Transit Lane Op-Eds in The Hamiltonian, The Spectator

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 05, 2013

An eloquent opinion piece published yesterday in The Hamiltonian argues that the fate of the bus lane pilot project on King Street reflects our values as a city.

Adults appreciate values like moderation, education, discipline, even when they are unpleasant. Becoming an adult means, in part, shifting from satisfaction-centred decision making to value-centred decision making.

The author, Jeremy Wilkins, argues that the bus lane project requires us to evaluate the evidence based on "valued-centred decision-making" and to consider the wider implications of a viable rapid transit lane, including: improving the productivity of our buses, shifting more trips from cars to transit, reducing air pollution, reducing demand for surface parking, calming traffic, and making downtown more pedestrian-friendly.

In addition, today's Spectator has an op-ed by your humble editor arguing that the transit lane represents a choice "between the unhealthy status quo and a city that is sustainable and prosperous."

We need to have a healthy, wide-ranging public discussion about the transit lane - and the wider shift toward urban revitalization of which it is a part - and not let the conversation be dominated by people whose only interest is how fast they can drive through the city. It is encouraging to see The Spectator and The Hamiltonian participate in that wider discussion.

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 wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2013 at 13:44:38

This might be a bit of a hyperbolic way to put it, but: did anybody really think that saving the world would be easy and convenient?

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2013-11-05 13:44:51

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 19:52:02 in reply to Comment 94272

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 mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 20:08:21 in reply to Comment 94284

Goodness what a selfish ignorant comment. Of course it is not a good thing to waste somebody's time. I think we all understand that. Listen Cleopatra, your private vehicle is far less efficient than the huge numbers of people moved in the transit lane. I'm not saying the transit lane was properly done. It was not. But your expectations of your precious almighty time may not be realistic. You live in a city. In a congested region. By definition there are going to be a large number of other people.

You are looking at one narrow aspect ... "YOUR time". What about air quality and subsequent cancer rates? What about mobility for those who do not drive? What about balance, quality of life, livability, walkability, scenery, etc etc etc etc ...

Do you really think that living in a city with many other people will work if everyone piles into single occupant private vehicles? Even if the roads are stripped of bus lanes, cycle lanes, sidewalks, everything else?

You are obsessed with one bus lane wasting YOUR TIME. What about the urban design decisions that place residences so far from workplaces? What about EVERYTHING ELSE that contributed to this jam in the first place? Perhaps, a culture of entitlement that everyone should move at full speed all the time at the cost of everything else?

You are obsessed with one bus lane wasting YOUR TIME. Who are you to steal time from a student that has to take the bus, by having a problem with them using ONE lane of King street for transit? Or one of five lanes of Cannon for bike lanes? Who are you to steal money from health care by blowing your carcinogenic gas in my face? Oh yeah, and indirectly contributing all of our decreased lifespan by doing so? See how throwing stones in a glass house works?

"Saving the world" in a congestion context, begins, incrementally, by creating conditions such that every human in the city does not have to be in a car for every journey. It is about efficient solutions that balance the needs of the population.

Think outside your metal box and quit being so bloody narrow and selfish. That attitude is one of the ROOT causes. Not the bus lane.

Basically we can each accuse the other of being arrogant. But really think about it. We (that do that) are selfishly offended that the other person exists and has to consume some physical space and resources in order to exist. Well guess what, you share the planet with other humans. That's the way it works. If it pleases you, sir/madam.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2013-11-06 20:15:44

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 20:51:30 in reply to Comment 94394

You should really have read a lot of the comments below before barging ahead here. I made a mistake of trying to speak in the third person as I do not commute. Wasting my time is meant as in wasting the time of anyone who uses a car.

I expect that by slowing down traffic and making car sit you are in fact increasing pollution and therefore hurting people.

By taking people's time for them for experimental purposes you are using them as guinea pigs - relaly without their permission. Read below and reconsider before being pejorative.

I am not obsessed with one bus lane. You will see below that I sad if the bus lane works great. The offense I see if the barging ahead at other's expense without due care. The bus lane is a symptom of a larger problem. My point about arrogance is the people pushing ahead without due consideration to others. That by definition is arrogance.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 07, 2013 at 04:47:31 in reply to Comment 94401

I can appreciate that and I apologize. I tried to read through the 80 or so comments for context, but didn't get through them all. It is a bit concerning to see knee-jerk labeling of someone a troll for having a different point of view - no one will win any debates that way. Sometimes RTH regulars call someone a troll too quickly even though ideologically I agree with RTH principles in every way.

