Special Report: Walkable Streets

No Need to Remove Curbside Parking on Bold and Bay

Removing curbside parking spots will only result in higher vehicle speeds, less protection for people walking, and needless opposition from people concerned about the loss of parking.

By Ryan McGreal
Published March 13, 2015

this article has been updated

Yesterday, Nicholas Kevlahan wrote about a recent public meeting on the planned two-way conversion of Bold and Duke Street, noting that a number of attendees raised a series of objections that were thoroughly addressed by the City staff on hand - with one exception.

Duke Street
Duke Street

While most of the objections amounted to knee-jerk fear of change, one concern was quite valid and staff did not lay it to rest: the concern that the two-way conversions will result in fewer curbside parking spots.

Under the current plan, approximately 19 spots will be removed from Duke - 12 spots on the north side of Duke between Hess and Caroline, and seven spots on the north side of Duke between Hess and Queen.

The width of Duke ranges from 8.1 metres (26.6 feet) to 9.4 metres (30.8 feet). The width of Bold ranges from 8.4 metres (27.6 feet) to 9.3 metres (30.5 feet).

According to City staff, the City's policy for two-way streets is to allow parking on both sides of the street where streets that are 8.5 metres (27.9 feet) or wider. However, that policy has only been in place for the past ten years and there are many streets narrower than that which have parking on both sides.

Recurring Theme

This is a recurring theme in recent years: to the extent that the city is doing any two-way conversions at all, the tendency has been to remove parking spots out of a misguided attempt to maintain wide lanes.

The City did the same thing last year with the Rebecca Street conversion, which was going to involve the totally needless removal of 13 parking spots.

Rebecca Street between Catharine and John before two-way conversion (RTH file photo)
Rebecca Street between Catharine and John before two-way conversion (RTH file photo)

Fortunately, local residents spoke up in support of keeping the parking spots and Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr got involved to work with staff. In the end, only a few spots were taken out.

Rebecca Street between Catharine and John after two-way conversion (RTH file photo)
Rebecca Street between Catharine and John after two-way conversion (RTH file photo)

Needless to say, Rebecca Street works just fine as a two-way street, curbside parking and all.

Safer and More Convenient

The relative narrowness of the street means that two cars can't pass each other at a free-flowing speed of 50+ km/h.

That is a feature, not a bug. Calming automobile traffic and reducing dangerous speeding is one of the goals of the two-way conversion, in addition to making the neighbourhood more navigable to people on bicycles and in cars alike.

Two-way conversion also reduces excess driving and turning movements (the most dangerous) from people driving to local destinations who otherwise are forced to overshoot a destination on a parallel street, then make two turns to double back.

Like Rebecca, Bold and Duke have curbside parking on one side, with the exception of Duke between Caroline and Queen, which has parking on both sides. Currently, that means each street has a single extremely wide lane: eastbound on Bold and westbound on Duke.

With two-way conversion, each street will have two narrow lanes, on in each direction. Removing curbside parking to widen those lanes will only result in higher vehicle speeds and less protection for people walking - plus avoidable opposition from local residents who are understandably upset about lost parking.

Residential Side Streets

Bold and Duke are residential side streets. It should not be possible to drive down them at dangerous speeds.

Hamilton has streets that are even narrower than Bold and Duke that function just fine as two-way streets. In fact, some streets are narrower than Bold and Duke and also maintain curbside parking on both sides.

Wood Street: narrow two-way street with curbside parking on both sides (RTH file photo)
Wood Street: narrow two-way street with curbside parking on both sides (RTH file photo)

On such streets, if two people in cars are approaching each other, they both need to slow down and negotiate past one another. That is entirely appropriate and, indeed, an ideal outcome for a residential street.

Bold and Duke should not be designed for fast through travel. Keeping more curbside parking spots will actually make the streets safer for all users by making it harder to speed and physically protecting more of the sidewalk. It will also alleviate the legitimate concern about lost parking and remove the only serious objection to this conversion.

I urge City staff to revisit the design and restore the lost curbside parking. There is no trade-off here: keeping curbside parking is safer, more convenient and more usable for everyone using these sreets.


Update: Updated to note that Duke has curb parking on both sides between Caroline and Queen. You can jump to the changed paragraph.

Update 2: Updated to add more detail from the City on the planned parking spot removals and road widths. You can jump to the added paragraphs.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 13:53:29

Imagine if city staff did this kind of basic thinking for every street project? It shouldn't be necessary for citizens to write in and demand appropriate design considerations for every conversion or street project. Public works needs to stop designing by the book and actually think about each project.

