Walkability Fail

Pedestrians, Please Step Up

By Adele Konyndyk
Published November 26, 2010

I often see this yellow sign when I'm out for a stroll in my neighbourhood. Most days I just walk on by without giving it any attention. But at least a few times a week, I glance at the sign ...

PEDESTRIANS PLEASE CROSS AT LOCKE OR QUEEN
PEDESTRIANS PLEASE CROSS AT LOCKE OR QUEEN

... just before disobeying it.

At a significant lull in traffic, I dart across Aberdeen Avenue (sometimes in clickity-clack church heels that add just a little extra wobble to my step.) I reach the other side glad to have avoided walking an extra 400 meters to one of the official intersection crosswalks.

I don't enjoy - or get a silly rebellious rush from - this jaywalk of a dash. I am careful about it, and I've never been honked at, or come close to an oncoming car. Still, there's always a little risk involved in straying from official pedestrian markings.

And it doesn't feel good to disobey the sign, with its cheery yellow colour and polite "please" statement - though I doubt it'd make any difference if the sign was severe worded-like a Gandalf-esque You shall not pass! warning.

You Shall Not Pass! (Image Credit: Kuvaton.com)
You Shall Not Pass! (Image Credit: Kuvaton.com)

But much as I don't like darting across the street, it seems a justifiable response to the lack of a proper crosswalk in this location.

I've long thought of this lack of a crosswalk as an inconvenient but unchangeable reality in Hamilton - sort of like the abundance of one way streets or, in even more fixed realities, the heavy lake-effect snow the city gets in wintertime.

Sure, every time I do my road dash, I think: "It sure would make a whole lot of sense to have a crosswalk here." But I never thought to say anything about it, or assumed there were others who really cared.

That is, not until I happened upon an article in Raise The Hammer about this very issue.

The article is part of an occasional feature of the blog called Walkability Fail, in which readers send in reports of intersections or stretches of road with particularly poor pedestrian accessibility.

It's a feature I knew nothing about, but I really should have. As someone currently without a vehicle, I spend a fair amount of time as a pedestrian, and so have good reason to be aware of and involved in protecting Hamilton's walkability.

Included in the article is the text of an email recently sent to a local councilor providing several reasons why a crosswalk should be installed at this location.

It's a civilly written and well-outlined email, too, which emphasizes the issue as a matter of providing a more pleasant and, most importantly, safer walking environment for local residents.

While this issue may seem 'small' compared to other issues facing Hamilton, it is still one that affects people's lives, and therefore worth careful consideration. I am delighted to see residents stepping up in this way, taking ownership of a situation and pressuring the City to take action.

I'm also embarrassed about how little thought I have given to the different venues for getting involved and speaking up about municipal issues.

This 'small' call for a crosswalk is, for me, a 'big' wake-up call of sorts, reminding me to take the time to evaluate and, when necessary, challenge aspects of my city rather than sit by and dismiss them as 'inevitable' or 'unchangeable.'

And I've learned that informed and active residentship is important for everyone, whoever you are, wherever you live, and however you cross the street.

This was originally published in Adele Konyndyk's website.

Adele Konyndyk is a freelance writer living in Hamilton, a city she first explored while pursuing a BA in English at Redeemer University College. After completing a MFA in creative writing through Seattle Pacific University, Adele made Hamilton her home. She adores books, Chilean wine, and almost any cheese in the world. Her blog can be found at adelekonyndyk.wordpress.com.

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By Simmons (registered) | Posted November 26, 2010 at 15:12:32

Does anyone know why Hamilton elected to build full traffic light crosswalks instead of pedestrian-specific crosswalks like they have in Toronto (i.e., no standard traffic light)? The main difference is cars can move freely once the pedestrian crosses the street rather than having to wait for a green light. Plus Toronto's concept appears aesthetically more pleasing and seem easier to erect. Similar concepts are used in the UK and Ireland as well as some parts of the US.

Just curious why the mandate is different in this city. I'm sure it has something to do with safety but surely this isn't a major problem in Toronto as their concept has worked for decades.

