Comment 102331

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted June 11, 2014 at 12:17:27 in reply to Comment 102328

Vancouver is the best example: they've done the most and the changes started in 1970s at the same time the Durand was asking for changes that weren't ever made, or only partially implemented decades later (e.g. the 2002 Traffic Study that led to two minor roads being converted to two-way and some bump-outs on Aberdeen and Charlton).

In fact the West End of Vancouver (quite similar to Durand in many respects) made the radical change of diagonally cutting off many intersections to stop and slow down cut-through traffic. This is precisely the "maze" strategy suggested by Vaughn. At the time people claimed that it would cause all sorts of problems for motorists and emergency vehicles, but they are still there 40 years later (and no one would remove them now). The extra paved space was also used for many mini-parkettes. This is an example of a solution Hamilton could have implemented decades ago, but didn't.

Here are some examples of the diagonal cut and blocks that have been closed to traffic (Hamilton could have done this in the 1970s too!):

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/West+End/@49.2889021,-123.1422476,87m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x5486722983fd3f63:0x1793ee2a33d8acda

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/West+End/@49.2820442,-123.1382565,175m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x5486722983fd3f63:0x1793ee2a33d8acda

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/West+End/@49.2907504,-123.1422517,87m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x5486722983fd3f63:0x1793ee2a33d8acda

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/West+End/@49.2915131,-123.1382123,87m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x5486722983fd3f63:0x1793ee2a33d8acda

What is the difference in Vancouver?

It's hard to say, but Vancouver never built an urban freeway, never implemented a massive one-way conversion of almost all streets in an around downtown and had strong community groups and municipal level political parties that campaigned on progressive urban design platforms.

It has also had a consistent pro-active planning policy pursued over decades and supported by council to favour density, walking and cycling. And they are continuing to this day to make incremental changes every year, rather than timidly blocking projects that might be controversial, or imposing 5-year moratoriums on something as standard as a 30km/h speed limit. The City of Vancouver was never amalgamated with the suburbs, which means that all councillors are basically urban in outlook. The over-representation of suburban residents on council probably has made change harder recently, although it doesn't really explain the past.

One important factor is that urban design, traffic engineering and public health all supported the "people first" planning principles, whereas in Hamilton (at least until recently) traffic engineering seemed to be actually opposed to the pedestrian friendly initiatives pushed by our urban design (e.g. "Putting people first" downtown master plan) and public health (e.g. "pedestrian summit" and "walk and bike for life" workshops whose results were first ignored and then blocked by traffic).

I think this is changing, but it is vital that the engineers themselves support putting people first, both personally and professionally, rather than seeing the goal of their job as ensuring the smooth and efficient movement of motor vehicles.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2014-06-11 12:34:41

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