Walkability Fail

From Train-And-Blame to Engineering-For-Safety

By Ryan McGreal
Published December 30, 2010

In the last several months, I've gotten interested in models of incident prevention in high-reliability industries like aviation. (Yeah, I know: I need to get out more.) One of the most important principles of truly effective health and safety is the idea that the best way to ensure safety in a complex system is to engineer safety into the system.

The so-called "train-and-blame" model - exhorting people to do the right thing and then blaming or punishing them when they don't do it - simply doesn't work.

An engaging Slate interview with James Bagian, an aerospace engineer-turned-medical patient safety director, drives this home:

Much of my background is in what's called high-reliability industries - the ones that operate under conditions of high hazard yet seldom have a bad event - and people in those fields tend to have a systems perspective. We're not terribly interested in what some individual did. We want to know what led up to a bad event and what changes we need to make to reduce the likelihood of that event ever happening again.

Unfortunately, the "train-and-blame" mentality persists in many fields that would benefit from a systems approach.

An article in today's Spectator on pedestrian fatalities reflects the train-and-blame mentality that persists in the Hamilton Police Service:

Constable Claus Wagner, Hamilton police traffic safety and centralized breath testing co-ordinator, says pedestrians have to be more careful crossing the street.

Sometimes, says Wagner, people do not look before they step out.

His solution? Conventional train-and-blame. "We are all users of the highway - pedestrians, bicycles and cars - and we all have to be aware."

Now contrast Bagian, talking about a medical error in which a nurse gives a patient the wrong medicine.

What do you say? "The nurse made a mistake"? That's true, but then what's the solution? "Nurse, please be more careful"? Telling people to be careful is not effective. Humans are not reliable that way. Some are better than others, but nobody's perfect. You need a solution that's not about making people perfect.

We've touched on this idea before, of course. People will jaywalk if it means avoiding a long walk, and our traffic system should reflect this fact instead of fighting against it with the threat of punishment.

So here's a solution for reducing pedestrian deaths in Hamilton: instead of telling pedestrians to be more careful, why don't we take a systems approach and engineer our streets to reduce the risk of injury and death in a collision?

We know that one-way streets are more dangerous than two-way streets (as counterintuitive as that might seem), yet we refuse to convert our high-speed one-way automobile conduits to two-way traffic flows because we value drivers more than pedestrians.

We know about the extremely strong correlation between vehicle speed and pedestrian fatality, yet we stubbornly refuse to sacrifice high average vehicle speeds on our urban thoroughfares.

We even go so far as to ban pedestrians from crossing the street at signalized intersections, lest they get in the way of high-speed motor vehicles.

Pedestrian Crossings Prohibited, King and Dundurn
Pedestrian Crossings Prohibited, King and Dundurn

Naturally, we do this out of a stated desire to keep pedestrians "safe" - but all we're doing is blaming the victim. It's not a moral failing to want to cross the street to get somewhere. Walking shouldn't be an inherently perilous activity - and it wouldn't be an inherently perilous activity if we designed our streets differently.

Cities that succeed at creating truly safe, walkable, pedestrian- and cycling-friendly public spaces do so not by controlling pedestrians and cyclists but rather by re-engineering their street systems to slow down the motor vehicles and limit their capacity for harm.

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 mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 30, 2010 at 20:59:50

Great article, Ryan. I'd love to hear responses from those responsible for this area of our day-to-day lives.

I do have to point out though, that this 'train-and-blame' philosophy can be seen in so many walks of Life. Rather than one that addresses the Reasons Behind the Reasons. You know; developing genuine understanding of a problem and working solutions forward from there.

For example, high drug arrest rates within certain demographics, high prosecution rates, increasing jail populations...as opposed to examining just why drug use is so prevalent in these communities -or even in general- and addressing these issues accordingly.

So though pedestrian safety would appear to be a pretty simple issue, maybe we can take some degree of solace in the fact that what prevents us from 'getting it right' on that front is what prevents us from doing the same elsewhere.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 30, 2010 at 21:24:23

That Spec article is the epitome of what is wrong with this city. Any public official who's job is to care for the safety of the public should be calling the city on the carpet for 5-lane truck freeways blasting by schools, parks, houses, shops etc.... to blame anyone but the designers of such death traps is lunacy.
Drivers, pedestrians, cyclists are all doing their best on these ridiculous streets. I guess it's easy to hold a press conference and say "quit jaywalking" and then head back home to the burbs.

