Special Report: Walkable Streets

City Streets Deserve a Chance to Succeed

Why are business owners on King Street less deserving of an atmosphere for success than business owners on King Street in Dundas or Wilson Street in Ancaster?

By Jason Leach
Published May 18, 2012

A growing cry is arising from a huge cross-section of Hamiltonians who believe now is the time to convert Main, King and Cannon Streets to normal, two-way travel. Normal two-way streets will increase public and child safety, improve livability in our Code Red neighbourhoods and allow a retail renaissance to take shape from the Delta to Hwy 403, similar to what we've seen on James North and South in recent years since their conversion.

King, Cannon and Main streets have been an embarrassment for too long. Aaron Newman from Newman's Menswear sums it up quite nicely in his essay. I count Newman to be among the brightest of heroes in Hamilton, sticking it out in an area whose main roads have been designed to whisk people past their business, instead of onto its streets, and therefore into the business.

I hope you feel the same way that I do about these streets: they are in horrendous condition and completely unfriendly to business, pedestrians or vibrant, safe city life.

Excess Lane Capacity

Our one-way network was built to facilitate the tens of thousands of employees headed to the northeast industrial district each day in the 1950s. Since then, our demographic and commuter patterns have changed drastically.

Consider the following: King Street has been reduced to two lanes at King and Pearl and again over Hwy 403 for almost two years, and there has been no traffic backup.

I chatted with an employee at the Vrancor Restaurant Group at King and Ray not long ago, and they noted not a single traffic tie-up during the lane closures. I live nearby and have observed the same thing.

Currently Main is down to two lanes over the 403, again with zero impact on traffic flow. Simply put, we don't need these multi-lane highways downtown anymore.

We now have a true ring highway system that is fast, convenient and efficient. I live near King and Locke and am able to reach the QEW via Burlington Street in ten minutes. I can reach Greenhill Ave at the RHVP in 15 minutes via the 403/Linc/Red Hill. It's quicker for me to cross to the other side of Hamilton this way than it is to use Main, Cannon or King, even in their freeway-esque state.

Quality of Life

How long will we ignore the quality of life of our most vulnerable residents? The rate of car ownership is lower through this stretch of town than anywhere else in town, which means more people walking, using transit and riding bikes...and they move around in this way on our most dangerous streets.

Why are business owners on King Street less deserving of an atmosphere for success than business owners on King Street in Dundas or Wilson Street in Ancaster?

The City can't single-handedly make a business succeed, but Council can create an environment that gives businesses a chance to succeed - see Locke and James North.

This can be the council that shows leadership when others wouldn't. Dozens of North American cities are getting rid of their one-way streets. In Hamilton's case, our traffic flow will not remain stable and steady with two-way streets, but simpler and easier to navigate with multiple east/west options.

Ready to Succeed

The International Village downtown is ready to boom ... once that fast moving one-way street is gone. Everything else is in place - wide sidewalks, trees, parking and a great streetwall.

Hamilton is turning a corner. It's up to our leaders to take it to the next step. I'm tired of all the negative comments and looks when folks visit Ivor Wynne stadium or King Street.

We're about to get a world-class stadium in the heart of this corridor. Let's make King Street a priority so its vibrancy and business potential can match the new stadium.

Our city deserves to be given a chance to succeed, not be held back on the notions of an outdated traffic system from the 1950s. Now is the time for change. There's nothing to lose, and so much to gain.

Editor's note: This essay is part of a series on the future role and design of our downtown streets. We encourage Hamiltonians to submit well-written, thoughtful and evidence-based essays that move the discussion forward. Please send submissions to editor@raisethehammer.org.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By TerryCooke (registered) | Posted May 18, 2012 at 09:14:04

Great stuff Jason. Just putting the finishing touches on a feature piece on this topic for the next Urbanicity that will also appear on RTH. Cheers.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 18, 2012 at 09:14:45 in reply to Comment 77107

Excellent! Can't wait to read it. Thanks for adding your voice to this crucial issue Terry.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 18, 2012 at 09:14:08

This was sent as an open letter to all of city council. I'd encourage others to do the same. I think it's important that they understand two main things:

  1. The economic merits of this switch
  2. The fact that quicker, more convenient routes across town already exist, even with our 5-lane streets and their timed-lights. I don't use Main or King to get to the east end now, and I won't in the future once they are two-way. Our ring highways are quicker, and to be honest, more enjoyable driving on free-flowing roadways designed for high-speed travel.