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 14:18:24

The book is there for a reason...liability. Unfortunately, right or wrong, there's not much sympathy given to a designer who designs something against the book in a court of law if something goes wrong. So while the suggestions may be worthy, they take time to implement into guidelines and standards.

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By hshields (registered) - website | Posted March 16, 2015 at 11:44:25 in reply to Comment 110207

I understand the idea of liability. I'd like to know more exactly what kind of liability? Are planners concerned about parked cars' doors being scraped by moving cars? Are they concerned about head on collisions by motorists who don't navigate around each other? Are they concerned about "dooring" a pedestrian or cyclist? Are they concerned about people not being able to see into oncoming traffic as they attempt to move into traffic from a driveway?

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 15:33:41 in reply to Comment 110207

People say this all the time but i'd like to see an example where a city was actually held liable for something like this . If this is such an issue, how is the city not negligent for leaving many streets narrower than this as two lanes?

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By bikehounds (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 15:48:46 in reply to Comment 110220

if the city can get away with bike lanes that become highway ramps and sidewalks that end at stairs at the bottom of a hill, why is a narrow residential street considered a liability? it's a cop out excuse. just because the book describes how to design to maximize throughput doesn't mean the city has to, and nor should it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 14:28:25 in reply to Comment 110207

in Portland and other cites, staff go and add mid-block bumpouts that are too narrow for 2 cars to pass through at the same time. They intentionally develop a yield situation like you find on narrow streets like Wood, shown above. If two idiots refuse to yield and smash head-on into each other, that's not the cities liability anymore than it is when people do the same thing every single day of the year on every other street.

Next generation safe streets overview from Portland. Amazing how far behind Hamilton is on pretty much everything.

http://daily.sightline.org/2014/12/11/ho...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 13, 2015 at 14:30:42 in reply to Comment 110208

Look at what some miscreant vandals in Cleveland did to the road!

Chicanes

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 14:45:30 in reply to Comment 110209

WHY DOES CLEVELAND HATE CARS

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By Kirkendall (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 14:36:03 in reply to Comment 110209

Are there instructions somewhere for that? Looks sensible.

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By Kirkendall (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 15:05:58 in reply to Comment 110211

Oh, nevermind. It wasn't really vandals who did that, it was the City of Cleveland. Slight chance of that here.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 13, 2015 at 15:10:49 in reply to Comment 110218

Sorry, that's my fault. I was being sarcastic. Those are called chicanes, and they're a road design tool that slows automobile speeds by forcing people in cars to 'slalom' down the street rather than bearing along on a straight run.

Edit to add: those knockdown sticks cost the city something like $10 a pop, so the total cost to implement one those chicanes is $50 in bollards, plus some yellow paint and staff time.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2015-03-13 15:11:54

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By ScreenCarp (registered) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 23:22:14 in reply to Comment 110219

But yuck. Sure they're cheap, but ugly as hell. I'm all for the idea, but I'd prefer to see planters/gardens/trees/boulevards/bus stops...even cars rather than these things. We're trying to shed the trashy image here.

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 14:33:07

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Comment edited by durander on 2015-03-13 14:35:23

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 13, 2015 at 14:59:39 in reply to Comment 110210

Anyone too stupid to know what to do about oncoming traffic on a two-way street is too stupid to drive on about 99% of Canada's streets. Your desperation to maintain the status is getting embarrassing.

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 09:31:09 in reply to Comment 110217

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 09:54:06 in reply to Comment 110269

I'm not sure what you mean.

That pedestrians who are killed and injured on one-way streets must obviously be at fault (rather than the drivers whose responsibility it is to ensure they do not hit pedestrians)?

Or, are you referring to the fact that children are 2.5 times as likely to be injured on one-way streets than two-way streets (and that they must also obviously be at fault)?

Drivers are tested and licensed to operate dangerous vehicles. The vast majority of streets are two-way (even in Hamilton). Knowing how to deal with oncoming traffic in a two-way street is a basic skill of driving.

If the evidence were that narrow two-way streets and street calming measures are dangerous to drivers, then you would have a point. But drivers complaining that they don't know how to drive on such streets is an entirely different issue.

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By ScreenCarp (registered) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 11:52:24 in reply to Comment 110271

Or, are you referring to the fact that children are 2.5 times as likely to be injured on one-way streets than two-way streets (and that they must also obviously be at fault)?

Whoa, that's not necessarily true and the study you're taking it from didn't make that conclusion. There is a large stack of before and after comparisons that show one way streets are safer for all road users than two way streets. Luckily, one study does not change the body of science that came before. I certainly hope city staff are not selling these conversions as "safer".

