Put Neighbourhoods Before Speeders

By Jason Leach
Published July 07, 2008

More stories of dangerous speeding on Hamilton's streets. Adding stop lights is a good idea, but converting these streets to two-way would help address much of this problem.

Our one-way streets are built at a much higher capacity than is necessary for 22 hours of the day. The result? Empty lanes just begging dangerous drivers to let it rip.

One of these days, and many deaths later, perhaps Hamilton will finally start to put neighbourhoods first and not the speed of non-residents cutting through our downtown neighbourhoods on their way to work.

Efficient LRT is also part of the solution as it would remove more cars from the road and allow us to remove more car lanes.

I've never seen a street race on Locke, Ottawa St or Westdale Village.

It's time for us to breath life back into our central city neighbourhoods that have been a dumping ground for too long.

Residents here deserve the same quality of life as anyone else in town. Two way streets and LRT have worked time and time again in North America and around the world. It's time to kill this bad 1950's planning project once and for all.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By Mervin (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2008 at 15:14:09

If you've never seen a road race on Locke Street, you must not live there.. people fly through the four-way stop all the time late at night, and zoom down the street.
I'm torn on this because efficient traffic is something Hamilton can be proud of - less idling and less congested traffic means less pollution and carbon emissions.. certainly Hamilton makes up for those saved emissions in spades with other pollutants, though.
There's just too much cost to making these streets 2-way yet again. Actual enforcement is the key, and speed-timed lights with red light cameras would be a good way to slow things down. In Cambridge, they have lights that go red when someone exceeds the speed limit, as an example.
We shouldn't let a few jackasses ruin it for everyone. We still have them on Locke anyhow (not to mention the 2-3AM Harley Davidsons produced by the West Town being ridiculously loud.. I mean, I love Harleys, just not in the city).

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 07, 2008 at 15:33:03

efficient traffic is something Hamilton can be proud of - less idling and less congested traffic means less pollution and carbon emissions

That's not actually true. Networks have some highly counterintuitive properties.

It's a paradox of traffic engineering that when you optimize individual streets for traffic flow, induced demand generates so much additional overall traffic that the traffic system as a whole generates more emissions than a system in which individual streets are more congested.

Hamilton is a great example: overall, vehicle emissions produce more than half the city's total air pollution. Vehicle emissions continue to increase as a percentage of the total while industrial sources continue to shrink as a percentage of the total.

In general, cities most committed to maximizing traffic flow have the most overall traffic and the highest overall vehicle emissions.

Converting Hamilton's streets to two-way, removing lanes to make room for wider sidewalks, increasing transit service, etc. will reduce overall pollution by increasing local congestion and hence making it harder to drive across the city.

For more on this, look up Braess's Paradox, Downs-Thomson Paradox, and Lewis-Mogridge Position.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 07, 2008 at 17:51:52

Hamilton has more km of major roads/highways per person than any other city in Canada. In no way, shape or form does that equal lower carbon emissions and less deadly pollutants (which cause a plethora of respiratory ailments). Our 'efficient' traffic is actually a sign that we might very well contribute more pollution per person/driver than any other city in Canada....not to mention all of the other pollutants we contribute.

Also, Mervin, I realize that people street race everywhere....but along King, Main, York, Cannon etc.... it isn't just a daily thing. It's a 24-7 thing. 365 days a year. I live near Locke and am on Locke several times a week and have yet to see a street race, even though I know they are bound to happen. I can't remember a day going by in the past several years without seeing one on King, York or Main in my daily travels.

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By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2008 at 18:58:08

I don't think Marvin is aware that when we talk about street racing we mean over 100 km/hr on King St near Gage Park. People who do this have to apply their brakes soon after and end up using waaay more fuel by starting and stopping at every stop light.

If we reduce the # of lanes then we will reduce the maximum speed... and ultimately reduce smelly fumes and loud disruptive noises.

Yes the motorcycles can be annoying, but this is a different subject.

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By mattchall (registered) | Posted July 08, 2008 at 10:41:20

Main St. should be converted to 2 way with the LRT running down the center lanes from Eastgate to University Plaza. King St. should also be converted to 2 way with left turn lanes at major intersections as should Cannon and Wilson. Traffic lights need to be timed to the speed limit to discourage speeding. Drivers wishing to "fly" from one end of town to the other should use Burlington St. (although an extension needs to be provided to get to the 403). Before all the "automophiles" jump on my back, I live on Wellington N. near Cannon and witness, and hear, racing 24/7 on my street. I also am required to drive for work as I provide on site service. We all need to sacrifice and compromise to resolve this issue. An extra 10-15 mins. won't hurt you.

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By adam1 (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2008 at 18:06:51

Be sure to visit and fill out the rapid transit survey

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 08, 2008 at 21:05:18


Please see this blog:

Converting streets to two-way won't result in '10-15 extra minutes'. It would be more like 2 or 3 along Main or King. People predicted the end of the world with James South being converted along with all of it's suburban drivers using it to go up two Mountain accesses. The gridlock never happened. With efficient LRT, it won't happen on Main or King either.

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By mattchall (registered) | Posted July 09, 2008 at 09:48:59

Jason; Yes, I've read that before. Studies are all well and good, and I am a strong advocate of 2 way streets. However, traffic lights are generally red for close to 1 min. If the right lane has parked cars and someone is turning left from the traveling lane (assume the city planners are too thick to consider left turn lanes) you will idle for more than 2-3 mins when driving from one end of the city to the other. Just try driving in downtown TO. My point is not the number of added time, it is that this is something that needs to be done and if it costs single occupant vehicles more commuting time, so be it. The end result is worth it.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 09, 2008 at 17:31:07

yea, I see your point. You're talking about coming through the entire city. I agree that an extra 10 minutes or whatever, to get from Dundurn to Ottawa etc.... would be more than fine. Right now it's insane and full of speeding.

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By Ed (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2008 at 22:50:25

While I agree that the main streets (Main, King, etc) are the ones that have the most street races on a daily base, as pointed out by another poster, there are other streets which have a problem with these idiots who were born with lead feet.
I live on Melvin Ave in the citys east end. Between Parkdale Ave. and Woodward Ave, there is "one" stop sign. In this area, there are numerous apt. bldgs., 4 housing surveys and 3 schools. Does the stop sign help curve speeding? Not on your life. About the only thing the stop sign works for are the city buses.

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