stupid light at Aberdeen and Dundurn!

Permalink | Context

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 14, 2014 at 17:07:16 in reply to Comment 96768

The traffic seems pretty variable: I rode my bike along Longwood this morning towards Westdale at 8:50am and, although traffic was fairly heavy, I didn't have to wait at all. I've always been surprised at how many parents drive their kids to Westdale given the excellent bus service on both Longwood and Main and the fact it is cycling distance for most students, and walking distance for many.

If you you live in Kirkendall or Durand I'm not sure why you MUST drive your teenagers to Westdale: the 6 bus has service every 20 minutes at rush hour and is well-used by high school students. Outside of rush hour, traffic is light on Longwood.

http://www.hwdsb.on.ca/wp-content/upload...

As Ryan has pointed out, if you make it easy to drive everywhere then more people will drive. There is no reason for most parents to drive their children to Westdale, unless they live out of catchment and far from HSR routes. Remember, these are teenagers who can get there on their own, not elementary school children who need to be walked to school.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-01-14 17:12:34

Permalink | Context

By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted January 14, 2014 at 19:12:55 in reply to Comment 96785

I didn't say I always drive them; I said "I must" - when I must. And when I must I must. They walk many days and take the bus when they are late but we live on the very fringe of the district and my daughter is in many bands with early practices, etc. etc.

I don't think I should have to justify when or why I do it. I am telling you the truth that when I do I sit at the light. In fact, in 3.5 years I have never not sat at the light and it is literally 8 light cycles.

If you ride a bike maybe you don't wait in line all the way back to the non-synchro light that also holds up traffic. Maybe you ride up the side of the cars. But I am not lying when I say that I have to wait - a lot.

I went to Mac in the 70's. I have a clear memory of how the intersection has worked over the last 40+ years and the current iteration is the worst by far. If the statistics on this site are correct, and I am sure that they are, this is all the more galling given that traffic volume is down.

Sometimes when the line is really long, I drop them off at the non-synchro light and turn around and go back downtown along Aberdeen because it is faster. With all due respect, that is ridiculous.

Permalink | Context

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted January 15, 2014 at 10:47:21 in reply to Comment 96788

Sorry if I misinterpreted "must" (although I still don't quite understand why you must drive your kids in, even sometimes).

When I ride my bike there, I stay in the lane of traffic ("take a lane") and don't pass by the side. I also was taking the 6 bus for several weeks during the very cold weather at the same time, and there were never any problems. 8 light cycles is extreme and would only occur if there is an accident, or extreme traffic due to a blockage on the 403. Before the CP trail was built I cycled or took the bus on Longwood virtually every weekday morning and evening during rush hour from 1998 to 2010 and it was rare to have severe slowdowns. It did happen (especially due to accidents or severe weather), but was not a real problem.

I agree that the design should be improved for drivers: maybe a right turn only lane, a straight ahead lane and a left turn lane would work. But there are other options than taking Longwood. I guess, what I still don't understand is that if you find Longwood between Aberdeen and Main St so frustrating, why don't you just take Main St? Or have your kids take the bus?

When you say " If the current design was to discourage people from driving down Longwood, it has more than done it's job in my view." this is like saying "the restaurant is so crowded no one goes there any more". Some drivers may complain, but obviously most still aren't bothered enough to actually take another route (or walk, cycle, take transit or travel at another time).

Longwood between the rail bridge and Main St is clearly not residential now, but many students walk along that narrow sidewalk to and from Westdale High School. More importantly, the goal that the Innovation Park will be developed as a walking and cycling campus, which means the street must be designed to be comfortable, safe and convenient for pedestrians and cyclists (which it is not now). Redesigning it with an additional turning lane does not solve the "choke point" at the bridge (for either cyclists or drivers), makes the street anti-pedestrian and cyclist, encourages more driving.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-01-15 10:55:22

Permalink | Context

By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted January 15, 2014 at 18:06:27 in reply to Comment 96803

8 light cycles is normal in the morning during rush hour. I have lived it. I have had to turn around as I said.

I am coming from the South East so Main is irrelevant.

I should not have to justify why I have to drive. Sometimes I just have to. If I could avoid it at all I would. There are personal things that need not be shared on a blog. I am just asking you to assume that I must drive occasionally and that buses are not an option and a cab would have the same problem as I have.