By the way, I'm all for an official crosswalk at Kent and Aberdeen.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 26, 2010 at 15:37:20

I'm guessing the main concern isn't safety at all, but rather a city mindset that scoffs at pedestrian lights (like in TO) as a waste of money.
our city is still largely run by a mentality that says bikes, pedestrians and anything else that 'gets in the way of my car' should 'get off the road'. It's a city-wide mindset that is simply reflected at city hall.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 26, 2010 at 15:37:21

@Simmons

From what I've heard, they aren't that safe. We had one back in Guelph, and it was terribly designed - pedestrians had no idea when it was safe to go or not, and drivers would be confused by a blinking yellow sign and a confused pedestrian.

I'd say a better model is the push-button stop-light on Main near Camelot Towers. Stop-sign for drivers at the cross-street, and a pedestrian-only push-button red light for pedestrians. People can't seem to handle the ambiguity of those yellow push-to-light-blinker lights.

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By rrrandy (registered) - website | Posted November 26, 2010 at 16:56:25

Pxtl sums up the city traffic department's argument well; basically, drivers understand stop lights, and the ambiguity of other ped crossings confuse. I understand what they are saying, but not sure I buy it - when I lived in Dundas, there was a crossing with no signals that people used naturally, and with one lane in each direction, cars would stop, it didn't take too long for someone in each direction to do the courtesy (King at Ogilvie, by the Carnegie Gallery) - now they have these expensive lights, which are very unresponsive to pedestrians, because they are linked to the traffic light cycle for the street. You often wait extended periods before getting the light. I think if we made environments where cars can't speed in multiple lanes,and where the street life encouraged lots of people walking (retail areas, neighbourhoods)then courtesy and common sense would make things right. Like the "naked streets" where the boundaries that separate drivers, cyclists, pedestrians are erased, creating calmer environments. I don't have the stats handy, but the signalized intersections are actually very dangerous for people on foot. I had a traffic engineer admit this much to me, that it is often safer to cross midblock, without traffic signals, because the person is taking more care. I'll stop now, and see if I need to go digging up stats to back up my ramblings.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 26, 2010 at 17:02:46

I'd just be happy if those push-to-blinker crosswalks used a flashing red instead of a flashing yellow. Yellow means "caution". Most drivers think they're already being cautious, so they ignore them. Flashing red means "this is a Stop sign".

Just go yellow-to-flashing-red on the crosswalks, and give the pedestrian some indicator that they have the right of way, and I'd be happy.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-11-26 16:03:18

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted November 26, 2010 at 17:24:27

I almost killed a pedestrian in one of those cross walks years ago. I'd never experienced them before and was driving blithely along a clear lane when a pedestrian stepped out in front of a car that I had assumed was stopped to turn into a mall (there were about 10 cars behind it, so it wasn't as if I had seen the driver slow to a stop). I swerved and avoided, but it was too close for my comfort, never mind the pedestrian's!

Scared the hell out of me, but I quickly learned what they meant and never had a problem again.

That being said, as a pedestrian I never assumed that cars would stop until I made eye contact with the driver and the driver was obviously slowing down. I've seen enough cars run red lights to assume that a flashing yellow will stop them.

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By Frogger (anonymous) | Posted November 26, 2010 at 18:12:21

Even the full-on red light ped crossings are ignored in this city. I can't count the number of blatant red light runs and illegal turns that I've witnessed at bay & market. This is made worse with the lemming-like jaywalkers - one looks for a gap and crosses against the light, a crowd of others follow without even looking for traffic, often directly into the path of cars that have a green light.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted November 26, 2010 at 18:14:11

If our streets are designed in such a way that pedestrian crosswalks would be unsafe, the larger problem is with the streets and not with the crosswalks.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 26, 2010 at 18:32:37

If automobile traffic is moving slowly enough, the risk of death or serious injury in a collision drops pretty close to zero. I think the big problem is the unchallenged assumption, shared by both motorists and traffic engineers, that 50 km/h is an acceptable speed in which to drive through a city.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 26, 2010 at 22:17:47

Hamilton would instantly become more livable and safe if we simply banned right turns on red. Put signs on the 403 and QEW coming into the city like they do in Montreal letting people know that right on red is illegal city-wide. This would eliminate cars from their rolling stops to turn right and stopping on top of the crosswalk at a red light so they see if anyone is coming. They would simply stop at the crosswalk and relax until the light goes green. How difficult would this change be?? How expensive?