Personally, I also see huge merits with the quality of life, livability, child safety components of this issue, but I don't think those things resonate with city hall as much as understanding that all the positive buzz on James North could be coming to a dilapidated King St near you, and the fact that nobody will be inconvenienced on their cross-town trips...we already have quicker routes across town.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-05-18 09:16:17

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By Paul V (anonymous) | Posted May 18, 2012 at 09:40:15

Excellent work Jason. How could anyone read this and think otherwise? Did you send the letter to The Spec as well?

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 18, 2012 at 09:52:20 in reply to Comment 77110

No, I haven't. Good idea. Thx

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted May 18, 2012 at 11:36:14

Another good piece on why we should change directions right now. It's way too early to claim momentum, but I do believe this discussion is one that is easy to experience, understand, articulate and support. At least amongst citizens. Together we can work on staff and Council. Thanks Jason.

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By Shea (anonymous) | Posted May 18, 2012 at 13:32:07

These current RTH essays will be very helpful in advancing this political/social issue. As you all know, other good arguments put in past years--even in the Spectator!--have met with easy, predictable counter-"facts." Ryan has, over the past week, dug out many examples from the Spec archive database. At the time of the John & James two-waying, I spoke with the head of city planning about a newly very hazardous traffic light arrangement at James, Charlton and the West 5th access. A new and successful arrangement was put into place: that's tweaking, helping, making it work. The earlier "bad" traffic light arrangement was never an "argument" for why the whole idea was inappropriate and bound to fail. I'm not suggesting that city hall is always open to citizen ideas, but that, "ya' never know" when a positive response will be forthcoming from that place--and in the John/James case, the major large changes had of course already been made.
Nonetheless, at this time, now, in addition to King, Main, & Cannon, I'd like ward councillors to consider the real need to get one-way off MacNab North, John North, Park North, and the other north-south "north end" streets. Among other things, this will surely slow traffic in residential neighbourhoods (does anyone really need to argue why this is good?), and assist in routing of emergency vehicles, for example. A former student of mine (with international professional training), studying urban traffic engineering in Hamilton, said that even putting a yellow line down a two-way city street was probably more effective than installation of all-way Stop signs at almost every block. //

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By JBJ (registered) | Posted May 18, 2012 at 15:26:56

Kudos to both Jason and Aaron. The conversion of one-way streets in residential neighbourhoods (here I'm thinking of Central and the North End) is important as well. I live near Barton and James and find that many drivers will use Colbourne or Mulberry Streets as short cuts to avoid traffic lights going east-west or vice versa. The problem? Many of these drivers are going too fast for these roads with the risk of running down pedestrians.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of walking down Cannon knows all too well that that cars routinely go 15 to 25 km above the speed limit. Terry Cooke alluded to this a few months ago when he talked about how the many beautiful homes on that street have lost value because Cannon is essentially a five lane highway. We need to do the grassroots campaign not just to convince the folks around the boardroom at City Hall but to convince our fellow citizens on the Mountain, in Stony Creek and Flamborough that two way conversion is the way to go. Until the "suburban" car dependent people are convinced, two-way conversion is going to be a struggle but one that we must maintain for the future of our city and our environment.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 18, 2012 at 17:07:56

I was reading an article about how the NDP has made gains in winning people over on the various Tar Sands issue with their Dutch Disease discussion - discussing the issue on the Conservative's terms... as a matter of the economy.

Maybe we're framing the one-way streets issue the wrong way?

Perhaps we should be tackling the city on their terms...

How do one-way streets affect land values? How much tax revenue is the city losing by keeping these streets one-way?

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted May 22, 2012 at 09:09:35 in reply to Comment 77117

I wonder if there's real estate data on the value of the properties along James & John Sts in the 10 years leading up to the conversion and the 10 years afterwards.

For comparison, we'd also need that data for King and/or Main to see if they've been increasing at a similar rate.

