Transportation

Cooke: Time for Two-Way Streets

By Ryan McGreal
Published February 18, 2008

Not sure if you caught it in Saturday's Spectator, but as unlikely an urban champion as former regional chairman Terry Cooke came out in defence of converting Hamilton's streets back to two way:

Hamilton council should summon the political courage to simply eliminate our anachronistic system of one-way streets. No more public-policy baby steps and enough already with pilot projects like the now three-year-old conversions of James and John streets.

It's time to simply abandon an idea of the 1950s that serves only as a deterrent to restoring livable neighbourhoods in the heart of Hamilton.

The funny thing is, for some reason Cooke felt the need to turn to the Louisville Courier-Journal to find a quote about the damaging effects of one way streets. All he had to do was visit RTH to find similar ideas expressed.

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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 jason (registered) | Posted February 18, 2008 at 17:06:54

this is a smart move by Cooke. He is well-respected in the community and still carries considerable respect in the political spectrum. For too long the local media and even some politicians have tried to paint 2-way proponents as meddlers and left wing nuts. Fact is, cities all over the continent are converting back to 2-way and laying down streetcar lines and LRT lines to put people back in the priority downtown. North American cities are completely built around cars these days. The ones with the most successful downtowns are the ones that are still about the people, streets, public spaces, transit and 'making the scene'. As addicted as we are to our cars, everyone knows a good downtown when we see one. Its why tourists flock to Montreal in the dead of winter, yet wouldn't hang out in 'downtown' Mississuga in the middle of summer if you paid them (most would have no clue where it is). In Hamilton's constantly divided political arena, Cooke represents amalgamation and Red Hill in most people's minds. Yet he illustrates quite clearly that downtown is an issue that can and should be at the heart of every resident and politician, regardless of what side of the line you fall on. People these days aren't as stupid as politicians would think (mind you, the constant red light running at James and St Joes drive would seem to indicate otherwise). If the entire system was converted from 2-way to 1-way in a single night in the 50's, I'm pretty sure the planet wouldn't stop spinning if we converted them back in a single night in the 2000's. He correctly identifies political will and courage as the true obstacles in seeing this happen. Especially after the roaring success on James and John Street following their conversion. Kudos to Cooke....how about using a bit of that influence to kick our council in the backside and moving on this issue instead of saying "we'll get around to it gradually in the next 2 decades". They won't.

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By hmag (anonymous) | Posted February 18, 2008 at 17:07:58

Terry is only justifying turning Hamilton's one way raods to two way - so he and his buddies can build more ringroads around the city.

He isn't one bit concerned about the health and wellness of Hamilton's neighbourhoods.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 18, 2008 at 19:21:15

hmag...you might be right, although there are no more ringroads to be built. Perhaps he is now trying to say that Red Hill and Linc were not just good for sprawl, but also good for downtown by allowing us to convert streets to 2-way. Everyone knows that highway building is done in Hamilton. Mid Pen is a stupid idea with no pupose that'll never happen....if the Red Hill champions want to now convert streets to 2-way, I'm all for it.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 19, 2008 at 07:50:34

Jason wrote, "although there are no more ringroads to be built."

Au contraire, Jason! The next shining band of exurban asphalt - the Mid Peninsula Highway - is already coming down the pipe. One of the major issues of this McGuinty government is whether they will be able to stick to their Places to Grow guns and resist the mounting pressure to get started on it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 19, 2008 at 09:37:11

do you really think they have any chance of building that highway?? I mean, it's in the middle of nowhere...all farmland. No cities, no industry. Why do we need another highway from Hamilton to Fort Erie??
I'd be shocked if this highway ever gets built. The money could be better used on almost any other highway/transit project in the Golden Horseshoe. If they're worried about future congestion on the QEW then maybe they can link Niagara with Hamilton and TO with this nifty little thing called TRANSIT. Right now it's almost impossible to travel by transit from Niagara to the GTA.
I guess nothing would shock me anymore, but I would be quite shocked if this highway was built.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 19, 2008 at 10:18:04

Jason wrote, "do you really think they have any chance of building that highway?"

I think it's dangerous to assume the Mid Pen idea is too ridiculous to take seriously.

Remember that the Ontario Government is significantly influenced by the auto industry, as well as manufacturing and trade. The Mid Pen is primarily a goods transportation corridor between the manufacturing centres of Ontario and their American markets. (As a side-effect, it will produce sprawl development around the interchanges.)

The McGuinty Liberals have done a pretty decent job of promoting sustainable growth (through Places to Grow, the Greenbelt, Metrolinx, etc.), but they're still going to be under tremendous pressure to accommodate the automobile/NAFTA lobby.

After all, even McMaster Innovation Park is a publicly funded research centre for automotive R&D.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 20, 2008 at 09:55:57


I agree with Terry.

The downtown looks dead with one-way streets. Who wants to live/work/play in a dead downtown?

I agree that mid-penn should move forward. Would be a huge benefit to Hamilton and its airport.

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By oldster (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2008 at 21:14:50

Gee! Is Terry Cooke still around? I thought he was toast. I'm old enough to remember that it was his grandfather who took the heart out of a bustling vibrant Hamilton in the fifties and introduced one way streets to accomodate the HSR. Is this act of Terry the most opportunistic Hamiltonian called redemption?

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