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2010 at 10:03:29

Crossing Main (or much of King and York when not covered by construction) at Pearl or Ray is a heart-pounding adventure whether done on foot, on bike, or driving a car. It's like trying to exit a driveway onto the 401. The high-speed, one-way, synchronized traffic flow is simply not something that's workable in this kind of urban area.

As for those "pedestrians, please cross at lights" signs, perhaps they should be complimented by "drivers, please take Queen or Dundurn". I can get across a street like that far faster on foot than drive it, and neither, with the current Main St. layout, is safe for someone not as young or typically caffeinated as I.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 27, 2010 at 18:34:09

If the city wants to run expressways through town, at the very least there is the obligation to properly protect pedestrians trying to cross these expressways. This means some form of stop-light at every intersection.

Is it expensive? Of course. But running a highway through downtown should be expensive, because it's a crazy idea, and crazy ideas shouldn't be done on the cheap.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted November 27, 2010 at 20:55:53

I had an amazing experience tonight, one I'm sure many others have had as well. I drove from Main and Hess all the way to the Red Hill Valley Expressway without stopping once. Not once. This was around 8:00pm. I'm sure many would say that this shows our lights work, however with the darkness I felt as if I was driving in a tunnel. I was not speeding or going excessively slow to make lights.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 28, 2010 at 12:11:33

I know what you mean mrjanitor. I once made it from my home in Westdale to a friend's place just east of Sherman in 9 minutes. I'm sure most people would celebrate that, but having cut my driving teeth in the gridlock of Toronto, I knew my easy-breezy trip had come at the expense of bustling streets and thriving commerce. It was not a good feeling at all.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 28, 2010 at 21:46:32

Undustrial said "Crossing Main (or much of King and York when not covered by construction) at Pearl or Ray is a heart-pounding adventure whether done on foot, on bike, or driving a car. It's like trying to exit a driveway onto the 401"

Undustrial, If you think that crossing a one way street is difficult, imagine how hard it would be if it were two way. Yup, about twice as difficult. I find it much more difficult to cross a 2way Queenston than it is to cross one way Main St. In fact, I find it pretty easy to cross Queenston. There is usually a long, safe gap in traffic between lights. Not sure what the problem is that you were having. Perhaps it was really bad luck with timing. I have to do that many times a week and don't find it at all challenging. Like I said, crossing two way streets is consistently much more difficult (and less safe).

Mr Janitor, considering that you did so driving at a safe speed, and as far as I can tell, did so without any potential dangers, I would certainly celebrate that as a statement of success for our streets.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 28, 2010 at 21:48:06

Edit... as I hit "post", I read that I typed "I find it pretty easy to cross Queenston". Sorry for the confusion. I meant to type I find it pretty easy to cross Main. Thanks

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted November 28, 2010 at 23:42:42

Spacemonkey, I'll take success for our city over success for our streets any day. A city is so much more than just a collection of streets for driving. We have highways if you enjoy driving so much. Cities are for living.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 29, 2010 at 07:08:24

imagine how hard it would be if it were two way. Yup, about twice as difficult.

That certainly seems logical, and I rather assumed it was true until I started coming across studies showing that one-way streets are more dangerous for pedestrians than two-way streets. I think this disconnect comes out of the (wrong) assumption that the only difference between two-way and one-way streets is the directional flow of traffic, and that everything else remains static.

Edit to add - a transportation network is a complex system of organized complexity that exhibits emergent behaviours. (One of the more interesting phenomena in network theory is the Braess Paradox, in which introducing an additional route between two destinations can actually make traffic congestion worse.) When you change one parameter, every other parameter is affected.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-11-29 08:11:10

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 29, 2010 at 09:10:15

but having cut my driving teeth in the gridlock of Toronto...

I'd like to make a belated edit too. I should have put 'gridlock' in quotes. 'Gridlock' after all, is in the eye of the beholder. I actually find it very easy, albeit a little slow, to get around Toronto by car, so when I hear people here whining about the 'gridlock!' and 'traffic chaos!' on James and York, well, I would laugh but I'm too saddened, not so much by the overweening sense of entitlement, but by the fact that this sense of entitlement holds so much political sway when it so clearly causes us economic harm.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 29, 2010 at 09:10:41

Adam2 said "Spacemonkey, I'll take success for our city over success for our streets any day. A city is so much more than just a collection of streets for driving. We have highways if you enjoy driving so much. Cities are for living".