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By Brian C (anonymous) | Posted May 18, 2012 at 21:02:57

Any street whether it's one way or two is an expressway if it does not have curbside parking. Look what has happened to Wilson St. To make it two way they removed the curbside parking and now it is most unfriendly to pedestrians. Perhaps my concern with the conversions to two way is that they have been done so badly. All you need to do is paint a yellow line down the middle and let traffic deal with it. Our traffic department has created so many dangerous intersections that it is no wonder there have been pedestrian deaths on James St. In their efforts to manipulate traffic they have created numerous intersections where cars are traveling directly head on into oncoming traffic. Designated turning lanes create a distraction for drivers and anxiety when trying to cut through gaps in traffic. Just imagine what Main and King and Cannon would look like if they simply allowed curbside parking both sides from Dundurn to the east end. Then synchronize the traffic lights to 30 km. Many problems would be solved by those two changes. When people see the success of downtown Dundas, Locke St. or James N, they assume it is because of two way traffic. But they all have natural traffic calming with curbside parking. If you want to change to two way just paint a line down the middle of the street or perhaps simply let cars park along the curb instead.

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By FatalFourWay (anonymous) | Posted May 19, 2012 at 01:17:32

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 19, 2012 at 09:12:25 in reply to Comment 77122

Those streets have certainly endured tough times, as most of Hamilton fell into quite a hole late last century, but let's be thankful that they weren't converted to 4-lane, one-way streets or they would be in MUCH worse shape than they are today. I still enjoy some of the best sandwiches in the city from various spots on Barton Street. Our family only buys birthday cakes from Barton and Sherman etc..... As downtown rebounds, let's hope it begins to spread along Barton....that street has tremendous potential.
As a side note, several TO architects, designers and real estate interests have been purchasing property on Barton over the past year. My city hall sources says they receive calls about Barton St regularly. Some months, it's the most inquired about street. Perhaps as Locke and James get rehabilitated, Barton will be the next frontier. I would be as bold to predict that Barton will rebound before King if we leave King with it's one-way highway.

Of course, industry has always been a focal point on Barton. It boomed when 40,000 workers rode the streetcars to the factories everyday and lined up down the sidewalk for lunch etc.... Now, most of those jobs are gone and many of the remaining workers don't live nearby. Proximity to industry built the street, but could now be the thing that prevents, or drastically slows it's rebound.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-05-19 09:14:55

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By Parallax (anonymous) | Posted May 19, 2012 at 15:32:18 in reply to Comment 77124

Barton was a locus of interest and investment back in the 90s as well, predating Locke and James.

There's ample reason to be excited... great bones, true soul, full-flavoured vibe... I think it's a great street with a lot of potential, and probably more interesting than either of the other two, which are handicapped toward success (minutes from high-income residential or commercial core, respectively)... but Barton has also been in decline for so long that I suspect it won't suit anyone looking to recoup in the short term.

Barton is also very open-ended, as challenges go. When you say "James North" you're talking about a max of 15 blocks, from which most people are really only talking about 7, and of that most of the attention goes to 4. "Locke South" is at best 12 blocks, but again, most people measure only south of the tracks and stop at Stanley, so again it's 7 blocks max, of which most people are only focused on Herkimer to Pine, another 4 block run.

Barton, meanwhile, is a dozen blocks just for the span *between* Locke and James. Push along to Kenilworth and you're at twice the entire length of Locke South and James North combined. And still you're not even half way to the end of Barton.

I would hope that out-of-town real estate investment would be just one of a host of reasons the city could advance for leading change on Barton... if we make it look like a gold rush of speculative investment (thanks again for chumming the waters, REIN), well... I think we can all guess how that'll turn out.

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 20, 2012 at 08:28:22 in reply to Comment 77126

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted May 19, 2012 at 20:50:43

Appropriate solutions in urban design have a chance to surface only when ideologies are not present while framing issues.

"Changing Our Perspective on One-Way Streets". - City Streets Deserve a Chance to Succeed" - "Searching for Answers to Hamilton's Love of One-Way Streets" - "More Predictions of Doom for James, John South Conversions"

Populist ideologically driven slogans continue to rule the day in Hamilton, whether it is about urban development, economic development, traffic planning or poverty.

The one-way/two-way streets debate is great as it does seem to generate passionate conversations on either side of the issue across our otherwise disengaged communities.