Me thinks it's high time that Hamilton's traffic guru's brought the joys of 5-lane one-way freeways to the Mountain, Stoney Creek, Dundas, Ancaster etc.... most of our upper staff and high ranking public servants like in those areas. Have their kids attempt to navigate those streets a few times and watch how fast the tone of such press conferences changes.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted December 30, 2010 at 21:42:57

Ryan, I agree 100%.

Who can we e-mail to complain about Constable Claus Wagner? I want to suggest he be replaced as Hamilton police traffic safety and centralized breath testing co-ordinator.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted December 30, 2010 at 22:13:33

Train and Blame....

In the steel industry we call it "Bloody Pocket Syndrome". If you so much as cut a finger you are going to be investigated and suspended at US Steel. This has created the Bloody Pocket Syndrome where guys are walking to their lockers with a bloody hand stuck in a pocket to get to their own personal first aid kit they have brought to work on their own... only the supervisors can access company first aid kits or send you to the medical department. Guys are patching themselves (stories of guys stitching themselves) up in the toilet and going back to work.

Another recent incident at Bunge (oilseed crushing plant) around 2008 where I worked for a couple of years had a 46 year old killed from a fall after releasing a jammed seed conveyor that was elevated. Employees had been asking for a platform for over 20 years years at the access door where Curtis fell, however standard practice was to stand on the railing. Guess who Bunge initially tried to blame for the death, Curtis. However Bunge had not provided proper fall protection training and was fined for the death. After some CYA fall arrest training post incident it was now a "Train and Blame" policy on working from heights, no matter how dangerous it was easier and cheaper to blame the worker for not wearing fall protection than to actually come up with an engineered solution.

Sorry for the rants, I have just seen and been involved in too many industrial incidents and this article is bringing up a whole lot of horrible memories.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 30, 2010 at 22:44:16

I believe what Constable Wagner is involved in is a classic example of what we laymen know as a "cop out". Cops seem to be copping out of a lot of things these days...

It never ceases to amaze me how small groups of people can consistently monopolize nearly all of the decision-making in a failing process and take none of the blame. Misanthropy is a very easy cop-out...people are stupid, and it's all their fault. High accident rates certainly couldn't have anything to do with the people who design, build and run the roads, could they?

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 30, 2010 at 22:47:49

If anyone is interested in reading a fair and accurate article about the pros and cons of One Way vs Two Way, click here

Here is a quote from the article that I find particularly fitting: "Unfortunately, most of the information I found about the pros and cons of converting streets was written by highly partisan organizations which were promoting ideological arguments for or against automobile-oriented development. These studies were less academic in nature and more akin to propaganda".

So true.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 30, 2010 at 22:49:30

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 30, 2010 at 22:51:53

A summary of the previously linked article.

The Federal Highway Administration’s Pedestrian Safety Report on “One-Way/Two-Way Street Conversions,” concludes that compelling reasons exist for both types of streets from a pedestrian safety perspective.

Reasons for converting to 2-way streets:

* Slower traffic speeds.
* Decrease “Vehicle Miles Traveled” by eliminating indirect routes (driving around the block to get to your destination).
* Increased access to businesses.
* Possibly: safer for pedestrians.

Reasons for maintaining 1-way streets:

* Conversion is very costly.
* 1- way streets allow for more cars, thereby decreasing congestion.
* Easier than 2-way streets to time stoplights (timed lights improve traffic flow and decrease idling (& therefore pollution)).
* Fewer turn prohibitions.
* More on-street parking.
* Possibly: safer for pedestrians.

Ryan, if you are truly interested in pedestrian safety, why are you not considering the other side of the argument?

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted December 31, 2010 at 00:01:11

Spacemonkey, not to be rude but, did you read the whole article you posted? I would agree that more information is alwys important, but I'm not quite sure the article you cited shows the "support" for a one way system that you seem to indicate. Neither does it show a "balanced" view in my opinion.

The Federal Highway Administration’s Pedestrian Safety Report on “One-Way/Two-Way Street Conversions" states there are reasons for both, while the remaining studies cited seem to support two-way streets, except for "The Center for the American Dream of Mobility and Homeownership" paper, whose statistics are clearly woefully inadequate.

