Transportation

'Gridlock' on King Street East

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 03, 2013

King Street East is down to two lanes between Ashley Street and Emerald Street, which means total traffic chaos for motorists.

Um, not exactly. Laura Farr sent in this photograph she took at 10:45 AM today, facing east on King between Steven Street and Ashley:

King Street East, facing east between Steven and Ashley (Image Credit: Laura Farr)
King Street East, facing east between Steven and Ashley (Image Credit: Laura Farr)

In a refrain that should be getting tiresome by now, we have significant excess lane capacity in the lower city. We do not need four- and five- lane one-way thoroughfares cutting through urban neighbourhoods and destroying local vitality.

The traffic volume data is clear, and anecdotes from all over the lower city support the same conclusion.

When will our city leaders stop using traffic volumes as an excuse to continue sacrificing the lower city for the most marginal gains in mere expediency for through 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 movedtohamilton (registered) | Posted July 03, 2013 at 14:20:04

The inner-city expressways must be made an election issue. A concise explanation/message ("the elevator pitch")needs to be defined, and candidates need to sign on or explain why not.

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By Seriously (anonymous) | Posted July 04, 2013 at 03:48:26 in reply to Comment 89898

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 04, 2013 at 05:55:54 in reply to Comment 89912

In a democracy, "end of story" usually isn't.

According to a December 2012 survey by the CAA South Central Ontario, an organization not known to be anti-car, a majority of Hamiltonians already support converting north-south streets and secondary east-west streets to two-way.

This is a significant change from a decade ago when James and John North were converted to two-way, and it indicates that most people are capable of changing their minds based on new information.

The survey also found a 57.8% majority still oppose converting Main, King and Cannon to two-way, but that their opposition is based on fear of change, not evidence. As the survey author put it, the opposition is "emotional, not safety or financially founded."

I'm encouraged by the survey. It tells me the challenge of convincing Hamiltonians to support a positive change in our road system is not as unlikely as it might seem to someone who remains entrenched in the status quo.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2013-07-04 05:58:05

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By The Pitch (anonymous) | Posted July 03, 2013 at 15:01:56 in reply to Comment 89898

The pitch needs to made to the many Hamilton voters who don't have any experience with the one-ways except occasionally driving on them. It's their Councilours, whose wards don't have one-ways, that will continue to support the status quo unless their constituents' minds are changed.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted July 03, 2013 at 15:07:53

The last couple of days I've driven by the Delta and Ottawa street areas where Main and King have been pinched down to one lane, and it taken take long to get through. Maybe 3 or 4 minutes at the MOST.

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By Rush (anonymous) | Posted July 03, 2013 at 16:04:31

I agree that there's more than enough space for cars to move down King and Main. But of course there's no gridlock at 10:45 a.m. A better test to observe excess lane capacity would be during either the morning or evening rush hour.

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By pedestrian (anonymous) | Posted July 03, 2013 at 21:53:50 in reply to Comment 89902

The best I can do is provide my personal experience.
I walk to work along King most mornings. I arrived at King and Ashley at approx 8:30am today.
Not a single delay.
The only delay was waiting for a reduced 2-lane green wave to pass so I could walk along King for 1 block. The sidewalk on both sides were ripped up, forcing pedestrians onto the road.
(Not that I want to get sidetracked from this thread with my pedestrian complaint)

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 04, 2013 at 06:01:03 in reply to Comment 89907

(Not that I want to get sidetracked from this thread with my pedestrian complaint)

By all means, feel free sidetrack (er, no pun intended). It's ridiculous that the city would close both downtown sidewalks at the same time and not provide safe passage for pedestrians.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 03, 2013 at 21:00:35 in reply to Comment 89902

take away half the lanes on a 4-lane street in Toronto, Chicago, Montreal etc....anytime of the day would feel the effects. Here it's still completely empty. Even at rush hour, with a proper light sequence allowing for a normal flow of traffic, instead of clumping everyone together in herds spaced 3-minutes apart, these streets would all function fine with half their lanes.

In fact, the data proves that many of them only need half their lanes, or less.

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By Wile E. (anonymous) | Posted July 03, 2013 at 16:06:30

The lower city is mostly tumbleweeds except for the wave of roadrunners at each end of the day. The only thing gridlocked is the political process.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted July 03, 2013 at 17:42:01

Yes the sidewalks and curb cuts are being rebuilt. No improvements begin made.
Of course with the tsar of Morelli world on sick leave, the amusement park will use keep going.

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By George (registered) | Posted July 03, 2013 at 23:35:12

Drove form Quigley and King area to Bay and King around 4:15 pm today along King St.

Hit a reduction down to 1 lane at the Delta, it took 3 minutes to get through. From the Delta to past Sherman was down to one or two lanes as was the Steven St. area.

All in all it took me exactly 22 minutes to reach the federal Govt building. Traffic moved well despite the lane reductions.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted July 08, 2013 at 12:48:11

Down to 2 lanes. Whew, good thing the Ticats are playing in Guelph. If they played here in Hamilton, their fans might have to discover Cannon Street after games.

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