Transportation

Councillor Whitehead Explains Opposition to Two-Way Conversions

By Terry Whitehead
Published July 30, 2008

After reading recent postings concerning two-way street conversion downtown, I was compelled to write a response to clarify my view.

Support for Downtown Revitalization

First and foremost, I am a strong supporter of revitalizing Downtown. I realize that the only way to improve Hamilton economically, socially and culturally is to create a downtown core that encourages business, tourism and the Arts.

I chair the Hamilton Association of Business Improvement Areas (HABIA) and have been a strong advocate for their initiatives.

I am a great supporter of the many City Programs that help support our Downtown businesses, such as the ERASE program and the different loan programs. I strongly advocated for the Lister Block provided the developer guaranteed further development and improvement to the Core.

I also suggested to my fellow Councillors (without much support) that we look at staying at our current location in the former Eaton's Centre (which, coincidently is the site of the original City Hall) as the 1000+ City Staff must be helping the local stores and restaurants.

Finally, I initiated and championed the current wireless pilot program that is encompassing the whole downtown area. I want to see the downtown core thrive.

Two-Way Streets Not Safer

There have been several different points made by individuals throughout this debate. One argument is that two-way streets are safer than one-way, for both vehicles and pedestrians.

One blog comment stated "two weeks ago someone else was killed on the one way urban expressways that are killing downtown."

Recently, a woman was severely injured at the corner of Mohawk and Upper James and is in critical condition – it is not sure yet if she will survive. A few weeks ago there was an accident at Mohawk and West 5th that led to a fatality.

These are two-way streets, but they are not any safer than the "one-way urban expressways." In fact, some might argue that they are less safe. It is more difficult and dangerous to make a left hand turn and there is the added risk of head-on collisions.

Many city studies were conducted from the 1930's to the 1960s of "before and after" conditions on streets converted from two-way to one-way streets. Almost universally these studies found that one-way streets had 10-40 percent lower accident rates than when previously two-way.

Most significantly, pedestrian accidents declined far more, by 30-60%. Please go to www.terrywhitehead.ca and click on the link "Are Two-Way Streets Safer?"

James/John Revitalization

Next is the argument that two-way streets revitalized James and John Streets. However, there is no empirical data which shows this.

When I asked staff if there was a direct financial benefit linked to the conversion (whether it be increased taxes, increased jobs, or increased property value), the answer was "No."

The current activity on James and John was already underway before the conversion took place. As another author wrote, it is investors that encourage this.

If you asked the investors for the reason they chose James and John Streets, the answer isn't "Because they are now two-way." The answer is complicated, but included the fact that many young people were moving into the area, galleries were opening up and it became obvious that this would become a new cultural centre.

These investment decisions were underway before the conversion to two-way took place. To suggest that two-way streets were the catalyst to this new investment is simplistic and narrow-minded.

Don't Alienate People

For the future prosperity and vibrancy of the downtown, we need to make sure that we do not alienate any citizens within our City. The experience of individuals who shop and work downtown must be pleasant.

With the conversion of James Street South costing $1.2 million, and the access to the downtown from the West and Central Mountain becoming much more difficult.

They feel visiting the downtown has become a bad experience due to heavy traffic leading to challenges for access. I know that both I and the Ward 7 Councillor have heard a large number of complaints from our constituents.

I can truly say that this conversion has left a sour taste in the mouths of many residents on the Mountain. It has cost a lot of money, with no clear financial return and the severe traffic is not encouraging Mountain residents to shop downtown.

Bigger Financial Priorities

I would like to close by saying that I am not against converting streets from one-way to two-way if the neighbourhood supports it. I am also not opposed to having one-way streets on the Mountain; I think that it could work well, at least for the main arteries.

However, I will not advocate for spending tax dollars on converting streets (whether it be one-way to two-way or vice versa) when our infrastructure is in such disrepair.

I have regular waterline breaks in my Ward that cost $10-20,000 per repair. The East end is facing severe flooding issues because our sewers are not designed to hold the volume of water that is pouring into them.

If the City was flush with money, I would definitely support the Durand Neighbourhood, or any other neighbourhood, with projects such as this.

But without a clear financial benefit, I cannot support spending the limited resources we have when so many other major issues, in my opinion, take precedence.

Terry Whitehead is the Councillor for Ward 8 (West Mountain).

62 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By Frank (registered) | Posted July 30, 2008 at 15:12:53

Couple of points...

1) You say that the reasons for businesses locating onto James and John aren't related to one to two way conversions... I drove those streets every day to get to work and noticed that under one way status, business sprung up and died frequently. What I've seen take place since then is a multitude of business spring up and stay. Also, I believe if you ask the business owners whether or not two way conversion has affected their business in any way you'll find a much more positive answer. It's all in how you word the question.

2) You cite studies from the 30s-60s...at that time vehicles weren't driving at the speed or volume that currently exists downtown.

3) If your prime directive is to facilitate vehicle traffic then of course the answer is to keep one way streets. Quite honestly, that's not what I nor many others want. I'd rather have much less vehicular traffic downtown. And - I don't care if your mountain residents are unable to jump in their cars and race downtown and back in 20 minutes. Tell them to take the bus! I don't drive thru their survey at 60+ km/h so why should you be allowed to drive through downtown residents' at that speed?

4) If you complain about the watermain repairs that you have to do in your ward, perhaps you should ask the TOE department what the state of the watermains and sewers downtown is. Then you'd find much less reason to complain! The watermains and sewers downtown are near or past their service life and need to be re-lined or replaced in the near future, the cost of which blows both your ward's watermain repairs and the downtown's two way conversions out of the water! Another thing you could try is make sure that the inspectors who are supposed to check the contractors' work as the project is being done know what they're looking for and make sure the repairs get done properly...that way you wouldn't have to worry about returning to repair areas that have been "fixed".

Just some ideas...

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By ventrems (registered) | Posted July 30, 2008 at 15:50:27

How is the "direct financial benefit" of the conversion to two-way calculated? If growth had started before the conversion, do you assume it would have continued at the same pace independent of a conversion to two-way? This touches on Frank's point: perhaps the conversion to two-way helped retain new businesses in the area. Has this possibility been assessed?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By ventrems (registered) | Posted July 30, 2008 at 15:52:06

PS. I probably speak for all when I say that I appreciate your willingness to engage this forum in debate. The City is better for it.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By blake (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2008 at 16:51:26

Terry for Mayor!

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted July 30, 2008 at 17:14:38

Agreed. Thanks Terry for weighing in on this.

I must say I find your two-way street position curious. I was aware of your advocacy of the downtown wireless program (something, I believe, you promoted way before it was popular) and I have generally found your assessment of Hamilton's complex municipal issues to be pretty sound overall. But Terry - you are way off on this one! :)

When I first arrived in the Hammer I moved to the east end and I LOVED the one way timed lights arrangement on Main. I would zip in on the 403 and scoot through town to get home. It was brilliant! From Toronto it was a toss up between taking the Skyway or going through downtown. The downtown route was often quicker.

But, as I came to understand this issue a little more, I came to realize that it is this driving convenience which is the core problem with the state of downtown. One way streets ARE quicker. They ARE easier to drive. And, as a result, they are used by more vehicles. Why is this a problem you may ask? Because these are residential streets! And what's more, they are residential streets with commercial properties relying on foot traffic to support their businesses.

I wonder Terry, when you quote the injury stats relating to one-way versus two-way, whether you have considered the effect one-way streets have on pedestrian traffic? Pedestrians avoid one-way streets, so of course there will be less injuries overall. Did your stats address this?

I've said before that the downtown is a destination and NOT a thoroughfare and, as such, it should be inviting to pedestrians. This is not a minor point.