Quotes from your article: "The highly technical article “A MICROSCOPIC SIMULATION STUDY OF TWO-WAY STREET NETWORK VERSUS ONE-WAY STREET NETWORK”...[says] you have to turn more on a 1-way street network, and therefore have more chances of running over people."

This study seems clearly to state that one way streets are worse than two way streets.

Another quote, from the only source cited that actually states one way streets are superior: "On the other side of the debate is the Center for the American Dream of Mobility and Homeownership’s paper “No Two Ways About It: One-Way Streets are better than Two-Way.” The most convincing evidence produced in this paper is that pedestrians were hit more frequently after streets were converted to 2-way in several downtowns in the US. I’d prefer to cite those studies directly...but the empirical evidence cited about the number of accidents resulting from recent 2-way conversions is convincing."

Personally I think statistics on recent conversions only tell half the story. What are the long term statistics in these conversions? How do two way streets recently converted to one way streets fare in pedestrian accidents? What about statistics on two way streets which have never been converted to one-way? Basing any argument on these statistics alone seems outright foolish.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted December 31, 2010 at 07:18:52

SpaceMonkey,

Although I've previously made comments to the effect that published academic studies on the safety of one-way vs. two-way streets are not conclusive, there are pretty firm data showing that higher traffic speeds are associated with both increased collision rates and increased rates of injury per collision. Those of us who want two-way conversion have many reasons for wanting it. One such reason is that it is a very simple way to slow down traffic.

There are other harms associated with automobile traffic: increased rates of asthma, pneumonia, and heart attack, to name three. Slowing down traffic (such as with two-way conversion) incentivizes people to drive less and should therefore reduce the public health burden of cardiorespiratory disease.

John

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted December 31, 2010 at 07:51:31

I don't even have to read the authors name anymore in order to know one of Ryan's articles. The number of half truths and amount of misinformation makes my blood boil.

Ryan, if you are truly interested in pedestrian safety, why are you not considering the other side of the argument?

And SpaceMonkey, even though you disagree with Ryan about what published studies tell us about the safety of one-way vs. two-way streets, there's really no reason to impugn his motives or his sincerity.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 31, 2010 at 11:17:30

Reasons for maintaining 1-way streets:

  • Conversion is very costly.

So are new freeways. That's never stopped us.

  • 1- way streets allow for more cars, thereby decreasing congestion.

Yes, because L.A. proved to the world that if you make room for more cars, congestion just magically disappears.

  • Easier than 2-way streets to time stoplights (timed lights improve traffic flow and decrease idling (& therefore pollution)).

Combined with the previous point, timed lights encourage more cars. Which street smells more polluted when walking on it - Cannon or George in Hess Village?? More cars= more polution.

  • Fewer turn prohibitions.

Obviously the author of this piece has never driven a one-way street. There are prohibited turns at EVERY single intersection. Are there turn restrictions at Cannon and Wellington or Fennell and Upper James??

  • More on-street parking.

Unless we begin legalizing double-parking I'm not sure how it's possible to fit more street parking on a street than we have on Locke South.

  • Possibly: safer for pedestrians.

Possibly not.

Perhaps this is why Ryan doesn't bother with 'this side' of the argument. It's all a load of nonsense.

Comment edited by jason on 2010-12-31 11:18:21

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted December 31, 2010 at 11:39:12

Sorry, I want to have a go at this part again:

"The Federal Highway Administration’s Pedestrian Safety Report on “One-Way/Two-Way Street Conversions,” concludes that compelling reasons exist for both types of streets from a pedestrian safety perspective.

Reasons for converting to 2-way streets:
...
* Possibly: safer for pedestrians.

Reasons for maintaining 1-way streets:
...
* Possibly: safer for pedestrians."

Just focussing on that one point, both are "possibly: safer for pedestrians". I'm a little confused as how this could be. And safer compared to what? If it's to the other alternative, they seem to be saying alot of nothing.

"Well, 2-way streets are possibly safer than 1-way streets, but 1-way streets are possibly safer than 2-way streets." It's equivalent to saying this: "One of them is probably safer than the other, but we don't really know which, maybe we should just have omitted this point altogether?"

My thoughts is that the analysis in the study itself probably explains why they said what they did, perhaps there are certain configurations and situations where one-way streets are safer, but we'll never know if any of them are relevant to Hamilton without looking at the complete report.