Maybe most people still go there because they have to go there - i.e. get to work, drive from Aberdeen to Mac. Drive from the west mountain or east mountain to Mac. I don't know. Blocking traffic just to block it is questionable. Blocking traffic that could easily flow more smoothly at a higher volume just to engage in behavior modification is questionable. The justification for blocking traffic should be shared with those who paying taxes for the privilege of being frustrated.

It's not just that they are not bothered to take another route. It could well be, like it is for me, that there is no other route that makes any sense.

I agree, a through lane would work better.

When they get a tenant for the innovation park they can re-adjust it again.

I am not a traffic engineer. I am just reporting what happens to me. It used to work fine. Now it doesn't.

Permalink | Context

By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted January 16, 2014 at 11:46:22 in reply to Comment 96837

Just to correct you: MIP already has dozens of tenants of varying sizes, and hosts two large laboratories. There are hundreds of employees on the campus. Events of all sizes are routinely held during and after business hours.

If you believe as I do that MIP is a great resource for the city, the road that bisects it needs to be improved. I’m sure it would be difficult to prove empirically, but the types of people who do and will locate at MIP genuinely want different transportation options- they will be turned off by having to contend with 70km/h traffic. MIP is competing for tenants with places like Mars in downtown Toronto and Communitech in downtown Kitchener (among others), so I think the impact could be significant.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 14, 2014 at 18:01:27 in reply to Comment 96785

I'm quite sure a lot more kids would walk from Kirkendall to Westdale if the walking route was safer and more pleasant. When I ran along Longwood last weekend, the sidewalk alternated between deep, wide puddles and sheer ice (it was by a huge margin the worst stretch of sidewalk I encountered on a 7km trip).

Permalink | Context

By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted January 14, 2014 at 19:19:29 in reply to Comment 96786

I have no way of knowing what the statistics are, but in my family the kids walk more than they are driven. My guess is that the vast majority already take the bus or walk. If the current design was to discourage people from driving down Longwood, it has more than done it's job in my view. However, please note that that section of Longwood is not a residential street by any stretch of the imagination. It is a feeder road from the highway and Aberdeen. When I ride west, I take the rail trail and turn up the side streets to Mac etc.

The sidewalk was probably crap because no-one lives there. There are no people to clear the walk way and most of it, including the very long bridge, is the responsibility of the City.

Permalink | Context

By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted January 15, 2014 at 13:20:10 in reply to Comment 96789

The sidewalk is often “crap” because it is graded such that water sits on the sidewalk to form puddles, or freeze into ice. It is poorly designed and maintained, and for this reason often becomes impassable as a sidewalk. No home owner would clear it.

You should also walk down Aberdeen, where your kids have to contend with both home owners who do not clear their sidewalks properly, and also road grading that makes it almost impossible for motorists to avoid splashing people on the sidewalk.

You're wrong that Longwood is just a feeder from the highway; it's part of the link from Kirkendall to MIP/Westdale/McMaster.

Permalink | Context

By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted January 15, 2014 at 17:11:49 in reply to Comment 96818

I am not wrong, I am correct in what I said which is essentially no different than what you said. "It is a feeder road from the highway and Aberdeen." Aberdeen runs from James to Longwood and all roads along it feed it. Feeder; Link; isn't that all the same? Bottom line is that no-one lives there.

I walk down Aberdeen all the time and you are correct, at times it is almost impossible not to get splashed. What's the point?

The City is responsible for the grading, the construction and mostly for the ice and snow clearing as well. Bottom line is that it is the City's responsibility. So get the Alderman to address it.

Permalink | Context

By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted January 16, 2014 at 11:37:47 in reply to Comment 96834

When you say “feeder from the highway and Aberdeen,” you seem to be saying that it is principally for vehicle traffic- not many people are walking to Longwood from their trek down the 403. You’re wrong that the “bottom line” is that no one lives there- there are hundreds of students at Westdale, and hundreds of employees at MIP’s many tenants and its several outbuildings. So that generates a lot of traffic of all different kinds at Longwood- only one type of traffic is currently accommodated safely and comfortably, and under the City’s proposal that will remain the case.

You said that Longwood Road’s sidewalk is in the state it is because no one lives there to clear the snow; that is not the cause. My point was that Aberdeen also suffers from walkability issues, for different reasons. Yes, you’re correct that the municipal government is responsible. I’m not holding my breath here, though.

