Special Report: Walkable Streets

Data Show Traffic Volume Argument For One-Way Streets Is False

The data show once and for all that the massive one-way network that was built to accommodate the crush of north-east industrial sector workers is simply not needed anymore.

By Jason Leach
Published December 17, 2012

Complete streets have finally become a prominent point of discussion at city hall after several years of grassroots work to move it up the agenda.

The Complete Streets Study Group looking at Cannon and Queen is a great start, and despite the slow progress, several two-way conversions are on the books at City Hall awaiting implementation.

The recent creative industries study commissioned by the Hamilton Chamber, Walkability And Urban Development, once again highlighted the need for complete streets and their attractiveness to the creative sector which is beginning to grow on James North and elsewhere downtown.

Hamilton has had its major one-way highway-style streets downtown since the 1950s. Interestingly, areas of the city without one-way streets have never been heard asking for them.

Yet, residential and commercial areas with them have been asking for their removal since the day they were implemented.

One major item absent in the entire discussion has been hard traffic data of our various one-way and two-way streets.

Without facts, the discussion becomes emotional and opinionated, but with nothing to back up any claims.

The data you're about to see should help further the discussion surrounding complete streets, and in many cases finally show once and for all that the massive one-way network that was built to accommodate the crush of north-east industrial sector workers is simply not needed anymore.

Street Lanes Ways Description Traffic Volume Volume Per Lane
Aberdeen E of Dundurn 4 2 2 lanes each way 17200 4,300
Wentworth S of Barton 3 1 3 lanes 1-way 5400 1,800
Barton E of Wentworth 4 2 2 lanes each way w/ curb parking 13700 3,425
Queen S of Charlton 3 1 3 lanes 1-way 12200 4,067
Bay N of Main 3 1 3 lanes 1-way 12400 4,133
King W of Bay 4 1 4 lanes 1-way w/ parking NS 24900 6,225
Bay N of King 4 1 4 lanes 1-way 10800 2,700
Cannon W of Mary 4 1 4 lanes 1-way 16700 4,175
Mary S of Cannon 1 1 1 lane 1-way 1100 1,100
Up James S of Mohawk 4 2 2 lanes each way 32800 8,200
Mohawk E of Up James 4 2 2 lanes each way 18600 4,650
Cannon W of Sherman 4 1 4 lanes 1-way 9100 2,275
Cannon E of Sherman 4 2 2 lanes each way w/ curb parking 10800 2,700
Sherman S of Cannon 4 1 4 lanes 1-way 9900 2,475
King E of Catharine 2 1 2 lanes 1-way 14400 7,200
Catharine S of King 3 1 3 lanes 1-way 3400 1,133
Concession E of Up Gage 2 2 1 lane each way 9400 4,700
Hunter W of John 2 1 2 lanes 1-way 7500 3,750
Garth N of Fennell 2 2 1 lane each way 19700 9,850
Victoria S of Barton 4 1 4 lanes 1-way 8900 2,225
James S of Herkimer 4 2 3 lanes SB/ 1 lane NB 18700 4,675
Mohawk W of Bishopsgate 4 2 2 lanes each way 19500 4,875
Main E of Dalewood 6 2 3 lanes each way 55300 9,217
Main W of Longwood 5 2 3 lanes EB / 2 lanes WB 39700 7,940
Main E of Dundurn 5 1 5 lanes 1-way 37300 7,460
Main E of Bay 5 1 5 lanes 1-way 28400 5,680
Main E of Wellington 5 1 5 lanes 1-way 21100 4,220
Main E of Kenilworth 4 2 2 lanes each way 20300 5,075
King E of Wentworth 4 1 4 lanes 1-way 16400 4,100
Wentworth N of King 3 1 3 lanes 1-way 5400 1,800
Golf Links W of Stonechurch 4 2 2 lanes each way 26600 6,650
Wellington S of Wilson 4 1 4 lanes 1-way 12200 3,050
Wellington S of Main 4 1 4 lanes 1-way 17900 4,475

Some highlights that stood out to me:

Cannon Street has traffic volumes ranging between 10,000 near Sherman to under 17,000 downtown. It has timed lights and is four lanes one way.

Yet, Aberdeen Ave carries more than 17,000 cars per day and is two lanes each way, with no timed lights and even a pedestrian-activated signal at Kent!

Concession near Upper Gage has 9,500 cars per day and is one lane each way with curb parking on both sides of the street 24-7 all along Concession.

King Street in the International Village carries 14,400 vehicles on only two lanes, yet is still a fast moving freeway most of the day.

Garth St as it heads down the Queen St hill carries just under 20,000 cars per day and is only one lane each way.