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 14:23:04 in reply to Comment 110334

This is what the study reported under in the Abstract under "Results". Please don't mislead people about what this study concluded!

Results: The injury rate was 2.5 times higher on one-way streets than on two-way streets and 3 times higher for children from the poorest neighbourhoods than for those from wealthier neighbourhoods. SES, injury severity, number of lanes, collision location and type of traffic control were also found to be significantly different across street types.

As far as I know, the balance of recent studies find two way streets are safer overall (as well as being more convenient for residents and better for businesses) for a number of clear reasons (slower speeds, more attentive drivers due to oncoming traffic, fewer turning movements to reach destinations). There were some very old studies (from the 40s-60s when one way systems were first being introduced) that came to the opposite conclusions, but these conclusions have not been confirmed by more recent studies.

And note that this study used Hamilton data, so no one can claim "but this is Hamilton"!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-20 14:36:56

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By ScreenCarp (registered) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 23:12:20 in reply to Comment 110336

From "Are Child Pedestrians at Increased Risk of Injury on One-way Compared to Two-way Streets?"

Unfortunately, our inability to adjust for many of these variables limits our ability to isolate the responsible factor which increases the risk on Hamilton’s one-way streets.

Don't confuse correlation and causation. The study found poor children were up to 7 times more likely to be injured on the street and 75% of injuries on one way streets also occurred in poor neighbourhoods.

the downtown core of Hamilton consists almost entirely of one-way streets as does most of the surrounding and poorer neighbourhoods... Children who spend time downtown therefore are exposed to more multi-laned one-way street thoroughfares. Also, poorer kids are more likely to walk to school and play on the streets and so they are exposed to more street crossings and vehicles.

It's far from conclusive.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 07:43:14 in reply to Comment 110350

In the comment I claimed the study said the injury rate for children was 2.5 times as high on one way streets, which is exactly what the study reports in its results. You said 'that's not necessarily true and the study you're taking it from didn't make that conclusion.' To put it bluntly, what you said there is false (even if you meant to say that the claim that one way is safer is not justified, that's not what you actually did say).

The rate is 3 times as likely for poor children on one way streets. I did not quote that result. The 'other factors' that may increase the exposure of poor children to traffic might explain part of the difference (although the study does not claim it explains it entirely ... we don't know), but it does not apply to the general 2.5 figure, which is not just for poor children.

There are many factors involved, but with the injury rate 2.5 times higher on one way than two way (and even higher for children in poor neighbourhoods) it is irresponsible to claim that it does not suggest one way streets are more dangerous than two way, possibly for a combination of reasons. There are other factors but no one has done any analysis to see how important they are, or whether the difference between one-way and two-way disappears when they are accounted for.

All we know for certain is that the Hamilton data says that one-way streets in Hamilton have child injury rates up to 3 times higher than two-way streets, which is epidemiologically speaking a massive difference. It is difficult to imagine this disappearing entirely if exposure is accounted for (children live and walk on sidewalks all over the city).

As I and others have emphasized many times, no one is claiming that every two-way street is better than every one-way street. The most dangerous streets, as emphasized in this and many other reports, the sort of multi-lane one way streets that are a common feature of Hamilton's grid system. A narrow one lane one-way street with wide sidewalks and buffers is fine for pedestrians (but not good for local businesses or motorists trying to reach destinations downtown).

You cannot just brush aside the actual evidence from Hamilton (2.5 times higher in general and 3 times higher in poorer neighbourhoods) by suggesting that other factors might be involved. You need to actually do the analysis to show those other factors are determinant given the huge statistically significant discrepancy.

Again, if you want to quote studies, please provide links or citations. Otherwise no one can check the sources (as you were able to do with the Canadian J Public Health article).

For example, did the accidents increase in the first year after the conversion (this is fairly common as motorists take time to adjust)? Was the conversion executed properly? Were these accidents resulting in injuries or minor fender benders? The evidence I've seen shows that, overall, minor accidents sometimes increase but serious accidents and injuries (especially to pedestrians) decrease.

And, as I quoted in the Louisville example, there are many cases where accidents and injuries clearly decrease after the conversions.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-21 07:57:37

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 08:27:57 in reply to Comment 110354

You also neglected to quote perhaps the most important comment in the study that shows that, even accounting for all other confounding factors, one way streets are still significantly more dangerous than two-way streets in Hamilton:

We conclude that the one-way street rates therefore exceeded the main sources of variation due to SES, age and sex. This suggests that one-way streets represent an independent effect separate for these other variables. ... The one-way street rate was 46.4 for all ages and both sexes suggesting that one-way street rates could account for a 12.1 excess rate of injury if we assume all other factors which might influence the rate are equal.

journal.cpha.ca/index.php/cjph/article/download/185/185

In other words, even if you combine all SES (social economic status; i.e. poor/wealthy), ages and sexes, the injury rate is still significantly higher on one-way streets. This deals with the poor v wealthy, and children v adults effects that are discussed in the passages you quoted.

