Transportation

New Campaign: Make West Mountain One-Way Today

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 13, 2008

Terry Whitehead, councillor for Ward 8 (West Mountain), has come under criticism for voting against the downtown transportation master plan because it includes two-way street conversions.

In his emails justifying his decision, he writes, "To suggest that two way traffic is more pedestrian friendly than a one way is not a position I subscribe too," and adds that "traffic calming measures" can "certainly" make one-way streets "safer for pedestrians than a two-way street."

He also notes that Quebec City has one-way streets and "is vibrant and continues to flourish."

Because we want what's best for the city, Raise the Hammer is launching a new campaign: Make the West Mountain One-Way Today.

We propose the following street conversions for the West Mountain:

Between the major thoroughfares, the residential streets can also be converted to one-way. As Whitehead explains, this is more pedestrian friendly for the residents:

Since one-way streets are safer for pedestrians and don't hurt vibrancy, we also advocate converting the West Mountain's east-west streets to one-way, as follows:

The Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway is already a limited access urban expressway, so it does not need to be converted to one-way.

We are very excited at the potential for one-way street conversions on the West Mountain to improve pedestrian safety without harming vibrancy or economic development, and we look forward to hearing an enthusiastic endorsement from Councillor Whitehead on our plan to improve the safety and vibrancy of his ward.

Since Councillor Whitehead is unmoved by the widespread public opposition to one-way streets in downtown neighbourhoods that are already fortunate enough to have them, we fully expect that he will similarly ignore any opposition to one-way street conversions in his own West Mountain Ward.

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. 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.

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By SammyV (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 00:15:41

Ryan you are being too cute by half. Terry is right and you and your let's spend til we drop friends are wrong.

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By Neville (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 01:29:54

I'm beginning to think the Hammer Blog is becoming as Jon Stewart has said about MoveOn.org: "Making even people who agree with you.. uncomfortable."

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By Garth Garrow (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 07:54:45

Really? I agree with this and I'm not uncomfortable. This campaign might make you "uncomfortable" but it really shows people like Terry for the 'double standarders' they are. He doesn't mind throwing downtown to the wolves so he can get home a few minutes faster but you notice he isn't asking for the same treatment for his own ward residents. I live in Terry's ward and I'm frankly embarrassed with some of the stuff he comes up with - and this really takes the cake. People in my neighborhood would never stand for one way streets, I'm not surprised people downtown hate them as well.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 08:44:18

before anyone else comes on here and agrees with Whitehead's position that this is a waste of money, here is Bob Bratina's response I've copied here from another blog on the site:

The numbers say values have increased, and several renovation projects such as 14 Forest Avenue, 74 Hughson (at James..shown as vacant, but soon to become a renovated, expanded professional office), 155 John South (vacant building renovated into upscale restaurant/bar) 61 Young St. at John (vacant premises just purchased for restaurant) 180 James South (taxes increased $10 thousand dollars from 2006 to 2007), the adjacent neighbourhoods all showing significant property value increases of 25 to 60 per cent, and very large projects now in the planning stage for vacant or under-utilized properties. I could go on, but you didn't listen the first time so what's the point. We got $180 million dollar return on $1.3 million invested in the loans program. 31-35 John South just went from vacant to new $3.5 million restaurant/bar, likely a $70 thousand dollar increase in annual assessment. Staybridge Suites moved from $40 thousand to $340 thousand in taxes. We're pushing 2,000 new jobs over the past 2 years downtown. How are you doing up there? You finish with "respectfully" but I don't sense true respect for the hard work and tangible results of our staff in cleaning up the mess that was downtown and bringing it back to respectability. I believe you were the one who asked why we should support the market if there are private supermarket operators providing the same service.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 08:49:17

my thoughts:

I probably shouldn't be, but I can't help but be stunned that we have an elected official in 2008 who still doesn't see the value of a revitalized downtown. Financially, economically, image-wise etc..... It's a no-brainer. As downtown goes, so goes the city. I guess Whitehead likes the fact that homes cost about $100,000 less on his side of Scenic Drive/Golf Links Rd. A renewed downtown brings in a ton of investment city wide. Our business parks would fill up, real estate values go up. As Bratina points out, tax assessment goes up (this is municipal politics 101 and apparently Whitehead doesn't even understand that - how the heck do we elect these guys??).

