Transportation

A Road Diet for Hamilton

By Ryan McGreal
Published April 12, 2007

Today's Hamilton Spectator carries an excellent op-ed by Randy Kay of Transportation for Liveable Communities that advocates putting Hamilton's roads on a diet, a theme that may be familiar to regular RTH readers.

The way to escape congestion is, counter-intuitively, to take space from automobile traffic and give it to other uses: transit lanes, roadside parking, wider sidewalks, bicycle lanes. Call it a road diet.

Hamilton has a disproportionately high amount of arterial roads and expressways compared to other Ontario cities. We weigh in at second highest with 7.1 "lane metres" per capita. Toronto has 3. So a diet seems in order.

Taking a Robin Hood approach to existing roads, i.e. stealing lanes from cars to give to other modes, would serve to calm traffic (making things slower, thereby safer) while creating the kind of infrastructure needed for intrepid cyclists and transit users to get ahead.

The way - the only way - to get people to drive less and walk, cycle, and take transit more is simultaneously to make it harder to drive and easier to walk, cycle, or take transit.

Until we abandon the objective of making it as fast and easy to drive as possible, we will never see a shift in how people choose to get around.

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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