Anyway - although it was emotional, I stand by my comment - we have a serious problem of entitlement, regardless of where you specifically fall. And it costs lives, not just drivers' time, and should be pejoratively denounced as it must change. Changing these systems at that time is painful. There is really no way around that. Habits are already established in large numbers - people are commuting by car, have bought their homes based on commute times that increase as years go by, induced demand has filled up traffic lanes, and so on.

Any lane removals at that point, for bikes, LRT, whatever, is going to be painful. Especially on arterials. Those arterials should have been multi-modal in the first place. But people adjusted to what they do have, and it is frequently seen as some kind of unjust austerity to road-diet the space for vehicles. But the people commuting multi-modally have been neglected, their time and safety stolen, for years, decades.

A teensy bit of austerity for the vehicles for a bigger purpose of rebalancing loads on the networks sucks at first, but gets better as people adjust. Later, everyone has it better. If you choose or must drive, your commute time goes down because many others have shifted to transit, trains, or bikes. All of our time collectively improves. The lost time for commuting in the GTA is well known as a serious quality of life problem, and costs billions of dollars in lost potential.

Sometimes we have to have the courage to make a positive change and try it out. We need all day GO transit between Hamilton and Oshawa at least. Niagara to Kingston is better. We need high capacity transport to be able to express past private vehicle congestion.

I agree that the bus lane is a half assed experiment. The LRT should be under construction, if not finished by now. But, may I offer this viewpoint - the political culture has been SO BAD, that we are only just now starting to break the ice and getting our politicians to even acknowledge the existence of other tools and methods. This is a positive thing. I too would love properly researched and implemented upgrades. I also want a pony and a raise at work, but we have to be realistic. Just the fact that Hart Solomon is out of the way, and the culture in city hall is beginning to shift, is a huge improvement, even if some projects still suck.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted November 07, 2013 at 08:30:52 in reply to Comment 94421

One more thing -

I expect that by slowing down traffic and making car sit you are in fact increasing pollution and therefore hurting people.

If we continue prioritizing private vehicle traffic to the exclusion of all else, and do not create incentives to shift some trips away from cars, and given the population growth projections, this result is going to occur anyway, but be much more difficult to remedy if we procrastinate indefinitely. Think of it analogous to chemotherapy. Horrible, dangerous, bad for you, but it will save your life after the treatment, and if you don't do it, you die for sure.

Temporary slowdowns while people shift their habits have a much greater benefit in the long run. Again, we have to start somewhere, making it easier to get around without a car. To do that, driving has to get a bit slower and more difficult _at first_ to create those incentives to shift. It's not that you are PURPOSELY slowing down traffic. The slowdown is a temporary side effect of network re-balancing. Later, in fact fairly quickly, everyone benefits as network loads re-balance, and the total numbers of cars on the road stabilize, and they flow better.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 21:54:45 in reply to Comment 94401

Wasting my time is meant as in

The only thing wasting anyone's time is your ridiculous trolling. Please get a life.

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 22:08:20 in reply to Comment 94406

I see. If someone does not agree with you they are a troll. Nice.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 22:19:52 in reply to Comment 94408

Yeah, it's more the 30 obnoxious comments full of trolling tactics (hyperbole, concern trolling, straw man, bait and switch, sock puppeting, equivocation, moving the goalposts, fake outrage) all in a single day that makes you a troll. But nice try. Good-night now, sleep tight under your bridge.

Comment edited by z jones on 2013-11-06 22:22:49

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By DB (anonymous) | Posted November 07, 2013 at 08:13:55 in reply to Comment 94410

Whlie you are throwing big words and phrases around why don't you include ad hominem, as in your argument above.

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By dm (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 22:29:31 in reply to Comment 94410

Actually 27 by my count. I didnt find them obnoxious. But alot none-the-less for about 24 hours.

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By Skeptic (anonymous) | Posted November 07, 2013 at 00:17:07 in reply to Comment 94411

My guess is that there are a few Chasballs.

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 22:09:26 in reply to Comment 94408

But then again, I can see by your comment that I am probably wasting my tie so i will stop.

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 20:55:48 in reply to Comment 94401

Sorry about the spelling.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 11:14:59 in reply to Comment 94284

What the bus lane is saying is that the cumulative time of the 15-50 people on the bus is more important than your individual time.

Or are you arguing that you are more important than the people on the bus?

I would argue that collectively, their time is worth more than your individual time, the same way that a stack of $20 bills is worth more than a single 20 bill.

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 12:05:09 in reply to Comment 94330

No. Not me v. 50. 30,000.00 people a day drive down Main Street West. I think the drivers at this stage would win a math contest.

