Special Report: Walkable Streets

Two-Way Conversion on Bold, Duke Meets Knee-Jerk Fear of Change

You can't have a successful participatory process if it gives a veto to those who don't participate.

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published March 12, 2015

On Monday night, Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr held a Town Hall meeting to discuss the city's plan to carry out the two-way conversions of Bold and Duke Street in Durand Neighbourhood.

Duke Street facing west from Bay Street (RTH file photo)
Duke Street facing west from Bay Street (RTH file photo)

These conversions were first proposed in the 1970s as a way to calm traffic and reduce dangerous speeding. The conversions were approved by Council in 2001 and reaffirmed in 2007.

Council has yet to fund this work in their annual budgets, but Ward 2 residents voted through the Participatory Budget process to use some of the Ward 2 area rating capital fund to complete the work.

Fear-Based Opposition

Around 160 people attended the Town Hall meeting, and many of them expressed fear and opposition toward the plan. They raised a number of objections, all of which were addressed by the City staff who attended the meeting.

Some people claimed the streets are not wide enough for two-way conversion. Staff pointed out that the city already has many two-way streets that are narrower than Bold and Duke and work fine. Snow removal, bus access and lane widths will not be a problem.

Some people claimed that two-way conversion will make the streets more dangerous. In fact, a 2000 study published in the peer-reviewed Canadian Journal of Public Health concluded: "One-way streets have higher rates of child pedestrian injuries than two-way streets in this community."

Staff also pointed out that Emergency Services told them they actually prefer two-way, since it allows emergency vehicles to take the most direct route to an emergency.

Bold Street facing west from Park Street (RTH file photo)
Bold Street facing west from Park Street (RTH file photo)

Another concern was the loss of parking spots. The current plan calls for 17 spots to be removed on Duke and 6 spots to be added on Bold. Similar to the recent conversion of Rebecca Street, the loss of that many spots is not necessary and the Durand Neighbourhood Association (DNA) is working with the City to reduce that.

Despite the fact that City staff addressed all of their concerns except parking, those opposed remained unmoved in their opposition.

The two-way conversions of Hess and Caroline were successful, no one has ever asked for two-way streets to be converted to one-way in the last few decades, and there are hundreds of two-way streets narrower than Bold and Duke. But these facts seemed to make no impression.

Fear of Change

It seemed to me that the residents opposed weren't really opposed because of the specific concerns they brought forward - since staff made it clear they had checked these were not an issue - but were opposed because it was a change they were unaware of.

In other words, the opposition was mostly knee-jerk fear of change.

Duke Street facing west from MacNab Street (RTH file photo)
Duke Street facing west from MacNab Street (RTH file photo)

Comments included "why fix what isn't broken", "$300K is a big waste of money" - even though this was a citizen proposal voted in by Participatory Budget - and "I don't care what the experts say, there is isn't enough space on the street for two ways".

Ironically, these complaints were accompanied by more general complaints about speeding and unsafe traffic on the one-way network. The fact that a recent study using Hamilton data found two-way streets are less dangerous seemed to make no impression.

There were also numerous complaints about lack of parking for the high rises, and the belief that the city somehow owes residents and their visitors free car storage space on the streets.

Bold Street facing west from Bay Street (RTH file photo)
Bold Street facing west from Bay Street (RTH file photo)

Some of the comments were quite surprising: one woman expressed concern about the bike lane on Hunter, saying "No one told me you couldn't drive in the bike lane".

Long Delay from Decision to Implementation

One of the take-home messages is that even a relatively minor street-redesign is extremely difficult to implement with public support if the implementation process drags out over many years - in this case, 14 years.

The engagement has to be constantly re-done, and when the implementation finally moves forward, some residents will complain that it is a complete surprise.

Even with public engagement and prompt implementation, some people will get very upset and claim no one told them and try to stop the whole thing.

This happened when a McMaster professor drove her SUV into the bump-outs on Aberdeen that were added as a result of the 2002 Durand Traffic Study, and tried to have them removed.

Any contentious project will generate some objection, but no one today is demanding that we remove the bump-outs on Aberdeen so it is once again easy to speed through the neighbourhood.

There was also something of a generational divide at the meeting, with most seniors living on the street opposing the conversion, while most supporters (although not all) were younger.

Duke Street facing east from Bay Street (RTH file photo)
Duke Street facing east from Bay Street (RTH file photo)

This incident illustrates the difficulty of citizen engagement, especially over long time periods, and the problem of accommodating the concerns and views of those who don't get engaged until after the decision is already made - in this case, by Council and other Ward 2 residents in the Participatory Budget process.

Some residents actually complained that the Participatory Budget process is "undemocratic" and that a project should not go ahead unless an absolute majority of residents vote for it - while simultaneously arguing that a project should be cancelled if a relative majority of residents who come to a single public meeting oppose it.

Participatory Democracy Requires Participation

One thing is clear: after 14 years of planning, multiple Council approvals and demonstrated community support in a Participatory Budget vote, it would send a very bad message about citizen engagement process to overturn and cancel a project because some residents didn't bother to get informed and engaged until the project is about to be implemented.