We can argue forever about the role two-way conversion played in the James Street revival. I don't know why City staff would give an unequivical 'no' when the probable causes are likely to be, as you say, complex and varied. In fact, if the causes are complex and varied, then how are we so easily able to discount the two-way street conversion as a possible contributing factor...? Is there not an element of common sense that says to you, 'Hey, these vendors rely on foot traffic and it is now safer and more pleasant to walk on this street...there are more pedestrians (are there? Have we done this analysis? We should...) and business is booming!' Can you not at least acknowledge that there may be a connection? Of course a district's revitalization is not going to be linked to one single event - nobody ever claimed that. Two-way streets are no silver bullet. But they are a proven way of slowing down traffic and encouraging more pedestrians to frequent an area.

With respect to making downtown more 'foot friendly' - can we say that most businesses downtown rely on pedestrians (i.e. face-to-face shopping)? If the answer is 'no' then I would agree that two way streets are not going to improve the business much. If the answer is 'yes' then obviously making the area more pedestrian friendly is going to attract more business.

As for impeding traffic, well of course this is a by-product of two-ways - this is what we want. We are creating a traffic problem. But what analysis has shown (and I was given this info by another councilor) is that some traffic will simply go away. Folks like me will go back to taking the skyway bridge. A lot of the vanishing traffic will be through traffic and thus will not affect the bottom line of the downtown businesses. Other drivers who wish to shop downtown may choose to look at other options, and I would hope that the city is able to provide a wide range of other transit options for it's residents. If not then the problem is not the pace of downtown streets, it's the lack of efficient transit alternatives. Not everyone in Hamilton drives and not everyone in Hamilton should drive. If the streets slow down because of two-way conversions or for other reasons one would hope that the city is able to offer some viable alternatives.

Finally, you mention the cost of 2-way conversions. Is this figure so prohibitive? Of course infrastructure renewal is a critical priority. So is the police budget and so on. No-one is advocating we put in 2-way streets in place of other priorities. We are saying that this is a relatively cost-effective way to make streets safer and bring them back to life.

There is extensive analysis and discussion on RTH and other sources regarding the benefits of 2-way streets. I hope you have time to read around the subject a little more and at least keep an open mind on the subject.

Thanks again for contributing to the discussion. Hope all is well with you.

Regards,

Ben (Bull)

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Danielle (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2008 at 18:11:43

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

Sir Winston Churchill

I can't help but think of this quote whenever I hear the arguements for two-way converstion.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Campbell Young (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2008 at 19:06:26

Re: Alienation

There is ALREADY a large group of citizens in this city who feel alienated by the transportation/land use policies of Hamilton. That’s why this forum is so lively and why land use policies are so hotly debated in Hamilton.

There is a major problem. To simplify a bit: Hamiltonians who love cars/sprawl/asphalt/homogeneity are stifling the aspirations of Hamiltonians who love transit/cities/density/diversity. This tyranny of the majority is the real source of alienation. I know the former group is a big part of your constituency. But the latter group, at the very least, needs a place to feel at home.

You say you’re in favour of letting streets go two-way if the neighbourhood supports it. Then you go on to focus your argument on the wishes of Mountain residents. What about what downtown residents think? But I don’t think Mountain “shoppers”, most of whom have a bias against the inner city, are the key to downtown renewal anyway. Council can pander to them all they want but they still spend their time at Lime Ridge and Meadowlands.

Re: Downtown Renewal

The above problem is a shame because the transit/cities/density/diversity model is taking off all across North America and Hamilton has some advantages in that regard. For one, it’s one of the only cities in Ontario with large areas planned before WWII when everything went sprawl. Secondly, Downtown Hamilton’s position on the GO system makes it a potential haven for people who work in Toronto, favour city life over suburban life, but who are under pressure from Toronto’s cost of living. Don’t scoff. That’s a huge demographic, which could be the key to downtown Hamilton’s recovery.

Given these factors, I’ve often thought that Hamilton council would have to try really hard to PREVENT the gentrification of downtown. Now I’m starting to wonder.

Re: two-way conversion

First off, I think that the people, like Danielle, who dismiss the idea of two-way streets as if it were some new-fangled social experiment, are people who don’t get out of Hamilton very much. What city has their whole downtown covered in one-way streets? You don’t have to go very far. Check out downtown Kitchener: great place to go for a walk, browse a book store, grab lunch and a coffee, hit a patio; terrible place to drive through with its bustling two-way streets.

That said, one-way streets can still have their place while avoiding some of their worst effects. Like I’ve proposed in another post: keep Main and King one-way, but take away one lane on each for streetcars, and take away another lane on each for bike lanes and wider sidewalks. Most importantly, sycnchronize the lights for 40 km/h. (Right now, everybody knows that the lights are synchronized for 60 km/h, which is illegal and understood through numerous studies to be unsafe for pedestrians.)

The key to this proposal would be to make all other major downtown streets two-way to make bicycle transportation feasible. And start with that stupid little section of Locke St.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By gullchasedship (registered) - website | Posted July 30, 2008 at 19:35:55

Vancouver has lots of one-way streets in its downtown and it's thriving.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted July 30, 2008 at 19:53:49

Vancouver is also rated the number 1 city in the world to live in, and is the 2nd most densely populated city in N.America after NYC.

I mentioned this in another post in an old blog, but I'd like two-way opponents to explain why all these businesses have decided to open up on James and John, instead of Cannon or Main right around the corner. This isn't rocket science. Two way streets are part of the solution. Why? Because people shop. Not speeding trucks and cars.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By guest (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2008 at 21:41:10

"Vancouver is also rated the number 1 city in the world to live in"

WHAT?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By ventrems (registered) | Posted July 30, 2008 at 22:15:25

gullchasedship:

This is a real debate about public policy in Hamilton that has NO ROOM for fools who know how to use Google Maps.

Go to Vancouver and tell me which streets are the most lively with pedestrian traffic & local business.

4th Avenue & Robson: the biggest shopping areas of the city & maybe Canada, both two-way.

Granville: the biggest entertainment district of Vancouver, and two-way.

West Broadway, Burrard, West Georgia, Davie, I could go on. All two-way & and all full of life.

East Hastings is two-way, and it has a ton of pedestrian traffic, albeit mainly homeless folks. Perhaps they could make it one-way and scare them all away.

Hamilton and the naysayers living here need to get real because other cities are not going to wait for us to catch up. No respectable city or politican would allow what has happened to the downtown to continue for another minute. The longer ill-thought out suggestions are entertained, the longer Hamilton will continue to be the butt of everyones jokes.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By vancouverite (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2008 at 22:15:26

gullchasedship:

This is a real debate about public policy in Hamilton that has NO ROOM for fools who know how to use Google Maps.

Go to Vancouver and tell me which streets are the most lively with pedestrian traffic & local business.

4th Avenue & Robson: the biggest shopping areas of the city & maybe Canada, both two-way.

Granville: the biggest entertainment district of Vancouver, and two-way.

West Broadway, Burrard, West Georgia, Davie, I could go on. All two-way & and all full of life.

East Hastings is two-way, and it has a ton of pedestrian traffic, albeit mainly homeless folks. Perhaps they could make it one-way and scare them all away.

Hamilton and the naysayers living here need to get real because other cities are not going to wait for us to catch up. No respectable city or politican would allow what has happened to the downtown to continue for another minute. The longer ill-thought out suggestions are entertained, the longer Hamilton will continue to be the butt of everyones jokes.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Bee (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2008 at 22:44:04

My situation is somewhat like Ben's. I started living in this city at various locations on the mountain. Downtown was alien to me, and the one-ways nothing more than thoroughfares. It's only when I started working and eventually living near King and Main that I realised just how damaging these streets really are. It's particularly bad where Main and King intersect Dundurn. This and many other problems are due to a lack of choice. Anyone with a destination in this area must drive farther and make more unnecessary turns than if the streets permitted more variety in routing.