I am not opposed to a dedicated bus lane if it proves to be the most efficient method of getting everyone from A to B. I am opposed to four way stops placed at the whim of a complaint, the lights that have people in three directions stopped while no-one is in the green lane, pedestrian operated lights that sop traffic, dedicating lanes to bikes where no-one rides bikes, reducing lanes so traffic comes to a halt, eliminating through lanes for turn lanes so that when pedestrians are in the crosswalk it takes three light changes to turn a corner - and such.

My fear is that as driver anxiety and frustration increases, safety will be compromised.

I also detest that I have to sit and waste my time for no good reason. Give me a good reason.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 12:13:06 in reply to Comment 94341

"During the AM peak period there are as many people riding the HSR along this segment of King St as there are cars and trucks driving this same route."

And unlike the drivers, they're only taking one lane, and they don't have the option of taking only about a minute out of their day to detour onto Cannon.

To elaborate, I get why it seems frustrating. You see an empty lane and you see the occasional bus. What you don't see is that this bus is packed to the gills with commuters. Imagine each of those people driving their own car and think about how much traffic that contributes. How much congestion is that bus taking off the road?

That road is a finite resource, just like time. Maybe not defined by physics and mortality, but finite for all practical purposes. Now, look at who is properly, efficiently using that resource?

an illustration

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2013-11-06 12:20:07

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 12:34:16 in reply to Comment 94346

I have lived in this City for almost 60 years. It is not a minute to go down Cannon and that misses the point (aside form the fact that they are now going to eliminate lanes on Cannon as well as they have done on Barton after closing the Cumberland/Delaware options). When I went to Mac in the 70's, I used to brag about how efficient our road system was. Then they built Limeridge and the Meadowlands and our downtown disappeared. And now they are purposely reducing traffic flow.

People who drive down Main Street West to the downtown are coming from West Hamilton, Burlington, Ancaster and Dundas. They bought their homes believing that they could get to work in 15 or 20 minutes. If you eliminate the lanes that permit them to do that by making Main 2 way and reducing King to an LRT, which is really what all of this is about, you are making dramatic changes to the City.

Ideally, there should be no trucks on Main Street except for deliveries. But we have a commuter City and the width and size of the road needs to accommodate rush hour. If these two main streets are to be reduced to boulevards, a good solution to get people into and out of the downtown core from the west has to be created. What is that solution?

A wag told me that he thinks the creation of the traffic problem is a way of getting a subway. Maybe as a way of getting an LRT he is correct. I hope not.

Maybe a tunnel?

We just spent millions rebuilding the 403 ramps at King. What are we doing?

Might all be moot anyway because it is becoming increasingly unlikely that the Province will ante up the money for the LRT. Which is why I am so circumspect about the "experiments" underway.

BTW, I don't know who the troll is, but if a troll is someone who disagrees with the moderator, maybe that is me.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 13:09:18 in reply to Comment 94349

So what you are saying is that the city should never move forward because a lot of people bought houses a long time ago with the assumption that they could drive to work fast?

We can't have progress because it makes the city retroactively a liar to people who graduated and entered the workforce 40 years ago?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 12:53:28 in reply to Comment 94349

Cannon is losing one lane for the bi-directional bike lane, and unlike King Cannon is 4 lanes for its entire length from Sherman to Queen. So unlike King's nasty bottleneck at the International Village, Cannon will remain 3 lanes of rush-hour throughput even after BikeCannon goes into effect. You can still go all the way from the East End tot he West End with minimal stops, you just have to take Sherman to Cannon and then Queen back to King, and you no longer take a "shortcut" through downtown.

And, to be fair, can you name a single successful city where people take a "shortcut" through downtown? You mention people living in Burlington, Ancaster, Dundas... are any of those places subjected to this kind of roadway? Why don't we convert King Street in Dundas to 1-way? We could make Hatt the reverse direction and get the same fast traffic. Oh, and let's rip out the street-side parking there, businesses don't need those and they're slowing traffic. How would hte people of Dundas like that?

And Ancaster. How on earth does Mohawk/Rousseaux get away with all that nasty traffic calming? Widen those roads, eat up some front lawns and make it 4 lanes - it connects Wilson to the Linc, how the heck is this not part of the Truck Route?

And Wilson itself... I mean, the traffic there is completely unacceptable. How much time is it stealing from commuters, when Lodor is just a block over? Obviously the solution is to make Wilson 1-way and Lodor the other way from Rousseaux to Halson.

We can make every part of this town just as awesome as downtown! Won't that be grand?

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 13:12:53 in reply to Comment 94352

I am not talking about a shortcut through downtown. I am talking about getting into downtown.

If the perimeter road had have been built, this through traffic issue would not be discussed now.

Some large cities where there are easy into and out of Downtown access:

New Haven;

Now a shortcut through downtown - I don't know, but that was not what I was talking about. Most US Cities that have a shortcut through downtown are highways through downtown and they are bad for the City because it encourages urban sprawl. However, the worst City by far is Toronto.

