By Ryan McGreal
Published August 07, 2008
A study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health in May-June 2000 demonstrates clearly that one-way streets in Hamilton carry a higher risk of child pedestrian injury than two-way streets.
Written by public health researchers Ashley Wazana, Vicki L, Rynard, Parminder Raina, Paul Krueger and Larry W. Chambers, the study, titled, "Are Child Pedestrians at Increased Risk of Injury on One-Way Compared to Two-Way Streets?", compared child pedestrian injury rates per 100,000, per 100 km, per year on one-way and two-way streets between 1978 and 1994.
Using injury data from the City of Hamilton Traffic Department, the study found that the overall injury rate was 2.5 times higher on one-way streets than two-way streets, consistent across all age groups from 0 to 14 years of age.
Not only was the injury rate higher, but also the severity of injury varied across the street types.
It also found that the injury rate is three times higher in poor neighbourhoods than in wealthy neighbourhoods, but that injury rates were still higher on one-way streets, even controlling for socioeconomic status.
The authors conclude:
One-way streets have higher rates of child pedestrian injuries than two-way streets in this community. Future risk factor and intervention studies should include the directionality of streets to further investigate its contribution to child pedestrian injuries.
Earlier studies had concluded that one-way streets resulted in lower injury rates, but the authors pointed out problems with the methodolgoies of those studies, including non-representative sampling of streets, only considering injuries at signalized intersections, failing to control for exposure variables, and so on.
As an interesting aside, the study notes that after downtown streets were converted to one-way, traffic increased from 10% to 50% and traffic speed increased significantly, with transit time to a given destination decreasing by 5% tyo 75%.
This is not surprising, considering that wide, multi-lane one-way streets are an incentive to drive more.
The authors suggested, "It is also possible that on one-way streets, drivers are less attentive (due to the lack of traffic from the other direction)".