But is this conversation growing into a 'solution seeking' discourse? or has it already been reduced, (much like most local discussions), into a 'solution prescribing' monologue - which predictably result in an Us vs Them stalemate?

If such discussions are to drive -real change- on the street, then we have to recognize the importance of framing such conversations in non-polarizing terms, and sincerly keep an open mind to solutions being sought by a diversity of voices.

"One-way streets" and "two-way streets" are not polar opposites. A city's vibrancy is contingent on an astute use of both these planning tools contextually.

There are numerous instances of highly successful one-way streets across the world. As there are numerous instances of glaring failures of two-way streets.

Framing the issue globally around two-way streets as being superior than one-way streets does immense disservice to evidence-based thinking, and precludes innovations in street planning from occuring.

By insisting on such global prescriptions, we end up getting locked into predictable 'old solutions' and the result is often a homogenization of street design and urban experience. For a city to be truly vibrant, it needs a multitude of experiences to be occuring concurrently.

Hamiltion downtown's economic problem is primarily triggered from higher than normal automobile speed on certain selective segments of major arteries. The core issue here is that of 'speed' and less that of 'direction'.

The blind side that Hamilton's two-way street proponents have is that if their wish for urban density comes to fruition, then the two-way streets as they are being proposed will very quickly choke up the city's potential into an urban nightmare. The proposed Go terminal on James North will soon be living proof of the futility of practicing urban design in the default ideological mode.

Hamilton's downtown's road design problems orginate from the random and poor breaking of the organic flow of its Grid. The core especially suffers from this, resulting in the perception that one-way streets are the problem. Couple this with the perception of uncontrolled speeds in certain segments, and such perception quickly turns into reality. And you throw planning ideology into the mix here, and we have our perenial Us vs Them mentality driving all our public conversations in urban design.

While phased two-way conversions have being implemented on certain roads in the lower city, the complexity of such partially complete implementation lends an aura of chaos, thus providing more fodder to the ideologically driven proponents of two-way street.

Most direction conversions are not as simple as painting an yellow line in the middle. If it were all city's across the world would have had them painted by now. The reality of costs (which are minimized by ideologues) is the driving force for the time-lapse nature of such change.

Rather than being frustrated by the slow-motion nature of changes, one could actually help the momentum by seeking innovative and cost effective ways to achieving the cherished goal of slower traffic in the core.

One such approach was adopted by the City of Hendersonville, NC back in 1963 - by creating a simple serpentine park-lined promenade skirted by quaint shops, galleries, and restaurants in downtown Grand Junction." If the one-way proponets are hard to convert to two-way thinking, then instead of fighting them - maybe suggesting a serpentine park-like one way promenade, may be an approach to get them to see the benefits of slowing the traffic while maintaining their one-way preferences. - Debbie Kovalik discusses Grand Junction, Colorado's Main Street

The end result would be the same - the downtown would get the boost it has needed for decades in the shortest possible time without much anguish.

Another innovative way to galvanize the imagination for such an approach would be to rally the citizens of Hamilton to convert the name of the street under consideration. Say Main Street to "Hamilton Boulevard". Imagine directions to locations in downtown sounding like: "Take the 403 East exist and drive down Hamilton Blvd. to..."

Just a name change would trigger the necessary memory jog that our councillors need to get aboard the revitalization train.

If we are conviced that such an exercise is indeed probable, then our minds become open to accepting such simple, cost-effective solutions - (see pdf's: 1, 2 ), that are based on non-ideological approches to solving urban problems.

In our rush to turn around the downtown core, we have lost the fun and discovery part of the process. Change has always been about fun and exicitement. Unfortunately, we have allowed our ideologies to turn us into the very image of those we have been pleading to, for change....no?

Let us try and reclaim the innocence we lost on the way. What good would all this serve if one day we did manage to get the downtown chugging along, but found ourselves fragmented into small, little beady-eyed people seperated by our isolated make-believe world of ideologies, bound only by our smartphones, twittering away our prejudices.

Mahesh P. Butani

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-05-19 21:12:22

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By Grendel (anonymous) | Posted May 21, 2012 at 22:18:41 in reply to Comment 77128

The Meadowlands stands out as a tabula rasa clusterfuck but also distingishes itself as the city's most user-averse environment. And it's been two-way since its inception. Beware anyone with a master plan.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 21, 2012 at 21:20:03 in reply to Comment 77128

absolutely love the name change idea....as long as we change the street at the same time.