This is wrong-headed no matter how you slice it. If anyone doesn't like Ryan's above blog, please take it out on your elected officials who are paid to do what's best for this city. As another topic, it might be time to look at a Board of Control or commissioner board to make decisions at council. Leave the councillors to get cats out of trees and return phone calls about potholes.
The future of our city is too important to have selfish politicians throw it away.

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By RickRoll (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 09:18:30

My heart bleeds for this city with the cartoon cutouts running things on council...

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By Frogger (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 09:28:32

@SammyV and Neville

"You can't make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you're doing is recording it." (Art Buchwald)

Like two weeks ago someone else was killed on the one way urban expressways that are killing downtown, and Terry Whitehead stands up there and says with a straight face that one way streets aren't harmful and that, two way conversions wouldn't pay for themselves. We Even if they didn't pay for themselves in tax revenue they'd STILL pay for themselves in human lives. Oh and then he says we could put in "traffic calming measures" instead, like bump-outs at crosswalks. Well how is he going to pay for those if he's not willing to pay for a line of yellow paint??? I say Whitehead is being disingenuous at best. He (and you) ought to be ashamed.

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By SammyV (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 09:57:15

Terry for Mayor!!!! He is brave enough to state that the emperor has no clothes and one way two way shmoo way are not the answer to Hamilton's problems. And Bob Bratina? Give me a break. He talks to himself and is the only one who listens.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 14, 2008 at 09:58:50

Frogger, who should be ashamed? You realize the above blog post is a joke designed to point out the absurdity of our one way streets, right?

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 10:01:32

SammyV. Obviously you don't live in Hamilton or you'd be very interested in Bratina's stats showing great increase in tax assessment and property values downtown along two-way streets. In Hamilton we've had a group of squelchers bemoan the downtown for years. Now James North is filling up along with King East and now John/James South so the squelchers have moved onto the next idea - kill the momentum so they can keep downtown in it's whipping boy state. The squelchers are getting scared that downtown might completely rebound if all this momentum keeps up. Then they'll have nothing to complain about (and hopefully will leave town).

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By Frogger (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 10:02:37

Yeah I know it was a satire, hence my quote. It really puts Terry's ridiculous support for one way streets into perspective. At the top of my comment I started with "@SammyV and Neville" - I was replying to them.

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By Tweeter (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 12:21:43

Fantastic post, RTH! When you try to justify making a mountain ward one-way it just shows how ridiculous and destructive the idea really is. Don't listen to the haters -- Hamilton has a well-understood attack machine designed to stomp good ideas wherever they rear their heads. Comments like SamyV and Neville are as predictable as they are pathetic -- pure Squelch in concentrated form. Kudos to Bratina for making the comparison in the first place, too bad the suburban councillors just don't seem to care. We'll spend half a billion dollars on a suburan highway but cry "fiscal responsibility" when downtown wants to spring for some yellow paint. I sometimes think Mike Harris amalgamated Hamilton with its suburbs because deep down, he really just hates cities.

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By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 16:09:00

We really need to bombard the mayor and councillors with emails and phone calls. There are over 11,000 people living in the Durand neighbourhood alone. That's a lot of tax money. Its time we got off our asses and voiced our concerns.

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By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 16:20:14

Brad Clark will be back in the office answering emails on July 21st

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By ventrems (registered) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 18:30:06

Observation:

One-way streets, as they stand, are not conducive to pedestrian traffic and negatively affect the surrounding neighbourhoods. Main and King Streets are expressways that cut through the heart of the downtown.

Possible Solutions: 1) Introduce traffic calming measures, reduce the # of traffic lanes, etc. (As advocated by some Councillors).

2) Convert the one-way streets to two-way (as advocated by other Councillors, and most downtown residents).

Analysis: Let's say we convert both Main St and King St to one way, but narrowed with traffic calming measures. Perhaps three lanes total (like Rue St-Jean, the only major artery in Quebec City which is one-way). This leaves three lanes for eastbound vehicles, and three lanes for westbound vehicles. Traffic will be slowed indeed... to a standstill.

However, if both Main and King Streets are converted to two-way, there will be two lanes of traffic in each direction on each street, thus providing four lanes in total for eastbound and westbound traffic. This would also slow traffic, but not as significantly as a one-way road narrowing solution would.

Seems the logical choice, for both drivers and pedestrians, is a conversion to two-way streets.