Quite simply, Cannon Street does not need to be a freeway anywhere along its route. It is a great candidate for a complete street due to the clear over-built size, which is a remnant from the big industrial heyday in Hamilton.

Keeping many of the numbers in mind I just mentioned, consider the following lunacy:

Wellington Ave between Wilson and Hunter carries anywhere from 12,000 to 18,000 cars per day and is also a four (sometimes five) lane one-way street with narrow sidewalks and timed lights. This is 4,475 cars per lane at its busiest stretch.

Wentworth between King and Barton carries a measly 5,400 cars per day and is three lanes one-way - that's just 1,800 cars per lane. Ditto for Catharine, south of King, which is also three lanes, one-way, and carries 3,400 cars per day, or 1,133 cars per lane.

This is a clear sign of excess capacity. If Wellington can handle 4,475 cars per lane, why do we need all those lanes of one-way traffic on Wentworth and Catharine? Catharine carries fewer cars on all three lanes than Wellington does on a single lane!

Quite simply, many of these north-south one-way streets can be eliminated tomorrow without putting a scratch in traffic flow.


Complete Street in Brooklyn showing what Hunter or Catharine could be. Image credit: Dan Burden, Walkable and Livable Communities Institute.

All of the one-way streets I've mentioned so far are ripe for a complete streets treatment with ample curb parking twenty-four hours per day, wider sidewalks, less lanes, bike lanes and street trees.

Let me finish with a look at Main Street - our most sacred one-way street.

Between McMaster and Westdale High, Main Street carries large traffic loads: between 40,000 to 55,000 cars per day. However, once crossing the 403, Main begins to rapidly drop off in volume.

By Bay Street it's down to 28,000 and by Wellington it's 21,000 where it remains steady for the remainder of its route. Yet it's five lanes one-way, with timed lights.

By comparison, Golf Links Road in Ancaster, which is hardly a model complete street and is built to accommodate high speed vehicle traffic to and from big box stores is two lanes each way and carries under 27,000 cars per day - more than virtually all of Main Street east of Bay.

I wouldn't want Golf Links to be considered a safe, downtown, mixed-use street yet the fact is, it's miles better than downtown's five lane, treeless, synchronized-light freeway.

Upper James near Mohawk carries just under 33,000 cars and is two lanes each way with turning lanes. Again, not a complete street befitting a mixed-use, dense downtown core, yet it functions fine with a level of traffic that only exists on a few shorts blocks of Main, east of the 403.

If Hamilton is to get serious about complete streets throughout the city we need to learn from other municipalities who have learned to design their streets to still carry large volumes of traffic, but with room for bike lanes, parking and safe sidewalks. This 3-lane cross section in Seattle can carry 25,000 cars per day!

Main Street at Kenilworth functions as a two-way street and carries over 20,000 vehicles per day.

Remind me again why Main, Cannon, King, Queen and many others can't go two-way, or have seriously reduced lanes in order to become complete streets?

Why do councillors whose wards contain two-way streets with heavier traffic constantly rile up the public with dire predictions if Cannon or Main were to go back to two-way?

Why aren't people clamouring for Upper James, Garth or Golf Links to become one-way?

Quite simply, the data shows that virtually none of our one-way streets are needed. And nobody without them wants them due to the massive damage they inflict on street business and the quality of life for everyone who lives around them. This includes virtually all of our Code Red neighbourhoods as well as the heart of our city - the downtown core.

Main, James, King, Cannon and many others used to be the vibrant, bustling heart of our city. We've seen local neighbourhoods improve rapidly when given the chance in areas along Locke South and James North.

Let's give our entire urban core a chance to succeed by removing the industrial freeway network from the 1950's. The stats give us hope that it's absolutely possible.

Much thanks to Brian McHattie for his assistance in getting this data, along with the wonderful staff at the Technical Services Department at City Hall. All data was gathered in 2009-2010.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

67 Comments

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 17, 2012 at 22:56:01

One additional note: Another reason we are told we need one-way streets is because they are necessary to move such high volumes of traffic. We're told that converting those streets to two-way would result in gridlock due to the high volume. Yet, if you look at the 'volume per lane' column, you'll notice that most of the highest volumes are on two-way streets: Garth, Upp James, Golfinks, two-way portion of Main, Concession. One more argument out the window.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-12-17 22:56:31

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 18, 2012 at 16:02:16 in reply to Comment 84066

I appreciate your insight regarding the need for two way conversions

When designing lane configurations, we must take into consideration the big picture rather than to focus on one movement. A street is related to other streets adjacent to it as well as those in the same network and should operate such that efficiencies are realized throughout the network for all users. Maintaining a reasonable balance is the objective. The key factors considered, when reviewing signal timing design, are described below.

