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)
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