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By Baystreeter (anonymous) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 21:29:58

Jason said: SammyV. Obviously you don't live in Hamilton or you'd be very interested in Bratina's stats showing great increase in tax assessment and property values downtown along two-way streets.
In Hamilton we've had a group of squelchers bemoan the downtown for years. Now James North is filling up along with King East and now John/James South so the squelchers have moved onto the next idea - kill the momentum so they can keep downtown in it's whipping boy state.


I don't know where Sammy lives but I know I live right downtown and know two things. Bratina has done nothing and probably won't do anything constructive; and the two way conversions are not responsible for the downtown's rebirth. Only one thing is responsible: it is Hamilton's turn at prosperity in spite of our do-nothing Mayor and contrary Councillor with the multiple jobs.

And, credit for our turn around must also be given to the entrepreneurs who have invested through tough times in our core and remained loyal in spite of poor leadership from our recent Council.

So, Jason, I live here, work here and will probably spend the rest of my days here. So, get off your simplistic high horse and don't pretend to know what is best for the downtown. I would rather trust a Councillor like Terry Whitehead to stand for his convictions than you, and your single minded babbling RTH friends who just want to spend money on your hobby horses rather than to deal with all of our real issues.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 14, 2008 at 22:15:15

^great response. So you're a downtown resident who doesn't care about the increased tax assessment or proprty value. Congrats. If two-way streets have nothing to do with it, then please explain Locke South right around the corner from dead Main West. Explain James and John coming back to life around the corner from Cannon and Main - both dead and brutal. Life is pretty simple. So are properly functioning cities. I'm certainly not the one who's babbling.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted July 15, 2008 at 09:51:51

For those who live downtown and walk around with eyes shut, one way street conversion was most definitely the catalyst for the revitalizing of James and John as well as Locke. You'd have to be dumb as a stump not to realize that. Investors don't invest when there's no guaranteed return on investments. Get real!

Terry Whitehead standing up for his convictions? Ha, that's a joke! How about Terry Whitehead not giving a rat's behind about a creating liveable downtown core while knowing that it's the right thing to do. As I've said before "Fix the heart and the rest will follow". I don't live anywhere near downtown now, but I did for 2 years before and I still would love to see the streets changing to two way. Why? Have you driven down James Street lately? Previously, you'd be lucky if you noticed any of the architecture, cool shops or saw a pedestrian as you blasted past in a mad dash to the escarpment or work. Now, as you drive it's a much more pleasant experience. Even if you're not stopping to do any shopping it's a much more pleasant experience. I love it as does anyone with a vision and desire to see this city grow.

As for the Mayor not doing anything...I'm sure he's not up to snuff in some areas but he has proposed some ideas that are very radical and even if they don't come to fruitiion, it's at least nice to have someone who looks FORWARD rather than someone who's interested in helping out his cronies!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted July 15, 2008 at 11:39:55

Baystreeter, please feel free to share with us your proposed solutions to the "real issues" that you'd like public money to be spent on in lieu of the "hobby horse" of two-way conversions.

Until you provide some ideas of your own, your bashing of others' ideas will probably not be taken too seriously.

Conversion to two-way is not the only thing that needs to be done - no one here is claiming that. But it is one (obvious) piece of the puzzle. And most who post here believe it is a corner piece, mainly because we are able to look at the hard evidence (in Hamilton and elsewhere) in order to make educated deductions.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted July 15, 2008 at 13:07:47

Baystreeter, I'd like to know what you think the "real issues" are. Please elaborate!

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By Vic (anonymous) | Posted July 15, 2008 at 14:15:50

What ventrems mentions, and what I think a lot of people are seemingly forgetting here is the conversion won't cause both Main and King to become "no-way" streets. It's almost as if they think that two-way streets have zero traffic flow.

I was opposed to James and John becoming two-way originally, for no good reason. It just felt "unnatural". Now? I'm kicking my past self for being so blind. While similarly blind drivers waste time going south on James during heavy traffic hours, I laugh gleefully as I head south on John instead. Only the drivers that are slow to realize they have an alternative will be slow to reach their destination.

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By councilwatch (anonymous) | Posted July 17, 2008 at 22:42:35

Having watched Council for many years I always gave former Councillor Dave Wilson top marks for being the Joker in the pack but Terry Whitehead is challenging for the position.

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By Councillor Terry Whitehead (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2008 at 11:53:17

Editor's Note: this comment has been posted as a blog entry (with Councillor Whitehead's permission):

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1073

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