Transportation

Two-Way Traffic on Caroline Between Main and King

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 26, 2012

this blog entry has been updated

This Friday, June 29, starting at 7:00 AM, the City will convert part of Caroline Street to two-way traffic between Main Street and King Street, as part of the City's 2001 Downtown Transportation Master Plan (TMP).

At this rate, we'll have the city fully converted back to two-way traffic by around the year 2100.

In 2003, Caroline Street South was converted to two-way between Main and Herkimer, though it remains one-way southbound between Herkimer and Aberdeen.

For now, Caroline Street North will stay one-way southbound between King Street and York Blvd. RTH has asked the city if there are any future plans to convert Caroline north of King. We will update this blog if and when we get a reply.

Update: I just received the following reply from Kelly Anderson, spokesperson for the Public Works Department:

The Downtown TMP recommends extending the two-way conversion on Caroline to York Blvd. but an implementation timeline has not been identified yet. To implement an extension on Caroline, the intersection of Caroline and York would have to be redesigned to accommodate northbound right turning traffic (changes to the curb radius etc.)

The Downtown TMP is a guiding document when related projects are being considered, including reconstruction and rehabilitation of infrastructure (surface and subsurface). Projects are recommended as soon as budgets allow. With all the other priorities in the city for infrastructure improvements, the listed streets for conversion in the TMP are considered in that context and will have to be considered against the other needs and included in future budgets.

Transportation Planning staff are hoping to conduct another review of the TMP next year which could identify the need to convert more one-way streets to two-way traffic.

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 Derp (anonymous) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 11:20:32

The city did not make this happen, Darko Vranich did.

Also, they went through the trouble of installing new signals but wouldn't throw in a couple stop signs and an extra can of paint to continue it for the three small blocks to York. Does not compute.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 22:38:00 in reply to Comment 78923

We didn't realize it, but we actually voted Darko Vranich as mayor. We need to get this guy on board with LRT.

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By Gel (anonymous) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 11:24:30 in reply to Comment 78923

You mean a property developer building a major new complex on a downtown city block prefers two way streets to one way streets?

Fancy that.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 11:31:45

There has been street parking on the west side of Caroline for this stretch, and still is south of Main. I hope they aren't removing it for an extra traffic lane. Incredible that TO can manage 1-lane each way on major downtown streets, but we need 2 lanes on Caroline?? This half-way conversion creates big headaches now for folks travelling south on Caroline from York. I've already seen people in the left lane stuck on King realizing they need to get over a lane to continue south. Why the heck not just take this all the way north?? Incredible. The same city that flipped all streets in 1 night in the 50's is now this un-ambitious and timid in 2012.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 12:05:08 in reply to Comment 78925

"Incredible that TO can manage 1-lane each way on major downtown streets but we need 2 lanes on Caroline."

Not sure if public transit might play a role. The TTC averaged 2.59 million passengers per day in 2011. I believe that the HSR managed to rack up around 22 million riders in the whole of that year.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 12:22:32 in reply to Comment 78928

I don't think your facts on the TTC are correct, as the TTC's own website states their highest ever 1-day ridership was Friday, September 30, 2011 when they had 1,746,391 revenue passengers (i.e. fares collected).

The average business day sees 1,582,000 revenue passengers.

Source: http://www.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Operating_Statistics/2011.jsp

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 14:21:10 in reply to Comment 78929

My bad. That 2.6m would seem to include Revenue Passengers and Transfer Fares.

Still, the TTC's posted increase in passenger trips from 2010 to 2011 was roughly the entire ridership year for the HSR. So there's that.



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By Gel (anonymous) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 12:24:29 in reply to Comment 78929

Maybe the 2.59M total is fares plus passes?

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 26, 2012 at 11:41:38

Yay. But sigh.

I road down John St N from King to the bay yesterday and was startled to realize that it still goes from two way to one way (at Barton, I think) and then back to two way (at Burlington). I mean ... what the hell?