You also neglected to mention that the "responsible factors" they cannot isolate are: the fact that traffic speeds are higher on one-way streets "associated with up to a 6-fold increased injury risk", "drivers are less attentive" and that "children are inexperienced at looking first to the right in situations where traffic flows from right to left". All these risks are eliminated or reduced by two-way conversion!

This is very strong evidence that, despite possible increased exposure to traffic for poorer children, one way streets are definitely more dangerous in Hamilton for everyone.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-21 08:58:20

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 14:37:48 in reply to Comment 110336

And, to give a recent before/after example from Louisville:

Before the street conversion, First Street stood out as the most dangerous street between the four studied in terms of traffic accidents. In the three years since the conversion, traffic accidents decreased there by 60 percent. Accidents on Brook Street decreased by 36 percent after the conversion. Accidents increased on our control sample: on Second Street by almost 23 percent and 7 percent on Third Street.

http://www.courier-journal.com/story/opi...

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By ScreenCarp (registered) | Posted March 21, 2015 at 00:44:17 in reply to Comment 110337

I have difficulty finding much recent mention of the differences in my research, seeing complete designs for both one way and two way streets. Perhaps this is because it's not the issue we seem to make it here in Hamilton or perhaps it's simply because most conversions to one way were done in the 50's so the majority of comparisons are also from that age. I'm not convinced there are significant changes to either pedestrian or vehicle behaviour to discount older studies simply because of the date, although I agree the goals have changed. It's worth noting that these studies are pretty much universal in seeing a marked decrease in accident rates after converting to one way. More recently the inverse is true as we convert back to two way. For example we have Denver (1990) with a 37% increase in accidents, Lubbock (1995) with 41% and Cincinnati (1999) with a whopping 87% increase in the accidents. I suspect we'd see similar numbers from Hamilton with our current conversions.

Don't get me wrong, there are good reasons and situations to convert streets to two way. The evidence does not suggest safety is one of them.

Comment edited by ScreenCarp on 2015-03-21 00:46:22

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 10:23:29 in reply to Comment 110271

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By durander abhors an onus (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 10:46:37 in reply to Comment 110272

why don't you take on some onus yourself

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 11:00:15 in reply to Comment 110274

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Comment edited by durander on 2015-03-17 11:00:29

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 12:24:38 in reply to Comment 110277

I didn't present any numbers (apart from the 2.5 figure from the 2000 Can J Public Health report that has been discussed numerous times here).

If you are interested in learning the context of pedestrian injuries and deaths and how they can be reduced, please read the Ontario Coroner's report: http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/stellent/...

One of the report's recommendations is that speed limits be lowered to 40km/h to reduce injury rates. It also finds that those over 65 are disproportionately likely to be killed and injured (presumably due to slower reaction times and slower crossing speeds).

The goal is to build safe infrastructure, not assign blame to pedestrians or drivers.

But, since you are asking, the Coroner's report cites the statistic that only "33% of fatally injured pedestrians acted in a manner which caused or contributed to the crash" (i.e. 2/3 did nothing at all to contribute to the crash that killed them) and that 33% of fatally injured pedestrians were struck by a driver who had committed a traffic infraction prior to the crash.

There is plenty of evidence that the best way to reduce pedestrian (and driver) injuries is to design streets for lower speeds.

Again, from the Coroner's report: "75% of pedestrian fatalities occurred on arterial roads which are wide, signalized streets that carry high volumes of traffic".

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-17 12:30:27

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 14:24:10 in reply to Comment 110280

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Comment edited by durander on 2015-03-17 14:24:33

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 14:54:40 in reply to Comment 110282

You are putting together statistics from many different sections ... and of course the same incident can have multiple causes (which is why the cases you included add up to 112%!).

The Coroner concluded that lowering the speed would decrease the number and severity of collisions. This would need to include engineering the street to make it uncomfortable to drive faster than 30-40 km/h and reducing the speed limit.

Speed is an issue, even when pedestrians are not paying attention, because lower speeds allow drivers more reaction time and decrease stopping distances. Narrow lanes, chicanes and bumpouts encourage drivers to pay attention.

And, in the severest of collisions, where the pedestrian dies, in only 1/3 of cases did the pedestrian do anything at all to cause the collision.