I think we’re off track. You said “If the current design was to discourage people from driving down Longwood, it has more than done it's [sic] job in my view.” With respect, you are entirely wrong about that. The only type of traffic Longwood currently accommodates properly is motor vehicles- for people on foot or bicycle, it is not comfortable or safe. At Longwood and Main, you are just plain wrong (I don’t think you’re lying about eight light cycles, I think you are exaggerating). The real problem with that intersection is not that people have to occasionally wait to make a right turn, it’s that people are not allowed to cross Main on the west-side of the intersection. For an intersection with a high school on one corner, it is insane to restrict crossing in this way.

Permalink | Context

By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2014 at 09:36:41 in reply to Comment 96859

I thought you thought I am lying or exaggerating. I am not. (That is pretty rude by the way.) If you think I am wrong, or worse lying, go out and try to drive north on Longwood at 8:20 - 8:40 Monday to Friday. Then try to drive south from King after 3:15.

I checked with my partner who alternates the task with me (actually does it more.) The routes were timed. From Aberdeen it is faster to drive west of Queen, East to Bay, North to King and West to Paradise. I thought that would take a lot longer and I haven't tried it yet, but if it is, that will solve my problem as silly as that route suggests. (I am sure the kids who go to school on Bay will like the extra traffic.) My partner has been driving that way for months now to save time. If I had know that I probably wouldn't have posted anything to save my integrity.

Kids who walk to school and employees who work in the buildings are mostly rush hour travelers as well. My guess is that a lot of the employees drive. Other than that though there is very little pedestrian traffic.

I would say Longwood is principally for vehicle traffic. It is certainly not your standard residential street. Kids do use it at the beginning and end of school but not a lot otherwise. And I doubt there would be any great reason for them to use it otherwise. I saw somewhere on the blog that 18000 cars travel down there a day. I do not know if that number is correct.

I am correct at least in that "tieing" up the traffic at Main has discouraged me and my partner from driving down there.

Tough crowd here.

Permalink | Context

By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted January 21, 2014 at 09:32:26 in reply to Comment 96898

I’m sorry, Notlloyd, I didn’t mean to be rude. I think everyone exaggerates from time to time, I didn’t mean it to be an offense. I apologize. And I will try to drive that route next time I’m in the neighbourhood in a car around that time.

You are correct that most employees on Longwood drive. This is partly due to the fact that Longwood is so bad for people on foot and bicycle, though. Longwood is clearly principally for vehicle traffic, but that’s not the way it should be. And not only standard residential streets (I expect you mean in the suburbs) should be friendly and safe for people on foot or using bikes.

Permalink | Context

By bikehounds (anonymous) | Posted January 17, 2014 at 11:43:15 in reply to Comment 96898

Sounds like 2-way queen street would solve your problem. Once again the one way network creates false bottlenecks and failed wayfinding by forcing traffic along inefficient routes.

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 17, 2014 at 11:13:25 in reply to Comment 96898

You keep implying that some municipal change has made this traffic worse. They converted a straight-through-lane into a left-turn-lane when they added the bike-lane past the high-school (and I defy you to say that a high-school doesn't need a bike lane). That shouldn't have affected the traffic at all anyways - most of the traffic coming out of Longwood would be going to McMaster, which would be a left turn. The only real "loss" is a lane of traffic feeding into Westdale, which isn't exactly a massive employment centre. Eastbound traffic would be getting off at the Main Eastbound ramp instead of the Longwood exit.

How could traffic have shifted for the worse?

Either way, the likely reconfiguring of that intersection if a lane were removed would be to lose a southbound lane, not a northbound one. So under Ryan's plan, your morning commute wouldn't change except you'd be less likely to get stuck behind a cyclist.

What could be done as a compromise: keep Longwood 4 lanes as-is up to the bridge, where you narrow it to 3 lanes (2 North, 1 South). Add the new separated bike-path and improved sidewalk as planned but without the ridiculous road-widening to five lanes and the sistered bridge.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2014-01-17 11:18:54

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 10, 2014 at 13:45:01 in reply to Comment 96641

is equally frustrating to try and get around the area due to the amount of cars

The city's answer is to make more room for cars, which will increase the number of cars and further deter people from walking, cycling or taking transit instead, which in turn will further increase the volume of cars. It's called induced demand and it's a real thing, but most traffic engineers ignore it when designing streets. The result is self-fulfilling predict-and-provide planning that creates the very conditions it assumes.