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By D.Tompkins (anonymous) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 14:02:40 in reply to Comment 78926

John St. actually changes suddenly to one way Northbound at the base of the railroad bridge overpass (Strachan), just in time to have 2 wide lanes rushing past Bennetto Public School and the North Hamilton Health Centre. Then reverts again to 2-way from Burlington on. I moved to the North End 18 months ago and have asked everyone, "Why"? but have never heard an answer. I call it one of Hamilton's "Orphan" one-ways. The single block of Ferguson Ave. N. between King and King William + a half dozen others drive me crazy too.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 11:56:44

It would be easier to move everything two-way overnight if we were willing to accept a deficit of traffic signals. Apparently the city replaced the 1950s hardware at some point.

Agonizingly slow? Yes. But I don't agree that we should stop conversions until we arrive at the perfect solution. That's not helpful to the city. It might not be idea, but it's a step in the right direction.


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By Forty Three (anonymous) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 13:44:16

43% of folks responding the Spec poll about this currently think the minor change is a bad idea.
2100 might be optimistic.

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By yes-two-way (anonymous) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 14:10:53

Jason above says, "This half-way conversion creates big headaches now for folks travelling south on Caroline from York." I strongly favour the more rapid (re)-transition to two-way streets in Hamilton. BUT: Caroline southbound with one lane travel will be a problem when there are events at Hamiton Place or Convention Centre, for example. Traffic from York Blvd. gets backed up on Caroline north of King, waiting to turn left onto Main. Traffic headed south beyond that may get backed up in all this. Yesterday to get home I went south on Queen from York and then turned left into my Durand area. It was quicker than the current Caroline route I use. While we're at it, surely it's time to two-way Charlton and Herkimer and Park and Duke and Robinson as well, in mid-city. Add others please.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 14:31:45 in reply to Comment 78933

exactly...if we did all of them, the options available would be plentiful and simple to navigate.

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By Queen St. too (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2012 at 13:48:16 in reply to Comment 78937

We can add Queen St too to two-way from York to Aberdeen, though (or because) it's currently a bit-or-more of a drag strip for people heading (too) fast to the Queen hill upbound, or west onto Aberdeen. Possible bottlenecks may occur, but at more sane speeds. Very too fast traffic now.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2012 at 16:16:42 in reply to Comment 78960

Which is exactly why getting the city to change that one will be pulling teeth. Which is a shame - when Frid Street is completed, there will be an alternate route into Westdale/Ainsliewood from the Queen/Garth hill... but Queen will point the wrong way for drivers coming down the access to take that route, instead being forced onto ever-overcrowded Aberdeen.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 26, 2012 at 14:18:14

Awesome. Continue it to York Blvd and give us a bike-path across Sir John A.'s pavement and you'll have a nice north/south bike-friendly road connecting Bayfront Park to Durand.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2012-06-26 14:24:54

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 17:24:19

I can understand the desire to turn One Way side streets like that section of Caroline into Two Way. That makes sense to me and I'd be a supporter of it.

When I argue for maintaining One Way streets, it is only for streets like King, Main and Canon. I'd probably even be okay with King turning into Two Way if Canon is maintained One Way. And, if Burlington Street was turned into a real "highway" (let's not turn this into an argument that "Burlington St already is a Highway SpaceMonkey"), I'd be okay with all Hamilton streets being Two Way.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 21:23:36 in reply to Comment 78939

I argue with SpaceMonkey often enough, but I don't understand the downvote here. He is not trolling.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2012 at 06:03:15 in reply to Comment 78943

Not sure either. I just gave the comment an upvote to balance them out.

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By Kevin (registered) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 17:40:49

Speaking of "what the hell?" Why is Locke, between King and Main, one way?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2012 at 09:50:24 in reply to Comment 78940

Because it's dysfunctionally narrow? I can understand keeping things one-way in cases where it's one-way simply because there isn't space to run enough lanes and still let people pull over and stop. It's a glorified alleyway.

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By Kevin (registered) | Posted June 27, 2012 at 19:59:41 in reply to Comment 78957

There are 2 lanes - one each way. Is that too difficult to figure out?

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 27, 2012 at 07:28:03 in reply to Comment 78940

Probably because converting that strip would not make a single speck of difference, not to mention there's no space between the lanes and the curbs there. Have you actually driven that stretch before?