The purpose of the meeting was to ensure that residents' concerns were addressed, not to re-open a debate over whether to carry out street conversions that were approved 14 years ago.

As an interesting aside, most of the people who were upset about the Bold and Duke conversions did not stay for the second part of the evening, which focused on the planned bike lanes on Charlton and Herkimer, renovation of Durand Park (in the works since 2008) and the DNA initiative to have Durand designated as a Heritage Conservation District.

These are also important (and potentially controversial) plans that would benefit from citizen engagement before they are implemented. I am concerned that there will be people who wait until the last minute to get involved in the bike lanes and then try to veto or overturn them.

Bold Street facing east past Charles Street (RTH file photo)
Bold Street facing east past Charles Street (RTH file photo)

There are a lot important issues about engaging citizens being brought out, but I think this does speak to Council's "silent majority" fears.

We still haven't quite accepted that engaging citizens and participatory democracy means giving power to those who take the time and effort to stay informed and get involved. You can't have a successful participatory process if it gives a veto to those who don't participate.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.

92 Comments

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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 13:08:38

I was there on Monday evening. I was impressed by the turnout. (But not so much at the demographics.) I was also impressed with your presentation, Nicholas.

However, I was not impressed with the dearth of context regarding the topic. It was clear that (probably) most of the attendees were not aware of the history of conversion back in the 50s. They had (have?) no grasp of why it was done in the first place, what the area looked like back then, how things have changed, why going back to two-ways is being shoved down their throats. (I use this term because that's what I heard being expressed in the audience.) One of the first questions voiced was 'Why?!?' Why this was happening in the first place. This in itself was a sign of (bad) things to come.

(As an aside, invaluable effectiveness-of-argument was lost by the insistence of 'conversion' being used instead of the more accurate 'reversion'. As I wrote to the Chair of the DNA:

"Which is why I've tried to encourage the use of 'reversion' over 'conversion'. People immediately infer from the latter that it's always been the way that's in front of them, therefore it's a harsher form of 'change' than the former, which tends to bring people up short, providing an opportunity for an actual discussion. "They were all two-way streets at one point? Hmm... Didn't know that. Why were they converted? What was the downtown like back then?"

I have believed from the beginning that an 'All or All' mindset adopted by those wanting to get all one-ways reverted to two-ways did their cause no favours. I've lived in Durand (and Central and Kirkendall). I've walked those streets thousands of times over the past 30 years. My take on reversions to two-way? Some streets should absolutely, positively reverted from one-way. The arguments for these are unassailable. But there are a number of streets that should not be reverted. As with LRT, there is no 'absolute right and absolute wrong' in the discussion about the full assortment of streets being considered. To those who are so desperately attached to facts, figures and statistical evidence, I feel the need to remind them that Life lived is not about numbers. And you simply cannot lecture people on what they need to accept, decisions-wise.

My bottom-line advice? Choose your battles better than you have been.

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 18:29:32 in reply to Comment 110138

I thought this was a really, really good comment from ItJustIs. Very thoughtful. I disagree that facts, figures and statistical evidence need to take a back seat to some latecomer's question "why?" And disagree most strongly with "battles" not being chosen well (in fact, this extremely slow and gradual conversion process is an example of choosing battles extremely carefully.)

But the reversion-not-conversion point is a very good one (language does shape how people conceive of these) and the point that there is an evident lack of awareness is helpful.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 15:52:06 in reply to Comment 110138

I have believed from the beginning that an 'All or All' mindset adopted by those wanting to get all one-ways reverted to two-ways did their cause no favours.

yea, those two-way conversion activists should slow down already. They keep converting streets to two-way every other weekend.
These ones have only been on the books since the 1970's. I can't keep up with this breakneck pace of change

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By Idiought (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 13:47:43 in reply to Comment 110138

Shove it.

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By terrible ending (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 13:22:21 in reply to Comment 110138

your advice to whom? it's too bad that such a helpful comment took a huge nose-dive into condescention at the end. If you have such correct ideas then get out there and make it happen.

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By YouJustAint (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 13:24:35 in reply to Comment 110143

Dontcha know? ItJustIs once organized a public meeting and it didn't go how he wanted so now he just sits on the sidelines and tells everyone else how they're doing it wrong.

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By YouJustAint (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 13:18:37 in reply to Comment 110138

Quiet now children, we must all pay attention to Professor Umbrage

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By disengage me (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 13:20:59

What do you expect when the community decides something and the city takes 14 years to get around to doing it? Hamilton, best place to disengage citizens.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 14:08:36 in reply to Comment 110142

Like the Red Hill Creek Expressway? 40 years of delay.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 14:24:24 in reply to Comment 110150

Note that the Hess/Caroline conversions cost only $72K when they were completed just over a decade ago. Delay has cost us a significant amount of money which is surprising because, the conversions were approved by Council back in 2001 (reaffirmed in 2007) they just neglected to allocate any money to implement them.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 14:54:56 in reply to Comment 110152

True.

