Transportation

One-Way Streets More Dangerous for Children: Study

By Ryan McGreal
Published August 07, 2008

A study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health in May-June 2000 demonstrates clearly that one-way streets in Hamilton carry a higher risk of child pedestrian injury than two-way streets.

Written by public health researchers Ashley Wazana, Vicki L, Rynard, Parminder Raina, Paul Krueger and Larry W. Chambers, the study, titled, "Are Child Pedestrians at Increased Risk of Injury on One-Way Compared to Two-Way Streets?", compared child pedestrian injury rates per 100,000, per 100 km, per year on one-way and two-way streets between 1978 and 1994.

Using injury data from the City of Hamilton Traffic Department, the study found that the overall injury rate was 2.5 times higher on one-way streets than two-way streets, consistent across all age groups from 0 to 14 years of age.

Not only was the injury rate higher, but also the severity of injury varied across the street types.

It also found that the injury rate is three times higher in poor neighbourhoods than in wealthy neighbourhoods, but that injury rates were still higher on one-way streets, even controlling for socioeconomic status.

Child Pedestrian Injury Rates (per 100,000, per 100 km, per year), 1978-1994
0-4 5-9 10-14 Total
One-way (n=345) 19.1 76.1 46.1 46.4
Two-way (n=1747) 7.0 32.5 20.2 19.6

The authors conclude:

One-way streets have higher rates of child pedestrian injuries than two-way streets in this community. Future risk factor and intervention studies should include the directionality of streets to further investigate its contribution to child pedestrian injuries.

Earlier studies had concluded that one-way streets resulted in lower injury rates, but the authors pointed out problems with the methodolgoies of those studies, including non-representative sampling of streets, only considering injuries at signalized intersections, failing to control for exposure variables, and so on.

As an interesting aside, the study notes that after downtown streets were converted to one-way, traffic increased from 10% to 50% and traffic speed increased significantly, with transit time to a given destination decreasing by 5% tyo 75%.

This is not surprising, considering that wide, multi-lane one-way streets are an incentive to drive more.

The authors suggested, "It is also possible that on one-way streets, drivers are less attentive (due to the lack of traffic from the other direction)".

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

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted August 07, 2008 at 15:56:55

Someone tell Whitehead his studies from the 1940s may be a little bit outdated.

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By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted August 07, 2008 at 18:12:41

Someone needs to get on photoshop and put him in a model T going down Main St!

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By Melville (anonymous) | Posted August 07, 2008 at 23:14:46

Won't somebody please think of the children??

Clearly one-way streets are a threat to our society, and must be eliminated completely and permanently. Before they kill again.

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By Two-Wayer (anonymous) | Posted August 08, 2008 at 12:56:45

Well at least it looks like council made the right call yesterday, even Whitehead. Better late then never I suppose.

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By One-Wayer (anonymous) | Posted August 08, 2008 at 13:54:16

You two way fundamentalists are just pathetic. You're all SO ENVIRONMENTAL that you want to make cars idle more, brake more, accelerate more and pump out more pollution to go the same distance. Right.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted August 08, 2008 at 16:30:52

According to the downtown transportation plan, the increase in emissions resulting from conversion is expected to be less than 5%, which would be offset by the reduction in through traffic, so the argument that one-way streets are better for the environment is bogus.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 08, 2008 at 17:49:46

anyone arguing that more cars and street designed only for cars is good for the environment needs to check the data.

If high speed, nonstop traffic flow was the key to less pollution that please explain the McMaster mobile pollution monitoring team that has records of the highest pollution readings in Hamilton being along Hwy 403 as well as the Skyway, QEW and Linc (I'm sure Red Hill can be added shortly). There's no stoplights or stop signs on those roads.

Less cars=less pollution. Bottom line.

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By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted August 08, 2008 at 22:33:16

Get out of the car and walk around and help curb Hamilton's obesity! (just jokin)

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By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted August 08, 2008 at 22:35:47

But seriously, get out of your car once in a while and live a little.

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By JKerim (anonymous) | Posted August 17, 2008 at 06:03:20

I was reading this above comment complaining how converting more of the streets to two way would lead to more stop and go. If everyone switched to hybrids all that braking would help charge up the car's batteries and actually use less fuel.

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