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By Kevin (registered) | Posted June 27, 2012 at 20:11:52 in reply to Comment 78953

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 27, 2012 at 20:57:31 in reply to Comment 78967

I do think, and I'm not trolling. Just providing some insight since you seem to post before you think. Seriously, that stretch is too narrow to make it safely 2-way there.

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By Kevin (registered) | Posted June 27, 2012 at 21:54:06 in reply to Comment 78968

Insight? God help us. I've lived in Japan where there are streets half that wide that cater to two-way traffic, pedestrians, and bikes. Vehicles just go very slowly and weave in and out. It's very functional and civilised. Seriously, have you ever been out of Hamilton?

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By downtowninhamilton (registered) | Posted June 28, 2012 at 22:10:22 in reply to Comment 78970

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2012 at 09:36:52 in reply to Comment 78953

Made a difference to me when I was driving up Locke from Dundurn and I was suddenly faced with a one-way street that I had to navigate around.

If it "makes no difference" to you, then why not supporting changing it back to two way?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 27, 2012 at 07:45:17 in reply to Comment 78953

It would make a big difference to people driving south on Locke Street. Currently, the alternatives are:

  • Head west to Margaret or Strathcona, jog up to Main, turn left onto Main and try to get across five lanes in time to turn right on Locke; or

  • If you're starting north of Morden, head east to Pearl, cross King and try to sprint across Main during a break in traffic so you can turn right on Jackson and jog back to Locke.


It would also make a difference to people walking south on Locke. I do this walk every day, and by far the least pleasant part starts at the northwest corner of Locke and King and ends at the southeast corner of Locke and Main.

  • You can't cross King at Locke on the west side (lest you get in the way of a car turning westbound), so you need to cross to the east side first before crossing King.

  • The lights are timed so that east-west traffic gets a much longer green light than north-south traffic, so you end up having to stand on a narrow sidewalk right next to four lanes of high-speed traffic on King on the northwest corner - and then again on the northeast corner.

  • Then you have to walk down a narrow sidewalk on Locke, right next to two lanes of northbound traffic racing between Main and King, even though the traffic lights are timed so that cars going north invariably get stopped at a red light on King.

  • Again, thanks to timing, you have to stop at the corner of Main and Locke on another narrow sidewalk, right next to five lanes of traffic for a long green light cycle on Main.

There's absolutely no reason not to make Locke two-way - one lane in each direction - between Main and King.

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By TB (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2012 at 07:34:01 in reply to Comment 78954

People move in and out of houses on that section of Locke, just like everywhere else. They also have deliveries from UPS, Purolator, Canada Post, Sears, The Brick, prescription medicines, fast food, etc etc etc...you get the idea. If it were two lanes imagine what would happen when one of the lanes is completely blocked by a moving van during those times. Every street, commercial and residential, has to be able to accommodate service vehicles. Taxis, Darts, phone service, cable service, the list is endless and these types of requirements will always exist. Blockages on that section of Locke could stretch onto King and Main during busy periods, creating a huge traffic jam.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2012 at 08:37:06 in reply to Comment 78972

I don't buy it. Keeping Locke Street one-way between Main and King is sacrificing a common case (driving both ways on a street) in support of a rare edge case (a vehicle stopping to deliver or pick something up).

Consider:

  • Right now, ever single driver who wants to go south on Locke has to take an alternate route every time.

    If that stretch were two-way, drivers would only have to take alternate routes on the very rare occasion that the lane was blocked for more than a short period - and even then, only if there were no way to drive around the stopped vehicle.

  • Other streets all over Hamilton are as narrow as that stretch or narrower, and two-way traffic works just fine.

    As Kevin notes in this comment, the way it works is that drivers slow down and negotiate their way past each other.

It's really not that difficult. At this point we're just grasping at straws to come up with excuses to keep these streets one-way.