But also true -The expressway was first proposed in the 1950s and was cancelled and resurrected several times. Last-ditch efforts by opponents, including occupying the valley, lawsuits and blocking construction access, failed and the expressway was finally constructed in the 2000s, opening to traffic in 2007. The cost to the city included $100 million in construction costs, plus legal costs fighting to get the expressway constructed. (from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Hill_Va...

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2015-03-12 14:55:52

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By seanc (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 14:56:30 in reply to Comment 110153

What does any of this have to do with the expressway?

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 14:58:29 in reply to Comment 110154

What do you expect when the community decides something and the city takes 14 years to get around to doing it? Hamilton, best place to disengage citizens.

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By seanc (anonymous) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 15:56:03 in reply to Comment 110156

Still, what does this have to do with the RHVP?

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By Uhhh (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2015 at 22:26:43 in reply to Comment 110161

Delay v delay caused by obstreperous people. Are you that thick?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted March 29, 2015 at 20:36:22 in reply to Comment 110688

I hardly think the scale of these two projects is comparable.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted March 30, 2015 at 10:31:16 in reply to Comment 110691

Well I said it so I should justify it. Arguably based on usage, the expressway was a bigger project. But costs wise the are comparable. And as far as impact goes, the expressway may have had more immediate impact but if LRT works as hoped, it will have as great if not more of an impact. So I would say they are very comparable projects.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 13:57:47

What if the same 160 people showed up at the next DNA meeting and voted to rescind the prior acquiescence to the conversion?

Should we ignore the voice of people who took the time to go to the meeting?

Where these people all suburbanites who raided City hall to stop two way conversion (or reversion?)

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 22:33:37 in reply to Comment 110148

There were a total of 160 at the meeting, some for, some against.

Nicholas, could you make an educated guess at the percentage breakdown of for and against?

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 08:20:00 in reply to Comment 110179

There were 163, a rough count showed 63 in favour and 100 against (39% v 61%). Note that the town hall was advertised as providing information and ensuring concerns had been addressed about various Durand projects (bike lanes, park renovation, heritage district as well as the reversions). I don't think most Duranders, apart from those residents on Duke and Bold upset about the reversions, thought this meeting could lead to any of these projects being rejected. ImAgine if the park renovation, partly financed by DNA fundraising and in the works since 2008, could be cancelled because a majority of those who turned up at the town hall thought it was not needed.

500 ward 2 residents voted in pb 2014, and the reversions were one of the successful projects. Farr was clearly disappointed that not more residents bothered to get involved even with $1miillion in funding, online voting and a flyer drop to all residents as well as ads in the spec and public displays of the projects. He suggested that some of the upset residents might consider getting involved this year (at least voting or even proposing and promoting projects).

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-13 08:44:33

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 18:13:58 in reply to Comment 110184

One other point regarding participation at the meeting.

Because Councillor Farr and the DNA were concerned that some residents of Bold and Duke were not aware of the change, they made an extreme effort to inform them of the meeting by ensuring that every resident of those streets received a hand delivered flyer advertising the meeting and emphasizing the reversions.

This is one of the reasons there was such a large turnout from residents of the streets.

The DNA's blog and Farr's weekly email did advertise the meeting as well, but only residents of the street received flyers.

If this was supposed to be a meeting to decide whether to cancel the conversions (not just inform the residents and make sure their concerns about the implementation had been addressed) this would have needed to be made clear in the advertising which would have not just focused on the residents of those two streets.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 22:35:34 in reply to Comment 110225

I live on Park St. south of Herkimer and received a flyer. It is not true that only residents of the street received flyers.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 14, 2015 at 09:56:52 in reply to Comment 110228

I stand corrected. (I thought their was a special effort to ensure all apartment residents on those streets received flyers since it is often difficult to get flyers to apartment residents). Did everyone in Durand receive a flyer?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted March 16, 2015 at 19:00:40 in reply to Comment 110235

I don't understand the obsession with flyers. I didn't get a flyer when they put in a new traffic signal near my house... at some point residents need to decide whether they are going to be proactively involved or if they are going to passively trust the city to manage the infrastructure in their neighbourhood. Neither approach is better than the other, but If one chooses the former, then they need to actively seek this information out, it's not like it's hidden. If the latter, then they can't stand up at the 11th hour and cry foul.

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By adele (anonymous) | Posted March 16, 2015 at 18:35:45 in reply to Comment 110235

did not receive the flyer..i live at bay and main...got the flyer when i was in the House of Java...

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 05:17:49 in reply to Comment 110235

Councilor Farr addressed this issue. Not everyone in Durand got a flyer because it was not possible to legally access every apartment building. Aside from that, yes, everyone did get a flyer.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 08:51:02 in reply to Comment 110184

To me the real key is what reasons exist for opposition. Based on the recap of the meeting it sounds like staff easily addressed any reasons given to oppose this.

Sorry, but this isn't an election. Educated professionals clearly showed that the perceived problems aren't actual problems at all. We don't hold up progress because some people don't like change.

Residents on the lake opposed the waterfront trail construction along the beach, and now all of them agree its one of the best things to ever happen there.

