Two-way street conversion is not the only factor in urban revitalization - as far as I can see, no one is claiming that. However, it is a contributing factor, and it is a solution that is relatively inexpensive and easy to implement.
As many people downtown have pointed out, look at any thriving business district in Hamilton (it will likely be on a two-way street) and then look 50 metres down the corner of an intersecting one-way street - it will be barren.
Please allow me to try to explain how two-way strets convince people to spend their money downtown and businesses to locate downtown.
Cars do not shop but pedestrians do. By definition, a shopper is a pedestrian even if only for the distance form the parking spot to the store.
Our one-way system caters to moving cars, which do not shop.
Our one-way system creates stress for drivers who try to stop to look for parking, making it difficult for them to become shopping pedestrians.
Our one-way system makes the pedestrian experience very uncomfortable. People do not like to walk an arm's length from tonnes of steel moving 50 to 80 km/hr. So once out of their cars, the pedestrian shoppers are punished by the design of the street.
If we created a road system that made it easier to find a place to park (meaning the road moves at a slower speed and pulling over in traffic doesn't mean fighting a large burly crowd of cars), more people would consider doing so.
If we created a road system that made walking a comfortable experience, more people would do so. And if we have to sacrifice a bit of throughput to make it a reality, I think that most business owners would be willing to do so.
Put yourself in the shoes of the owner of an imaginary hardware store on Main Street. Would you prefer having traffic moving at 40 km/h in both directions in front of your store, making it difficult for them to travel the 20 blocks in either direction to the nearest Lowe's?
Or would you rather have traffic in only one direction travelling at 60 km/h, gaze fixed on the next light, timing the greens, and only being five minutes away from that same Lowe's due to the "efficiency" of the street?
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