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By j.servus (registered) | Posted November 07, 2013 at 21:17:56 in reply to Comment 94357

Boston? Boston's easy access to downtown is in the form of a buried highway that cost $24.3B. And it's very difficult to get around by car, once you're there. I used to live in Boston.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 07, 2013 at 22:14:43 in reply to Comment 94510

Good point. Boston is a city where the phrase "you can't get there from here" is a running gag.

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By j.servus (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 10:27:07 in reply to Comment 94284

I didn't say that there were only values favoring one side of the issue. You imputed that to me. What I said was that the proper context for discussing the merits of the bus lane is the context of values, not the context of satisfactions. "It's inconvenient" is not, in itself, a valid argument. Lots of worthwhile things are inconvenient and we still do them. In order to convert "it's inconvenient" into a valid argument, you have to add that it's not WORTH the inconvenience. And then you're talking about values, worth.

Now, after you wrongly accused me of saying that there are only good arguments in one direction, which I did not say, you then appealed to a value--saving time--as an argument in favour of the other side. Indeed, it might favour the other side. A door-to-door car trip is almost always faster than a trip by transit. But, of course, it's complicated. First, making car trips possible for everyone has bad externalities, some of which (e.g., vast, unproductive parking lots, fast traffic through pedestrian-centred areas, etc.) I mentioned in my column. Second, when I'm driving I can't read the newspaper on my phone, so someone might urge that transit, in which someone else does the driving, is more time-efficient than driving myself, even though it also means the overall travel time is longer. Third, as I pointed out in my column, the bus lane is saving time for the majority of users of King Street. It's also costing time for others, who must either endure heavier traffic or find a different route or cast their lot with the poor who ride the bus. As I also pointed out, time is not the only value at stake, and, moreover, I don't think simply adding up time saved and time lost is going to settle the question whether the bus lane is worthwhile, precisely because there is a constellation of other values at stake, too.

Finally, the bus lane is not an end in itself, and it is also a pilot. The purpose of a pilot project is to test, and we can't possibly know, after only three days or a week or two weeks or a month, how effective the bus lane might be as an instrument for realizing some of the values that make it worthwhile. We have to give the pilot enough time to judge whether it has enough of the desirable effects to make it worthwhile, even though it may also be inconvenient.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 10:16:22 in reply to Comment 94284

No one is stealing anything from you, or you from anything. You alone are in charge of where you live, where you go and how you get there. You are in control of your own destiny.

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By What (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 10:37:51 in reply to Comment 94310

So are you saying - if you don't agree with me leave?

The largest single investment anyone makes in their lifetime is a home. People invest in their home based on what they anticipate will happen in the next 25 years or so. They look to the official plan as one factor in making that decision.

25 years ago, Hamilton's plan was one way streets and smooth transport. Now it is all asunder. The official plan has been scrapped apparently. Or if it does exist, it isn't being followed.

If you want everyone who disagrees with you to leave, what do you think will happen to the City?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 11:15:41 in reply to Comment 94315

I'm not telling you to leave. I'm telling you that it is your choice how far you drive daily and what route you take. I used to drive from Hamilton to York Mills daily. Then I took a pay cut for a job in Oakville. Then I took another pay cut for a job in Hamilton. The whole time, I also had the option to change where I lived. I also had the option to take transit, GO, etc. And to Oakville I even rode my bike when the weather was good.

You don't have to move. You don't have to change jobs. You don't have to take transit. But you can't blame anyone else for your commute. Your own decisions brought you here.

As far as your claim of Hamilton's "plan", I'd like to know where you read that. One way streets are the leftovers of a previous plan. We actually have a huge list of two way conversions in the official plan - we are just slow to implement them, I can't find anything about fast moving cars in vision 2020:

VISION 2020 is based on four main principles:

  • Fulfillment of human needs for peace, clean air and water, food, shelter, education, arts, culture, and useful and satisfying employment;

  • Maintenance of ecological integrity through careful stewardship, rehabilitation, reduction in wastes and protection of diverse and important natural species and systems;

  • Provision for self-determination through public involvement in the definition and development of local solutions to environmental and development problems; and,

  • Achievement of equity with the fairest possible sharing of limited resources among contemporaries and between our generation and that of our descendants.

Comment edited by seancb on 2013-11-06 11:16:03

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 23:50:44 in reply to Comment 94284

in this case, you must be really excited to see the majority of people travelling on King St having their trip shortened so they can get home quicker to their children, spouses and themselves.