It' not necessary to convince everyone to agree before we make a change. It is necessary to address all concerns and allow people to be heard.
If they want to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the professional answers they were given, thats up to them. But it shouldn't halt progress.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 13, 2015 at 08:55:00 in reply to Comment 110187

The one legitimate issue is the proposed loss of curbside parking. As we saw with Rebecca Street, road engineering staff default to removing parking to maintain unnecessarily wide lanes that allow free-flowing automobile traffic at 50+ km/h on side streets. I have already sent an email to Councillor Farr and some Transportation managers asking them to revise the plan to save more parking, and I encourage others who support this project to do the same.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 09:17:17 in reply to Comment 110189

agreed. Cities all over the world are looking to engineer streets to make it difficult for cars to pass without yielding on quiet side streets. Here we try to engineer our streets so they can all be freeways.

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By WHATIF (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 08:41:27 in reply to Comment 110184

What happens if most of the people in Durand want two way? I live in Durand and want two way. I never bothered with the flyers and things because I always felt the whole thing was a done deal and out of my control. I also felt that baiting me with my own money was insulting. Now that I see this isn't a done deal I am going to get involved.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 08:49:03 in reply to Comment 110185

Pb is definitely NOT a done deal. Any resident can propose and promote a project as well as voting on the proposed project. And there is a lot of money on the line.

The new ped light on Hunter at MacNab was a funded project in Durand in 2013.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-13 08:50:24

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 18:32:04 in reply to Comment 110148

From a guy in favour of two-way conversions: we should definitely not ignore it.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 13:59:02

Would posting and enforcing 30 KPH speed limits solve the problem?

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By RobF (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 09:54:07 in reply to Comment 110149

No. First, the Police don't have the resources to enforce 30km/h across large areas. Second, design changes are needed to make drivers feel that they need to adjust speed and drive cautiously. Providing ample space, wide turning radii, and so on is good highway engineering ... it tells drivers this is made for speed.

Most drivers do not slow-down to 30km/h on John Street in the North End ... two lanes of non-calmed one-way traffic until it is converted. If you go over to Bay North you'll note the difference. Traffic is slower and drivers have to adjust to bumpouts and chokers designed to change the way the road feels. We get complaints from some residents that the design changes will cause accidents. In reality they just make you aware that less space is available and you need to turn slower and adjust how you drive to feel safer. These complaints from drivers tell us the design changes work, and are necessary.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 14:19:07 in reply to Comment 110149

Shifting to a 30km/h limit would only really help if it was accompanied by street redesign, like two way conversion, bump-outs, chicanes etc. and applied to the whole neighbourhood (apart, possibly, from a very few arterial streets).

This is what has been done in the North End.

Also, if the streets were left one-way it would still make it more difficult to navigate the streets for visitors, residents and (especially cyclists). That is one reason why two-way streets are now recognized as more efficient in downtown areas:

Two-Way Street Networks: More Efficient than Previously Thought? http://www.accessmagazine.org/articles/f...

It would also be more effective if it became the default speed limit in urban areas of the city, not just in a few neighbourhoods.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-12 14:20:40

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 18:32:52 in reply to Comment 110151

Yes, the problem with using speed limits to control speed is that they don't, in fact, control speed. Design and not law is the only effective means of controlling driving behaviour.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 19:38:26 in reply to Comment 110172

The most effective design in Durand (and every other residential neighbourhood) is to eliminate cut-through "rat-running" car drivers. See:

http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/201...

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By LifelongHamiltonian (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 08:51:32 in reply to Comment 110176

It seems you bring up the Netherlands in almost every single one of your post as an ideal place to live/work/cycle. I'll tell you what, if you agree to never post about their superiority again, I will buy you a one way ticket to Amsterdam so you can live out your days in a blue puffy cloud of complete street nirvana.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 13, 2015 at 09:02:29 in reply to Comment 110188

I've lived in Hamilton for 23 years, and I'm still amazed at the knee-jerk tendency by some residents to denigrate and reject all examples from other cities that are doing a better job than we are of making their streets safe and inclusive for everyone. Do we really think Hamilton is doing so well that we have nothing to learn from anywhere else? Do we really think Hamilton is such a unique fragile snowflake of a city that nothing that works everywhere else could also work here?

Lurking behind your aggressive, mocking tone is an unexamined fear of change, nothing more.

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By LifelongHamiltonian (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 09:53:13 in reply to Comment 110190

I'm happy you've decided to set roots in Hamilton, I myself have been here for 36 years and remember a time when the one way streets were fully utilized. As a matter of fact, I remember picking my late grandfather up at Canadian Canners, which then turned to American Can, and Finally Ball Packaging on Wellington Street North when I was but a wee lad. Like my name implies, I truly am a life long Hamiltonian, a fact I wear with pride.

I am not opposed to a two way street reversion, quite the opposite, I think it would be good for the city, good for the market and certainly better for navigating tourists much more efficiently.

The "agressive, mocking tone" was in direct response to the comment "The most effective design in Durand (and every other residential neighbourhood)". What I take exception to is the one size fits all rhetoric wherein the Dutch infrastructure is superior in every way possible and is the only answer.