The good news is that induced demand also works for walking and cycling: if you make it cheaper, easier and more convenient to walk or ride a bike, many more people will do so.

The current plan for Longwood Road will only lock-in and exacerbate the unpleasant conditions you observe. If we want different results, we need to do things differently.

Permalink | Context

By johnnyvelvet (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 14:44:29 in reply to Comment 96642

Again, just from my observations, the fact that there is a two lane dedication to left turns at Longwood and Main and judging by the volume of cars turning left at Aberdeen and Longwood off of the 403, the real problem is access to Westdale for vehicular traffic. One cannot argue to growth of Hamilton, particularly in the lower west-end be it residential or commercial. With McMaster University and Hospital being a major employer within Hamilton, I think the increased load along Longwood is a natural evolution. Naturally, more cars will be using Longwood to get to there final work destination. While I agree with your argument to make it easier and more convenient to walk or ride a bike, how does that work for people living in Ancaster working somewhere in the McMaster vicinity? I agree, widening Longwood for cars is a bandaid solution. Putting myself out there, but I would argue it's the best solution to date that's fiscally feasible. Yes, I would love to see the extension of Frid Street to connect to MIP. Yes, I would love to re-engineered highway access points for the west-end of the city. Yes, I would love to see widened sidewalks along Longwood on both sides of the street with a dedicated bike lane. At the same time, I don't want to have to deal with 3 sets of lights that are within 500 metres of each other on Longwood leading to further backlog of traffic both at the east and west end of Aberdeen. I don't see many people jumping on the 6 to head to Westdale in single lane traffic to get to school for 8:20am. I don't see bikes wanting to compete with cars for the one lane to get to the west-end. Again, just my viewpoints~

Permalink | Context

By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 15:10:26 in reply to Comment 96643

One cannot argue to growth of Hamilton, particularly in the lower west-end be it residential or commercial. With McMaster University and Hospital being a major employer within Hamilton, I think the increased load along Longwood is a natural evolution.

One can certainly argue that the population of Ward 1 has not been growing over the past 5-10 years. Census data from 2011 bears this out: http://raisethehammer.org/article/1541/

Employment may be growing at McMaster's main campus and at MIP, but that growth is not happening quickly. If anyone has stats on that handy I'd be interested.

Permalink | Context

By JohnnyVelvet (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 15:26:27 in reply to Comment 96645

On the same token, Ward 1 is comprised of various "neighbourhoods". I would be very interested to see how the census numbers bear for this decade. Not that I expect monumental shifts in numbers, but with the types of moving trucks I see coming into Kirkendall as well as ambulances leaving, I think Ward 1 will see an "upswing" on population numbers.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 10, 2014 at 14:59:31 in reply to Comment 96643

While I agree with your argument to make it easier and more convenient to walk or ride a bike, how does that work for people living in Ancaster working somewhere in the McMaster vicinity?

The purpose of better walking and biking facilities isn't to get everyone walking or cycling instead of driving, but rather to get more people walking or cycling instead of driving. It will always be possible to point to some group of road users that has no choice but to drive, but that is no reason to force everyone to drive even when it would make more sense to walk, cycle or take transit.

A complete streets policy that emphasizes real choice among modalities (or, like Vancouver, a policy that prioritizes active, sustainable transportation over driving) will provide a much more balanced and effective use of scarce public space than a cars-first policy that pushes all other modes to the margins.

The reason you don't see more people walking, cycling and using transit is that our street network actively works against those ways of getting around. Instead, it effectively forces everyone to drive, which is then used to rationalize not making the changes that would rebalance our streets and shift the balance of choices people make in how to get around.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By johnnyvelvet (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 15:19:43

Just for my general knowledge, is there anything out there that compares volume coming off the 403 to Longwood vs. from Aberdeen westbound?

As long lifelong Hamiltonian, I've been waiting a very long time for us to do things differently...thanks for pushing the subject...much needed!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By hshields (registered) - website | Posted January 10, 2014 at 15:23:55

Ryan - Has the City provided any data that indicates the amount of traffic that would be turning (left or right) off Longwood into either side of MIP or Careport? Could the argument be made that, notwithstanding general guidelines of traffic volumes and corresponding road design (e.g. Chicago design), this specific study area has data that suggests dedicated lanes are needed to accommodate turning?