Drunk walking should indeed be discouraged (it is illegal to be drunk in public already), but the scope for harm (at least to others) is far less than drinking and driving which is why we've focused on drinking and driving. It is nevertheless far better for someone to drink and walk than drink and drive.

The bottom line, as the report points out, is that the streets should be designed with the safety of the most vulnerable road users (i.e. pedestrians and cyclists) as a limiting factor. And, as has been pointed out repeatedly, "train and blame" (rather than engineered safety) has not been effective. Just look at countries (like Sweden) that have managed to significantly reduce injuries and death on the roads. They do not do this by blaming inattentive pedestrians and drivers!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-17 15:07:03

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted March 18, 2015 at 13:40:13 in reply to Comment 110285

Dear Kevlahan,

Durander is offering nothing in return for your well thought out, impeccably researched comments. Since all of Hamilton depends on your cogent input I kindly ask that you waste no more of your precious time on Durander.

Thanks so much for all your great work here and elsewhere. Durander should go post on the Speculator comment boards.

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 18, 2015 at 17:04:56 in reply to Comment 110300

Sorry, I didn't realize that this forum was about just stating how great one person's opinions are...my apologies if I missed that memo. Next time, I won't question anything, and just give my nod of approval instead of trying to discuss things.

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By discussion (anonymous) | Posted March 18, 2015 at 17:07:08 in reply to Comment 110302

There's a difference between discussing things and what you are doing, which is asking for free consultant work in statistical analysis and then disappearing like a fart in the wind when the conclusions don't support your predetermined opinion.

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 18, 2015 at 17:12:03 in reply to Comment 110304

Not looking for free consultant work...I asked a question thinking that the superiors on this site might have the answers. And statistical analysis...where did I ask for that? I'm fully capable of completing it myself if I had the raw data. And once again, my apologies. I'll neglect the rest of my life so I can comment on here in a moments notice.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 09:28:04 in reply to Comment 110306

I answered your question in a straightforward way to provide evidence that your implication that pedestrians are responsible for their own deaths because they don't pay attention is not justified by the data. I also pointed you to the Coroner's report that makes well justified recommendations for lower speed limits and for designing streets based on the most vulnerable road users (i.e. pedestrians).

I also pointed out that there is a big difference between infrastructure being dangerous and causing injuries (as our current streets do, especially for cyclists and pedestrians) and complaining that you don't know how to drive on a narrow two-way street (such as those common throughout the city).

It is a good rule to assume commenters are contributing in good faith, genuinely interested in finding out more about an issue (in this case how best to design streets to be maximally safe and convenient for all road users).

However, I think many readers have noticed your unrelenting sarcasm, negativity and bizarre claims, especially when you claimed to be a traffic engineer while making statements that indicated you didn't really care about the safety and convenience of pedestrians or the desire of residents for liveable neighbourhoods:

http://raisethehammer.org/comment/99826

and your previous comments:

http://raisethehammer.org/comment/99829

It's sometimes hard to assume good faith given your previous comments and sarcastic attitude. Since you like statistical jargon, people's behaviour is Bayesian: our actions depend in large part on our past experience.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-19 09:32:44

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 09:44:42 in reply to Comment 110310

So you're implying that all of your responses are meant in good faith? I'm calling your bluff on that one. The holier than thou attitude that you and many other regular contributors to this site exhibit is simply arrogance at its best. And when someone starts to question you (in a sarcastic tone or not), you all get defensive and claim that the individuals don't know what they're talking about or are trolls. TRY, please TRY, to see different sides of stories sometime. All of these things are not like math...there's no clear but right or wrong...it's about striking a balance. Change happens, but not overnight.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 10:05:49 in reply to Comment 110311

Yes, all my responses are in good faith; there's no bluffing involved.

I do defend the positions I think are well-justified by the evidence, and I try to always use good evidence to do it. Is trying to make an evidence-based argument "arrogant"? That's not quite the same as being "defensive".

Of course, I can't speak to the others, but I don't call people trolls. I haven't called you a troll. I don't claim people "don't know what they are talking about". I don't comment frequently and then complain this site is wasting my time. I address the evidence they have presented. I do, however, have serious doubts that you are, as you claimed, a "traffic engineer".

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-19 10:31:15

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 18, 2015 at 14:37:14 in reply to Comment 110300

agreed.

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 18, 2015 at 17:05:11 in reply to Comment 110301

disagree

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 15:12:08 in reply to Comment 110285

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 15:16:10 in reply to Comment 110287

I've never seen any evidence that chicanes or other traffic calming devices increase driver injuries ... even for drunk drivers. The goal is to make it very difficult to drive fast, and force driver attention. Obviously, a traffic calming device that increases or cause injuries is unacceptable.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-17 15:16:49

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 18:19:46 in reply to Comment 110290

one thing we know does contribute to injury and crashes: speed.