There are different solutions for different situations, and even residential neighborhoods require an occasional through-fare. If we were honest with ourselves, two facts would become evident 1) Like it or not, we are a suburban culture; which lends itself to 2) A lot of people are married to the commuter lifestyle. The North American layout is vastly different to the urban centres of Europe and Asia.

The type of change being suggested, shifting the existing infrastructure to complete street design is something that may require a generational shift with the full support of alternate transit. Many people that currently work in the city simply won't commute 10-15km on a bicycle, and currently the much maligned HSR won't get you there in a reasonable amount of time either.

The types of change being suggested need constant, gentle nudges in the right direction rather than one fell swoop of change with clear, concise long term plans established. This is something that unfortunately the city has repeatedly failed at.

Play the long game, constant incremental improvements win over time.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 13, 2015 at 10:40:20 in reply to Comment 110194

What I take exception to is the one size fits all rhetoric wherein the Dutch infrastructure is superior in every way possible and is the only answer.

The Dutch have a four-decade head start on us in terms of experimenting with a wide variety of street designs and converging on a toolkit of designs that work optimally for the various types of street. It's not a one-size-fits-all solution but a set of strategies for achieving the best results for a given context.

It would be extremely foolish to discount or dismiss what we can learn from a country that has already completed a huge amount of heavy lifting. Yet this city has a tendency to adopt naive and poorly implemented made-in-Hamilton solutions that fail to incorporate lessons already learned elsewhere.

The result is that we re-make the same mistakes that other places have already made and fixed. We're still painting narrow bike lanes in the door zones of parked cars literally decades after cities that take cycling seriously stopped doing this.

Hamilton is not so special that the things which are proven to work in a variety of urban contexts won't also work here.

1) Like it or not, we are a suburban culture;

We're talking about a highly urbanized neighbourhood built on a 19th century grid with a population density of 12,000 people per square kilometre.

2) A lot of people are married to the commuter lifestyle.

And those people tend not to live in the heart of Durand Neighbourhood.

The North American layout is vastly different to the urban centres of Europe and Asia.

North American cities have dense centres and suburban fringes. European cities have dense centres and suburban fringes. They're not nearly as different as people like to claim.

Here are some photos of a neighbourhood in Carcassonne, France that I took a few years ago:

Carcassonne photo

Carcassonne photo

North American cities are not a uniform average form or density, and neither are European cities. You can't simultaneously claim that we have to reject one-size-fits-all approaches to a specific street design and then apply a one-size-fits-all analysis to the specific streets we're talking about.

Many people that currently work in the city simply won't commute 10-15km on a bicycle

Good news: more than 50% of all car trips in Ontario are less than five kilometres. In Hamilton, more than a third of residents live less than five kilometres from their job.

The types of change being suggested need constant, gentle nudges in the right direction rather than one fell swoop of change with clear, concise long term plans established.

Again, we're talking about two residential side streets that were first proposed for two-way conversion (okay, reversion) in the 1970s, were approved by Council in 2001 and again in 2007, and are only now being converted after Ward 2 residents voted in a Participatory Budget process to fund the work.

This is as far from a "fell swoop of change" - which, incidentally, is exactly what the city did in 1956 when it converted a swath of downtown streets to one-way literally overnight - as you can get short of total stasis.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2015-03-13 10:41:18

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By fear of the known (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 09:52:52 in reply to Comment 110190

We have a rare commodity, the ability to travel easily by all modes of transportation. We dont want to become like other cities. Is that really so hard to grasp?

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By AnjoMan (registered) | Posted March 16, 2015 at 08:49:27 in reply to Comment 110193

What you are talking about is not a rare commodity. Cities all across North America are becoming insolvent because they have built more roads than they can afford to maintain. The 'rare' part about Hamilton is that we have taken it to such an extreme that we can't even use the infrastructure we have, leading to vastly empty roads (even at rushour!). The only thing worse than congestion is no congestion, because it means there is not enough economic activity to support the city infrastructure.

Comment edited by AnjoMan on 2015-03-16 08:49:59

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 18:07:14 in reply to Comment 110193

It's not "easy" to travel by transit, bike or walk compared with other cities (we are one of the most dangerous cities in Ontario for both pedestrians and cyclists according to statistics). Try walking along Main street from Locke to Hess to see what's missing.

We have the worst performing transit system of all comparator cities in Ontario (even worse than Windsor!). According to the transit director, we are failing to achieve any of our objectives. Taking HSR is very difficult and time wasting outside of the Main/King corridor where service is often only every 30 minutes, many stops have no shelters and no information at all (other than a post that says "HSR"). And a bus pass is almost twice as expensive as monthly parking downtown!

We have no rapid transit of any form (BRT, LRT, subways).

The only mode we do well at is motor vehicles, with our under-utilized very expensive to maintain and constantly expanding network of wide streets mostly one way in wards 1-3).

If you are really only interested in driving, that's fine. But don't pretend that Hamiltonians "can travel easily" by all modes of transportation. They can only travel "easily" (i.e. safely and conveniently) by car.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-13 18:18:50

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 15:49:52

a lot of those residents sound like they'll make great councillors some day

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By walter_hbd (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 15:59:19

They were shown evidence but stuck to their own biased opinions. These type of people need a competency test before being allowed to vote.