Hamilton Boulevard...and we could even give it a median boulevard with a huge statue of George Hamilton and something else facing each other at Main and Queen/Hess. What a dramatic spot for a median boulevard with plants, flowers and grand statues...looking east you see all the way down Main through downtown...now, being able to drive west (in a 2-way scenario) drivers are greeted to the stunning view of the Niagara Escarpment as the backdrop to the entire west end.
Hamilton Boulevard...love it.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted May 22, 2012 at 13:12:10 in reply to Comment 77151

Thank you Jason! I am confident that if we are able to convince the council to change the name of Main St -- the collective subliminal visualization occuring across the community from such an exercise, would act as a natural propellent for 'Taming the Main' itself.

alt text

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With the grand statues, plants and flowers you have already visualized on the median, and the sight-lines you have perfectly captured - maybe it is time to take it up a notch and collaborate with CBC-Hamilton, to test this notion!

You'll could launch a "community tweet-in visualization": Reclaiming the Main... with the most creative tweet of the day, winning an exclusive lunch with Roger G, of CBC :)

I am sure, it would open up the floodgates for a case to rename the Main - while building huge momentum for its contextual conversion.

Mahesh P. Butani

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-05-22 13:24:06

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted May 21, 2012 at 11:11:43 in reply to Comment 77128

I can see your initial points, but separating ideology from issues is something that is very difficult to do. Issues are often born of ideology. For example, on the issue of one-way streets, those whose ideology is pro-pedestrian may believe one-way streets are unacceptable and that two-way conversion is a necessity. However, those whose ideology is focused on efficient movement of automobiles across the city may not see one-ways as an issue at all.

I don't think there's a way to handle downtown renewal without the presence of ideologies. I think the major challenge in dealing with downtown renewal is balancing them. And maybe a little education will help people realize their positions are not as divergent as they may at first think.

Hamiltion downtown's economic problem is primarily triggered from higher than normal automobile speed on certain selective segments of major arteries. The core issue here is that of 'speed' and less that of 'direction'.

I would argue there is no primary trigger for the problem. It's been a combination of factors that have been at work, traffic flow among them, influencing an evolution that has been decades-long. And the factors have been inter-related and have worked in concert.

One could point to:


  • The shifting patterns of ethnic groups, incomes classes, family types

Economic restructuring

  • Loss of major manufacturing, which has affected supporting sectors including those based downtown
  • Slow growth in alternative sectors
  • Change in tax assessment base, from majority industrial to majority residential, and its effect on city budgets

Suburban growth

  • Changes in the retail geography of the city, shifting patterns of activity
  • Failure to adapt to change, downtown forgotten for a time at the expense of new growth on the fringe
  • Downtown no longer the main locus of activity in the city

Urban renewal strategies

  • Heavy focus on 'magic bullet' solutions
  • Redevelopments that have been too revolutionary, without trying to be adaptive or integrative
  • Inward-facing block design that does not harmonize with street activity

City policies

  • Property tax rules that have created disincentives to immediate re-purposing of vacant buildings and land
  • Complex development rules that can be both prohibitive or overly-relaxed depending on location or situation
  • Convoluted processes to handle the needs of business and residents, adding to the inertia of change


  • Urban/suburban split in political views
  • Ward-focused perspectives emphasized over city/region
  • Disconnect between councilors and constituents, lack of engagement
  • Inability of council to work together to resolve issues and create solutions
  • Leadership and communicating a vision
  • Marketing the city, both within and beyond borders
  • Defeatist attitude, particularly among disenchanted citizens


  • Priority-setting
  • Lack of a coordinated vision that includes all modes
  • Limited finances to spread across rehabilitation and expansion, divided amongst the modes
  • Automobile traffic flow mismatched with pedestrian and cycling flow

That's hardly an exhaustive list - just my morning musings, and there are probably more. But in my view, all have played a role in the situation that exists today, to varying degrees. Some have been improving, some not. (And admittedly some have been worded according to my personal ideologies)

Perhaps the best way to approach this is to help those of differing ideologies to look at the broader issues from other points of view, acknowledge the varying perspectives, find common ground, and discuss solutions from there?