I'll take success for our city over success for our streets as well. I also believe that a city is much more than a collection of streets for driving. I'm quite aware of the highways. Adam offered nothing but a misdirection of the intent of my post and he gets upvoted? No need to respond to that. I don't want to re-direct the topic. I just want people to reflect on what Adam is really doing in his response to me and whether it truly deserves upvoting. No where in my post did I even suggest that a city's streets are more important than the over all success of a city. Nor did I suggest that a city is 'just a collection of streets'. I'm baffled by people's though process on here sometimes.

Ryan, I'm curious how much driving you do. I don't mean for that to sound provocative. I'm genuinely curious. If you do a fair bit of driving, do you not also find it much easier and much safer to cross one way streets than it is to cross two way streets. I also believe that it's important for streets to be safe for pedestrians. The safety of drivers also needs to be considered though. I've done a lot of reading and thinking on the subject, and I would never be so fool hardy as to just (wrongly) assume that the difference between 2 and 1 way streets is merely the direction of traffic, and that 'everything else remains static'.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 29, 2010 at 09:21:34

@ spacemonkey. I upvoted adam because I agreed with his general point that there is a mindset that perceives streets as nothing more than traffic devices that is killing the life of our city. Rereading his comment now, I realize that he was directing his remarks specifically at you, and you are correct that in that context he was misrepresenting your point of view in order to make his point. Upvote rescinded.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 29, 2010 at 09:46:28

Ryan, I'm curious how much driving you do.

As little as I can get away with - an amount that ranges between once or twice a week and, occasionally, two or three hours of commuting a day.

However, most of the driving I do is city driving (to my mechanic's chagrin: "You need to take this thing on the highway!"). I described my changing attitude toward Hamilton's one-way street system in an earlier comment.

I don't like one-way streets as a driver, a cyclist or a pedestrian. For drivers, if you are following the firehose of traffic it's easy - intoxicating, even - to just flow from green light to green light, borne effortlessly across the city to somewhere else. But as soon as you try to deviate from this and approach a micro-destination in the city rather than a macro-destination across the city, the one-way system starts aggressively working against you.

Also, my primary means of transportation for about a decade was my bicycle, which certainly informed my thinking on our streets. Because Hamilton has so few bike lanes, and because I did most of my cycling on downtown streets, I quickly learned to operate my bike like a motor vehicle - taking the lane, following the flow of traffic, signaling my turns, and so on.

For a cyclist who has to produce his own power, one-way streets particularly suck, because: a) they require all kinds of overshooting to get somewhere, and b) they produce a much higher and less bicycle-friendly average traffic speed.


Aside: It's tempting to assume that one-way streets are more environmentally friendly because cars more more smoothly, idle less, and so on. However, one of the quirks of network dynamics is that when you optimize the efficiency of individual streets as thoroughfares, you inevitably pessimize the efficiency of the network as a whole by encouraging more people to drive longer distances more frequently while simultaneously discouraging other modes.

This produces a whole host of net-negative consequences, including much greater overall driving, leading to greater overall air pollution (more than half of Hamilton's air pollution comes from automobiles); lower transit ridership and suboptimal transit productivity (the Downs-Thomson Paradox); the loss of local business diversity to cheaper (but more distant and artificially subsidized) warehouse-style competitors; and so on.


My schedule changed recently, and these days I mostly walk: six to ten kilometres a day between home, work, school, and other errands. It's really good for my resting heart rate, my waistline, and my urban sensibility. I recognized years ago that one-way streets make for an unpleasant pedestrian experience, but daily experience walking on a variety of streets (I try to vary my route) really brings my understanding of one- and two-way streets home.

One-way streets make it easy to drive across the city in no time, but from my perspective the price of that convenience in overall vitality, diversity and real personal choice is far too high for what we get in return.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 29, 2010 at 10:01:36

It's really good for my resting heart rate, my waistline, and my urban sensibility.

Also better for your bone density than cycling! :-)

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 29, 2010 at 15:29:55

Spacemonkey,

While it is true that a one way street is likely to offer more frequent synchronized gaps in traffic for pedestrians to cross at non-signalized places, it creates more hazards than it removes.