But I have a better idea, something that perhaps SpaceMonkey will agree to:
How about we collect some statistics for where pedestrian/motor vehicle incidents have occured within the city of Hamilton, the number of fatalities, incidents where there was an external factor involved (like alcohol or weather) and then compute some statistics of or own?

Who knows, perhaps the evidnece will demonstrate two way streets are more dangerous, and we could convert Upper James, Golf Links Road, and Centennial parkway into one way streets to cut down on traffic fatalities? People would just go around and use a "twinned" street to come back the other way. Upper James could twin with West 5th, Centennial could twin with Lake Ave., and Golf Links Road...well I guess they'd have to twin with Garner. That's fine though, we'll build more roads through the residential neighbourhoods so people can cut across to Garner.

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By DBC (registered) | Posted December 31, 2010 at 11:54:18

Robert D..........you may be on to something. Those changes certainly did wonders for the Durand Neighbourhood.

You can speed on through with the added bonus that Hamilton Police Services rarely if ever does any enforcement; save the seat belt checks on Herkimer@Queen.......but that's only in fair weather anyway.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 31, 2010 at 11:56:35

Robert D, we've already done that in an academic, peer reviewed study that concluded Hamilton's one-way streets are 2.5 times as dangerous as our two-way streets.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 31, 2010 at 12:36:54

Examining accident rates from one-way vs. two way streets only tells a small fraction of the story. Other factors which must be taken into account are road size, intersection setups, traffic volumes and nearby uses. The issue of urban freeways goes far beyond the one-way issue.

These freeways are not safe, cheap or effective. High-traffic arteries like these consume resources like money and space like there's no tomorrow. But most of these costs are either borne as big lump sums (like insurance or ownership of a car) or collectivised capital costs like roads, or externalized costs like traffic accidents and torn up neighbourhoods. The problem is that none of these costs tend to show up much on a per-trip basis. So when I get in my car, I'm provided with the illusion that it's only costing me around $0.12/km in gas. A GO or HSR ticket, on the other hand, is required to embody far more of these costs, which is why bussing is often actually less cost-effective on a per-trip basis. This is a subsidy, and it creates more traffic, which leads to more costs of which more deaths are only one.

These just aren't issues which can be understood on the basis of a single road, intersection or policy.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted December 31, 2010 at 12:48:51

Excellent read Ryan and many super points by posters. As much as I do enjoy driving my car I agree that probably far too often roads are constructed with the vehicle in mind first rather than pedestrians and those riding their bicycles.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 01, 2011 at 10:25:35

The "more on-street parking" thing is funny, since all the one-way arteries have on-street parking banned during rush-hour. On-street parking would provide a nice space-buffer between the sidewalk and the speedy traffic.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 01, 2011 at 14:21:31

Robert D, we've already done that in an academic, peer reviewed study that concluded Hamilton's one-way streets are 2.5 times as dangerous as our two-way streets.

And yet this, directly from the study:

"From 1978 to 1994, there were 2,091 children aged 0 to 14 years in Hamilton injured in pedestrian-vehicle collisions; 344 were injured on one-way streets and 1,747 on two-way streets. The rate of injury for children ages 0 to 14 years was 2.5 times higher on one-way streets than on two-way streets (46.4 vs 19.6 per 100,000 children, per 100 km, per year)"

So while the numbers tell us that more children were injured on two-way streets...in fact, by a factor of about five times...the incident rate was lower on them than on one-way streets.

Then maybe this statement is the most accurate? "In the end, it might be, as Zeeger describes, that it is necessary that one-way streets are safer in some situations and two-ways streets in others."

