I live near Main Street - just one small city block away. In the debate over LRT and two-way versus one-way traffic on Main Street, there's plenty of data supporting two-way conversion. In this blog post, however, I'm going to share anecdotes from personal experience living right next to Hamilton's downtown freeway.
View Larger Map I live pretty much right here.
My backyard backs onto a gravel parking lot right off Main, and in the summer when we hang out on our pleasant little patio, we hear the roar of traffic crashing up Main towards Queen, surfing the green wave.
We don't mind most of the traffic noise, save for the occasional inconsiderate showoff with a souped-up exhaust and too much testosterone, because we're used to it. The effect Main Street itself has on my immediate neighbourhood, however, is unmistakeable.
Main Street is dangerous. I've taught my young son that when he goes dashing down our street, he is never, ever to head down the streets that lead to Main Street.
Measuring from the corner nearest our house, Main is only 70 metres away. A child can cover that ground in just a single moment of parental distraction. All streets are somewhat dangerous, but in our neighbourhood, only Main has the feel of certain death for children about it (and in fact, people have died on Main).
Main Street is a barrier. We like to walk and it's astonishing how rarely we venture across Main when we do. The local businesses we frequent are almost all on our side of Main, with the exception of La Luna and the convenience store in the Queen Street strip mall.
In some places you speak of people on the other side of the tracks; in Hamilton, it's the other side of Main.
Main Street is a dead zone. There are astonishingly few pedestrians given that it's our "main" street. No one strolls down Main Street. They hustle down it or scurry across it.
Commercially speaking, there are businesses along it but the ones that do well seem to thrive in spite of Main, not because of it. The exception are the handful of car-dependent businesses on the street, like the Tim Horton's with the drive through, or the car wash place.
People drive really fast down Main Street. The 55 km/h timed lights only keep the leading edge of the wave at 55 km/h; everyone else is speeding, trying to catch up. I don't think I've ever seen a speed trap anywhere along Main. As a result, 60 to 70 km/h is accepted.
In fact, if you deliberately set out to make a street as unfriendly to pedestrians, cyclists, businesses and neighbourhoods as possible, only by putting sidewalks on the Gardiner Expressway could you do better than Main Street.
Walkability Fail? More like Giant Walkability F***Up.
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