I'm no traffic engineer or expert but I have never heard of the City collecting such data to make that argument, nor any study collecting this kind of data in order to add additional lanes (other than left-turn lanes).

If the City hasn't collected that data and is just speculating, that's troublesome as we are dealing with multi-million dollar capital expenditures for a permanent second hwy. 403 bridge, not to mention walkability and attractiveness of the whole MIP area.

Permalink | Context

By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 15:34:01 in reply to Comment 96650

As a general rule, part of traffic forecasting includes projecting traffic volume and turning movements based on land use. So in the case of MIP, they would look at existing conditions (traffic counts and turning movements today), and then project to a set horizon year, which in the case of Longwood would most likely be the year when they expect MIP to be fully built out. Based on what they expect in terms of number of employees on site and types of businesses and an estimate of the percentage of trucks in the traffic, then they establish the horizon year traffic volumes and turning movements. It is a combination of what they know based on current conditions, and best practices related to the planned land uses. Any new development is generally required to submit this sort of study, called a Traffic Impact Study, to the municipality for approval. The Longwood Road EA would also have required this sort of work.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 10, 2014 at 15:43:57 in reply to Comment 96654

The problem, as staff indicated to me when I met with them, is that they assume traffic volumes will increase based on a standard model that completely ignores the phenomenon of induced demand. Plenty of engineering research has found that the standard model doesn't work (I've written about some of it), but each city still follows it, pointing to the fact that other cities also follow it.

On the rare occasions when either a) the engineers ignore their own standard assumptions or b) are overruled by more visionary politicians, the result is that some of the automobile traffic "simply disappears" and the street network settles into a more balanced equilibrium.

Permalink | Context

By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 15:55:27 in reply to Comment 96655

Thanks for the reminder on that article Ryan. I was thinking about the subject of how crummy our models generally are at predicting traffic volumes and whether anyone has taken a look back over history to see how often those projections end up being true, but I hadn't found time to look into it.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 10, 2014 at 16:01:18 in reply to Comment 96657

The projections tend to be self-fulfilling. If you design a street around the assumption that automobile traffic volumes will go up 30 percent, the street design tends to induce the growth in automobile traffic that the plan assumes. It's a vicious feedback loop and we've been on it for decades.

Permalink | Context

By stillonthis? (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 16:27:40 in reply to Comment 96658

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.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 23:23:31 in reply to Comment 96661

My 7 year old is smarter than our traffic engineers.

Permalink | Context

By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted January 11, 2014 at 10:12:12 in reply to Comment 96699

Sigh. Way to feed the troll exactly what he wanted to hear.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted January 12, 2014 at 21:39:13 in reply to Comment 96712

haha...my bad.

Permalink | Context

By sweetmatthew (anonymous) | Posted January 11, 2014 at 18:33:30 in reply to Comment 96712

Jason's as bad a troll as any of the others that get downvoted around here. His unending negativity, cynicism and inability to respectfully disagree with someone is documented in just about every post he makes.

By the way Jason, since your concillor is running for mayor, can I expect to see your name on the ballot to take his place come October?

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 10, 2014 at 18:10:55 in reply to Comment 96661

There are already new models for us to choose from, like the models being used in Chicago, Vancouver, New York, Portland and elsewhere. Even Hamilton claims to support the same objectives of walkability and modal balance, but our tools and processes haven't caught up to our rhetoric. Incidentally, the models I am advocating have been developed by professional engineers, planners, economists and so on, and not just some random crank on the internet, as your sarcasm would indicate.

Permalink | Context

By jason (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 23:24:11 in reply to Comment 96677

Ryan you keep forgetting - those cities all want to be real, successful, vibrant cities. We want to be a boring highway.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By hshields (registered) - website | Posted January 10, 2014 at 15:32:54

Regarding comparing Chicago and Hamilton, there is a subtle but powerful logic we should keep in mind: there is no direct correlation with size of the City to the volume of vehicle traffic on a study area.

As an example, you could be living in a small or rural town with a small population but vehicle use is extremely high. This would yield high traffic volumes in a low-population and low-density area. Conversely, you could be living in a major city area but vehicle use is extremely low. This would yield low-traffic volumes in a high-population or high-density area.

Because we don't live in a black and white world. Most places we live or travel to will be somewhere in-between: a certain level of population and density and a traffic system trying to match the volume it anticipates.