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By IanReynolds (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 22:56:31 in reply to Comment 110162

This city's motto should be "Despite Overwhelming Evidence To The Contrary, We Maintained Our Position."

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 18:33:29 in reply to Comment 110162

They are as competent at representing their views as you are at representing yours. Perhaps more so; they showed up.

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By gimics38 (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 16:39:43

"One of the take-home messages is that even a relatively minor street-redesign is extremely difficult to implement with public support if the implementation process drags out over many years - in this case, 14 years."

Kind of like LRT! Will we ever learn from our mistakes?

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 16:52:02

Nicholas is being characteristically modest about his own contribution. I was there and can attest that he spoke very well to the issue.

And yes, there are some people who refuse to let in reality. If it was not so tragic, it would be amusing.

I wrote to Councillor Farr afterwards to thank him for his leadership on this issue. And to predict that, if the exact same people were put into a room two years from now and asked if they wanted to go back to one-way, they would say, "Go back to one-way? No way!"

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 18:11:18

If people really want to keep the one-ways, do it like Montreal. Narrow traffic lane, parking from curb to curb and protected 2-way bike lanes

http://denverinfill.com/blog/wp-content/...

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 18:34:20 in reply to Comment 110168

That is really good one-way street design.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 19:29:02 in reply to Comment 110174

the street trees, narrow lane, constant parking all make for a great public realm. Then the added bonus of protected two-way bike lanes.

I'm all for 2-way conversions where it makes sense, and these 2 little streets seem to make sense to me IF the city can stop removing parking spaces in order to create huge, wide lane widths that encourage speeding and make even a side street dangerous for bikes.

I think our priority should be making streets welcoming and calm for people and bikes. Whether one way or two way.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 18:12:39

By the way, what is the plan for the Herkimer/Charlton bike lanes? I heard this was discussed at the meeting also.
Will they be protected by parking like shown above, and extended from James to Dundurn in both directions??

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 19:43:12 in reply to Comment 110169

Here are two videos that show what DNA is pushing for. Detailed designs have not yet been produced by city staff.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 12, 2015 at 21:23:03

Kent St is such a perfect comparison to Charlton/Herkimer.

When you say 'the DNA is pushing for' do you mean 2-way parking-protected bike lanes? Or 1-way parking protected bike lanes?

Designs produced by staff is what I want to see before having an ounce of hope for a decent outcome.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 22:46:43 in reply to Comment 110178

2-way parking protected bike lanes. Similar to the ones in the second video posted above.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 23:53:36 in reply to Comment 110229

2-way? Wow, that would be awesome.
Keep pushing DNA. Those are the perfect streets for such endeavours.

One of these days, we've got to get a couple N/S 2-way bike lanes. Perhaps the west curb lane on Queen from Aberdeen to to Stuart?

And very easily of course would be a conversion of both Victoria and Wellington to 1-lane each way with parking-protected bike lanes each direction on both streets.

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By NoSugarAdded (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 12:24:55

"Despite the fact that City staff addressed all of their concerns except parking, those opposed remained unmoved in their opposition."

I have noticed this in older people and people who are used to being in charge for as long as I can remember (and I am very old also) and it always bugged me.

"DON'T CONFUSE ME WITH THE FACTS! MY MINED IS MADE UP!"

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted March 14, 2015 at 23:30:03 in reply to Comment 110203

It's not about age, it's fear of change which can be found in any age group. The DNA Board is a mix of older and younger members, all engaged and involved, and all for reversion to two-way.

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By CharlieB (anonymous) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 17:06:39

Speaking of street conversions, will Councillor Whitehead please convert the roads on the mountain to one-way streets already? What an insensitive hypocritical a-hole!

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By LorriB (anonymous) | Posted March 14, 2015 at 00:22:11 in reply to Comment 110222

You forgot he's also an engaged citizen hater, hissing at them with his forked-tongue.

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By crtsvg (registered) | Posted March 13, 2015 at 20:14:49 in reply to Comment 110222

haha

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 00:04:22

There were many painful moments during the meeting last Monday, but the most depressing theme for me was the "I didn't know anything about this plan" comment and the contention that somehow residents are being screwed over in a system beyond their control.

I spoke to a resident on Duke Street a few days before the meeting and she said that many people in her building told her they don't have computers, don't subscribe to the paper, are not members of the DNA and did not vote in the 2014 PB process, but expected to be informed, or asked, about changes on their street.

I have limited sympathy for people who think they don't have to do ANYTHING about being involved and also expect to have their preferences taken into account.

This is not just a problem in the Durand neighbourhood. Many people don't know anything about city, provincial or federal politics.

Just think of what could be accomplished if more people were informed, learned about issues and engaged with elected officials. The system would work better if there were more than a few "activists" paying attention and writing letters, sending emails, or making calls to their reps.

Our democratic system relies on engaged citizens. And not only at those meetings for which they received a printed invitation from their ward councillor.

(And thanks to Jason Farr for holding this meeting.)