Comment edited by ScreamingViking on 2012-05-21 11:26:29

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By 2bhonest (registered) | Posted May 21, 2012 at 08:40:10 in reply to Comment 77128

Great ideas and a great comment Mahesh. I am divided (no pun intended) on the 2 way street issue even though it definitely needs to be addressed for those of us living downtown. This comment opens up so many other ways to explore the issue. Jane Jacobs would be proud.

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By core-b (registered) | Posted May 20, 2012 at 00:06:42

I'm a simple person and I have no idea what Mr. Butani's message is. Let me start by saying that I have no idea how City Hall works. My question is this: How do we get this on THEIR agenda. It's clear that it's on OURS. The Feature Articles are all fantastic, but how do we get their ear? What good is all this if they aren't listening?

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 20, 2012 at 06:17:47 in reply to Comment 77129

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By z jones (registered) | Posted May 21, 2012 at 21:02:07 in reply to Comment 77132

Sorry MightaWantaGoingta, but Mahesh's message is always the same - "I'm so much smarter than you losers that you aren't even smart enough to recognize it. So I'm just going to drip with condescension for the next 2000 words."

Comment edited by z jones on 2012-05-21 21:02:44

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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2012 at 05:28:03 in reply to Comment 77150

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2012 at 13:34:08 in reply to Comment 77162

comment from banned user deleted

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By manual votes (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2012 at 13:59:20 in reply to Comment 77173

Your right, it wouldn't have anything to do with the comment being obnoxious, pretentious and rediculous and yet again making a gag inducing love letter to someone who has burned so many bridges it's a wonder he's not stuck on Farr Island.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2012 at 16:47:05 in reply to Comment 77174

comment from banned user deleted

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By Pro Quo (anonymous) | Posted May 20, 2012 at 10:11:47

A subtle irony in all of this is that many of the people who have populated areas like James and Cannon would have had considerably more difficulty purchasing real estate in these neighbourhoods if not for the effects of factors like marginalized residential demographics, urban neglect or commercial/industrial collector lanes. It doesn't take much due diligence to detect the presence of heavy truck traffic, so either these investments were made despite that substantial negative (impulse buy/martyr card) or there was thought given to systemic change and engaging the municipal process. Which I'm sure has been going on for the last five or six years. It's absurd to think that citizen delegations have been disregarded for that long.

One potential hurdle, especially in light of the baroque bureaucratese and red tape that strangles nearly everything in this city? Prioritization. I certainly don't question the appetite for or value of bike lanes or two-way lane changes, but the city does run on certain planning protocols and practices, and I would imagine that there is a city-wide queue of projects waiting on implementation.

That said, tradition demonstrates that there are always political quick win. Nothing stopping council from striking a task force to look into commissioning a white paper on the possibility of incremental roll-out of a phased demonstration project.

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By Pro Quo (anonymous) | Posted May 20, 2012 at 14:23:57 in reply to Comment 77134

More hope in another car-clogged city:


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By Pro Quo (anonymous) | Posted May 20, 2012 at 13:29:32 in reply to Comment 77134

Not blaming the victim here, either. Just pointing out that tweets and essays, however pointed, will only achieve so much.

The obvious way forward, for Cannon anyway, is to get buy-in from the Beasley, Central, Keith, Landsdale Neighbourhood Associations as well as the adjacent BIAs (IV, Downtown) and press City Hall en masse. Cannon's already down for bike lanes -- #20 (Sherman to Ferguson) and #30 (Queen to Ferguson), and that's pretty high on the 220-phase list, so all is not hopeless.


Another thought: Whatever success/gains are made, never take anything for granted.


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By CouldaWouldaShoulda (anonymous) | Posted May 21, 2012 at 05:16:08

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2012 at 13:47:02

Thank to all here for continuing this conversation!

"Perhaps the best way to approach this is to help those of differing ideologies to look at the broader issues from other points of view, acknowledge the varying perspectives, find common ground, and discuss solutions from there?" ~ ScreamingViking

Couldn't have been said any better!

(A) In finding common grounds, we first need to understand how trust works and how to build it.