  • Maximizing safety for all users.
  • Minimizing the impact on the environment (emissions of stopped vehicles).
  • Provide sufficient pedestrian crossing times.
  • Provide priority for transit vehicles.
  • Provide sufficient time for vehicles travelling straight through.
  • Provide sufficient time for vehicles making turns

While striving to accomplish the above, to meet the needs of all users, there will be some give and take. Not all streets have the same functionality, given the age of the infrastructure. Not all movements will have ideal service levels, however, there will be a reasonable balance recognizing the demands from competing interests.

I trust this helps to explain why you may be experiencing the occasional problem getting around the city unless you are in a car.

Regards,

The Traffic Department

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 21:17:31 in reply to Comment 84112

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2012 at 13:18:51 in reply to Comment 84123

Jeez, it's just a joke!

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By why not (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 08:00:53 in reply to Comment 84123

That's how the traffic department responds - by using the same empty text over and over and over and over and over.

Why bother thinking?

Maybe we should all start behaving that way!

Then we'd be good little citizens.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 08:19:17 in reply to Comment 84145

To be honest, I don't know how many times Sean has dealt with the traffic department. Who knows, maybe he has contacted them countless times with asinine requests, comments, and concerns and they send him form letters now. Maybe that was his first time contacting them and they can't be bothered to give a personal response.

Maybe he should let it be in his own article on this rather than putting this in just about every active article on the main page right now.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2012 at 13:25:01 in reply to Comment 84147

To clarify, I brought up some valid concerns about how that light operates (or fails to operate) and they did not address them at all. If a member of the public has concerns that get escalated to a manager, I would expect the manager to give a real response. It was the first exchange I had with the signal department about any specific intersection.

If you think that their response is reasonable, that's OK with me.

I'm quite certain that my overall contribution here is constructive and that the occasional humourous post is in line with the way the community converses.

I'm sorry if my jokes offended you.

If others dislike it as well, they are welcome to vote my comment down and I'll consider their position before clicking "Post" the next time my funnybone is acting up.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 13:40:44 in reply to Comment 84182

NO, please do us all a favour and listen to your funnybone. We need a good laugh from time to time trying to drag our ancient city into the 21st Century.

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By UpbeatInDowntown (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 09:52:00 in reply to Comment 84147

Or maybe the way the traffic department does things is a common undercurrent in all of these issues and seancb is right to point it out. All you seem to be interested in is pretending that downtown streets are just dandy and anything that would change how they work is SCARY and RISKY and might make your commute to the highway to a job in a different city because you can't find work in your own city a tiny bit longer.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 21:26:18 in reply to Comment 84154

Thanks for the dig at being unable to find work in Hamilton. And _I'm_ the troll. Get real.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 18, 2012 at 07:22:55 in reply to Comment 84066

Yet, if you look at the 'volume per lane' column, you'll notice that most of the highest volumes are on two-way streets

That's not at all surprising, given the generally understood principles of traffic engineering. Lane capacity is subject to the law of diminishing returns: as you add lanes, the marginal capacity of each additional lane goes down.

Four- and five-lane one-way arterials in downtown Hamilton were never more than cannon fodder for fast, high-volume traffic flow. The argument for our one-way system was already weak in the 1950s, when we already knew that we were trading downtown commercial and social vitality for the convenience of through traffic. Today the argument is utterly specious.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 13:19:16 in reply to Comment 84071

One can't forget that one-way streets by design are underutilized for all except a single peak (e.g. AM or PM) , whereas a two-way street can be utilized for both outgoing and return trips.

When performing such analysis, to properly compare with two-ways, one should look at street pairings, not individual one-way streets.

This is another reason why one-way streets seem to be more congested to their users and are less efficient in terms of infrastructure utilization (need more streets to move the same volume of vehicles).

Comment edited by arienc on 2012-12-18 13:19:39

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 18, 2012 at 13:32:53 in reply to Comment 84100

Not only that, but one-way arterials are characterized by stretches of emptiness punctuated by clumps of fast, dense traffic, since every car is forced into the same timing. It's a horribly inefficient use of scarce urban land in addition to being hostile to pedestrians, cyclists and street life in general.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 18, 2012 at 09:10:41

To be fair, streets like Garth or Main through Ainsliewood aren't really better than 1-way streets.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 09:56:17 in reply to Comment 84072

you're absolutely right. Hence this statement:

I wouldn't want Golf Links to be considered a safe, downtown, mixed-use street yet the fact is, it's miles better than downtown's five lane, treeless, synchronized-light freeway.