I am committed to cycling to work year round, and have done so for the past three years. Again, due to lack of choice, I am forced to ride on Main and King, admittedly bending the traffic laws simply to survive the five lanes of terror.

Hamilton seems well on its way to planning and implementing a rapid transit system. I beg of you, when planning the routes and the reduced vehicular traffic, to consider two-way streets in the design. This one-two punch will surely be the key to revitalising our downtown and put Hamilton back on the road to prosperity.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted July 30, 2008 at 23:35:33

Try standing at the corner of Main St East and Hess for 10 minutes. I did this when waiting for a friend to pick me up the other day. Even though I own a new car, I thought we'd carpool. Big mistake. It was one of the most unpleasant experiences ever. I have absolutely no desire to walk down Main St East anymore. It was just like standing on the side of the 401.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Terry Whitehead (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 01:44:33

I am aware that there are over thirty studies in North America that detemine that one way is more efficient to move traffic safer for both vehical and pedestrian movement.Todate there is more evironmental awareness,more focuse on public transit and with gaso;ine prices on the rise. it is very clear from these studies that one way traffic would be the peferred option.

On any given day I challenge those that believe that the issue of speed is only a one way traffic phenominom to observe traffic on Mohawk,west 5tth or Garth street. they are all twoway streets with high volumes of traffic that often travelling 60 to seventy km hour. the residents on the mountain have oten complained about the speed a i have been working with police and city staff to find a solution.

If the main issue is the speed of traffic on one ways then maybe the solution is in finding a pratical way of slowing it down.

I asked city staff if ther is any traffic studies that challenge the findings of the studies I have mentioned and the answer was no!


We need to continue this constructive debate and i hope that those that do not support my position will realize that the concerns I have stated are not without substance.

let not assume that the costly conversion of certain streets is the solution to the many challenges in our downtown.

For more information on the www.terrywhitehead.ca and click on the link "Are Two-Way Streets Safer?"studys go to

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Terry Whitehead (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 01:52:50

Sorry for the spelling errors as I accidentally posted when I meant to proof read my comments first.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By g. (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 04:51:12

streets are not just for moving people. i live on a street, work on a street, socialize on a street, sit and think on a street. all of these things i choose to do on a two way street. james street north mostly. people who live in suburbs think that every other street than the one they live on is merely something to drive as fast as possible on.

this debate is not about efficiencies it is about creating and maintaining communities to live work and play in. i don't know many people who would choose to live on a highway. there is a reason, Terry, that new housing developments feature lots of quiet little cul de sacs and winding streets that go nowhere. it is because people like living where there are not a thousand trucks and cars speeding by at all hours. you can't have it both ways, terry. if one way is so much better, put your political career where your mouth is and introduce a motion to change all future developments to exclusively one way main and king type thoroughfares. what's good for the core should be good for the suburbs, no? i didn't think so.

i'm not sure where you live terry, but i can guess it is not on a downtown one way street. have some fucking compasion, get your head out of your ass and spend some time on these streets. spend some time on canon, 2 feet from concrete and steel trucks barrelling along at 20 km/h over the limit. spend some time on york, main, king. spend some time realizing how your assinine opinions which are based on at best delusions, and at worst actual malicious intent actually affect the people whom you ostensibly serve. and then spend some time thinking about how much better the alternative would be. some of us live down here, terry. some of us are actually trying to get this shit hole back together. i'm sorry terry, but giving liuna way too much money to fix a gorgeous building that has been held hostage for years with the threat of demolition that you jackasses in city hall actually gave them permission for is not showing that you support the core.

i don't have the patience to refute the "argument" against conversion you have put forth, and judging by your "argument", i doubt you have the reasoning skils to understand it anyway so i will leave this strictly as a self professed personal attack on you; proof that democracy works in so far as proving that the general public is too stupid to elect people who could actually lead them to anywhere but up their own asses.

thank you.

p.s. in case anyone is wondering how i justify such a malice filled post, please understand that i consider mr. whitehead's ideas to be spitting in the face of how myself and many others choose to live. i consider his post to be personally insulting as a resident of downtown hamilton. mr. whitehead has basically said that the ideas and convictions i have built the past 3 years of my life on, that everything i know and have seen about one and two way streets in downtown hamilton, that how and why i live my life the way i do, is wrong. funny, i consider that a personal attack as well.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2008 at 08:48:46

g. wrote:

in case anyone is wondering how i justify such a malice filled post ...

I can see that you are frustrated, but there's really no justification for insults and personal invective. You write that you consider Councillor Whitehead's comments a "personal attack" because they contradict your values, but that's just not a constructive way to approach dissent. Let's please try to keep the discussion civil and respectful on a personal basis and stick to the issues.

Councillor Terry Whitehead wrote:

one way is more efficient to move traffic

It's a false economy. By optimizing a sub-system - increasing traffic flow on an indivual road - you end up pessimizing the whole system - by encouraging more people to drive longer distances more often.

(For more on optimizing sub-systems vs. whole systems, see Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute before he went off the deep end with his "Hypercar".)

If it wasn't so easy to drive long distances quickly, people would make different decisions about where to live and where to shop. Entrepreneurs would make different decisions about where to invest and businesses would make different decisions about where and how to locate.

There's a reason more than half of Hamilton's air pollution comes from automobiles, despite a traffic system designed to minimize idling: our one-way expressway system has made us a city of people who typically drive long distances between destinations.

This or that individual street may run "efficiently", but the system as a whole produces far more driving and far more air pollution than if individual streets were less "efficient".

That may seem counterintuitive, but it's borne out by numerous traffic studies across North America and Europe.

I don't think you were at the Public Works Department's Transportation Summit in April, but one of the speakers was a traffic engineer who explained this principle very eloquently using numerous examples from cities his firm had worked on.

I challenge those that believe that the issue of speed is only a one way traffic phenominom

You're right that speed is a huge issue. In fact, a linear increase in vehicle speed results in a geometric increase in risk for pedestrians.

A major study conducted in Britain found that when a vehicle moving 32 km/h hits a pedestrian, the likelihood of death is 5%. At 48 km/h it increases to 50%, and at 64 km/h (the "green wave" on Main), it increases to 95%.

Speed is not only a one-way traffic phenomenon, but it's unquestionably a factor on the wide, multi-lane thoroughfares running through downtown.

On the Mountain, streets act as expressways by having wide, multiple lanes, turn lanes, no curbside parking, on- and off-ramps into malls, and so on (not to mention an actual expressway running east-west).

Again, what we advocate is not simply converting streets to two-way, but converting them, widening sidewalks, planting street trees, encouraging curbside parking, and so on - all of which make it psychologically more difficult to speed.

I see congestion not as a problem to be avoided, but as a side-effect of the successful revitalization of urban neighbourhoods.

Again, as others have suggested, spend an afternoon walking along Main St., York Blvd., Cannon St. etc. and simply observe your experience as a pedestrian. It's deeply, profoundly unsettling. I wrote about such an experience a few years ago:

http://raisethehammer.org/article/019

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By BE (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 09:19:31

Who are we kidding here? We're not debating the pro's and cons of One Way "Streets" vs Two Way "Streets". What we're really talking about are the effects of 4 and 5 lane highways through a dense urban area. Main, King, Cannon, Wilson. These are not streets, we all know it, when we drive on these "streets" we all act like it's a highway. I'm adult enough to admit it. Hell, my brother who lives up in the great white north was able to recognize a highway when he saw one after 10 minutes of driving on Main St.