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 01, 2011 at 15:50:41

MyStoneyCreek, Thank you! Finally someone else that gets it. I'm not trying to say that one way or two way is safer. All I'm saying is that to make bold statements that one is definitively safer than the other is misleading and inaccurate.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 01, 2011 at 16:01:02

John, I totally agree that speed plays a role in the safety of roads. I don't think the speeds of our roads should be any higher than they already are and should likely be slower in some areas. I agree that the speed should be tamed on some of the sections on some of our one way streets. In some areas, converting to two way might be the way to go, on other areas, I think our one way streets are essential to maintain and other measures could/should be used. I believe that the time of people getting in their car and going for a drive for the pleasure of it has long passed. Sure there are is a small group of people who go out for pleasure drives, maybe in a vintage car or out in the country on a Sunday, but I don't think that has anything to do with the traffic we see on our one way streets. So, if people are in their cars, because they need to be, I'm wondering who you think will not drive in things are made much less efficient for them? Perhaps one would say that people would make 1 trip to the grocery store every two weeks instead of every week? Is that the logic here? Perhaps some would say that people would take the bus instead or the LRT (if built) instead. I would argue that making the roads less efficient would make the bus trip just as slow although LRT might be an option. If we had a Highway that ran E/W anywhere near our downtown, I would be much more open to the idea of mass two way conversion. Without it, I think it remains important.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 01, 2011 at 16:04:22

Just something else I thought of. I've been paying attention to my speed and making mental notes throughout the day about my speed in different areas. The maximum speed by myself and the cars around me is consistently higher on two way streets than it has been on one way streets. I watched a car speeding down Main this past week. Rather than going into the building I was visiting, I stayed outside to watch what would happen. Less than 5 seconds later, he came to a stop at a red light. When the light changed to green, he sped off until reaching the next red light. The one way street effectively blocked the idiot from continuing to speed. That would, quite possibly, not have been the case on a two way street.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 01, 2011 at 16:26:43

@SpaceMonkey

Let me just get a personal declaration out of the way: I cannot stand our one-way thoroughfares in Hamilton.

Main Street from Longwood to Bay.

King from Bay through to Paradise.

(the Main Street West 'Esplanade' signs make me do spit-take each and every time I've seen one.)

I've driven on one-way streets in Canada, in the US (New York CIty most notably) and in Britain. And there's something particularly despicable about these two stretches, they seem to embody everything bad about one-way streets. Mostly that they're not roads at all, they're simply inner-city highways. That people cling to their merits and seem prepared to defend them to the death mystifies me to no end.

(And I have to say that I can't say that I share your notion about the prevalence of speeding on one- and two-way streets...though I can easily get my head around the concept that on two-way streets, people's perception about their speed can be dulled by traffic passing the other way. My experience on both types of streets is the opposite from yours.)

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 01, 2011 at 17:38:26

MyStoneyCreek (and others), The next time you are driving along Main, King, Cannon, etc, I encourage you to follow the flow of traffic and watch your speedometer (as well as the road) and make note of your average and peak speed. Then do the same on an 'open' two way street like Barton. I'd be surprised if your findings weren't the same as mine.

Comment edited by SpaceMonkey on 2011-01-01 17:39:14

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By told you so (anonymous) | Posted January 01, 2011 at 20:40:44

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 01, 2011 at 22:45:55

@SpaceMonkey

Actually, 'been there, done that'. I'm always very aware of my speed, because I'm rarely driving. (And I'm doing research on 'drivers vs pedestrians')

I'm an habitual speeder on Main...and Ritchy Cunningham elsewhere. So I hear ya...but still maintain that my tendencies don't align with yours.

But I do wonder what the general trend is.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 01, 2011 at 23:04:25

StoneyCreek, were you the guy I saw speeding on Main only to come to a stop at the red light? Why do you habitually speed on Main? There is absolutely no incentive to speeding on Main. The thing with 'speeding' on one way streets like Main is that you can't do it for long and you come to a stop at intersections (where Pedestrians are most likely to be).

I do a lot of driving. My profession depends on it. For those who do a lot of driving, I'm looking forward to your results. For the record, I also walk when I can eg. Rather than driving a short distance between stops, I will walk. Sometimes I even park at a spot well short of my destination and walk the rest of the way to get a bit of exercise. So, I do see the streets from the perspective of a pedestrian as well.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 01, 2011 at 23:09:00

MyStoneyCreek, Let me know if I can be of assistance in providing data to help your research (seriously). I find this stuff really interesting and while I'm driving fantasize about doing official studies about it (ya, I know that sounds lame).

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 02, 2011 at 08:38:31

Why do you habitually speed on Main?