The comparison is simply to show that the traffic volumes aren't any different on these one-way compared to their two-way counterparts. And in many cases, the two-ways carry more traffic per lane. That is the single biggest argument brought up by opponents of complete streets or two-way conversion. These numbers destroy that argument (not that I expect it to matter with some of them...ideology is often more important than fact at city hall).

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 09:25:09

IMHO, the ideological stance of City Hall is a distraction. The real issue is that they lack the funds and political will to attempt a project of the magnitude suggested. Which is not that grand at all, in the big picture, but let's not forget the way that the Great Bike lane debate unfolded. It's not hard to imagine complete streets enjoying a similar reception.

As I've suggested before, I think that there is a workaround right in front of us that would make pilot projects possible without having to endure the spanking machine of city council.

http://raisethehammer.org/comment/82759

Walkability is wonderful but that walkability study was one of the least rigorous products to ever emerge from the CCS camp (which has arguably defaulted to statistical oversimplification in the RethinkRenewal era of EcDev/real estate consultancy).

Hamilton's most walkable communities are in downtown Hamilton. Downtown Hamilton boasts the most depressed real estate prices, relative to the norm, in the region. Creative industries are, for the most part, cash-strapped to the point of poverty (earlier CCS reports prove as much) and tend to favour affordable live/work space. Indeed, this is the thrust of Urbanicity's EcDev maketing collaboration, Urban Spaces. This is at least as relevant a selection criteria as walkability.

So too is the social clustering and promotional synergy. Ottawa North, James North, Locke South, Westdale, Downtown Dundas and so on feature two-way traffic, but they are also officially or unofficially BIAs. This profile creates a magnetic field for additional investment. Success begets success, and neighbourhoods decreed as hip by popular consensus (or marketed by the City as fertile ground for creative workers) wear that mark, for better or worse.

All of this is part of the algebra on why people decide to locate somewhere. There's considerable ambiguity around causality on this issue, certainly enough to inspire us to commission a real study or look abroad for verification. To my mind, by omitting all other sectors of the local economy, "Walkability and Economic Development" only succeeds in proving that the Chamber is familiar with the oeuvre of Richard Florida.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 14:43:50 in reply to Comment 84074

CORRECTION

The earlier studies alluded to about prevalence of low income in the creative class was the work of Hill Strategies:

"Earnings by most Canadian artists are hovering at poverty levels and the situation is likely to worsen as the worldwide recession deepens, according to a statistical profile of the country's artists released yesterday.

The findings of the 43-page study, prepared by Hill Strategies Research of Hamilton for Canadian Heritage, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council, are derived from the 2006 census. It identified 140,000 Canadians as artists – defined as those who spent most of their working time in nine occupational categories, including actors, dancers, authors/writers, visual artists and producers/directors/choreographers.

The study reports that artists over all are working for near-poverty-level wages, with an average annual earnings in calendar year 2005 of just $22,731, compared with $36,301 for all Canadian workers – a 37-per-cent wage chasm.

In fact, of the 140,000 artists analyzed, 43 per cent earned less than $10,000, whereas in the overall labour force that percentage was 25 per cent. The study notes that the $22,700 average is only 9 per cent higher than the $20,800 that Statistics Canada has identified as the “low-income cutoff” for a single person living in a city with 500,000 people or more."

http://goo.gl/Nxw25

You don't need a zeitgeisty thesis to explain why this population might end up settling in Code Red neighbourhoods.

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By artist (anonymous) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 15:08:19 in reply to Comment 84106

Creative professionals are not the same as artists.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 15:34:00 in reply to Comment 84107

Absolutely not. Simply a casual aside I was trying to clarify.

Incidentally, that lack of demographic stratification is just another hole in the CCS study and in virtually every ecdev study of the creative class.

Added to which is the open-endedness of it all. The Ticats are creative professionals. Flamboro Downs is a creative class facility, as is Show World, as is the Arcelor-Mittal boardroom.

http://www.creativeclass.com/_v3/creative_class/2009/02/27/creative-steel/

Putting a shape on this sector of the economy might be a fool's errand, but there are enough consultants around to at least give it a shot. And if EcDev is going to subsume culture, I would hope for something a little more sober and substantial in terms of analysis.

Anyway, this is all a detour from the main thrust of the thread. Bring on the two-way streets.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 18, 2012 at 10:00:10 in reply to Comment 84074

Maybe a cost-based approach would be the best one - isolate 1-way areas that have no need for additional traffic lights or re-shaped curbs. 1-ways that just need lines and signage. That can't be expensive to convert. Build up a list of this low-hanging-fruit and at least get those streets converted to 2-way as a start.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 12:43:29 in reply to Comment 84079

That makes sense. But that doesn't explain why most of the 10 or so streets earmarked for two-way conversion a decade ago are still in limbo. And in many cases, that's just basic two-way, not the king kebab of "complete streets".