Convert Main to two way or calm the traffic and keep it one way (I suggest LRT with wider sidewalks and a lane for curbside parking). I DON"T CARE! Just stop calling Main, King, Cannon and Wilson "Streets". We all know they're not.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 09:45:09

Thanks for engaging on this topic Mr. Whitehead. I have a few thoughts I'd like to share.

First re g's comment. While I wouldn't have expressed myself in such strong terms, I sympathize with his/her frustration. I hope you can see past the invective and give g's anger the same validity that you give the to the anger of your mountain constituents, who are obviously not the only ones who are alienated.

Speaking of being alienated, Campbell took the words right out of my mouth. The people with "sour tastes" in their mouths are already alienated. They've alienated themselves. They will never see downtown as anything more than a place to get through as quickly as possible. I don't see why they should be allowed to determine the quality of life for downtown residents and businesspeople.

Re: Hamilton's "heavy", "severe" traffic. I learned to drive in Toronto. I now live in Westdale and can make it to my regular appointment on Sherman North in under 12 minutes. I've been on Main when it was down to one lane due to construction and I've still made it through the downtown in less than 10 minutes. The idea that Hamilton's traffic is "heavy" or "severe" is hyperbole that is not conducive to a rational discussion of this issue, and in any case, as Ryan notes, congestion (and bad parking) are a signs of successful urban neighbourhoods. People who don't understand or appreciate urban neighbourhoods should not be in a position to "stifle the aspirations" of people who do, to quote Campbell Young again, particularly since a revitalized downtown will benefit all citizens of Hamilton, even the ones who never come downtown.

Also, since you are concerned about your mountain constituents' perceptions of the "severity" of Hamilton's traffic, I don't understand why you support traffic calming measures as an alternative to two-way conversions. Surely anything that slows downtown traffic would be unacceptable to the 'sour tasters'.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Ron McLester (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 11:22:31

Councillor Whitehead,
Having followed the original Downtown Transportation Master Plan (2001) and the most recent review and it appears that there are a lot of misconceptions about what Council is approving. In 2001 Council approved the two way conversion of King Street between Wellington and Queen and York Boulevard between Bay and Wellington, while Main Street and Cannon Street would be left as one way (with pedestrian improvements).
The review of the 2001 master plan, as required per the Environmental Assessment Act, does not change the recommendations of the previously approved conversions…with the exception of King Street that would be considered futher-to stay as one way-if Rapid Transit Routing is identified along this street.
I cannot comprehend what is so difficult, and would cause so much fuss, about approving the conversion of ONE major street in downtown Hamilton (York Boulevard). Main and Cannon are still recommended to be one way, albeit with pedestrian improvements.
I was previously a resident of Ward 8 and three years ago decided to move to the James Street North neighbourhood to be able to live in a more sustainable manor and walk/cycle/take transit to work. The reasons I chose this neighbourhood was for the vibrancy that began to occur around the time of the two way conversion of James North. Walking this street is the most enjoyable part of my active commute. The conversion of this street resulted in simple lane geometry (making it easy for drivers) and improved pedestrian amentities (wide, treed sidewalks).
Over the past three years I've noticed a significant amount of investment along James Street North and renovations of houses in the neighbourhood. Surprisingly, the value of my home has gone up by 43% in three short years! How is that for improved property value? I highly doubt that these investments and the improvements in property value would have happened and I would not have chosen to live in this area if James Street North was still one way.
I often frequent James Street South as a pedestrian (for shopping and dining) and a driver (when visiting my relatives in Ward 8) and find the conversion to be not as enjoyable. The lane geometry is complicated (through lanes turning into left turn lanes or ending abrubtly). The pedestrian environment is nearly not as nice as the sidewalks are narrow and not buffered from traffic. Please also note, Councillor Whitehead, that traffic is only congested for about an hour during each rush hour. The remainder of the day it moves quite quickly and results in poorer pedestrian conditions due to the lack of sidewalk space and buffering.
With regards to York Boulevard, the Farmers' Market is planned to be renovated to be more street oriented. I currently cross York on my way to work and try to avoid walking down it in its current state. I find the fast one way traffic, lake of pedestrian amenities and the inward relation of the buildings to be uncomfortable. The two way conversion of York and pedestrian improvements would drasticly help this roadway in becoming a more vibrant area of the City of Hamilton, and perhaps a destination for some of your constituents. Two way conversion is not the "magic bullet", but slowing traffic and adding pedestrian/cycling amentities is. Google 'Complete Streets' and see for your self-this may even help you out with the speeding traffic in your ward. There are numerous examples in U.S. cities-many of which are even more car dependant than Hamilton-and it has worked for them.
I urge you to reconsider your position on the Downtown Transportation Master Plan Review - especially given that you would only be approving the two-way conversion of one major street in the City of Hamilton - and help to create a more vibrant, economically stable municipality for all of its residents.
Sincerely,
Ron McLester.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 11:30:45

Councillor Whitehead spends a lot of time refuting our claims, and yet provides no alternatives for slowing downtown traffic to improve the street life.

I can't help but see this in a negative way. Unfortunately most of the poster "g."'s post resonated very strongly with me.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 11:33:06

When I say no alternative I really mean a plan of action... No plan of action is given by Councillor Whitehead who is willing to spend so much time creating posts about this topic.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 11:39:21

When I say no alternative I really mean a plan of action... No plan of action is given by Councillor Whitehead who is willing to spend so much time creating posts about this topic.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Anonymously (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 11:49:38

YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING

By blake
Posted 7/30/2008 4:51:26 PM

Terry for Mayor!

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By JH (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 12:24:16

As someone with a graduate degree in community economic development, I can't help but not swallow either side of this "urban revitilization" debate.
Hamilton simply does not have enough capital to support "service" industry businesses. You hipsters who crowd the Durand district and want more restaurants, patios, and bars...these things do not just appear out of nowhere. They require a steady financial base of people with enough capital to sustain such enterprise. Get with the program-capitalist "innovation" gets us nowhere without a population with adequate wages, and social spending to pick up where private capital leaves us hanging.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Jh (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 12:30:38

Re: Vancouver

According to an international survey on housing unaffordability, Vacouver ranks #1 as most unaffordable city in Canada, and as #15 in the world.

All you people who want "Hamilton to be more like Vancouver" probably couldn't afford to live here if it were. Not to mention everyone else. Homelessness, anyone?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Anonymously (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 12:36:21

To add to my previous comment,
"No plan of action is given by Councillor Whitehead who is willing to spend so much time creating posts about this topic."
Terry is on a rampage, with an old adage, the more you talk the more the one is perceived as a leader...He rambles on and on with issues that preoccupy narrow controversies, but in the long run have little or nothing to do with revitalizing this city...He is starting to remind me of another x councilor who philosophized every issue to death...sticking his head in an empty bucket, listening to his own echo....The truth of the matter is, there is no one on the present City council with the vision and incredible tenacity to bring this City, as a whole, into the future. For the past 10 to 15 years this city has been going around and around in circles, going nowhere...deeper in debt, flogging the taxpayer beyond their means, with no end in sight; except...two-way streets, to one-way, and converting them back to two-way. Around and around we go...lets turn them back to, one-way....and call this progress?



By adam1
Posted 7/31/2008 11:33:06 AM

When I say no alternative I really mean a plan of action... No plan of action is given by Councillor Whitehead who is willing to spend so much time creating posts about this topic.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Melville (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 12:51:51

Just a few quick observations:

- people speed no matter what in this city it seems. Locke often has speed-racers late at night, some who don't even stop for stop signs, and others who consider the stretch from Charleton to Main to be a speedway.