Hence Hamilton's horrendous livability when it comes to walk/cycling compared to almost every other city.

There's a reason complete streets are a world-wide priority in cities, and there's a reason Hamilton has zero chance of ever cracking one of these 'most livable city' lists.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 15:38:07 in reply to Comment 110290

Safety devices in a car work to protect the driver in a crash.

Safety devices on the road should not needlessly injure drivers, however, they exist to protect others above the out of control car.

Take a bollard. It is not designed to minimize injury to the driver. It is designed to maximize the chance it will save whoever is on the other side of it.

So, if a driver somehow gets himself killed on a chicane, it is very likely the lesser of evils versus someone on the sidewalk getting hit, or the car plowing through the side of a house hitting a dinner table.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2015-03-17 15:39:44

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 17, 2015 at 14:48:01 in reply to Comment 110282

Maybe we should have a don't drink and walk campaign started?

So people at bars should teleport?

Also, even if speed doesn't increase the likelihood of an accident (it does - higher-speed/stoppin-gdistance changes a near-miss into a hit) it absolutely increases the severity of the accident.

So what if the pedestrians are at fault in a substantial minority of cases? Shouldn't the spaces in which we live be fault-tolerant?

If a workplace, particularly one with small children in it, was so unsafe that minor negligence with no signs or barriers resulted in death of the participant, it would be considered ludicrously unsafe.

Imagine a button by the door of a grocery store that produces a violent explosion if you push it, in plain reach to everyone. If somebody pushed the button, who would be at fault?

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 15:12:31 in reply to Comment 110284

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 15:04:55 in reply to Comment 110284

I was going to reply to durander, but I’m not sure if s/he is being serious or not. You ask “So what if the pedestrians are at fault in a substantial minority of cases?” I don’t think that’s accurate. That report stated that “33% of fatally injured pedestrians acted in a manner which caused or contributed to the crash.”

As kevlahan points out, there is typically more than one contributing factor. We have no idea if the balance of contributing factors are the fault of the person on foot or the person driving the car in those 33% of fatalities- what the coroner’s report is actually saying is that, in two thirds of cases the people who died did nothing at all to contribute to their own deaths.

Comment edited by StephenBarath on 2015-03-17 15:06:26

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 15:13:08 in reply to Comment 110286

There's a bit of sarcasm in my responses, but the concepts are serious.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 14:44:49 in reply to Comment 110210

we should design for safety for all human users of the road. Go troll somewhere else

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By SOP (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 14:59:22

This constant over complication of conversions/reversions is meant to sap the will of those who keep asking for change.

This city is over the top 1950's car centric. Just read the letters to the editor in the Spec. In the last 2 days alone we have people advocating for countdown clocks on red lights and decrying cars "blocking" a lane on (5 lane) Main while queued in a drive thru.

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By Derek (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 17:17:08

When the hell are we going to convert Main and King to 2-way already? I hope to see this during my lifetime. What can we do to add pressure besides writing to council as I've done that already.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 14, 2015 at 18:25:32 in reply to Comment 110223

King could be managed as 2-way downtown. As much as the bus-lane was hopelessly bungled, it did demonstrate that King can function with less lanes, because Cannon is configured as a bypass for through-traffic.

I don't think you could ever get Cannon and Main converted 2-way, but I think King downtown could be done. Do King from Victoria to Queen and put a sign up at Victoria for a Cannon street bypass. Then 2-way convert Wellington, Hughson, Mary, Bay, and Hess between Cannon and Main - this provides convenient access to the now-slower King from the bypasses.

Then run the B-line LRT on Main.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 14, 2015 at 22:05:40 in reply to Comment 110241

I would love to see Wilson converted to two-way all the way to Sherman. You can roll a ball underhand at King and Sherman right through the intersection of Wilson and Sherman. They almost touch. It's a simple, easy alternative to King. Then switch Bay to two-way. 1 lane each way, left turn lanes at lights and bike lanes both ways.

King should be like King/Queen in Toronto (which is exactly how our King used to be) - 1 lane each direction with curb parking on both sides. During morning rush hour, the parking is restricted for traffic headed into downtown. Even rush hour the opposite. Rest of the day, evening and weekend it's full parking.

Main: 2-way LRT, 2 eastbound car lanes with curb parking on one side of the street, except rush hour where it can become a 3rd car lane.