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By No (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 00:30:37 in reply to Comment 94292


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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 05, 2013 at 20:16:40 in reply to Comment 94284

I'm waiting to hear any other solutions to global warming and smog. When we build wind-power, you whine about the cost. When Canada tries to negotiate with the world, you whine about developing countries that generate a 10th of the CO2 per-capita. When we try to encourage cyclists, you whine about them. When we try to encourage buses, you whine about your time. E-waste disposal costs? More whining. Carbon credits? More whining.

So what's your solution?

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 20:24:43 in reply to Comment 94286

I whine? I don't whine. Time is THE only limited resource. Waste your own time. Don't steal mine.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 23:25:08 in reply to Comment 94288

Well, I guess by your logic the rest of the world should go out of our way to arrange our time in the most efficient way for you.

Health care professionals must just love the way you treat them while you "waste time" waiting for them to see to you.

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 09:59:16 in reply to Comment 94291

Absolutely not; not for me - for most. By my logic, people need to justify taking things from me that does not belong to them. They can do it for good reason (as in war by conscripting me) or through taxes for necessary projects. But slowing down traffic and creating traffic jams to experiment, or make a point, or just to slow people down is not justifiable. Roads are for transport. Efficient, low polluting, time saving, convenience and happiness enhancing methodology is acceptable. I have always thought that the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number outshone most other principles. If you takes time away from the majority of people to please those who have some bucolic notion of what roads are or should be, you are a thief - nothing more.

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By j.servus (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 10:33:10 in reply to Comment 94305

I won't grant that your utilitarian principles are a sufficient basis for moral analysis, but I am happy to point out that, on those principles, the bus lane seems to be a success. (1) The bus lane is reducing travel times for the majority of King users. (2) The bus lane is increasing travel time for the users whose mode of travel imposes the highest negative externalities on everyone else in the community, namely, the drivers of private cars.

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 20:31:24 in reply to Comment 94288

Oh yeah, and a solution - One way streets. They are safer, cheaper, more convenient, cause less pollution, and SAVE TIME!

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By Well Said (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 20:10:39 in reply to Comment 94284

Well said. Time for the taxpaying drivers of the City to take charge of City Council!

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 05, 2013 at 23:51:48 in reply to Comment 94285

They've been well in charge since the 50's. The city you see before you today is their legacy. Well done.

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By any on amous (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 10:04:12 in reply to Comment 94293

One good point. If we had not built the Meadowlands or the Limeridge Mall, and had built the Linc earlier, maybe we would not be having this discussion.

One bad point. Who do you thinks should be in charge if not the taxpayers?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 10:43:11 in reply to Comment 94307

You treat "drivers" and "taxpayers" as synonyms. This is false.

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By No (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 00:31:28 in reply to Comment 94293

Well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Just sayin'.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 10:41:46 in reply to Comment 94296

What a huge glimpse into the mind of most Hamilton voters. No wonder we keep getting the same old.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 10:14:02 in reply to Comment 94296

Newsflash: the city is broke. To the tune of 1.2 billion dollars. Can you fathom that amount?

And by the way 40% of our capital budget is spent on roads.

Also, every year we add over $70,000,000 to our deficit due to road maintenance we can't afford to perform -- we put it off to some future date when I suppose we are supposed to magically have an extra 70 million dollars lying around. But we never have the extra. So the following year we add another 70, then another and so on ... and in 18 years we'll have added another billion dollars to the deficit. To put that in a manpower perspective, that 70 mil is the equivalent of one thousand employees making 70 grand every year. A pretty huge workforce making really good money. And to put that into perspective, the recent "huge news story" of US steel closing the blast furnace is costing 47 jobs - less than 5% of that number.

Given the unsustainable cost of our currently built lane-kilometers I have no patience for drivers whining about a delay in traffic of less than 15 minutes (and in most cases less than 2 or 3 light cycles, totalling under 5 minutes).

I'm a driver too, and I'll gladly accept delays during rush hour because I'm not so selfish that I think I should "steal" an additional $70,000,000 from the taxpayers of this city in order to maintain (and expand) the ridiculously overbuilt road system that's sinking us.

Bottom line: nobody is stealing drivers' time. Each driver is free to make choices about where they live, where they go and how they get there. But drivers who fight to keep and expand our already-overbuilt roads are stealing money from all citizens (taxpayers) - especially those who don't own cars.

BTW, these numbers make me ashamed to own a car in this city.

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 10:47:11 in reply to Comment 94309

Key word - Capital.

The City is in debt because it overpays its employees, has too many benefits and is run by the unions. The "Capital" budget is a drop in the bucket.

You get rid of cars and roads, you get rid of business, you get rid of taxpayers, you get rid of the city.

Why do people always want to crap on themselves?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 11:19:29 in reply to Comment 94322

The billion dollars is an infrastructure deficit. Capital.

