By John Neary
Published March 21, 2011
If one-way streets don't work for the police, how can they work for the rest of us?
I had visitors from out of town on Sunday, and we spent some time walking around Beasley and Landsdale. Around noon, my visitors noticed several police cruisers heading north on Catharine Street at Wilson. Later on, around two o'clock, we saw another police cruiser accelerating west along Wilson Street towards Wellington, where it turned north and stopped in front of an apartment building.
The sight of police cruisers wasn't a surprise - after all, the Hamilton Police Service is headquartered on King William Street between Mary and Walnut. However, in both cases the cruisers were traveling in the wrong direction on a one-way street.
The driver of an emergency vehicle should only travel the wrong way on a one-way street in a dire situation. For the police to have done so twice in one day in the same area of the city, there can only be two explanations: either officers are taking dangerous shortcuts in non-emergent cases, or the network of one-way streets does not allow them to reach their destinations with sufficient haste when the need is great.
If the former is true (which I doubt), the Hamilton Police Service should apologize to residents of Beasley and Landsdale for the unsafe conduct of its officers, and should take steps to prevent such conduct.
On the other hand, if (as more likely) the latter is true, the HPS should impress upon the City of Hamilton that one-way streets interfere with police work and that prompt and complete conversion to a two-way network is necessary to ensure public safety.