Traffic would flow fine, and in fact, better than it currently does by having all these two-way options without touching the precious Main St expressway that suburban councillors wouldn't dream of allowing in their wards, but insist on maintaining in the poor wards.

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By m (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 20:36:25 in reply to Comment 110223

Unfortunately, it's becoming pretty obvious that 2-way conversion of Main and King will never happen. The only perceived benefactors of such a conversion would be downtown dwellers, and there are more than enough councillors to prevent this from ever happening (I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to be in the powerless positions of Farr, Johnson, and Green). If put to a vote, the breakdown would mirror the results that have killed both the bus lane and, more recently, LRT. Until ward boundaries are redrawn (not gonna happen), nothing is going to change; the lower city wards are voiceless.

At this point, I would be thrilled with 1-way streets that are more complete in nature. Would it possible to have 24-hour uninterrupted curbside parking and protected bike lanes along the lengths of Main and King? Would that be an unrealistic request of suburban councillors? Would business owners object to more parking in front of their shops? Would drivers complain of more parking options?

As an aside, does anyone know if there has been any pressure placed upon the city by downtown developers, such as Vranich, to calm traffic 10 feet outside of the $300,000+ condos they're trying to sell? We're just a bunch of unemployed highjackers (right, Terry?), but can these developers not use their influence to create positive change (safer streets) while still satisfying their own interests (selling condos that are not next to an urban expressway)?

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By Adam (anonymous) | Posted March 14, 2015 at 00:30:52 in reply to Comment 110227

I don't believe in being pessimistic. Never say never. With any luck, some of these councillors could just drop dead and maybe people with some brains will take their place.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 23:56:28 in reply to Comment 110227

you'll be interested to know that Vranich has shared some constant feedback he's received from prospective buyers with city hall. Folks love the units and downtown location, but don't see how they could live a car-free or car-light lifestyle on such unfriendly freeways.

I know a couple who declined to buy a unit for that one reason alone.

Another developer is working with Brian McHattie in his new role with CivicPlan. A condo at Main/Margaret is planned but the developer wants a lane removed from Main for wider, safer sidewalks.

But I imagine these guys go from being developers to whiny hijackers the minute they call out the disgusting dangers of these urban expressways.

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By Why Not? (anonymous) | Posted March 14, 2015 at 14:50:05 in reply to Comment 110232

If a traffic study shows lane restrictions caused by construction haven't caused significant impediments, why not automatically make that area sidewalk?

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 14, 2015 at 16:31:32 in reply to Comment 110237

because Hamilton has classist councillors who believe that only their rich neighbourhoods deserve walkable, livable, complete streets. They view poor downtown neighbourhoods as a dumping ground and traffic sewer.

http://www.hamiltonnews.com/news/wilson-...

Comment edited by jason on 2015-03-14 16:31:52

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By Steven (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 23:13:54

I agree 2-way conversion of Main & King will not happen in any of our lifetimes, unless we de-amalgamate. One only has to look at voting result of the bus lane to see we need de-amalgamation if we are to move the core forward at anything more than a glacial speed.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 14, 2015 at 16:33:12 in reply to Comment 110230

agreed. And I'm one who loves the rural areas in our city, and really thought we could make it work for the last 15 years. I'm over it. The suburban councillors refuse to even try, in fact they actively oppose lower city neighbourhoods every chance they get. Let's de-amalgamate 100% - no regional government nonsense - true deamalgamation. Immediately.

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By Bob bratina (anonymous) | Posted March 14, 2015 at 17:23:02

Thats what I said

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By Bashtich (anonymous) | Posted March 18, 2015 at 17:10:48 in reply to Comment 110240

You gonzalo!

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By insane (anonymous) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 09:26:38

Yes de-amalgamate please. Right now it's a parasitic relationship. The suburbs all depend on downtowns blood to survive. Without downtown they are dead. Blood suckers. Too bad they can't see with a prosperous downtown they benefit too.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 16, 2015 at 10:05:47

One thing I've noticed in recent trips to the US, a country not exactly known for excellent pedestrian friendly neighbourhoods, is that without exception their downtowns all have nice wide sidewalks. The streets are often extremely wide (especially in the west), but the sidewalks are also extremely wide (typically three to five times wider than the sort of 1.5m -1.8m sidewalks we have on Main between Locke and Hess).

This means that the streets are still comfortable for pedestrians even though they are multilane and wide for motor vehicles.

Somehow in Hamilton because of street widening and one-way conversions we've ended up with the worst combination for pedestrians: wide expressway style streets for cars with narrow sidewalks appropriate for quiet residential streets for pedestrians.