The point I'm making is that yes, you can compare Chicago to Hamilton to Toyko to Melbourne when you are talking about traffic volumes (regardless of the population size or density around it) and the corresponding appropriate road design that accomplishes your goals.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By durandette (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 16:03:24

The usual Hamilton squelching. Since Chicago is bigger it has MORE congestion not so so it would be easier to follow the complete streets guidelines here. What, you think Chicago doesn't have peak traffic at rush hour just like Hamilton? No more excuses! We can't afford to build and maintain 5 lanes for a street that needs 3. Multiply that across the whole city and you see why we've fallen so far behind in infrastructure maintenance.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By durander (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 17:50:34

I'll admit I haven't read the document, but I do wonder what the design suggestions would be for an Institutional/Campus 'building form and function'. I'm not convinced that Longwood Road is a mixed-use type of roadway... Also...no zebra crossings on the front cover of the guidelines....blasphemous! Let's get those tactical urbanists out there!

Permalink | Context

By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted January 13, 2014 at 10:56:30 in reply to Comment 96670

I do wonder what the design suggestions would be for an Institutional/Campus 'building form and function'.

Looking at our other 'institutional/campus' zone, it seems we should close Longwood off to all through traffic other than buses, we should plant trees and install a myriad of pedestrian pathways and bike racks.

I'm not convinced that Longwood Road is a mixed-use type of roadway.

This discussion is not about Longwood in it's current form, but about how to achieve the cities stated goals for the road.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Groan (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 19:24:35

Your spam filter is blocking responses for reasons I can't fathom.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 10, 2014 at 19:33:35 in reply to Comment 96683

The spam filter is frustrating and I apologize for the difficulty it's causing you. Unfortunately, this site has been deluged with anonymous spam comments and have had to tighten the filter quite a lot in recent months. If you register a user account, your comments are not spam-filtered.

Permalink | Context

By Groan (anonymous) | Posted January 11, 2014 at 01:18:29 in reply to Comment 96684

Hi Ryan,
I'll leave it to you to post my original comments if you're able. I sympathize with where you're at but find logging in continuously to participate in forums like this to be a hassle. There are also reasons some of us prefer to stay incognito. Thanks for all your great work on RTH but, I fear, the spammers are winning when reasonable commentary can't be posted for unknown reasons. Maybe you could let us know why we're being denied the chance to state our points.
Cheers,
Anonymous

Permalink | Context

By Secret_Service (anonymous) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 23:08:19 in reply to Comment 96684

Perhaps a change from "What do you get if you multiply 5 and 1?" & "What do you get if you divide 12 by 3?" could slow it down? Something other than 4 & 5?

Permalink | Context

By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 13, 2014 at 11:58:03 in reply to Comment 96691

Computers are generally pretty good at math - the trick with those math problems is that they required parsing the text of the equation and understanding that it's a math problem, not actually performing the math problem itself. Basically, the idea is to ask a question that

1) Humans can understand

and

2) Computers can't understand it

while

3) The answer to the question isn't written in the question itself, so computers can't cheat by simply trying random words picked from the question and repeating them.

Ultimately, it depends on no programmer being intrepid enough to bother solving (2) for such a low-traffic site. Obviously somebody sat down and wrote a "math in english" parser. The math is probably still blocking some crude spammers, but the sophisticated ones are obviously blasting right through it. Probably the future will require those nasty distorted-picture-of-text solutions, but computers are getting good at them too.

Permalink | Context

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 13, 2014 at 12:30:06 in reply to Comment 96759

Probably the future will require those nasty distorted-picture-of-text solutions, but computers are getting good at them too.

And Mechanical Turk is also helping to make the issue moot for sites for which it is worth spending a bit of money to pay human CAPTCHA solvers.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Steve (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 20:09:55

What's the difference between Chicago and Hamilton? Apart from the obvious, a person who's in his early 40's and progressive in charge of transportation vs. I don't know who in Hamilton...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By KevinLove (registered) | Posted January 10, 2014 at 23:48:37

Here is a video of a very similar street to Longwood in the city of ʼs-Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands. While watching it, please note Duhamel College and associated institutional buildings that are similar to MIP.

Note also one lane for cars each way, proper cycle paths and intersections featuring protected roundabouts. The video is here:

http://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2013/0...

In my opinion, this is the proper model for Longwood.

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