No one is advocating that Hamilton "get rid of cars".

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 11:41:26 in reply to Comment 94333

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By Actually... (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 11:49:31 in reply to Comment 94337

"Despite taking a convoluted view of the social cost of collisions and injuries, this study confirms the analysis that the total revenue from drivers does not pay the full cost of Ontario's road system."

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 12:11:30 in reply to Comment 94339

My guess is that the 2013 study considered the data in the 1994 study. Also the key is that in Southern Ontario, which I think includes Hamilton, drivers overpay tax for infrastructure to the tune of +/- $1 billion annually.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted November 07, 2013 at 10:37:05 in reply to Comment 94344

Not a 1994 study - 1994 happens to be the RTH article number, not the year. Nice try though - points for your persistence.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 12:15:43 in reply to Comment 94344

Locally, drivers do not overpay otherwise we would not pay for roads out of property taxes and we would not be running a deficit. Provincially, drivers underpay as well (from the very study you quote). So they picked one radius where the numbers go the other way - all of GHTA, which as a unit happens also to be the most densely populated area in the province.

All this means is that higher density means more efficient infrastructure expenditure. THerefore we should strive for higher density. Meaning we should devote more space to people, not to cars. More buildings/fewer parking lots. More transit/fewer car lanes. More pedestrians. More cyclists. MORE PEOPLE.

Comment edited by seancb on 2013-11-06 12:16:05

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 12:57:45 in reply to Comment 94347

That debate can be endless. The end numbers are controlled by the definition of the inputs - i.e. - every product trucked to a grocery store uses the road. If you take that into consideration then the drivers are way overpaying. Bottom line is that in gross numbers, the roadway infrastructure costs are fairly paid for by drivers who use the road.

I think I know where you are going and then there might be some honesty. If this is really about social engineering - about radically changing the culture of post world war 2 capitalist society - then admit that. That is a different debate altogether. And much more complicated.

However, in the here and the now, the lane changes on Longwood, King Street, around St Joe's etc., the experiments I have said, are done at the expense of time and money of those are having the privilege of frustrating themselves.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 13:20:44 in reply to Comment 94354

"in gross numbers, the roadway infrastructure costs are fairly paid for by drivers who use the road."

That is absolutely NOT the bottom line. The bottom line is #1 it's virtually impossible to calculate all externalities, and #2, if we ignore the externalities and simplify it to direct cost/revenue, driver's don't cover their fair share unless they live in the GTA (where we have the highest driver:lane-km ratio)

As far as local projects, these are not experiments. We may call some of these changes "pilot programs" but they are not by any means experimental.

Other cities worldwide have already carried out the experiments that prove close ties between viability of a city and its livability - meaning walkability, bikeability, density, transit service, etc.

The city's own analysis has determined we need to stop catering to high speed traffic and start enhancing pedestrian, cycling and transit. It's in our official planning documents and has been for years.

The data is in and experts have been visiting us to tell us what to do for many years.

We do not listen, because staff and council are terrified of making these necessary changes for fear of reactions exactly like the one you posted on this article.

You seem to understand that things need to change. No one here is shy about supporting the greater change that's necessary. Fighting the change because of personal commute times is selfish, and reactions like yours are holding council back from pushing this city forward.

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 13:45:58 in reply to Comment 94358

I think you misunderstand me.

Hamilton has amongst the highest mil rates in the world. People move in and out of cities for jobs and the net impact on their lives in terms of happiness and wealth.

I personally know a significant number of people who have not put businesses here or have removed them because the taxes are too high and because the City has constantly experimented with things. If I build a factory on Wellington Street, and then my workers can't get there because they change it to a two way street, what am I to do.

Think of the major major industry that has left this City in the last 40 years. What will be left to support the downtown if people cannot get to work there?

City council should be afraid. Sooner or later the tax rates in Hamilton will not support the businesses that remain here.

I value time more than anything else because it is limited to me. I don't live in Toronto because the commute times are obscene. I could have. I chose to live here specifically because of time efficiencies. If you can get high density downtown without frustrating the hell out of taxpayers who vote with their feet - good on your.

Why is a pilot project called a pilot project if it isn't a pilot project?

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 14:32:29 in reply to Comment 94360

I'm confused. Now people move in and out of places?

I thought they bought with that 25 year plan in mind that you outlined so eloquently a little ways up the page.

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 15:02:27 in reply to Comment 94366

Should have added the words "over their lifetime" As in - "where do I want to live. Let me see. If I am going to invest $500,000.00 somewhere do I want to do it where I think I can stay a long time or where someone will shaft me?"