The worst is for pedestrians walking along a one way street and travelling against the flow of traffic. Drivers are used to worrying only about traffic coming from the "correct direction" and it is very common for motorists to pull their car across a side street's crosswalk while looking only toward oncoming traffic. I have personally witnessed (many times) pedestrians being cut off because they were coming from the "wrong way" (luckily I have not witnessed actual injuries) and the driver approaching from the cross street didn't bother to look in their direction. I believe that pedestrian safety studies on one way streets have found this to be a major contributor to pedestrian "incidents".

There are other problems too - compounded on our own streets which also have timed lights. Motorists get lulled into a sense of security when moving with the flow for blocks and blocks, and less attention is paid to what's happening on sidewalks, crosswalks and side streets. Add to that the speed with which people drive when compared to a "Real" city like toronto, and you create a recipe for more pedestrian/vehicular incidents (And far worse injuries when they do occur)

I used to be literally in love with our one way flows - until I actually got out of the car and spent more time on foot and on bike. I still drive, cycle and walk - I don't discriminate against any form of transport :-)

In the end we have to remember that we are all pedestrians by nature, and that for many people, walking is the only safe and legal form of transportation available to them.

We need to put pedestrian safety (and convenience) first, followed by human powered wheeled transportation, followed by transit and commercial vehicles. Personal automobiles should be at the bottom of the convenience ladder.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 29, 2010 at 16:22:03

From http://www.ti.org/vaupdate30.html

The evidence that two-way streets are more dangerous than one way is overwhelming. In many cases, two-way streets result in twice as many pedestrian accidents as one way.

One review of two-way to one-way conversions found that two-way streets caused 163 percent more pedestrian accidents in Sacramento, and 100 percent more pedestrian accidents in Portland OR, Hollywood FL, and Raleigh NC. This study called one-way streets "the most effective urban counter-measure" to pedestrian accidents.

One-way streets also lead to fewer motor vehicle collisions. While the reduction in collisions is not as great as the reduction in pedestrian accidents, Michael Cunneen says, "two-way streets are designed more for auto body shops than for people or cars."

Since most conversions of two-way to one-way streets were done in the 1950s, few studies are available on the internet. The above-cited study is from 1976, and is titled "National Highway Safety Needs Study," published by the Research Triangle Institute for the US Department of Transportation.

The claim that slowing traffic will reduce the safety problems of two-way streets is diminished by the fact that congested streets with narrow lanes will also slow emergency service vehicles. As pointed out in "The Vanishing Automobile," studies of traffic calming show that delays to emergency service vehicles will kill far more people than will be saved by the slower speeds (p. 352).

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 29, 2010 at 17:27:40

^The above info is from a Randal O'Toole website.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 29, 2010 at 17:41:48

Are these reductions based on accidents per pedestrian? Accidents per car? Or simply a gross reduction? Could they be due to a reduction of pedestrian numbers on the whole because people avoid walking along and across fast one way streets? The rest of that article is basically advocating for maximizing traffic flow rates.

Randal O'Toole according to Wikipedia:

In the 1990s, O'Toole emerged as an outspoken critic of New Urbanist design and smart growth strategies.[4] O'Toole contends that these development strategies—in which regulatory measures and tax incentives are employed to encourage denser development, more efficient land use, and greater use of public transportation—ignore the desires and preferences of most housing consumers and ultimately waste public funds. His 1996 book The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths was written as a detailed critique of these styles of planning. He continues to advocate for free market solutions to urban planning and design in his writing and teaching, and is a staunch defender of urban sprawl [5][6] [7][8]. He has campaigned against smart growth policies and light rail systems in several U.S. states as well as in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Ottawa, Ontario.[9][10]. Since 1995, he has been associated with the Cato Institute as an adjunct scholar and frequent anti-light rail campaigner.

Critics of O'Toole have noted his selective use of information, undocumented statistics, and unverifiable sources of information in order to support his claims against rail transit.[11][12] O'Toole has been criticized for declaring that roadways pay for themselves and are the best use of public funds, even though highways are some of the most expensive public works projects.[13]

Comment edited by seancb on 2010-11-29 16:43:06

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 29, 2010 at 17:52:08

You guys are blatantly directing the attention away from the facts and towards the website which hosted the facts. I wonder why.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 29, 2010 at 17:56:37

To me it's obvious that 2-way streets would have far more collisions both with pedestrians and with cars.