Whatever the case, I still think that participatory budgeting could move this forward faster than any blue-sky scheme that requires city-wide buy-in (and approved budget line). At that point, it's chiefly the ward councillor holding things up.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 10:13:01 in reply to Comment 84079

the simplest would be the nonsense streets like Wentworth, Sanford, Catharine and Bay. Just add 24-7 parking on both curbs, and bike lanes where appropriate and viola.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 21:07:41 in reply to Comment 84082

Uh.. Catharine already has that all-day parking on both sides of the street, south of the railway.

Comment edited by DowntownInHamilton on 2012-12-18 21:18:17

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 21:35:02 in reply to Comment 84121

Thanks for making Jason's point. Yes, Catharine has bilateral curbside parking south of the tracks, and the small amount of traffic flows smoothly, just as it does on Walnut Street, which has bilateral curbside parking and two-way traffic. In other words, there is no reason to keep Catharine as a one-way street or to forbid bilateral curbside parking north of the tracks.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 05:27:44 in reply to Comment 84124

Catherine can't handle 2-way traffic south of the railway with parking on both sides. It's too narrow. At best it's 1.5 lanes wide with the parking.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 21:24:48 in reply to Comment 84135

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that except for a short stretch between the tracks and Augusta, Catharine has the same width all the way from the escarpment to the lake, which is the same width as most of the other residential streets downtown. Many of them (e.g. Walnut, Augusta, even Catharine itself in the North End) have two-way traffic and bilateral curbside parking. These streets are wide enough for cars to pass one another in opposite directions, but narrow enough that they can only do so at low speeds, which I think most people would consider to be a good thing on residential streets.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted December 27, 2012 at 09:01:54 in reply to Comment 84201

You are wrong.

Immediately after the tracks to Agusta has a significant narrowing, then it widens slightly all the way up to Charlton. Take a drive along it. See how well it'd work as 2-way. It wouldn't. Maybe from the tracks north, but beyond, no.

If they got rid of 1 side of parking it would work all the way to Augusta though. I'd love that because it'd make it a heck of a lot easier for me to get home when I go out!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 20, 2012 at 09:21:35 in reply to Comment 84201

It is a bit narrower from the tracks to the escarpment.

But that doesn't matter. Catherine should be a residential low flow street everywhere except between cannon and hunter, where it should be a commercial low flow street.

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By so what (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 08:19:41 in reply to Comment 84135

Are you talking about that tiny stretch between the daycare and Augusta? Easy solution: one side parking there, and the occasional time you might have to wait for someone to get through before you can get by. A perfect example of what this looks like is Erie Ave (running south off of Main by the No Frills at Tisdale)

http://goo.gl/maps/DM6St

It is narrow, with two way and parking. And it results in speeds 100% appropriate for traffic moving through an urban neighbourhood. Catharine should not be treated as a through street. Nor should Walnut.

Our side streets have been specifically designed to be shortcuts. And we wonder why property values refuse to climb in our urban neighbourhoods?

Particularly troubling on Catharine is the 4 way stop at Jackson. It's a mess. With three one-way lanes stopping at the same sign, the person in the westernmost lane often can't see past the other cars and decides to just go for it. Taxi drivers are particularly bad there as they race to be the first one to the Hunter terminal.

And don't get me started on Hunter. Why is it one way at all? Like... really??

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 21:33:55 in reply to Comment 84148

I drive on Catharine daily. I see the parking and like I said it's 1.5 lanes wide at most. It's even narrower right at the tracks. But from there up to Charlton it's just not wide enough. It can't handle 2 lanes of traffic. There was a time about 2 months ago a guy turned the wrong way and nearly drove into me, with parked cars on either side. I had to pull back into my driveway to avoid being hit. Get rid of the parking on one side of the street and make it 2 way, that works.

Also, our building approached the city about removing 1 lane of parking since it can be a huge pain to pull onto Catharine in the winter, what with icing and poorly plowed roads and we were turned down as according to them, there is not enough street parking as it is to accomodate for the hospital.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 20, 2012 at 09:19:47 in reply to Comment 84203

That stretch of Catharine should only exist to service the people who live on that stretch of Catharine.

The reason there are problems there is because it functions as a through-street short cut. Remove the short cut incentive and the traffic will disappear.

If the hospital needs more parking, it is not up to the city to provide it on the surrounding side streets.

edit to add: I'm not attacking you, just expressing frustration that the city does not understand what the difference is between a thoroughfare and a local street.