How anyone could think 1.8m (let alone 1.5m in some parts) without a buffer was acceptable on parts of Main St W is beyond me. And this street was actually widened in the past!

If traffic volumes permit, the best thing to do would be to increase sidewalk widths closer to the US standards.

Note that when Haussmann redesigned Paris the standard was that the total widths of sidewalks (on both sides) should equal the width of the vehicle part of the street. That is also a good standard that naturally scales to different street widths.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-16 10:09:28

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By Progress (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 14:33:30

I think you're on to something.

The speed on the roadways should be increased to the absolute fastest possible. Young fully mobile pedestrians will have the good sense and ability to stay out of the way. Everyone else; not so much. Oh well.

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 12:50:56

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 13:39:12 in reply to Comment 110315

I never claimed it was an engineering "standard": the minimum sidewalk standard may well be similar to Hamilton's actual widths. But this minimum width is not what is actually used in US downtowns and urban areas

I claimed that I observed that in practice it in US downtown areas to have sidewalks far larger than what we have here. I've been in Minneapolis, Boulder, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Berkeley and San Francisco recently and I've seen personally that they have very wide sidewalks in their downtowns. In other words, in the US they install very wide sidewalks systematically in their downtowns and urban areas.

See

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Temple+Square/@40.7672389,-111.8927621,99m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x8752f508e4890ee9:0x8c57d6417504663d

The Salt Lake sidewalks are typically between 6m and 9m wide according to Google maps measurement (6m seems to be pretty standard).

https://www.google.ca/maps/@37.8588955,-122.2594975,103m/data=!3m1!1e3

4.25m in Berkeley

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Pittsburgh,+PA,+USA/@40.4435917,-79.9990399,100m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x8834f16f48068503:0x8df915a15aa21b34

3.5m in Pittsburgh

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Minneapolis,+MN,+USA/@44.9753887,-93.267869,93m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x52b333909377bbbd:0x939fc9842f7aee07

8.5 m in Minneapolis

In contrast, roughly 2.2m on Main St in downtown Hamilton next to 5 lanes of fast one way traffic. And it is only 1.2m on the southeast corner of Queen and Main!

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Hamilton,+ON/@43.2567552,-79.8758722,95m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x882c986c27de778f:0x2b6aee56d8df0e21

Even on James St near King William the sidewalk is only about 3.5m

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-19 13:59:57

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By H1 (anonymous) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 15:00:49 in reply to Comment 110316

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 16:14:31 in reply to Comment 110317

I applaud your efforts H1...but even coming up with examples wouldn't matter to most on here. They've found examples of what they want, and that's all that matters.

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 18:38:56 in reply to Comment 110319

You applauding a mega-troll like H1 pretty much settles what we can expect from you...

Comment edited by Cultosaurus on 2015-03-19 18:39:11

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 09:06:54 in reply to Comment 110320

Lions and tigers and mega-trolls, oh my! Maybe I'll start to look up to H1 then, since clearly that's all I'm destined to be on this site. Maybe some day, after lots of training, I too can be a mega-troll! ALL PRAISE H1!

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 15:15:54 in reply to Comment 110317

I specifically said that these are the sidewalks that are typical in all the downtowns of US cities I've visited. The street-level experience of pedestrians is strikingly different. We're talking about downtowns, not suburbs (which very often are missing sidewalks)!

As I said, extra wide (compared with Hamilton's typical 1.5m - 2m) sidewalks are standard in the downtown cores of US cities, especially in the west, just as I said in my original post. And I stand by that and have included many examples.

If you can find several examples of 1.2m sidewalks on the Main St (or other central arteries) of a western US city in its downtown core, please post it! I've never seen it.

Otherwise please accept the evidence that sidewalks are generally much wider in the downtown cores of US cities, especially in the west. Just claiming you know "thousands" of examples (but won't actually show any to the readers) isn't going to convince anyone.

Los Angeles: 3.7m (next to a parking lot)!

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Los+Angeles,+CA,+USA/@34.0504779,-118.2522061,54m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x80c2c75ddc27da13:0xe22fdf6f254608f4

Seattle: 5m

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Seattle,+WA,+USA/@47.6118537,-122.340361,88m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x5490102c93e83355:0x102565466944d59a

Denver: 7m

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Denver,+CO,+USA/@39.7541448,-104.9940713,101m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x876b80aa231f17cf:0x118ef4f8278a36d6

Phoenix: 4m, again, next to a parking lot

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Phoenix,+AZ,+USA/@33.4511306,-112.1051048,55m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x872b12ed50a179cb:0x8c69c7f8354a1bac

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-19 15:46:25

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