After two serious vehicle collisions with pedestrians in less than a month, city staff will review Queen Street to identify potential improvements.
By Ryan McGreal
Published March 31, 2014
After two serious vehicle collisions with pedestrians in less than a month, the City is going to conduct a traffic safety review of Queen Street.
No pedestrian crosswalk at Herkimer (RTH file photo)
David Ferguson, the city's superintendent of traffic engineering, sent the following email to Council this morning:
Traffic Engineering staff will undertake a traffic safety review for all of Queen Street and identify areas of concern. Once we have the detailed information, we will be able to identify specific patterns and begin looking at improvements. A traffic safety review for an entire roadway such as this will take me some time to complete, however I should be able to provide a response on my findings in 4 to 6 weeks.
I hope staff will take into consideration the audit report [PDF] from the One-Way-to-Two-Way Study Group that did a walkabout along Queen Street on April 6, 2013. The study group was established after council approved a motion by Councillors Jason Farr and Brian McHattie to study converting Queen Street and Cannon Street to two-way.
The Queen Street audit identified the following issues that impact safety and walkability:
Multiple one-way lanes allow for speeding and passing, including passing in curb lanes.
Very narrow sidewalks immediately adjacent to moving traffic.
Large corner radii at intersections (e.g. Hunter) allow fast turning movements.
The button-activated crosswalk at Queen and Duke is so unresponsive that pedestrians usually end up crossing during gaps in traffic. (This is a common situation with pedestrian-activated crosswalks in Hamilton.)
The highway-style ramps at Herkimer allow dangerously fast turning movements and provides extremely poor accessibility for pedestrians.
The highway-style ramp at Aberdeen allows dangerously fast turning movements and forces pedestrians to dart among cars that rarely yield.
Long stretches without any crosswalks make pedestrian crossing difficult and dangerous.
The conclusions of that study include the following recommendations to make the street safer and more accommodating for all road users:
Convert Queen to two-way - one lane in each direction.
Widen at least one of the sidewalks.
Use curbside parking to slow traffic and protect.
Look at adding bike lanes.
Make traffic sequencing at Aberdeen more pedestrian-friendly.
Remove the highway-style turning ramp at Aberdeen.
Install a pedestrian crossing at Herkimer.
Remove the wedge median at Herkimer and reduce the corner radii.
Calm traffic at Charlton with bumpouts.
Fix the pedestrian-activated signal at Duke so it responds in a timely fashion.
Queen Street is already two-way south of Herkimer, and of course the Beckett Drive mountain access is two-way. With just one lane in each direction, it carries 21,000 cars a day, whereas Queen at Charlton carries just over 12,000 cars a day on its three one-way lanes.
Unfortunately, Queen Street is not particularly exceptional in its pedestrian-hostile design. Multiple wide lanes, large turning radii, highway-style on-ramps and long stretches without crosswalks are depressingly common across the city.
There is a reason Hamilton is the second-most dangerous city in Ontario for pedestrians, with a rate of pedestrian injuries in vehicle collisions almost one and a half times the provincial average.
This year, the City is expected to undertake a review [PDF] of the Transportation Master Plan, which was approved in 2007.
A major unresolved issue is the conversion of Hamilton's lower-city one-way streets back to two-way. Several streets were recommended for two-way conversion in 2001 and again in 2007 but little progress has been made to date.
Staff's ongoing anxiety over the prospect of two-way conversions is evident on one appendix [PDF] to the report, which warns, "two-way conversions have potential system-wide implications for the transportation network".
However, the Transportation Plan review will not be limited to one-way streets but rather will be concerned more broadly with the goal of making streets more safe and inclusive citywide - including two-way streets that are currently automobile-oriented and unfriendly to pedestrians, like many of the arterial roads on the Mountain.
At this Wednesday's General Issues Committee meeting, City Councillors will receive a Citizen Engagement - Two-Way/Complete Streets Conversion report from staff that recommends establishing a citizen engagement panel [PDF] to involve the public more actively in the Transportation Master Plan review.
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