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By TB (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2012 at 13:19:26 in reply to Comment 78974

One size doesn't fit all. No grasping whatsoever is involved in a clearly logical choice. Some streets need to be one way, some streets don't. I wonder what the residents of that portion of Locke would say? What stats does the city have on traffic in that area? As the baby boom tsunami looms what will be the increase in pharmacy deliveries required do you think? How about taxis, Darts buses, ambulances. You seem to be willing to sacrifice the resident's convenience so you needn't drive an "alternate" route. King and Main should not be the one-way highways that they are. But that doesn't mean every street in the entire city has to become two way. NB: Locke north of Main is 6 metres wide. There are no other streets joining King and Main that are that narrow. The "alternate" you speak of, a few metres west, is twice as wide.

Comment edited by TB on 2012-06-28 13:46:16

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2012 at 14:34:24 in reply to Comment 78984

No grasping whatsoever is involved in a clearly logical choice.

You're suggesting that a street should be designed to prevent motorists from driving south, in order that motorists are spared the very rare inconvenience of having to pass around a stopped vehicle. In the past year of walking that route every day, I've only ever seen one or two stopped vehicles on that route.

You're suggesting that stopped vehicles are going to become more common because our population is aging. For some context, the median age in Canada is around 40 and the share of Canadians over 65 is around 15%, the same as the share of Canadians under 15. (Around 40% of Canadians are under 35.)

Granted that the Baby Boom is exerting pressure on the median age, but the effects will be slow and measured, not a "tsunami". According to StatsCan, according to current trends the median age will go up by seven years by 2056.

Kindly note also that most of the houses on this stretch of Locke Street have driveways, so there's no reason for taxis or deliveries to block a lane.

You're also suggesting that it will somehow be less convenient for residents to be able to turn out of their driveway in either of two directions than for them only to be able turn out of their driveway in one direction.

None of these arguments are compelling. They sound like rationalizing the status quo. Meanwhile, other streets all over the city are just as narrow as that stretch of Locke and two-way, and they work just fine.

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By TB (registered) - website | Posted June 28, 2012 at 16:32:15 in reply to Comment 78990

Like I said, Locke north of Main is 6 metres wide. There are no other streets joining King and Main that are that narrow. The "alternate" you speak of, a few metres west, is twice as wide.

What's the benefit to making it two way? All that does is give pedestrians and cyclists even LESS room than is available now.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 29, 2012 at 06:14:00 in reply to Comment 78992

Like I said, Locke north of Main is 6 metres wide.

I haven't measured the width, but it's wide enough for two lanes, and two lanes is enough room for one lane in each direction.

There are no other streets joining King and Main that are that narrow.

That's not relevant to whether it makes sense for this street to go two-way.

The "alternate" you speak of, a few metres west, is twice as wide.

It looks like it's a bit less than 100 m west, and it requires a right turn onto King, crossing four lanes of traffic, turning onto Margaret, then turning right onto Main with very poor visibility at the corner of Margaret and Main, then getting across five lanes of traffic to turn right onto Locke.

Surely we can agree that's a sub-optimal route from a traffic point of view, compared to proceeding straight on Locke with signalized intersections at King and Main.

What's the benefit to making it two way?

I've already explained the benefit to making it two-way.

All that does is give pedestrians and cyclists even LESS room than is available now.

Pedestrians would have just as much room as they have today, only they would be walking past slower-moving two-way traffic. I walk that street every day and would welcome two-way traffic.

Cyclists, in turn, would also benefit from sharing the road with slower moving traffic. Cyclists heading southbound would enjoy an even bigger benefit in not having to pedal a couple of hundred metres out of their way, have to cross nine lanes of traffic (four on King and five on Main) and make four turns just to go south on Locke.

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By TB (registered) - website | Posted June 29, 2012 at 07:23:37 in reply to Comment 78996

I guess we should just agree to disagree. Personally I think certain traffic situations benefit from the use of the one-way tool and that this section of Locke is one of them, until King and Main are re-purposed anyway.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted June 29, 2012 at 07:56:48 in reply to Comment 78997

You raise a good point - I'd like to see Main and King converted to two-way as well...

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-06-29 07:56:56

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2012 at 09:03:50 in reply to Comment 78974

That may be true, but haven't you ever seen the movie Independence Day.

What if aliens blow up all of the roads around the whole area? What then?

Between the harbour and the escarpment we'll have nowhere to go. Hamilton is very unique that way.

