Comment 80415

By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted September 04, 2012 at 15:43:55

Chair and Members, General Issues Committee

I am writing to express my strong support for the motion by Councillor McHattie to establish a two way street implementation team.

As a resident and business owner downtown, I have witnessed first hand the destruction to city life that is caused by one way streets like King, Main and Cannon which move traffic at high speeds. These streets are dangerous and inhospitable to pedestrians, which is why businesses continue to struggle. I have also witnessed the positive effects of complete, pedestrian friendly streets.

I opened a business on James Street North, which used to be a one way street moving traffic south. Around the time it was converted to two way, very few businesses remained and many buildings were vacant. This street has been properly converted and now features ample sidewalks and street parking. Traffic moves slowly, but I have never seen gridlock conditions, which many had claimed would occur. Most of my customers are pedestrians, and those who are driving are able to slow down and park. I firmly believe that I would not have been able to succeed in opening a business on this street if it were still configured as a fast one way street.

There is no reason other streets should not be given the same chance to succeed. My shop is three doors down from Cannon Street, which is four lanes of fast moving traffic. Heavy trucks roar down this street traveling well over the speed limit. I have seen three accidents right outside my shop in as many months of business. One time, a cyclist was hit and injured. Cannon Street has mostly developed as low density, automotive uses which stands in stark contrast to the mixed use development on James. Nonetheless there are businesses on Cannon which open to the street and would benefit from two way conversion and traffic calming. There are empty and underutilized lots which would be given a chance at development if the street were not so utterly bleak and inhospitable.

Likewise, King Street suffers from fast one way traffic flow. The heart of our city, Gore Park, is cut off from the street by a metal fence separating parkland from four lanes of traffic. No matter how much money is spent on superficial aesthetic enhancements, the Gore will not function as it is intended until traffic is slowed down and the pedestrian is given their rightful place. It is not enough to create a pedestrian zone and keep it fenced off from traffic. Parks and public places need to blend into each other and be surrounded by a variety of uses, business and residential, to be used and appreciated. Hamilton's failure to recognize this has led to so many wasted spaces and often, traffic is what is blocking them off from their surroundings.

As someone who is active in community groups and the business community, I can attest to the fact that a great majority of downtown residents and business owners are supportive of two way street conversion and traffic calming. The current one way street configuration only moves traffic through the downtown at the expense of business, safety and livability. Downtown refuses to be used as a traffic conduit between suburbs. I urge you to support this motion and give our downtown the same respect given to other wards.

Thank you

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