It's what overcomes me when I'm in a car, travelling east from Bay to Centennial. Elsewhere? Under different circumstances? No. I don't have an innate 'need for speed' per se. (In fact, when I say 'speed', I never go more than 10% over the limit, so we're talking 55km/hr.) I wasn't born with either the 'risk' gene, nor the one having to do with 'the car as an extension of the penis'. It just happens to be that on this stretch of Hamiltonia, I come under the spell of that powerful magic that seems to affect almost all drivers, rendering them separate from their environment (especially the inconvenient needs of pedestrians), tiny bubbles of self-indulgence on wheels. My big 'transgression' is going 'over the limit' on this highway-within-a-city.

That's all.

Mea culpa.

(And SpaceMonkey, I had to laugh at the 'bureaucracy porn' tone to your most recent comment. Thanks for the levity.)

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 02, 2011 at 11:04:09

MyStoneyCreek, I wasn't trying to be cute in my most recent comment. I was actually serious. As weird as it sounds, I really do think a lot about it while I'm driving and devise study methods in my mind as I'm driving around. I'm being sincere in wanting to and offering to help :)

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted January 02, 2011 at 11:38:11

I really don't know where you're seeing higher speeds on Barton than on Main, but I'd like to hear. I live right by barton and the suggestion that the traffic on it is worse than Main (which I've also lived by) is laughable. A good chunk of the time I pass cars on my bike. There are many two way urban highways in our town as well - look at Main St West or Upper James. They're as fast, unsafe and hard to cross as Main or Cannon downtown.

Spending hundreds of millions of dollars of dollars on roadwork does not reduce demands on roads. Much like cocaine, spending more today only creates a requirement to spend more tomorrow. It directly subsidizes unsafe and unwise land use decisions, and creates a situation where people who would not otherwise have to drive now do. This will not change until we stop building highways through cities and cities around highways.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 02, 2011 at 12:26:54

Spacemonkey,

I have to disagree with your position on speeding along Main, here is the reason.

First, I DO agree that if you are at the front of the green wave speeding along Main only causes a press of the brake peddle. Where I see incredible speeding along Main is when people have turned onto the street after the initial wave of traffic. Folks want to catch up to the pack to also ride the green wave and drive upwards to 75km/h to do that. I have seen people drive flat out to just catch that amber before the red. Sit back and watch this or even try it yourself. I have, if I didn't chicken out I could have easily reached 80km/h for a very long distance. This obviously is not the case during heavy traffic, but how often and really how bad is rush hour traffic in Hamilton?

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 02, 2011 at 12:46:19

MrJanitor,

I also agree that someone can speed up to catch a yellow on Main (and other one way streets)so that they can catch the wave of greens. However, people also consistently do the same on two way streets. The advantage of one way streets in this situation is that once a person does catch up to the wave, they then slow down. On two way streets, this doesn't happen and the person can continue to potentially speed indefinitely. I watched this happen recently on Barton actually. Some guy FLEW past me (very unsafely) he was probably doing 80 or 90. It was ridiculous. If I had caught his plate, I would have called the cops. Anyways, I watched him fly through 2 intersections before I lost sight of him. Who knows how much longer that went on for.
My point is that idiots will speed whether the street is a one way or a two way. At least with one way, there is incentive to do the speed limit. If you think about he people who are turning onto Main after the wave of traffic, they are turning, in most cases, right after the last car passes (if people thought more when they drive and were more courteous, then they would stay out of the side lanes to allow cars to turn sooner.. pet peeve of mine). In this case, the car would only have to speed for maybe 200 meters to catch up to the pack. In other cases, where a car turns onto Main well after the pack has passed, there is no incentive to speed because the car will just come up to a red light, unless they're driving a Ferrari. I'm tempted (seriously now) to drive along Main with my video camera rolling to show you guys that this is the reality. I'm just not sure if my lens is wide enough to show my speedometer and the traffic around the car simultaneously. I'll give it a shot one day when I'm bored and if it works out, I'll post a link.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 02, 2011 at 13:08:15

Spacemonkey.

If you do a video I would like to respectfully request that you also do a video when the pack is far ahead of you as record how fast you can go before catching it.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 02, 2011 at 13:27:34

For sure MrJanitor. If I do this, I'm going to be objective about it and do different times, different places, different points in "the pack" etc. I just realized I could mount my GPS so hopefully the speed would be readable by the camera.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted January 03, 2011 at 22:33:11

And yet this, directly from the study:

"From 1978 to 1994, there were 2,091 children aged 0 to 14 years in Hamilton injured in pedestrian-vehicle collisions; 344 were injured on one-way streets and 1,747 on two-way streets. The rate of injury for children ages 0 to 14 years was 2.5 times higher on one-way streets than on two-way streets (46.4 vs 19.6 per 100,000 children, per 100 km, per year)"

So while the numbers tell us that more children were injured on two-way streets...in fact, by a factor of about five times...the incident rate was lower on them than on one-way streets.