And one more question. I live in Stoney Creek and work at McMaster. Why shouldn't your neighbourhoods be set up to allow people just like me to get to work faster. It's not my fault my employer chose to build their workplace so far from where I live. We need more one-ways, just not where I live thanks.

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By Kirkendall (anonymous) | Posted June 28, 2012 at 13:52:13 in reply to Comment 78978

This is actually a pretty interesting case. Locke happens to be my usual route north to the grocery store on Queen (few lights, and Queen and Dundurn are both unpleasant), and I admit that I find the walk between Main and King pretty dreadful. But it is a narrow street, so I can understand TB.

I don't have experience driving this stretch. To make Locke more friendly to those walking, though, it's that "Cross on Other Side" business that needs to change for sure.

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By Citygal (anonymous) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 20:42:56

Re: the reversion to one way at Bennetto School. I worked on the team that did that conversion and school interests lobbied against two way traffic. They wanted a "drop-off" lane protected for the parents who drive their kids to school.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2012 at 09:38:20 in reply to Comment 78942

Interesting to know, but frustrating to no end.

I live near a few schools and they're always zoos at drop-off time. Hazardous zoos at that. Everyone wants priority. I can't imagine how many accidents occur around schools every year.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 29, 2012 at 09:39:21 in reply to Comment 78956

The reality is that more parents drop off their kids than did when these schools were built. Some of these parents could just as easily walk... but in a lot of cases we're talking about dual-income households. If you're dropping off the kids on the way to work? You're going to be driving them.

Accommodating drop-offs is necessary. Although I think they took the wrong solution - the city should've widened the road with a bump-out parking lane.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted June 29, 2012 at 10:37:42 in reply to Comment 79000

Accommodating drop-offs is necessary.

Is it? What if we didn't? What if we made it harder? Would it be so hard to drop the kids off a block or so away from the school itself?

I really need a lot more convincing that so many parents need to drop off their kids right. in front. of the school.

Just because many people want to do it, doesn't mean it's right for society to accomodate it (cf. smoking in airplanes, drinking and driving, running stop signs, speeding in residential areas, biking on the sidewalk, double parking, etc. and so on).

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 29, 2012 at 11:24:44 in reply to Comment 79001

Because they're legally required to if the kids are too young to walk themselves.

You could make the argument that supporting drop-off is silly for a middle-school or a high-school where children are old enough to get themselves there, but not an elementary school.

I mean, we can argue until hoarse about how old a child should be before they can walk themselves to school - 6? 8? Whatever... but either way, I think most folks agree that children in Junior Kindergarten need a parental escort. The line exists somewhere, and there are children at elementary school who are below it.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted June 29, 2012 at 11:57:01 in reply to Comment 79002

Heaven forbid that a parent should have to drag their own ass out of the car to walk their kid into school. Can't have that.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 29, 2012 at 12:05:21 in reply to Comment 79005

Kindergarten aged children need to be walked to the door anyway, so really it's an issue of parking rather than traffic flow.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted June 29, 2012 at 11:56:09 in reply to Comment 79002

Just because younger children need to be accompanied by an adult, doesn't mean we need to accommodate door-to-door drop offs by eating up much needed greenspace with kiss 'n rides, or disrupting neighbourhood traffic flows with one ways.

There is no reason parents can't park a few blocks away from the school and walk the rest of the way. This is already accepted practise at our neighbourhood school. Bonus: kids who have to be driven get a bit of exercise.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 26, 2012 at 22:39:47

To implement an extension on Caroline, the intersection of Caroline and York would have to be redesigned to accommodate northbound right turning traffic (changes to the curb radius etc.)

I've seen work crews do this in a few hours....you cut the corner of the curb and round it so it's suitable for turning. A lot simpler than building an elevated highway in a rough-terrain valley, yet we managed that just fine.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-06-26 22:40:14

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By Rim Shot (anonymous) | Posted June 27, 2012 at 12:34:28 in reply to Comment 78947

...and that only took 50 years!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted June 29, 2012 at 16:48:05

Is that left turn lane from Main to Caroline for real? The only reason you'd have to turn left on Caroline is if you are doing a U-turn to King. This city certainly baffles me sometimes!

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