"Trust means enabling other people to take advantage of your vulnerabilities—but expecting that they will not do this."

"The deep requirement for economic progress is the development of trust among people... increase in trust among people would lead to an increase in the economy's wealth."

(B) Trust then has to be coupled with the art of persuasion. "Much of persuasion and other forms of changing minds is based on a relatively small number of principles."

"How we change what others think, feel, believe and do":

  • Alignment: When everything lines up, there are no contradictions to cause disagreement
  • Amplification: Make the important bits bigger and other bits smaller.
  • Appeal: If asked nicely, we will follow the rules we have made for ourselves.
  • Arousal: When I am aroused I am full engaged and hence more likely to pay attention.
  • Association: Our thoughts are connected. Think one thing and the next is automatic.
  • Assumption: Acting as if something is true often makes it true.
  • Attention: Make sure they are listening before you try to sell them something.
  • Authority: Use your authority and others will obey.
  • Bonding: I will usually do what my friends ask of me, without negotiation.
  • Closure: Close the door of thinking and the deal is done.
  • Completion: We need to complete that which is started.
  • Confidence: If I am confident, then you can be confident.
  • Confusion: A drowning person will clutch at a straw. So will a confused one.
  • Consistency: We like to maintain consistency between what we think, say and do.
  • Contrast: We notice and decide by difference between two things, not absolute measures.
  • Daring: If you dare me to do something, I daren't not do it.
  • Deception: Convincing by trickery.
  • Dependence: If you are dependent on me, I can use this as a lever to persuade you.
  • Distraction: If I distract your attention, I can then slip around your guard.
  • Evidence: I cannot deny what I see with my own eyes.
  • Exchange: if I do something for you, then you are obliged to do something for me.
  • Experience: I cannot deny what I experience for myself.
  • Fragmentation: Break up the problem into agreeable parts.
  • Framing: Meaning depends on context. So control the context.
  • Harmony: Go with the flow to build trust and create subtle shifts.
  • Hurt and Rescue: Make them uncomfortable then throw them a rope.
  • Interest: If I am interested then I will pay attention.
  • Interruption: Break the flow.
  • Investment: If I have invested in something, I do not want to waste that investment.
  • Involvement: Action leads to commitment.
  • Logic: What makes sense must be true.
  • Objectivity: Standing back decreases emotion and increases logic.
  • Obligation: Creating a duty that must be discharged.
  • Ownership: I am committed to that which I own.
  • Passion: Enthusiasm is catching.
  • Perception: Perception is reality. So manage it.
  • Persistence: In all things, persistence pays.
  • Positivity: Use positive methods.
  • Pull: Create attraction that pulls people in.
  • Push: I give you no option but to obey.
  • Repetition: If something happens often enough, I will eventually be persuaded.
  • Scarcity: I want now what I may not be able to get in the future.
  • Similarity: We trust people who are like us or who are similar to people we like.
  • Simplicity: Simple means easy to understand and agree.
  • Social Compliance: The pressure to conform.
  • Social Proof: When uncertain we take cues other people.
  • Specificity: People fill in the gaps in vague statements.
  • Substitution: Put them into the story.
  • Surprise: When what happens is not what I expect, I must rethink my understanding.
  • Tension: I will act to reduce the tension gaps I feel.
  • Threat: If my deep needs are threatened, I will act to protect them.
  • Trust: If I trust you, I will accept your truth and expose my vulnerabilities.
  • Uncertainty: When I am not sure, I will seek to become more certain.
  • Understanding: If I understand you, then I can interact more accurately with you.
  • Unthinking: Go by the subconscious route.

Mahesh P. Butani

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-05-21 13:48:50

Permalink | Context

By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted May 21, 2012 at 21:29:06 in reply to Comment 77147

While there are many decent principles listed regarding persuasion, a number of them have a negative connotation and would undermine trust.

I guess I don't see the discussion around solutions to Hamilton's problems, or finding the paths toward achieving success, in terms of persuasion - to me that implies trying to get people onside with one's ideology.

The only acts of persuasion should be getting them to want to be involved in the discussion, and getting them interested in learning about other perspectives. Common ground would then hopefully be found from there.

Comment edited by ScreamingViking on 2012-05-21 21:30:49

Permalink | Context

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