Then maybe this statement is the most accurate? "In the end, it might be, as Zeeger describes, that it is necessary that one-way streets are safer in some situations and two-ways streets in others."

The only accurate measure is that which accounts for frequency of use.

If road #1 has 5 deaths on it, but road #2 has 100 deaths on it, the obvious inference is that road #2 is 20x more dangerous. But if we factor in the fact that road #1 has 100 kms/yr of use and road #2 has 10,000 kms/yr, then the numbers take on a whole new meaning.

Don't get confused by numbers taken out of context.

Looking at these numbers, children tend to live and play in areas where there are two way streets so it's natural that overall, there would be more accidents in these areas. That doesn't make two way streets more dangerous.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 04, 2011 at 10:12:17

Don't get confused by numbers taken out of context.

Which is why I pointed this out in my comment, hoping that Ryan would respond. Because that's what's been done here, a deft, willful taking of numbers out of context...or, if we're going to compete in semantical gymnastics, 'judicious utilization of statistics'. Isn't this what we rail about governments and corporations doing?

Looking at these numbers, children tend to live and play in areas where there are two way streets so it's natural that overall, there would be more accidents in these areas. That doesn't make two way streets more dangerous.

I hate to be abrasive, but it's this kind of thinking...or speaking...that's reminiscent of the traditions that 'politicians' have fomented.

Is it too much to ask that we're being honest and clear when we're injecting stats into the mix? Instead of essentially manipulating what's been collated for our own purposes? No matter how good our intentions are?

"You're entitled to your own opinion. You're not entitled to your own facts."

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By rthWatch (anonymous) | Posted January 04, 2011 at 12:34:12

Ryan>> "nothing encourages accountability like knowing your readers can and will call you out on sloppy, lazy, unfair or otherwise inaccurate reporting." -- Wow!! -- and so Ryan, you response to mystoneycreek's: "In the end, it might be, as Zeeger describes, that it is necessary that one-way streets are safer in some situations and two-ways streets in others." -- is???

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 04, 2011 at 13:17:20

so Ryan, you response ... is???

I didn't respond because Brandon beat me to it. Overall, using real Motor Vehicle Accident Report data from the City of Hamilton Traffic Department, the researchers concluded that a child on a one-way street was 2.5 times more likely to get injured in a collision with an automobile than a child on a two-way street.

We can certainly ask why there were so many more children on two-way streets than on one-way streets that the total number of injuries was higher even as the rate was much lower. I suspect the attempt to answer that question will in itself yield useful information about the relative pedestrian-friendliness of one- and two-way streets.

I also strongly suspect we can yield insights by studying the correlation between a given street's configuration and the socioeconomic status of people living adjacent to it. Again, the study touches on this, presenting evidence in support of the idea that one-way streets are more likely to have poor people living on and near them - and yet finding that the difference in risk between one-way and two-way streets was much larger than could be accounted by SES alone.

As for the cautions raised in the piece, the authors are simply doing their due diligence by pointing out areas that demand further study. Even so, most of their caveats still point toward the conclusion that one-way streets are necessarily more dangerous, by funneling larger numbers of cars at faster speeds through city neighbourhoods and potentially by encouraging driver inattention.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-01-04 13:20:59

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 04, 2011 at 13:43:24

Since the lights are timed so perfectly, on a daily commute you can remember each light.

There are a few intersections where, after turning right on a green... you can beat the impending red at the next light if you stand on the gas. I've seen a lot of folks try it.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 04, 2011 at 16:13:06

Well said MyStoneyCreek. I empathize with your frustration and know exactly what you mean.

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By michaelcumming (registered) - website | Posted January 07, 2011 at 16:05:04

Another factor in favour of two-way is that property values increase when traffic speed is decreased. Who wants to live or work by a high-speed highway? I see many beautiful buildings along King and Main whose value appears to be greatly diminished because of the low quality of the environment directly outside their front doors.

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