If you change the rules after the game has started, it is not fair. The weight of inertia hampers it, but people will move.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 13:59:52 in reply to Comment 94360

The tax rates are high precisely because we do not have enough taxpayers in order to cover the costs of running our city. We need more businesses and more residents paying taxes - using the infrastructure we already have. We can't afford to keep building at the edges of town, and keep the core as a drive-through to elsewhere. It's proven to be economic suicide.

Did the major industry leave in the past 40 years because of commuter delays? That's what you are implying. Yet the one-ways came into effect 60 years ago and were in existence during our worst decline years. I'm not saying one-ways caused our decline but by the same token you can't seriously claim that recent two-way-reversions and bike lanes have caused it either.

If Wellington becomes two way, will people truly "not be able to get there"? Or will it just take them a few minutes longer?

Businesses are not avoiding Hamilton because city council might build a bus lane or might change a one way to a two way.

If we want more businesses to open here, we need more people living here - to be their customers and employees. And the way to attract people is to build a city that people want to live and work in - rather than build a city that is simply a commuter route.

You are working under an outdated assumption that businesses require employees to be able to drive long distances to work.

Successful cities have come to understand - and build for - the concept of increasing living and employment density within their downtowns, where daily commutes ideally happen without a car. Fighting this model is simply staving off our future success.

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 14:48:09 in reply to Comment 94362

"Businesses are not avoiding Hamilton because city council might build a bus lane or might change a one way to a two way"

No, but they won't move here because the mill rate is too high and if we waste a lot of money on LRT's and roadway experiments that do not enhance there business experience, they will not come here.

"If we want more businesses to open here, we need more people living here"

Chicken and egg. If business does not come here. People do not come here.

"You are working under an outdated assumption that businesses require employees to be able to drive long distances to work"

No. But if I am Toyota and want to build in the brown-fields, I expect the people coming to my plant will live in Stoney creek, or Ancaster, or Burlington. The question is one of vision. Maybe the industrial vision of Hamilton dead. If so maybe you are correct and then Hamilton can become a bedroom community for Toronto.

The tax rate in this City is at the breaking point. My taxes have quintupled since 1995. I am just saying that I am at the end of my rope. I expect and in fact know there are others like me. I employ a lot of people. If I move, they move. This is just my thinking process. At some point, allegiance to a City is outweighed by economics and taking 20 minutes way from me every day does not help in making me stay.

You an say I am selfish all you want. At the end of the day everyone is selfish. People who live in downtown Toronto and work in the big towers don't give a hoot about the people who drive on the Gardner.

From my perspective its all about plumbing. You plug up the pipes, the water doesn't run.

I think there is a reason that Stelco Tower sits empty. Answer that question and you might find a solution.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 15:03:49 in reply to Comment 94369

roadway experiments

The bus-lane pilot is a drop in the bucket compared to the rivers of cash being spent in highway-related projects around the city.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 15:00:12 in reply to Comment 94369

Wait a minute - you started this debate by saying that those who want complete streets are guilty of stealing your time (which I called selfish).

Now you are arguing that the real problem is that Hamilton's taxes are too high (I agree wholeheartedly).

But your proposed solution to high taxes (fast traffic) has proven here (and elsewhere) to not work.

Complete streets, a livable core, mixed use zoning, higher order transit, heritage preservation - all of these concepts that are generally supported by the people you are arguing with have been proven to increase the tax base and help solve the root problem that you are concerned about.

We tried solving Hamilton's problems with high speed traffic. It was a very long term experiment that's failed miserably. It's time to move on.

Stelco tower isn't empty because it's hard to get there by car. It's empty because it's hard to run a business in a city that people don't want to live in.

I don't know which came first - the chicken or the egg - but I do know that we as a city have complete control over our livability and if we want to attract businesses, we have to do so by starting with something we can control. Begging companies to come here and then worrying about livability is never, ever going to work.

Comment edited by seancb on 2013-11-06 15:02:12

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 15:43:36 in reply to Comment 94370

Cities that do a really good job of attracting people also have good economies, two reasons, 1, ambitious people that move to great cities are more liable to start businesses, and 2, companies want to move to places that already have lots of ambitious people. There's your chicken and egg problem solved.

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By chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 15:07:10 in reply to Comment 94370

Why can't you have high density and smooth clean traffic flow?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 15:49:16 in reply to Comment 94374

We might be able to achieve high density AND smooth traffic flow. My gut tells me that there will always be a struggle maintaining fast movement of the lowest density version of traffic (single occupancy vehicles). But if we can move lots of people out of cars and onto bikes, buses, rail or best of all reduce commutes to walkable distances, it may actually be possible.

The thing is, to get to that point we HAVE to improve the way our transportation network serves these high density movement of people (transit, bikes and pedestrians).