- what is more a problem about Main & King is not them being one-way, it's them being so wide. John and James are not six-lanes wide at any point when it was one- or two-way. At King's narrowest point (2 lanes, I believe) its really not that bad for speeders and seems friendly to pedestrians IMO. Having three lanes one way, three another is probably going to make things way way worse for downtown pedestrians. Main around McMaster is two way, and really wide, and pedestrians seem to go out of the way NOT to walk down main it seems - if Mac was not there, the sidewalks would be barren. The main point I have here is a two-way Main or King streets would still be a parkway running through the city core.

- we forget in this debate about the failures of streets that are two way.. and the successes of ones that are one-way. Downtown revitalization has no one solution.. street changes alone won't do anything and the lack of street changes alone won't necessarily damn the core to stagnation. The two-way Barton village sure looks great from a street design standpoint, but businesses there are anything but stable and the streets are anything but safe. The brief bit of King William that is cobblestone sure looks better than it did, but I'm not sure that make-over did anything but some cosmetic changes.

- IF main were to be converted to two way, lane reductions need to occur via a central barrier garden or space for outdoor vendors. Or, ideally, light rail (think Kensington Market's Spadina in Toronto). If not, and it remained one-way, several of those lanes need to go, the space reclaimed as garden/marketplace/etc. Four lanes is the most it should ever have, three ideally. We could use the spare space as the worlds longest sidewalk market/arts space, maybe?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Anonymously (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 12:53:03

To add to my previous comment,
"No plan of action is given by Councillor Whitehead who is willing to spend so much time creating posts about this topic."
Terry is on a rampage, with an old adage, the more you talk the more the one is perceived as a leader...He rambles on and on with issues that preoccupy narrow controversies, but in the long run have little or nothing to do with revitalizing this city...He is starting to remind me of another x councilor who philosophized every issue to death...sticking his head in an empty bucket, listening to his own echo....The truth of the matter is, there is no one on the present City council with the vision and incredible tenacity to bring this City, as a whole, into the future. For the past 10 to 15 years this city has been going around and around in circles, going nowhere...deeper in debt, flogging the taxpayer beyond their means, with no end in sight; except...two-way streets, to one-way, and converting them back to two-way. Around and around we go...lets turn them back to, one-way....and call this progress?



By adam1
Posted 7/31/2008 11:33:06 AM

When I say no alternative I really mean a plan of action... No plan of action is given by Councillor Whitehead who is willing to spend so much time creating posts about this topic.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Frank (registered) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 13:34:16

Councillor Whitehead... Ryan stole the words out of my mouth. The reason those streets you named are high speed roads is because of the geometric design. They're to wide and to flat for the amount of traffic that use them. Might I suggest using your traffic calming measures on your streets up there and leave the downtown decisions to those directly involved.

I echo the comments of others here... I see your arguments which have now boiled down into you adressing the speed issue but I don't see you providing any solutions. What happened to all the other objections that I refuted yours with?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Whereabouts (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 15:21:45

St. Laurent Ave. in Montreal, The Main of Mordecai Richler's many Jewish ghetto novels, has been an urban renewal hotspot for at least a couple of years now, previously the location for artists, behemians, students and anyone who likes a festival. It is one-way, as are most of the streets in the vicinity, but none of them could be called urban expressways. Streetlights are not co-ordinated for traffic to race from one end to the other. It is the ability to get to go from Dundurn to Sherman, or the other way about, without stopping, that has made so many downtown streets unliveable, and put the lie to people from beyond who say they would stop if the downtown were more to their liking. Most who moved to he suburbs went there because they like getting in their cars to go to the mall, and won't be back.

The notion of a central downtown that serves the suburbs providing the goods and services they cannot find in their own environs, is demonstrably false. It simply does not hold water, but it is still the model for most of city council and downtown businesses, who constantly talk of driving away people in the neighbourhood to make room "for people to come downtown." They're not coming. Ever. Those that like living in the downtown are there, and need access to local services and goods as in any other district, without crossing 4-6 lane expressways.

The successful downtown neighbourhoods in Hamilton serve their own communities first (Locke St., Ottawa St. N., Dundas, Westdale) and develop specialties that attract outsiders to the area secondarily. Or they develop these two things together, but the local community must thrive as a basis for the specialty shops.

For better or worse, Hamilton's downtown, along with all other area municipalities, moved to Toronto about three decades ago.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Councillor Terry Whitehead (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 15:25:01

Let's be clear. In previous posts I've indicated that the downtown precinct absorbs more tax dollars than any other ward in the City. I've also indicated that I have no problem with this, as downtown is everyone's downtown. Please understand that when we are spending taxpayer’s money on downtown issues and initiatives, they must be considered in the context of priorities. To suggest that there is only quality of life issues n the downtown at the exclusion of everyone else in the City is both naive and ignorant.

As I stated in past postings, it appears that the issue in respect to the conversions is more about quality of advice. I do appreciate this, but it is also the case with many other neighbourhoods across the City.

The question becomes, How do we prioritize the spending of our limited financial resources?

Ward 8 alone contributes more tax dollars to the City coffers than the downtown ward, just to put things in perspective. Over and above all the other arguments that have been before you, the prime concern is who should pay. Should the tax payers in the balance of the City take the responsibility of providing the revenue for the conversions in the downtown at their own exclusion?

Our strategic planning process helps guide Councillors and staff in the decision making process to identify priorities.

My question to those strong supporters of this expenditure, is it really a City wide priority above all other quality of life issues as well as strategic investments in the City? Is it more important than using the funds to leverage the creation of new business, jobs and the creation of tax assessments by means that are PROVEN to be effective?

ps. There are many alternatives to slow down traffic on the one way streets that are more effective such as widening pedestrian walkways, chicanes or changing the lighting sequences.

pps. To “g,” I hope that we can keep this debate open and productive. Please remember that residents across the City, in every Ward, are equally frustrated with their high taxes and want to see the taxes spent wisely. Let’s work together to find a solution that helps everyone.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 15:57:40

I think your argument would hold more water if two-way conversions were extremely costly, but much of the frustration you see here is due to the fact that conversions are a relatively low-cost solution that have been proven. You say there are other means of creating new business and increasing assessments that are more effective. What are they, and are they less costly than conversions? Because recent history in Hamilton shows us that the usual 'solutions' to generating jobs and revenue involve multi-million dollar investments in highway expansions and infrastructure in outlying areas (with limited results to date). The paltry few million it would take to convert downtown streets seems like a very wise investment in comparison.

Don't dismiss the importance of quality of life issues. Jobs chase people these days, and companies looking to invest in communities are looking at quality of life issues - walkability, access to amenities and arts and entertainment, etc. A vibrant downtown will attract people who wish to live, work, and play there, and investment will follow.

Also, you still haven't explained the seeming contradiction between your position that we shouldn't "alienate" your mountain constituents by making downtown driving any slower for them, and your support for traffic calming measures (which would presumably also cost a certain amount of money).

Also, kudos for your classy response to g.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Ron McLester (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 16:00:58

Councillor Whitehead,

The downtown is intended to be the location for infill and increased density. Many of your constituants do not want this in Ward 8 (as you know...Keep Scenic Scenic campain). I, along with many other downtown residents and businesses welcome increased density. That is what urban life is about and what Hamilton's downtown lacks to be truly successful. To get to that point the downtown needs investment, and maybe a little bit more than other wards right now, but those investments will likely be returned as more people begin to choose downtown as their home.

I suspect that during the 1960's and 70's many of the other wards, including downtown's ward 2, contributed significantly to the development of infrastructure in your ward, and will likely do so again in the next 10 to 20 years as the infrastructure in Ward 8 begins to deteriorate.