Comment edited by seancb on 2012-12-20 09:22:45

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 09:31:19 in reply to Comment 84074

None of which is to suggest that the fight isn't worth fighting or that the outcome is predetermined. Just feeling a bit winded in the wake of recent City Hall fun-and-games.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 09:56:56

King Street in the International Village carries 14,400 vehicles on only two lanes, yet is still a fast moving freeway most of the day.

What? Really? I suppose if you consider 6:59pm - 7am "most of the day", then this is true. Otherwise, it's just not true, and at best misleading. Actually, even if you consider the ridiculous hours, it's still not true that it is a "fast moving freeway".

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By LandLemur (anonymous) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 10:03:20 in reply to Comment 84078

Oh give it a rest. I drive on King Street every day and it's totally free flowing through the IV except maybe during rush hour.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 22:02:26 in reply to Comment 84080

LandLemur,

My point was only that saying "fast moving freeway most of the day" is not true. I have to admit that I haven't driven that stretch of road in several weeks, but when I have in the past, traffic moves at around 50km/h at the high end with frequent slow downs and stops for lights and cars pulling into or out of parking spots.

If the author considered my point as constructive criticism rather than labeling it as trolling behavior, he may be able to improve his argument and make a stronger case in the future.

It is my opinion that when people make false exaggerations, any good points that are made lose their impact.

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2012 at 09:42:42 in reply to Comment 84125

My point was only that saying "fast moving freeway most of the day" is not true. I have to admit that I haven't driven that stretch of road in several weeks, but when I have in the past, traffic moves at around 50km/h at the high end with frequent slow downs and stops for lights and cars pulling into or out of parking spots.

I drive and bike that stretch now and again at various times of the day and I'd say that your description is correct for the busy times.

It sounds like a normal downtown street anywhere in the world (though many in Hamilton would scream "gridlock!" when faced with the prospect of using their brakes in the middle of a busy block).

Comment edited by moylek on 2012-12-19 09:45:54

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 10:06:09

Concession near Upper Gage has 9,500 cars per day and is one lane each way with curb parking on both sides of the street 24-7 all along Concession.

The stats aren't for Concession "near" Upper Gage, they are for Concession "East" of Upper Gage. This is why they have traffic engineers. There are other factors to consider besides traffic volume alone. Consider how few turns are needed on Concession East of Upper Gage and how few red lights or stop signs there are on that section of road. One lane works because there are literally no potential stops Until Upper Ottawa and hardly any turns occurring.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 10:14:30 in reply to Comment 84081

you seem to have lots of time on your hands....go and get the data for Concession west of Upper Gage, where there are a ton of stores, driveway entries, side streets, parking lots etc....and it's 1-lane each way with 24-7 curb parking. Then decide whether to delete the above post or not. We won't be holding our breath.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-12-18 10:15:06

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 11:36:38 in reply to Comment 84084

Jason, as the author of this article and the individual who clearly put many hours of volunteer time into combing through data to come to your conclusions, I find it a bit frustrating that your response to a counter-point is "you seem to have lots of time on your hands". Whatever SpaceMonkey's purpose on this site is, and I don't know cause I don't track everyone's behaviour, so maybe he is a known troll, I think his points about a) the location of the Concession count, and b) King through IV not being a free flowing highway are valid. By no means do I take two possible debatable points to mean that we throw out your entire analysis, but I think the discussion on the finer details is worth having, and VERY important going forward.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 22:05:03 in reply to Comment 84088

Thank you Transitstudent,

If one considers the comment made by myself and the response made by Jason, it is clear that if anyone is trolling, it certainly isn't me.

The irony that his comments are up voted while mine are 'hidden' because of down votes is telling.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 12:33:28 in reply to Comment 84088

ordinarily I'd agree 100%. I usually don't respond to trolling, and probably shouldn't have here either.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 21:15:07 in reply to Comment 84095

Not agreeing with the vocal minority here doesn't make you a troll.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 22:06:23 in reply to Comment 84122

I appreciate it Downtown. Thank you. It is too bad (I mean that)that some here can't understand the point that you make.

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By LandLemur (anonymous) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 12:20:26 in reply to Comment 84088

He's a known troll who says rediculous things about Hamilton streets with no proof other then his own feeling about it but nitpicks the slightest retorical florish as if it busted the whole point. Also I think the "lot of time on your hands" point was to say space monkey might spend his time doing something positive instead of always attacking other peoples volunteer work. Go actually look at the numbers (like jason did) instead of guessing and accusing jason of not being smart enough to understand them.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 10:10:12 in reply to Comment 84092

Apologies for my response, but to clarify my thinking:

  1. the body of work certainly lends one to expect trolling.
  2. I assumed someone making a comment on Concession was familiar with the street, and such would know that traffic is stable across it's entire length, regardless of which side of Up Gage the data was pulled from. Only area where the traffic slightly increases in near the Jolley Cut.

