Special Report: Walkable Streets

While Hamilton Agonizes Over Urban Arterials, Seattle Implements Complete Streets

Seattle is turning a five-lane arterial into a complete street with new streetcars and a protected two-way cycle track.

By Jason Leach
Published December 03, 2013

No matter how many years pass and how many experts tell us to fix our insane urban expressways, there are still politicians who think they're a great idea and want to protect them.

Against a new staff report recommending a five year plan to convert more one-way streets to two-way, Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson wants to keep Main, King and Cannon as one-way arterials.

...Ferguson, a rumoured mayoral candidate, said he hopes the study supports keeping existing one-way sections of Main, King and Cannon.

"Major arteries belong to the city, not to a particular neighbourhood," he said. "A lot of cities are spending a lot of money trying to fix congestion and gridlock. We seem to be spending money doing things that will create congestion."

Meanwhile, on Broadway in downtown Seattle, they're busy transforming a wide arterial into a complete street with a new streetcar and a two-way physically separated cycle track.

New configuration for Broadway (Image Credit: Seattle Times)
New configuration for Broadway (Image Credit: Seattle Times)

The project transforms Broadway from an ugly five-lane thoroughfare into this:

Broadway Cycle Track (Image Credit: SDOT Photos/Flickr)
Broadway Cycle Track (Image Credit: SDOT Photos/Flickr)

This is a "major artery" that carries 23,500 cars a day, and presumably it belongs to the entire city of Seattle, not just to the local neighbourhood.

For a traffic volume comparison, Main Street in Hamilton carries 28,000 cars a day at Bay and 21,000 cars a day at Wellington. King Street carries 24,900 cars a day at Bay and 14,400 cars a day at Catharine. Cannon Street carries just 16,700 cars a day at Mary.

Also, don't forget that Broadway in Seattle is a) in Seattle, a mid-sized city with 635,000 people; b) in a dense downtown neighbourhood; and c) on a major artery. Also, they ran new streetcar tracks down the middle of the street, which means streetcars are regularly stopping in the live traffic lane to pick up and drop off passengers.

Hamilton has ample lane capacity to convert every downtown street into a complete street and still allow for a safe flow of automobile traffic.

Downtown streets are not meant to be fast freeways for commuters. The sooner we fix them, the sooner our urban core will burst back to life.

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 but this is hamilton (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2013 at 10:56:09


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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2013 at 11:26:06

City/regional/state/federal funding FTW!





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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2013 at 11:35:29

Also: Takoma!


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By creeker_in_the_loo (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2013 at 12:13:55

A highway runs parallel a couple blocks west of Broadway. People don't need to/shouldn't take Broadway to get across town.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 03, 2013 at 12:41:08 in reply to Comment 95455

If you've ever driven it, you'll know that freeway resembles the DVP at rush hour almost all day.
The fact is, over 23,000 cars use Broadway. Hamilton has ample freeway access via 403,Linc and QEW.

Main and King as two-way pairs would give commuters a much easier trip in and out of Westdale. No looping around or all being forced onto one street. Options are a wonderful thing in life. Amazing how Hamilton's outdated mindset still prefers less options and poor use of our road capacity, as though somehow we are winning by making such dumb choices.

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By Nucking Futs (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2013 at 13:19:16

I looked at that map and thought these planners were freking nucking futs!!! They seemed to literally want to destroy Hamilton with all of these one ways, cutting through neighbourhoods like a sharp knife; indeed, Hamilton has been bleeding from these cuts far too long, but still standing by some miracle.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted December 03, 2013 at 13:54:25

Worth reading :

More than 20 roads will be evaluated for two-way traffic conversion if city council signs off on a 'priority initiative' transportation study


(this is an "unlocked" article)

What a critical time for the city - we have a huge number of changes on the table - the decisions we make now are going to shape our future here for many years.

Comment edited by mikeonthemountain on 2013-12-03 13:55:31

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 03, 2013 at 15:09:48 in reply to Comment 95463

I hope I'm proven wrong, but it's exactly critical moments like this that I predicted would go off the rails thanks to amalgamation. We have a balance of decision making power lying with folks who don't care about old Hamilton in the slightest. I doubt we'll see these 20 streets change much in the next decade.

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By Jason's crystal ball (anonymous) | Posted December 08, 2013 at 09:35:23 in reply to Comment 95466

No, I predicted it when you consulted with me. Next up: When you will stop crying and get involved and DO something. Oh wait, you probably won't ask that one.

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By Rude (anonymous) | Posted December 08, 2013 at 11:43:23 in reply to Comment 95701

I bet Jason's a lot more involved than you are, random anonymous troll. He's on his community council, goes to meetings, writes letters, makes presentations to council...what do YOU do?

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By Jason's crystal ball (anonymous) | Posted December 08, 2013 at 12:30:22 in reply to Comment 95708

I actually do most of those things, but to effect REAL change, you need to be a part of the club, not a fanclub (like community councils. I can spend a big article talking about the navel-gazing and great ideas they come up with but are so toothless they end up being more about cleaning up garbage from parks that the City should be doing already).

Thanks for coming to his defence though.

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By Noted (anonymous) | Posted December 03, 2013 at 17:29:37

Durban, South Africa as well.


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