The downtown transportation plan is intended to be constructed as a whole. Not bit by bit. There are many components to the plan and it wouldn't necessarily work properly if it isn't all completed. Say you were in the process of flipping a home…would you stop halfway because funds are low? A half renovated house does not see the same revenue potential as a fully renovated one, does it?

I appreciate you taking your time to review these comments and consider them fairly.

Sincerely,

Ron McLester.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted July 31, 2008 at 16:45:35

In an effort to provide a bit of context to this discussion we should keep in mind that cities all over Europe (Leeds, Nottingham, lots of others) have recently pedestrianized huge sections of their downtowns. Not for them a protracted discussion on one-way versus two, but instead a firm commitment to create pedestrian friendly plazas.

These european cities understand that their downtown neighbourhoods are unique. They know that these are the neighbourhoods where the town was formed. These neighbourhoods encompass concentrated areas of historical buildings. They are central and thus have the unique capacity to bring the town together. They are a focal point for the city and crucial to forging it's identity. As a result these cities have a strong sense of identity and pride and their downtown's generate huge amounts of revenue by leveraging these unique strengths. To view downtown as 'any other neighbourhood' is naive, and displays a complete misunderstanding of what cities like Hamilton are and how they prosper. Hamilton has a wealth of history, and it grew from the core out. By failing to nurture this potential Hamiltons leaders are turning their back on their past and missing a great (and proven) opportunity to build a strong identity within their community.

Cheers

Ben

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Campbell (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 19:17:55

I’m glad the conversation has moved beyond one-way streets. Clearly the issue is much greater.

Mr. Whitehead, there are still some important points that you have not addressed. First of all, you talk about “finding a practical way” of calming traffic on King and Main. What’s there to find? The “green wave” is synched for 60 km/hr. Since, as Ryan pointed out, the correlation between pedestrian injury/death and speed is well understood, you cannot credibly advocate pedestrian safety without addressing this in council.

What about my proposal for 40 km/hr synchronization, plus lane reductions for streetcars and sidewalk widening? (Sorry folks, I don’t share your enthusiasm for on-street parking for King/Main. On-street parking would probably mean little chance for an east-west bike corridor.) What about the proposal to convert some of the lesser streets?

You’re still not communicating clearly on the political ethics of this whole thing. Which is it? You started by saying you support two-way conversions (and presumably other things) if the neighbourhood supports it. Then you went on to invoke the tastes of Mountain drivers and the supposedly central role that they play in downtown renewal. Then you went on to invoke their tax burden. Downtown people are clearly in favour of some sort of shift in land use away from cars and toward pedestrians/transit/bikes. Does this matter to you and the other suburban councilors?

Speaking of taxes, I’m skeptical about the imbalance from which you allege Ward 8 residents suffer. How do you calculate that? Do you include the greater per-capita infrastructure costs (sewers, water, ambulance, road maintenance etc.) that low-density like Ward 8 areas incur? Do you include the greater use of the super-costly RHVP and Linc by Ward 8 residents? Is your calculation per capita or global? Your claims seem spurious. Maybe someone from CATCH can weigh in on this.

Nevertheless, even if such an imbalance does exist, I would urge everybody to consider the notion that true democracy is not about “taxpayers” or “constituents” or the special interests of BIA’s. It’s about citizens, inclusively! For too long North American life has suffered from the prevailing image of the city as a kind of private driving club.

This much is clear: Ward 1 and 2 residents are in favour of a shift in land use away from the automobile and toward a more pedestrian/transit/bicycle-oriented environment. This is clear from voting patterns (Bratina, McHattie), as well as the numerous statements of neighbourhood associations.

Whether two-way or a radically altered one-way, do you and the other suburban councilors intend to respect this? If so, what concrete ideas do you have to implement it?

Respectfully, I hope you can see to it to answer at least some of these direct questions and think about the others.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By seriously? (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 19:21:44


Blake is probably Terry's kid...

By Anonymously
Posted 7/31/2008 11:49:38 AM

YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING

By blake
Posted 7/30/2008 4:51:26 PM

Terry for Mayor!

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By A Downtowner (registered) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 21:33:30

I have read the discussion above and have a few personal thoughts on this topic

  • Speeding is happening everywhere, it's not an issue of one way or two way and it's not just in Hamilton, it's a wide spread societal issue

  • In terms of slowing down traffic, I am personally in favour of round abouts vs. traffic lights, the only way we can slow things down is to physically stop traffic (and while I am in favour it, it obviously isn't possible to implement everywhere and very quickly, perhaps it could over the long term)

  • I live downtown and do not hesitate to walk along a one way street, it isn't keeping me away from browsing the streets and doing my shopping

  • Look at this Spec article (www.thespec.com/article/400997), it says to convert just York Street it would cost an extra $750,000 - to say it isn't expensive to convert from one way to two way isn't accurate

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 22:53:53

"Look at this Spec article (www.thespec.com/article/400997), it says to convert just York Street it would cost an extra $750,000 - to say it isn't expensive to convert from one way to two way isn't accurate"

We spend hundreds of millions on expressways and servicing shovel-ready land in the middle of nowhere. $750,000 is nothing.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Westcoaster (anonymous) | Posted July 31, 2008 at 23:24:57

Those respondents who have stated that Vancouver's busiest streets bolster two way traffic are partly correct. Granville is one way from West Georgia to the Waterfront and closed (temporarily south of West Georgia to the Viaduct for Transit Expansion)Seymore is One-Way Downtown but Robson Street, Canada's Best, is Two Way as is Broadway E&W, South Granville and all thriving shopping areas. I live in West Vancouver and will provide a scenario, East on Marine Drive, Cross Lion's Gate Bridge follow Causeway to West Georgia, Right on to Denman,Left on to Pacific, Right on to Burrard and over the Burrard Street Bridge and continue South then Left on to 16th and Right on to South Granville to the Oak Street Viadct cross and continue Straight to Vancouver International Airport.
In good traffic approximately a fifty minute drive, no problems and all on Two Way Streets.Pretty well the same to the Tsawassen Ferry Terminal and to the US Border for Seattle.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2008 at 01:04:25

Downtown Hamilton is garbage because the people that live there have allowed themselves to be weakened by government assistance.

As I have pointed out before, when government tries to help its citizens, it always ends up doing the reverse. The solution to fixing the downtown is therefore really easy, stop accepting government handouts.

If the residents of the downtown would allow themselves to be in a position of weakness, the resulting effects on their lives would be tremendously positive. Since everything in life balances out, allowing yourself to be at risk, creates an environment of great rewards.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2008 at 03:50:27

A. Smith - I'm not sure I understand how your comment relates to the question of two-way street conversion. Just who are you preaching to, exactly? People who most likely own a computer, have access to the internet, and do not, as you put it, "accept government handouts"? Your last two sentences make no sense. I've tried and cannot make head nor tail of them.

While the issue of two-way conversion cannot be answered conclusively, I would agree with Vancouverite - no question, the best streets to be on there are two-way. My personal favorite parts of Hamilton are either two-way, or very limited one-way: International Village on King Street, for instance, only has two lanes, James North is two-way, Locke is two-way.

I would say that science (loosely-speaking) is clearly on the side of converting streets to two-way, or drastically reducing the number of lanes on some of Hamilton's one-way streets. I agree with many of the above posts - I will frequently go out of my way to avoid walking down York, Main, King West past Queen, etc. The air smells like exhaust, and I get this eerie feeling every time I see a wall of traffic coming at me that I'm taking my life in my hands. Seriously - a five-lane road going one way that isn't a freeway? Does anybody know if that has ever worked well in any city?

Given the enormous costs involved in changing the 403 ramp orientation around, I would be surprised if Hamilton had the money to commit to converting Main and King. Better, I think, to keep them both one way and knock them down to 3 lanes apiece (with LRT, a bike lane, and a non-suicide-width sidewalk).