I may have been wrong on one...or both of my assumptions.

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By be fair now (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 07:57:00 in reply to Comment 84092

Your original comment implied that from 7am to 6:59pm that stretch is a traffic jam, which you know is not true either. You're both routinely guilty of stretching the point.

The reality is we have nothing even close to congestion in Hamilton (the only city in the world where if we have to stop at more than two red lights across the entire city - or if we sit at a red for more than one cycle - we scream GRIDLOCK).

We can lose a lane at King and Queen FOR A YEAR and the net result even at rush hour is MAYBE waiting one extra light cycle for the average driver. Can you imagine losing a lane at Queen and Spadina in Toronto? It would back things up to the Gardiner. It would probably affect traffic on the QEW in Oakville (see how I stretched the point there with no harm to anyone ;-)

Bottom line: our roads are vastly overbuilt. It's keeping people away (tourists and new residents) which keeps businesses away. It's keeping our tax base too small. And it's costing WAY too much to maintain. Is there anything else in this city that simultaneously increases capital and operating costs AND lowers the tax income?

It is unaffordable! And no casin0, stadium, condo, fountain, grant, loan, mall, hotel or any other harebrained project is going to solve that problem.

We have basically one option here: make the city livable. And that starts with fixing our street design (and our density-killing bylaws)

Arguing about whether it takes 2 minutes or 4 minutes to get through International Village isn't helping us.

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By fair two (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 07:58:16 in reply to Comment 84143

This was meant as a response to comment 84092

http://www.raisethehammer.org/article/1731/#comment-84092

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 22:09:47 in reply to Comment 84092

Are you kidding me? Slander anyone? You speak of proof? What "rediculous" things have I said about Hamilton streets.

For the record, I videotaped several drives through Hamilton on Barton and Main and made the videos available through RTH as proof of a point I made a while back. That is a lot more than many have contributed to this website.

If you're trolling me, congratulations.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 10:23:46

A quick background story that readers might find interesting:

A couple of months ago I told Ryan that I was going to gather this data. Like most of us, I had no clue what to expect, although casual observations during 35 years in this city led me to believe that we had far too many over-built roads in the urban lower city. I told him I would publish it regardless of what it showed. I recall making the statement: "these numbers are either going to help our cause, or crush it. Part of me doesn't even want to see the data!".

But unlike some folks in this city, I don't believe in making decisions without proper info. And let's be real - any complete streets movement would end up resulting in these numbers being dug up by public works. It's just that we're stuck in an old-style city where this research will never be done by the city. In NYC, Richmond VA, Vancouver, Portland etc.... their public works and traffic department are actively searching out good locations to calm traffic and add complete streets. The public doesn't need to do this research on their own time because they have city departments who care about the vitality and economic success of their city.

After plowing through the numbers (which almost required a university degree. Lol) I excitedly shared with Ryan that the data was even better than I could have imagined.
Now we now why it's never been made public.

I don't expect all members of staff or council to care what the data shows, but I do honestly believe that most of them care about facts and evidence when making decisions. This makes it very simple for councillors to ease the 'concerns' of outlying citizens about lane reductions, two-conversions, bike-lanes and complete streets finally coming to Hamilton.

EDIT: I know I mentioned this in the article, but it really was a pleasure to work with the city department that had this info. They were more than helpful.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-12-18 10:24:29

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted December 18, 2012 at 13:38:47 in reply to Comment 84085

I don't expect all members of staff or council to care what the data shows, but I do honestly believe that most of them care about facts and evidence when making decisions.

I think Whitehead has consistently proven that he doesn't, and his voice seems to carry weight in council.

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By RB (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 13:33:50

Just a thought (and maybe it's already been mentioned), but shouldn't this data be shared with the rest of council?

I wonder if it would open a few eyes?

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 14:34:11

I just want to be upfront and say I'm not trying to troll. I'm involved in transport consulting and support the cause, but want to point out some other factors that you may consider factoring into your analysis.

The Canadian Capacity Guide is the guide to determine vehicle capacity at a signalized intersection. This is the "standard" that's used almost exclusively across Canada in capacity issues. Factors that influence capacity include the number of bus movements, bus stop location, pedestrian and cyclist volumes, design radii, speed, intersection density etc. You may want to consider the "calculated" capacity of these different roads since in its current state, the data can be easy to discredit by someone who's working against you. I think the work you've done is great and this is meant as a way to help solidify your case.