It's also obvious to me that 2-way streets would have far, far less fatalities or other serious collisions, not to mention having far fewer pedestrians in general. Speed kills, folks.

aside: was walking up King recently. Thinking about the LRT, I think King should remain 1-way for the sake of the businesses there. A 2-way King means no street-side parking for the 4-lane expanses of downtown. I'd rather have 1 traffic lane, 1 parking lane, 1 way than see those businesses completely lose their parking when LRT gobbles up 2 lanes. Either way it won't exactly be a lightning-fast road with a parking-lane and an LRT-line skooshing the single lane of traffic.

1-way king would also mean that people going westbound would not be encouraged to stay on York/Cannon as far as possible and then cram onto the already over-crowded Dundurn.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-11-29 16:57:13

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted November 29, 2010 at 18:01:57

@SpaceMonkey: seancb asked four specific questions about the data you cited:

Are these reductions based on accidents per pedestrian? Accidents per car? Or simply a gross reduction? Could they be due to a reduction of pedestrian numbers on the whole because people avoid walking along and across fast one way streets?

Any answers?

I might add that whenever I've glanced at studies on the relationship between one-way/two-way traffic flow and pedestrian collisions, I've been quite disappointed in the methodologic quality -- no matter the conclusion of the study. I don't think there's been a single randomized study on this subject. Most of the studies either compare one-way streets to two way streets at a single point in time, or look at collisions on a group of streets before conversion between one-way and two-way. Few of the former correct for street characteristics, and few of the latter include a control group of streets that didn't change between one-way and two-way. Many studies on this subject don't correct for traffic flow, and I don't know if any correct for pedestrian flow. In other words, we should probably all back off a bit on this subject, unless someone can cite some studies with proper methodology.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 29, 2010 at 18:14:43

You guys are blatantly directing the attention away from the facts and towards the website which hosted the facts. I wonder why.

Because these 'facts' were presented by someone who has earned a reputation for distorting facts. That's not an attempt to distract from the argument being presented, that's a pretty crucial piece of context. There's no point in having a discussion based on 'facts' that have come from such a highly questionable, widely discredited source. You'll need to find a secondary source.

Comment edited by highwater on 2010-11-29 17:15:18

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 29, 2010 at 19:16:07

I read the article, and as I said earlier, it focuses on maximizing flow, and it presents the safety statistics in a very abstract manner.

My questions about your source still stand. Are the reductions simply a gross reduction in pedestrian incidents, and if so, did they account at all for a reduction in total number of pedestrians?

If they did not account for these facts, then you might as well say that Toronto is some percentage more dangerous than Hamilton because they have that percentage more pedestrian accidents in total. Therefore everyone in Toronto should move to Hamilton for their own good.

The total number of pedestrians DOES MATTER.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 29, 2010 at 19:19:10

I'll see your 'study' written by a paid corporate shill, and raise you a study written by actual academic researchers:

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.

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.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 29, 2010 at 20:49:58

Ryan,

Can you please tell me who the paid corporate shill who you're referring to is? Thanks

Also, surely you are aware of the huge flaw in the study you're citing. Isn't it you that wanted to make a jingle about "Correlation does not imply causation"? Either you're playing dumb about the study or you don't understand the meaning of the jingle you want to write. Based on reading your stuff, you seem to understand research better than to not see the huge flaw in the study. That study is so flawed and seemingly biased (unless they're incompetent) that I'm surprised you would even site it.. let alone base your views upon it.

The study I cited makes references to streets that were changed from one way to two way and vice versa. As John points out, this isn't perfect because it's not a controlled, randomized, blind(that wouldn't end well heh) study, but I think that it holds more water than the poorly conducted study you cite. John, I think you're right about the need to back off on the whole "which is safer" discussion until better studies have been done. My point in presenting the other side of the story is to do just that. There IS another side to the story and it's usually missing here on RTH.

Pxtl, do you have any facts at all to base your "obvious" observations? Speed kills, yes. As I've mentioned before, the speed along Main consistently reaches higher speeds in the two way section than it does on the one way section. That is, admittedly, anecdotal based on driving that section of road daily and consciously paying attention to speeds and making mental notes along the way. Regardless, if it's speed that you're concerned about, then you should be addressing the speed issue, not the one way/two way issue.

