Comment 26111

By Rusty (registered) - website | Posted July 30, 2008 at 17:14:38

Agreed. Thanks Terry for weighing in on this.

I must say I find your two-way street position curious. I was aware of your advocacy of the downtown wireless program (something, I believe, you promoted way before it was popular) and I have generally found your assessment of Hamilton's complex municipal issues to be pretty sound overall. But Terry - you are way off on this one! :)

When I first arrived in the Hammer I moved to the east end and I LOVED the one way timed lights arrangement on Main. I would zip in on the 403 and scoot through town to get home. It was brilliant! From Toronto it was a toss up between taking the Skyway or going through downtown. The downtown route was often quicker.

But, as I came to understand this issue a little more, I came to realize that it is this driving convenience which is the core problem with the state of downtown. One way streets ARE quicker. They ARE easier to drive. And, as a result, they are used by more vehicles. Why is this a problem you may ask? Because these are residential streets! And what's more, they are residential streets with commercial properties relying on foot traffic to support their businesses.

I wonder Terry, when you quote the injury stats relating to one-way versus two-way, whether you have considered the effect one-way streets have on pedestrian traffic? Pedestrians avoid one-way streets, so of course there will be less injuries overall. Did your stats address this?

I've said before that the downtown is a destination and NOT a thoroughfare and, as such, it should be inviting to pedestrians. This is not a minor point.

We can argue forever about the role two-way conversion played in the James Street revival. I don't know why City staff would give an unequivical 'no' when the probable causes are likely to be, as you say, complex and varied. In fact, if the causes are complex and varied, then how are we so easily able to discount the two-way street conversion as a possible contributing factor...? Is there not an element of common sense that says to you, 'Hey, these vendors rely on foot traffic and it is now safer and more pleasant to walk on this street...there are more pedestrians (are there? Have we done this analysis? We should...) and business is booming!' Can you not at least acknowledge that there may be a connection? Of course a district's revitalization is not going to be linked to one single event - nobody ever claimed that. Two-way streets are no silver bullet. But they are a proven way of slowing down traffic and encouraging more pedestrians to frequent an area.

With respect to making downtown more 'foot friendly' - can we say that most businesses downtown rely on pedestrians (i.e. face-to-face shopping)? If the answer is 'no' then I would agree that two way streets are not going to improve the business much. If the answer is 'yes' then obviously making the area more pedestrian friendly is going to attract more business.

As for impeding traffic, well of course this is a by-product of two-ways - this is what we want. We are creating a traffic problem. But what analysis has shown (and I was given this info by another councilor) is that some traffic will simply go away. Folks like me will go back to taking the skyway bridge. A lot of the vanishing traffic will be through traffic and thus will not affect the bottom line of the downtown businesses. Other drivers who wish to shop downtown may choose to look at other options, and I would hope that the city is able to provide a wide range of other transit options for it's residents. If not then the problem is not the pace of downtown streets, it's the lack of efficient transit alternatives. Not everyone in Hamilton drives and not everyone in Hamilton should drive. If the streets slow down because of two-way conversions or for other reasons one would hope that the city is able to offer some viable alternatives.

Finally, you mention the cost of 2-way conversions. Is this figure so prohibitive? Of course infrastructure renewal is a critical priority. So is the police budget and so on. No-one is advocating we put in 2-way streets in place of other priorities. We are saying that this is a relatively cost-effective way to make streets safer and bring them back to life.

There is extensive analysis and discussion on RTH and other sources regarding the benefits of 2-way streets. I hope you have time to read around the subject a little more and at least keep an open mind on the subject.

Thanks again for contributing to the discussion. Hope all is well with you.

Regards,

Ben (Bull)

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