Guide: http://www.tac-atc.ca/english/resourcecentre/readingroom/pdf/capacityguide2011.pdf

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 17:45:51 in reply to Comment 84105

great stuff. Yes, I encountered some info on all of those other variable factors when digging around for best practices from other cities. One thing that is helpful in Hamilton is the transit network extending onto almost all major streets. King and Main carry more buses, but at least the comparison with Up James and Concession is still a good one due to the heavy transit frequency on those streets.

My data does have pedestrian movements as well, but I didn't want to bog down this article by including all of that data. Suffice to say, streets like King, Concession, James etc...have much more pedestrian movement than Up James, Golflinks etc....

I came across a great downtown planning document from Richmond, VA which discusses the volume per lane number of 7,000-9,000 cars per day being acceptable in a downtown setting. In fact they are trying to encourage walking and cycling in their downtown, so I was pleased to see the 7-9,000 benchmark being promoted by their transit staff.

The document can be read in it's entirety here:

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/2617/rich...

Cheers

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 22:42:23

I think i may have missed this.. Jason, did you collect all this data? Did you mention somewhere when the data was collected.. such as at which hours etc? If so, where?

edited to add... I think I may have misunderstood an earlier post. Upon further reading, it looks like the data is from another source. Correct me if I'm wrong. Sorry for any confusion.

Comment edited by SpaceMonkey on 2012-12-18 23:02:55

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By Greater Hamilton (anonymous) | Posted December 18, 2012 at 22:46:00

Good grief. It's obvious to everyone that traffic downtown sucks. What on earth is holding up the complete conversion of our streets to two way?

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By g (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 02:05:25 in reply to Comment 84130

what's holding things up is that uninformed people are terrified of change and some politicians doubly so of the opinions of those people. (also i think, to some degree, city staff have little incentive to change anything)

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 06:30:22

At the very least, the city could institute free curbside parking on both sides of almost every every two-way street in the lower city, which by itself would yield walkability benefits. Lose a lane of traffic in a way that doesn't threaten the primacy of car culture, and in the process you change the economy of parking lots and maybe inspire some higher purpose for those plots of land.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2012 at 07:08:26 in reply to Comment 84138

I'm trying to understand how two-way conversion "threatens the primacy of car culture" in Hamilton. It actually increases the usability and accessibility of streets for drivers.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 10:00:39 in reply to Comment 84141

I'm not suggesting that bilateral parking on one-ways is ideal. What I am suggesting is that it is eminently doable at low cost and few if any additional studies. It can be accomplished in the short-term and at lower cost because, unlike two-way which can require signalized intervention, this is really about road paint and not much else.

this tangent was inspired in part by your invocation of Voltaire:

http://raisethehammer.org/article/834/

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2012 at 10:07:47 in reply to Comment 84156

If I had any confidence that this city could adopt an iterative approach to street design (what Gil Penalosa calls "Ready, Fire, Aim"), I'd be fine with this. The reality is that we have just one shot to get it right - whatever we do to a street, that will be all we do to it for years to come.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 10:15:17 in reply to Comment 84157

Thankfully, you have a saintly patience.

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Hopefully we don't have to wait until two minutes to midnight.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2012 at 10:26:04 in reply to Comment 84159

Both my optimism and my patience are at a very low ebb right now. There has been precious little in the past few weeks to indicate that this city is any closer to understanding what a downtown needs to thrive than it was a decade ago. In fact, we actually seem to be moving backwards, retreating farther into narrow, parochial and fear-based reactions to the most innocuous ideas.

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By minuteman (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 18:01:44 in reply to Comment 84161

turn off the computer and take a walk. There are things you can influence and things you can't. There are things that you understand and things you don't. Your frayed patience is proportional to your exaggerated sense of efficacy.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 09:52:03 in reply to Comment 84141

I agree with you. I'm just suggesting that it's an intermediate step that would be likely perceived as non-threatening by those who change-averse and who defend the status quo tooth and nail and have misplaced their logic hat. One you've secured that precedent, it might be easier to repurpose the street in a more holistic way.

Or we could just insist on the whole enchilada and kick it to committee so rthat our grandkids can take up the issue at a later date.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted December 19, 2012 at 06:33:48 in reply to Comment 84138

*"...free curbside parking on both sides of almost every one-way street in the lower city..."

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By rrrandy (registered) - website | Posted December 19, 2012 at 10:33:34

Don't forget the capacity experiments carried out during construction on both the Main and King bridges over the 403 - what's that, half the capacity and no problem? I noticed the police did not do much radar on King at the bridge when it was down to 2 lanes, but they will likely be back when it is up to three lanes again.

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By Sigma Cub (anonymous) | Posted March 18, 2013 at 21:17:19

Deadliest blind corner in the city? http://goo.gl/maps/n68P6

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