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By Theatre (registered) | Posted March 16, 2015 at 17:06:20 in reply to Comment 110244

There are many people who cannot afford to have computers or papers or other extras: they are too busy trying to make ends meet. I vote even when I am underwhelmed with the choices. Many others do not because they may be ill, too tired or just busy with their families to get out to meetings. Take care

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 07:41:00 in reply to Comment 110244

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 11:21:21 in reply to Comment 110247

I'm not blaming them for their disagreement.

PB was advertised in the paper (not a low-priced venture), it was in the DNA newsletter, displays were set up at the Farmers' Market, there were posters all over the neighbourhood. But, somehow, people missed the messaging, didn't vote and now are surprised that this initiative was supported. Not only this initiative, but $1 million in initiatives for Ward 2.

How about turning your second paragraph around: If you don't have internet access, don't subscribe to the newspaper and live in a security-enhanced building, perhaps you should reach out to learn about what's going in your neighbourhood and your ward. Join up with your neighbourhood association (very cheap membership rates). Read the posters on the bulletin boards when you go for a coffee or to the bank. Do not be oblivious and expect updates that effect you to be delivered on a silver platter.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 23:22:14 in reply to Comment 110252

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Comment edited by DowntownInHamilton on 2015-03-15 23:22:49

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 20:17:27 in reply to Comment 110256

You do like to twist things around, don't you. The majority of attendees at the meeting, shocked and dismayed at the decision were: English-speaking, literate, long-term residents of Canada and the Durand.

I'm not stepping on anyone's right to disagree or the downtrodden, minorities that you are so "concerned" about.

My only point was that many people are protesting that they were not informed/consulted about these changes, although they have been "on the books" for decades and the PB vote was well-publicized. The end.

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By yeah!! (anonymous) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 10:21:28 in reply to Comment 110247

I never even got notice by registered mail of the pothole filling they did on my street last year and I was 3 and a half minutes late for work that morning!

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 23:23:42 in reply to Comment 110250

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By Stretch (anonymous) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 10:05:07 in reply to Comment 110247

Unfortunately the Town Crier has been off ill.

You really are too much most of the time.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 23:47:51 in reply to Comment 110249

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 15, 2015 at 05:24:50

In other words, the opposition was mostly knee-jerk fear of change.

The position of many, many people at that meeting was well-described by Groucho Marx in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHash5ta...

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By Durander3263827 (anonymous) | Posted March 16, 2015 at 20:27:49

I cannot speak about Bold, but I do know some things about Duke Street, and what I know is that Duke changes width from block to block, and is quite narrow in the two blocks between Caroline and Queen, mostly because it has parking on both sides of the street. For those two blocks, there are 13 cars on each side, and at least one side will have to be cleared of cars, so for those two blocks that's 26 parking spaces gone. Also, the blocks between James and Park are part of a bus route, so that may require a bit more width than non-bus route streets.

The Durand has no shortage of East-West streets. If you don't like the direction that the street that you're on is going, just drive 100 feet north or south and you can find a street going the other way. The real problem is a lack of two-way North-South streets, so making Bay two-ways might be better, but that's a discussion for another day.

As some have said, the Durand is a very different neighbourhood than when cars went two ways. There were no high-rises, and many people then didn't have even one car; now many have two. There are more and more cars in the neighbourhood; this may not be a good thing, but it is a reality. Slowly green space around apartments and condos are being paved over to make more parking for their residents, and eliminating street parking could lead to an increase this trend.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 18, 2015 at 06:04:35 in reply to Comment 110267

There's really no need to remove the parking, even given how narrow Duke is at that point. Hamilton is full of streets that are just as narrow and have two-way traffic and cubside parking on both sides. Here's a photo of Wood Street in the North End after a significant snowfall late last year:

Wood Street

It works just fine. People in cars have to slow down and negotiate past each other, which is exactly what you would want on a narrow residential street.

The City's policy on a minimum road width for curbside parking on both sides is arbitrary and in this case quite harmful to the goal of making Duke safer and more inclusive for all road users.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 07:50:54 in reply to Comment 110267

the city needs to stop this nonsense of allowing high-rises to pave over their outside green space for parking lots. It looks ridiculous and adds yet more danger for kids and people walking through the neighbourhood. The way to see less cars in a neighbourhood isn't to pave over everything with parking

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 09:40:23 in reply to Comment 110268

On the star and spec there are articles today about demand for parking spots to go with condos is dropping fast.

Hamilton's high parking requirements are going from obsolete to worse with this trend; they need updating.

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By Durander3263827 (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2015 at 17:24:41

As a first stage experiment, I propose that all the parking that needs to be removed for two-way conversion be made "No Parking" for two months, and then residents of the neighbourhood will know how much or how little the loss of those spots will affect the neighbourhood.

If there is a zero or near-zero effect, then the complaint is invalid, and the naysayers will be disproven.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted March 18, 2015 at 09:40:24

I agree.

However, the same people who wanted all parking preserved (or increased) to accommodate all the new two car families moving to Durand and new condos being built also wanted streets wide enough that motorists can drive easily past each other without slowing down, even just after the worst winter storms.