There will of course be some pain for single occupancy vehicle operators during the transition. But we HAVE to get over that hump and give people real alternatives in order to significantly increase the number of people our streets can move per lane km. If we live in constant fear of that hump, we'll never get over it and we'll never densify and we'll never have a tax base big enough to cover our road costs, and we'll be forever begging at the feet of higher levels of government for handouts - which will also never quite cover the costs.

Knee jerk reactions 3 weeks into a teensy tiny bus lane pilot are not going to get us where we need to be to survive.

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By chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 16:04:52 in reply to Comment 94377

"Knee jerk" is an offensive term. This discussion has gotten way off base.

As I understand it, the Committee responsible for the "pilot" project recommended abandoning it. I think this was because it may be a waste of time and money unless there is truly an LRT option for Hamilton. Council did not follow the committee recommendation.

I now see that the two way streeters are just using this, as they likely always have, as another step to the death of one way streets in Hamilton. This is disingenuous.

It is not knee jerk to be opposed to be treated as a lab rat.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 16:48:44 in reply to Comment 94379

Not as offensive as you calling people who commute by bus, bike or foot "arrogant" and claiming they are theives who are "stealing your time" and "stealing you from you children, your spouses and from yourself". All because they choose a more economically efficient mode of transport than you.

Now you are lumping people into groups - "two way streeters" - as if wanting a healthy city is some sort of nefarious plot to ruin your life. Meanwhile you blast through neighbourhoods with little thought to the concept that these are places where people live.

Please just roll your windows up and move along.

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 17:35:35 in reply to Comment 94381

I walk to work because I live downtown.

People who commute by bus or bike are not arrogant. People who make arbitrary or capricious changes to traffic patterns without thinking about everyone including those whom they PURPOSELY delay for "pilot" or experimental purposes, are arrogant.

When you make someone spend their time for your purposes, you are by definition, taking their time from them. If it is justified it is fine. If it is not justified it is theft.

If we are never going to build an LRT, and if the committee charged with recommending the project to the City recommended against it, those who voted in favour of it need to justify it. If they can't justify it they are taking time without justification. taking something without justification is theft.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 19:17:14 in reply to Comment 94383

So all of this wasn't even about the extra 5 minutes it takes to commute to work, but about the extra 5 minutes it takes for you to use your car for "pleasure" (to use the insurance companies' term)?

Despite the opinions of people who think the goal is to slow drivers down, that's not what the bus lane is about. It's about speeding up commutes for transit users, who frankly have been getting the short end of the stick since they started ripping up the rails in 1949.

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By Two-Way Thinking (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 14:25:50 in reply to Comment 94362

"Or will it just take them a few minutes longer?"

Or a few minutes faster because they can drive right to it instead of going around the block.

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By Chaseball Manhattan (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 11:34:40 in reply to Comment 94333

Don't you know? Either everyone has a car and uses it for every trip or no one has a car. There's no middle ground. If you don't support everyone having a car and using it for every tip then you want to get rid of cars and roads. That's how "compromise" works when you're a car troll.

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 11:31:14 in reply to Comment 94333

Why then are you ashamed to own a car? If you are ashamed aren't you saying to reliev your shame you should rid yourself of the car?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2013 at 12:09:53 in reply to Comment 94334

Because I am capable of logical reasoning and compassion, and I understand the true costs imposed on all citizens which allow us to use our cars for personal travel. I try to make as many of my trips as possible using other modes, but I do use my car as well. With a balanced network, it would be easier for some of us to stop using cars altogether - making more room for you to drive around I might add.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 09:44:30 in reply to Comment 94296

Then let's hear no more complaints about high taxes.

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By Chasball (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 10:48:12 in reply to Comment 94303

When you say that an absolute is a compromise, i.e. my way is the compromise, what exactly are you saying?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 11:14:51 in reply to Comment 94323

Those of us who don't think the world should revolve around our desire for unimpeded motoring, don't regard two-way traffic as an 'absolute', but hey, I'm happy for you that you've found yet another strawman to bravely vanquish. Go Chasball!

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By j.servus (registered) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 11:10:04 in reply to Comment 94323

I think he saying, if you and I can't agree whether this five lane street should head westbound or eastbound, maybe we could compromise: Two lanes for my way, two lanes for your way, and a lane to be divvied up for the cyclists and pedestrians. Sounds like a compromise to me.

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By Compromise Comprised (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2013 at 11:13:23 in reply to Comment 94327

Don't you understand? Dedicating the entire street to one-way cut through cars is a 'compromise', whereas allowing cars to go in two directions or dedicating even a single lane to transit, cycling or walking is 'absolutism'.

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