Imagine that - with LRT coming, etc., I might even consider paying Hamilton a visit at some point in the future after I leave this fall for the wider world! I'm afraid, however, that while the city has many great restaurants, etc., there currently isn't much to offer the sightseeing tourist. Speaking from personal experience, my first impression of the city was from being dropped off on York outside the Farmer's market. It took several months for my impression of the city to fundamentally change. I'll definitely be keeping in touch with local events after I leave, but the incentive to come back will simply not be there if nothing much has changed.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Blossom (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2008 at 07:41:58

"Downtown Hamilton is garbage because the people that live there have allowed themselves to be weakened by government assistance."

Oh christ here we go again. A Smith you're like a broken record. Please go back to 1850 and get yourself a farmstead somewhere in the Midwest.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2008 at 10:54:43

Why is it that people think the only solutions to Hamilton's poverty are more government schemes? We have been doing this for decades, and the results are obvious, Hamilton is a sick city.

Two way street conversions are just the latest nonsense that the experts are selling, and the results will be just as ineffective as all the other schemes the experts have given us.

The reality is that welfare and other government handouts encourage poverty, and it is this poverty that destroys neighborhoods. Conversely, in areas of the city where there is less reliance on handouts, the streets are lined with the shops and restaurants everyone wants downtown.

In life, everything comes at a price, and in the case of government handouts, that price is a crappy neighborhood. All one has to do is look at any city in North America where the people are given money for doing nothing, they are all run down and they are all places of despair.

Just think about the human body, when we stop exercising them, and we allow others to carry us, we become weak, while the person carrying us becomes stronger. What seemed like a good idea at first, having others do our work for us, actually makes us weaker over the long term. Conversely, for the person who decides to take on more hardship rather than less, they are rewarded with great strength and physical health.

That is why the only solution to increasing the wealth of the downtown area is less assistance, not more. I realize that everyone on this board will disagree with these ideas, but that just makes me more certain that they are the correct ones.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2008 at 11:30:38

A Smith,

Your reasoning is so loaded with fallacies I'm not sure where to begin.

The reality is that welfare and other government handouts encourage poverty, and it is this poverty that destroys neighborhoods. Conversely, in areas of the city where there is less reliance on handouts, the streets are lined with the shops and restaurants everyone wants downtown.

Correlation != causality. It makes as much sense to claim that ice cream causes sunstroke.

Poor people live in poor neighbourhoods because they can't afford to live in rich neighbourhoods (that is, as a result of the market forces you believe can solve every social problem). People in poor neighbourhoods receive more social assistance than people in rich neighbourhoods because poor people need more social assistance than rich people.

This says nothing about the causes of poverty, which are far more complex than your model suggests (and in any case, poverty long precedes the advent of social welfare).

Just think about the human body, when we stop exercising them, and we allow others to carry us, we become weak, while the person carrying us becomes stronger.

Analogy != proof.

Aside from the fact that it supports your thesis, you've provided no argument as to why we should believe that a social class is 'like' a human body in the way that you described.

Why is your analogy better than, say, an analogy to carrying someone whose legs are broken?

I realize that everyone on this board will disagree with these ideas, but that just makes me more certain that they are the correct ones.

This is a straightforward ad homimem fallacy, not to mention an inverse confirmation bias.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2008 at 12:43:02

A Smith,

If only life were so simple :)

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2008 at 12:54:46

A Smith

You hit the nail on the head.

Hamilton is a city that is more interested in crying for more assistence then it is in creating wealth. That is why our downtown is full of bums and lowlifes. Just come live in Hamilton where the welfare is better and there is a shelter on every corner. In the meantime people and businesses leave for Burlington.

Just the other day I read how the mayor said that the city was "moving on up". The reasons were because of recent goverment projects in the city (ie taxpayer funded). The mayor even used the example of a subsidized housing project under construction! How on earth can anyone claim a subsidized housing project represents economic development!?

Want to make the downtown a better place? Make the downtown attractive for the middle class. That means get rid of all the bums and lowlifes. If only this city were as good at attracting businesses as we are at attracting bums then we would become "the best place to raise a family".

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By BE (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2008 at 13:23:55

"Make the downtown attractive for the middle class. That means get rid of all the bums and lowlifes."

I love it when people talk like this. It exposes their ignorance and makes it easier for me to dismiss their opinions.

Sure, lets form a posse of about 500 angry young men. Then lets tell these men that for every bum they run out of town we'll give them $20.

Or even better, lets round up everybody with a beard and scraggly hair into train cars and ship them to St. Catharines. Then St. Catharines can ship them to Niagara Falls. And if we're lucky they'll all be dead by then.

Clearly you don't care how we get rid of them. Just get rid of them. It's that simple isn't it?

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2008 at 14:04:55

BE wrote:

Or even better, lets round up everybody with a beard and scraggly hair into train cars and ship them to St. Catharines.

Hey, I have a beard and scraggly hair!

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Frank (registered) | Posted August 01, 2008 at 14:30:45

k, everyone except you Ryan! I don't think A Smith understands your big words though...

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Geoff's two cents (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2008 at 14:48:55

Yes, Capitalist and A. (Adam?) Smith, I have to hand it to you there. . . All that social housing they're building in Vancouver is a sign that that city is on its way down. Perhaps they could just cage the homeless, the poor with Ryan (if you don't like his beard), and you and your 19th century friends can go throw tomatoes at them? Oh. . wait! That would require a government-funded cage, and where would we get the tomatoes from? Perhaps, according to your logic, the government should stop building roads entirely? By your standards, I think we could do without the police (and the army?) as well - I think that would ensure that only the strongest survive. . .

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Zombie Adam Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2008 at 14:58:24

"Oh. . wait! That would require a government-funded cage, and where would we get the tomatoes from?"

Balderdash! An Enterprising Cage Investor need only charge a Modest Admission to view the caged riffraff (& perhaps an additional surcharge to lob tomatoes at said Caged Rabble) to achieve a Most Agreeable Return on one's Investment in such raw materials as Cage and Tomatoes.

With Adroit and Prudent Division of Labour, one may even maximize the labour productivity of the workers operating the Establishment and hence increase the Return on Investment still further.

This will, in turn, increase Market Demand for both Steel and Tomatoes, proffering a boost to the Fortunes of the Steel-Making and Tomato-Growing Industries, of which Hamilton enjoys some Comparative Advantage.

Truly, the Hidden Hand of the Free Market upholds the Wealth on which Free Nations pursue their Self Interest Rationally so to Enrich Themselves and expand Private Liberties to (most) all the People.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Another Thread Hijacked by Trolls (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2008 at 15:00:40

/thread

:P

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Vic (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2008 at 15:41:56

WHAT middle class? Oh, you mean those people who are getting turned into the next batch of folks in need of welfare?

There's an idea for an entirely different blog posting: the Scraggly Haired Bums of Downtown Hamilton! For this post, however, let's get back to road, and the issue of conversion between one and two ways.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted August 01, 2008 at 15:50:42

Ryan makes a good point about helping those that are in true need (e.g. someone with a broken leg), and I agree with that position.

That is why I support funding everyone who needs their broken bones set. However, even though I don't have the stats on these figures, I can't imagine this would be more than a few dozen per year. It also takes about six weeks for a bone to heal, so government assistance would only be a temporary need.

Another example of how government assistance causes pain, is the current US economy. In the most recent three quarters, government spending on social programs has climbed from 25.62% of GDP to 26.23% of GDP. Curiously enough, as this increased spending has taken place, gas and food prices have shot up, and jobs have been lost. The universe balanced the efforts of the government to try and help its citizens, by making their lives harder, in the form of higher prices, and reduced job opportunities.