This is why they claimed the streets are 'too narrow' for two-way reversion and should remain one-way, despite the fact that there are hundreds of two-way streets as narrow or narrower in Hamilton (many in Ward 2 and Kirkendall just next door!).

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-03-18 09:41:31

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By NoSugarAdded (registered) | Posted March 18, 2015 at 12:44:32

"the streets are 'too narrow' for two-way reversion and should remain one-way"

All these streets were built as 2-way streets!

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By Durander3263827 (anonymous) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 10:56:06

The difference between Wood Street in the North End and Duke Street in the Durand, is the difference in the size of the populations living in those neighbourhoods and using those streets.

I'm still a bit confused as to why we can't trust people to follow simple speed limits, but do trust them to come at us head-on on narrower streets than many are used to driving on. The streets were used by far fewer cars before they went two-way, and were, in fact, actually laid out in the mid-19th century for horse and carriages.

Why not try reducing the speed limit first, adding a few dozen more all-way stops while we're at it, and seeing if that helps calm the traffic. People seem to respect stop signs, so let's add a lot of them and solve one problem while not causing others.

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By Chicken and Egg (anonymous) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 11:09:23

The reason so many people use these streets is because of exactly how they are laid out as one-way. Most of the rush hour traffic (morning and evening) is cut through drivers that belong on the arterials.

If the streets weren't constructed in such a way to encourage cut through drivers there wouldn't be any. No where else in the city are the streets designed to draw traffic off the major thoroughfares and in to the neighbourhoods. In fact, new subdivisions are laid out in a way that it is impossible to cut through them.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 21:58:29 in reply to Comment 110314

Yes, it would be best to eliminate all cut-through car driving from Durand, the way every residential neighbourhood is protected in The Netherlands

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By screencarp (registered) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 23:07:34

With the lack of a road verge these sidewalks need protection from the passing cars. Two way traffic makes the pedestrian/cycle experience worse because you have more traffic passing closer to the narrow sidewalk. Ideally, I'd suggest we narrow the street, widen the sidewalk and plant some trees/gardens between the sidewalk and the road. Alternate parking with protected bump-outs to require cars to "weave", and lower the speed limit to 30k. Suddenly you have suburban style boulevards rather than gritty city streets. If we could get over this nonsense of two way vs one way perhaps we could actually make these streets more inviting and complete.

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By DBC (registered) | Posted March 20, 2015 at 08:37:46

And since the money for what you propose is likely to never be available to make the changes you suggest (no matter how desirable they may be) just flip the street to two-way like everywhere else in the city. Please.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted March 20, 2015 at 08:59:44 in reply to Comment 110329

Hamilton: where the perfect and the inept tag-team against the good.

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By Dazed and Confused (anonymous) | Posted March 27, 2015 at 23:44:46

I take great exception to Mr. Kevlahan's condescending tone and his opinion that our reaction was out of fear. Fear? Please. So because he didn't like our response he belittles our opinion? Nice. Thanks for that.

I want to begin by saying how much I hate the term "traffic calming." Let's call it what it really is ... traffic congestion. It absolutely baffles my mind that that so many people want to create congestion. I can just hear it now ... "Oh please increase my commute time. I'm getting to and from work way too quickly." Unbelievable. While so many cities around the world are trying to find ways to alleviate their congested streets, Hamilton is the ONLY city in the world that is actively seeking ways to create congestion! Absolutely mind-boggling!

As for the break-neck speeding on Duke and Bold that needs to be "calmed" ... I haven't seen it in the 11 years I've been here. Exactly what is this danger that needs to be removed? One-ways have less cars on the road. Two-ways have more cars on the road. How can having more cars on these narrow roads be safer?

Folks, whether you like it or not, people in Hamilton have cars. This is a fact and it’s not going to change. We need parking. And we need one ways because they work. They are efficient and traffic flows well.

And out of curiosity, just how many people way back when decided that 2-way conversions would be a good thing to do? Was it a handful of people on a small committee? Was it more or less than those opposed to it now? And if so many people are opposed to it now, why then is the city going to go ahead with it anyway? Mr. Farr, please stop the conversions. The majority don’t want them. Isn’t it a councillor’s job to try to do what the majority of people want?

Dazed and Confused

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By Bike (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2015 at 22:17:14 in reply to Comment 110670

The one way conversion stuff was started by cyclists who hate having to travel the extra distance one ways force on them. Everything else they say is bull.

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By same old (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2015 at 18:07:08 in reply to Comment 110670

Just another anonymous commenter who claims to represent the silent majority

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By Pot (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2015 at 22:18:47 in reply to Comment 110683

Hey kettle your black.

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By Yes You Are (anonymous) | Posted March 28, 2015 at 16:58:30 in reply to Comment 110670

Congestion? Really? That's your take away?

The neighbourhood needs calmed traffic and cut through traffic needs to be discouraged.

Just last evening walking home from work a car blew through the stop sign at Robinson and Caroline. Never even touched his brakes. Near miss with a half ton pick-up.

Sadly this is a regular occurrence as cars use Durand to cut between Queen and James at rush hour.

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