Revitalization

A Proposal for Pedestrianizing King North of Gore

By Sean Burak
Published October 02, 2007

I am beside myself with joy after reading about Mayor Fred Eisenberger's proposal to pedestrianize The Gore. This is exactly the type of idea that our city seriously needs to run with.

The South leg of The Gore is already begging to be converted. It is a perfect location for pedestrian friendly patios, and even for makeshift vendor stalls on weekends (and maybe eventually every day). This conversion should be a no-brainer, and should happen as soon as possible.

I have read that the Downtown BIA is still murmuring about adding parking to this stretch. This is absolutely unnecessary. We need to convince them that we have enough parking in Hamilton.

Parking will not bring people downtown; creating pedestrian friendly streets most definitely will. We are already seeing the positive effects of pedestrian friendly areas in International Village and on James North.

The Mayor's ideas about the North leg are spot-on as well. Such a move would have a dramatic turnaround effect on the entire downtown.

There will be a lot of opposition to closing King to private automobiles. However, the downtown has plenty of lane capacity to take up the slack. With a little creativity, we could accomplish closing the North leg to all but transit and taxis - and do it with minimal time and money spent.

One idea is to convert at least part of Main to two-way so that it can accept some of the overflow from King.

I would propose doubling the right-turn lane from Main onto Queen. From Queen to Bay there would remain three Eestbound lanes. This would free up street space from Queen to Bay for wider sidewalks and a two-way bike lane linking Hess Village to the core.

At Bay, one lane would turn left and only two would continue Eastbound. This is where Main Street would be come two way. And it would continue two way as far as Wellington (or even for the entire Eastbound stretch).

This would allow Westbound traffic on King to escape to Main easily at Wellington, continue to Bay, and rejoin King on the way to Westdale, Hwy 403, Dundas and so on without sacrificing lane capacity on Main coming into the core from the 403.

I don't mean to focus on details, but I wanted to outline at least one possibility for making the pedestrianization a reality with a minimal sacrifice in car capacity.

We have also already seen some push-back based on the argument that "there aren't enough pedestrians to justify the change". This argument makes little sense. There are few pedestrians now because the area currently caters to cars, making it relatively uncomfortable for pedestrians.

The pedestrians are not going to appear until we give them a place. We cannot wait for pedestrians before creating the pedestrian space; we will end up waiting forever!

Thanks to the Mayor for showing his support for revitalizing our downtown. This would be a huge step in the right direction, and the sooner we can make it happen the better.

(A version of this entry was first published on the Hammerboard)

Sean Burak was born in Hamilton but raised elsewhere in Ontario. He returned to his birth town at the turn of the century and has never looked back. Sean is the owner of Downtown Bike Hounds.

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By Frank (registered) | Posted October 03, 2007 at 09:31:39

Excellent Sean. This is what my post was about on the other article. It doesn't seem like such a conundrum to me...Make it more ped friendly and you'll get more pedestrians. On the other hand, make it vehicle friendly and you'll get more vehicles. Who's got their heads up their you know whats???

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By city watcher (anonymous) | Posted October 18, 2007 at 18:03:44

Sean,
I hate to disagree...it sounds so great in theory, but, getting rid of all private autos at this point in Hamilton's development will prob. just deaden the gore even more.

People need something to go TO - destinations, and I don't mean the bus stop!

In my view it's the buses idling and taking up all visible and literal space that's the problem, along with the fact that so many one way lanes are too tempting to the 'thru' driver.

I do think something ought to change though. If we were to get rid of all buses and cars on the south side of King (a no brainer), reduce to two lanes and go two-way on the south King stretch, and get the few remaining buses (King St. ones only allowed)to 'wait' outside the gore - this would go a long way to making a more liveable/walkable area (and will be viewed as more than radical enough by the nay sayers)

Hopefully, once this was in place, and the sidewalks wider and the street slower and quieter, businesses would respond and create more and better types of services and THEN adventurous folks will go there, and other folks might drive by (slowly) and see real life going on, not just drifters and bus waiters, and it will build from there.

The upheaval and backlash created by trying to make south King in the Gore TOTALLY car-free is just not worth the risk. I worry that the mayor's plan is so dramatic that the 'anti' folks would have a heyday if such a project failed (which I fear it will), and we'd never get another chance.

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By city watcher (anonymous) | Posted October 18, 2007 at 18:07:41

Sean,
I hate to disagree...it sounds so great in theory, but, getting rid of all private autos at this point in Hamilton's development will prob. just deaden the gore even more.

People need something to go TO - destinations, and I don't mean the bus stop!

In my view it's the buses idling and taking up all visible and literal space that's the problem, along with the fact that so many one way lanes are too tempting to the 'thru' driver.

I do think something ought to change though. If we were to get rid of all buses and cars on the south side of King (a no brainer), reduce to two lanes and go two-way on the south King stretch, and get the few remaining buses (King St. ones only allowed)to 'wait' outside the gore - this would go a long way to making a more liveable/walkable area (and will be viewed as more than radical enough by the nay sayers)

Hopefully, once this was in place, and the sidewalks wider and the street slower and quieter, businesses would respond and create more and better types of services and THEN adventurous folks will go there, and other folks might drive by (slowly) and see real life going on, not just drifters and bus waiters, and it will build from there.

The upheaval and backlash created by trying to make south King in the Gore TOTALLY car-free is just not worth the risk. I worry that the mayor's plan is so dramatic that the 'anti' folks would have a heyday if such a project failed (which I fear it will), and we'd never get another chance.

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