As a follow up to my suggestion last week that perhaps we should look at using both King and Main for our LRT route through the downtown core, I came across an informative document published by the city's Rapid Transit office.
This report looks at the possibility of putting LRT on both King and Main [PDF link], as well as possibly putting both lines on a two-way King and converting Main to two-way vehicle operation.
On the surface, my initial response was to side with the idea of converting both of these streets to two-way operation, but upon reading the document a few points jump out that might further sway me in the direction of retaining one-way operation:
Putting both LRT lines on King will eliminate every singe street parking space on that road. As a major retail/pedestrian oriented street through the downtown and lower city, it would seem to me that we will want at least one curb with street parking.
This not only helps provide local businesses with a quick turnover of customers arriving by car, but it also provides a buffer between the sidewalk and the road, and it helps to slow down the overall traffic on the street by having cars parking and leaving parking spaces, especially in the future as these street retail districts become more popular.
The proposed conversion of Main Street still retains the four or five lanes of auto traffic. Personally, I want to see Main Street calmed down. Tiny sidewalks next to five lanes of traffic is simply unappealing and is more suited to major roads in the suburbs, not the downtown core.
While I'm not thrilled with the proposed cross-section for both King and Main with a one-way LRT system in that it still doesn't provide room for street parking on the opposite curb of the LRT, at least there is an LRT lane on both streets with a maximum of three vehicle lanes remaining.
As we draw closer to design/construction work on this project, I would surely hope that local residents, businesses and BIAs along both King and Main would call on the city to turn one curb lane into 24-hour street parking. This will still leave an LRT lane and two full traffic lanes on both streets.
This would provide the opportunity for a more pleasant street experience on Main West and King West, and at the same time will hardly impact the operations of Main East and King East, east of Wellington where currently street parking leaves three lanes of vehicular traffic.
My proposal simply reduces that to two, yet also provides a dedicated LRT lane, which will offset any potential congestion issues by drawing many people out of their cars and onto the train.
Lastly, using the one-way alignment provides the opportunity for wider sidewalks and more street trees, especially on the horrendous stretches of King West and Main West that desperately need them.
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