As to providing answers to the questions, that might take a while. If I can find the answers without it taking too long (doubtful.. yeah yeah I see your point), I'll post a response.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 29, 2010 at 21:06:42

While I'm trying to find those answers, here is a call (perhaps a raise?) on your study Ryan. By the way, to those reading, I'm not posting these studies as a way of saying "ah ha! see? I'm right and you're wrong"! I get the feeling that a lot of you are attempting to say that to me. That's not my intent. My intent is to point out that you might not be right. There is more that needs to be considered. I think a lot of stuff here at RTH is presented as the end all and be all fact. It frustrates me and I feel the need to present the other side of things. Critical thinking seems to lack here sometimes (not always). That's not meant to be an offensive statement. I hope that it causes people to see that RTH can be improved upon. I feel like RTH could be better if people were more open to other people's views, statements, and suggestions without getting their backs up. Perhaps I've got this RTH thing all wrong though. I came here thinking it was a place for open discussion to better the city. Is it supposed to be a place for like minded people to discuss their same belief?

From Stemley, J. (1998). ONE-WAY STREETS PROVIDE SUPERIOR SAFETY AND CONVENIENCE. Institute of Transportation Engineers Journal, p. 47-50. The advantages of a one-way street network over a two-way street pattern, particularly in a downtown area, fall into three broad categories: safety, capacity, and convenience. He charges that officials who decide to ignore the many benefits that have and will continue to accompany a one-way street network will not be doing their constituency any favors by changing to a two-way network in their downtown area. Rather, he warns of the following: they will be imposing increased accidents and delay upon drivers and pedestrians; pedestrians will be inconvenienced where midblock crosswalks are removed; congestion and air pollution will increase; and businesses and customers will find fewer curbside spaces available for parking and delivery.

John Stemley has varied experience in the public and private sector, including highway design and construction, private development, transportation planning, traffic engineering and experience as an expert witness. He has a civil engineering degree from the University of Cincinnati and a MPA. from the University of Dayton. He is a Fellow of ITE

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted November 29, 2010 at 21:22:58

Sean asked "Are these reductions based on accidents per pedestrian"? Unknown. However because the study is comparing the same street at similar points in time, I think it is safe to assume that the number of pedestrians didn't change drastically either way. The assumption (yes it's an assumption.. I'm doing my best here) is based on the idea that people's walking habits won't change 'overnight' because of a change in traffic flow. Maybe I'm really weird? But it doesn't bother me to walk along Main, King, etc. The idea of changing the road that I walk on based on whether the street has two way or one way car traffic has never even crossed my mind.. ever. But, that's just me.

"Accidents per car"? Again unknown.

"Or simply a gross reduction"? Yes

"Could they be due to a reduction of pedestrian numbers on the whole because people avoid walking along and across fast one way streets"? Yes. It could just as likely (based on what we know) be due to an increase in pedestrian numbers who helped one another to be safer. Or, it could be due to one way streets being safer that two way.. or not. As John pointed out, better studies need to be done before conclusions(as presented here on RTH) can be reached.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted November 29, 2010 at 22:09:52

Nothing to add about detailed studies, who wrote what because why and such... just another observation.

I have had many close calls along one way streets with bicycles riding on the sidewalk in the opposite direction of the vehicle traffic flow. King St. was the worst because of its curve and the proximity of the buildings to the road. You would edge out slowly and safely to view the on coming traffic for the impending left. While edging slowly never caused an issue with pedestrians, frequently some dude would be wailing down the North sidewalk on his bike in an easterly direction.

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By DBC (registered) | Posted November 30, 2010 at 08:41:22

Re: "The advantages of a one-way street network over a two-way street pattern, particularly in a downtown area, fall into three broad categories: safety, capacity, and convenience. He charges that officials who decide to ignore the many benefits that have and will continue to accompany a one-way street network will not be doing their constituency any favors by changing to a two-way network in their downtown area. "

In a downtown area there is usefulness for one-way streets, however they needn't be 5 lanes wide sided by narrow sidewalks and I do not believe our downtown area encompasses the Delta to the 403.

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