Everything in life is balanced, therefore when we get things for free, it is actually just an illusion, because we always end up paying for it in some other way. This phenomenon is also the reason throwing money at Africa has done more harm than good. In fact, in many African countries, the economy is smaller than it was thirty years ago, prior to independence from the colonial powers.

A positive example of how government can help the average citizen was displayed in the nineties, when both federal and provincial governments cut social spending, and focused on creating big surpluses. During this time period, the economy grew at much faster rates than today, as did median wages.

What the government took from its citizens in taxes, and failed to give back in services, the universe stepped in and made sure there was a reward. This reward was a booming economy.

Although it is counterintuitive to think this way, it is our enemies who make us stronger, not our friends. That is why the more we can give to others, or at least not take from others, the stronger and more successful we will become.

I believe this so strongly that I cut up my health card six months ago. Since that time, I am not only physically healthier than I was, I am also seeing much more opportunities in my life. It is all about balance as far as I am concerned, and I recommend to everyone the strength that comes from living in what appears to be weakness.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2008 at 16:33:17

I support funding everyone who needs their broken bones set.

You do realize that I was making an analogy, right? I wasn't actually talking about people with broken bones. I was using the analogy only to demonstrate how easy it is to use an analogy in apparent support of an opinion.

even though I don't have the stats on these figures, I can't imagine this would be more than a few dozen per year.

I wasn't able to find data for just broken bones, but according to StatsCan, 65,213 people in Hamilton incurred injuries that were serious enough to limit normal activities in 2005.

In the most recent three quarters, government spending on social programs has climbed from 25.6% of GDP to 26.33% of GDP.

You're still assuming that correlation equals causality. During the period in question, the US economy has gone into negative GDP growth. If social spending remains the same over that period, it will shrink as a percentage of a lower GDP.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted August 01, 2008 at 19:17:36

Two way streets are not social assistance. We advocate for calm traffic and two way streets in order to make the streets safer and more comfortable for everyone, no matter what their age or economic standing.

Twisting this discussion into an argument against (or for) social assistance is completely useless and does nothing to further the debate.

Why don't you formulate your social assistance thesis into a legible article of its own, post it on its own, and host a debate about it in a more appropriate forum?

Meanwhile, we can continue to discuss the pros and cons of two way conversions.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By ProudWard8er (registered) | Posted August 02, 2008 at 01:56:55

As a citizen of Ward 8, I can understand where Mr. Whitehead is coming from. Yet I find myself (once again!) in opposition to him.

Yes, we must calm traffic in our city. We've all seen it: the construction vehicles barreling down our streets, cars zipping through quiet neighbourhoods, people racing on our roadways…and this needs to stop. But ladies and gentlemen, this is less an issue of one-way vs. two-way streets. This is a ‘on the road’ in general issue.

What we need to do as a city (as this is not just an individual ward issue) is seriously look into traffic safety, patterns, etiquette and…well, traffic in general…and look at ways of decreasing our dependence on the automobile. We need to follow the lead of Amsterdam, whose city councillors voted on an ambitious plan of transportation diversion. In a city of millions, they managed to totally redefine their urban transit strategy so that today, 80% of all trips made in Amsterdam are on foot, on public transit or by bike! City officials even eliminated cars totally in a three square mile area of their downtown and added raised cobblestone bike lanes in between the road and sidewalk.

Cities across Europe are rethinking their transit strategies and are making significant headway in changing their images for the better. If Hamilton can begin to make the same changes, then we too can not only reduce our environmental impact, but also calm our congested streets and hopefully reduce traffic related deaths.

I am proud of my community. The Eighth Ward is a beautiful and vibrant place to live, but we do not see the level of traffic congestion that citizens of the downtown wards must see. Our major roadways run smooth most of the time and a majority of our streets are quiet suburban ones, with few car problems. Again, I understand where Councillor Whitehead is coming from, but he has to see past this as being a one way vs. two way street debate.

The problem with our city council is that they have trouble moving past petty debates such as this one and creating solutions to the problems plaguing our home. Our councillors are going to have to start taking action, or there are going to have to be major changes come 2010.

-Chris, the ProudWard8er.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By ProudWard8er (registered) | Posted August 02, 2008 at 01:58:07

As a citizen of Ward 8, I can understand where Mr. Whitehead is coming from. Yet I find myself (once again!) in opposition to him.

Yes, we must calm traffic in our city. We've all seen it: the construction vehicles barreling down our streets, cars zipping through quiet neighbourhoods, people racing on our roadways…and this needs to stop. But ladies and gentlemen, this is less an issue of one-way vs. two-way streets. This is a ‘on the road’ in general issue.

What we need to do as a city (as this is not just an individual ward issue) is seriously look into traffic safety, patterns, etiquette and…well, traffic in general…and look at ways of decreasing our dependence on the automobile. We need to follow the lead of Amsterdam, whose city councillors voted on an ambitious plan of transportation diversion. In a city of millions, they managed to totally redefine their urban transit strategy so that today, 80% of all trips made in Amsterdam are on foot, on public transit or by bike! City officials even eliminated cars totally in a three square mile area of their downtown and added raised cobblestone bike lanes in between the road and sidewalk.

Cities across Europe are rethinking their transit strategies and are making significant headway in changing their images for the better. If Hamilton can begin to make the same changes, then we too can not only reduce our environmental impact, but also calm our congested streets and hopefully reduce traffic related deaths.

I am proud of my community. The Eighth Ward is a beautiful and vibrant place to live, but we do not see the level of traffic congestion that citizens of the downtown wards must see. Our major roadways run smooth most of the time and a majority of our streets are quiet suburban ones, with few car problems. Again, I understand where Councillor Whitehead is coming from, but he has to see past this as being a one way vs. two way street debate.

The problem with our city council is that they have trouble moving past petty debates such as this one and creating solutions to the problems plaguing our home. Our councillors are going to have to start taking action, or there are going to have to be major changes come 2010.

-Chris, the ProudWard8er.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted August 05, 2008 at 11:07:48

Maybe Terry should hold a public meeting and tell all the "Keep it Scenic" people that he's going to turn their streets to one-way. I bet they'd be overjoyed.

People in the suburbs don't want infill or intensification in their wards (Keep it Scenic, again) yet their councillor won't support the basic infrastructure changes necessary to bring that intensification downtown, where it more easily fits and belongs, being the central core and hub of the city.

You can't have it both ways.

Don't bother renovating the farmers market if you're going to leave a highway out front. I have better things to do with my life than wear earplugs and tightly grip my child's hand while 'enjoying' a new farmers market in fear of a speeding transport barreling through the sidewalk stalls. I'm sometimes amazed that our entire urban core doesn't look like King William Street with the people we have on council. The lack of vision or care for this town is staggering.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
[ - ]

By lost canon (anonymous) | Posted August 05, 2008 at 13:36:42

terry tells us that
"If you asked the investors for the reason they chose James and John Streets, the answer isn't "Because they are now two-way." The answer is complicated, but included the fact that many young people were moving into the area, galleries were opening up and it became obvious that this would become a new cultural centre.

ONE - I am young, an investor and a gallery owner. I would NEVER EVER invest on ANY of the major one way streets because NO ONE walks down them. Who are you talking to? Why are you lying? This statement makes everything you have said suspect.

These investment decisions were underway before the conversion to two-way took place. To suggest that two-way streets were the catalyst to this new investment is simplistic and narrow-minded

TWO - sometimes simple isnt narrow minded.

Reply | Permalink | Context

You must be logged in to vote on this comment.
View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

Comment Anonymously
Screen Name
What do you get if you multiply 5 and 1?
Leave This Field Blank
Comment

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds