Special Report: Walkable Streets

City Should Not Remove Curbside Parking on Rebecca - Updated

Rebecca is just as wide as several other lower city streets that have two-way traffic and curbside parking and work perfectly fine.

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 05, 2014

this article has been updated

Last Friday, the City of Hamilton announced plans to convert part of Rebecca Street to two-way. The conversion will take place overnight on Saturday, November 15 between John Street North and Wellington Street North, where Rebecca ends.

The stretch between John and James Street North will remain one-way westbound. That's annoying enough - when we do manage two-way conversions, we do it piecemeal a few blocks at a time - but arguably the bigger issue is the decision to remove 13 curbside parking meter spots.

The City will remove 11 from the block between John and Catharine and another two at Mary.

Quite simply, there is no need to remove the parking.

I know our traffic engineers are obsessed with the smooth, fast flow of traffic, but such a configuration is inappropriate for Rebecca.

Rebecca is just as wide as several other lower city streets that have two-way traffic and curbside parking and work perfectly fine.

A street that requires drivers to slow down and navigate past each other is actually safer than a street with lanes wide enough to drive unencumbered at high speed, as Rebecca will be if the curbside parking is removed.

Removing the curbside parking will result in:

Removing the parking will undermine support for this two-way conversion and for two-way conversions more generally.

I really hope the City will reconsider this ill-advised decision. The good news is that not removing the parking meters is faster, cheaper and easier than removing them. All the city has to do is leave them alone.

Update: RTH just received an email response from Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr:

Please be advised (and feel free to share) that as it relates to the Rebecca Street conversion, we will be maintaining the parking metres between Catharine and John. With the exception of a few in the middle to create a gap and allow for east west passing‎. Though in most cases, east west passing should not be an issue.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By Gridlock (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2014 at 15:34:50

You say, "Quite simply, there is no need to remove the parking." (correct)

And then you say, "Removing the parking will undermine support for this two-way conversion and for two-way conversions more generally." (again correct) That is why the tall foreheads at City Hall are doing it. Keep pissing off everyone with every half assed conversion and eventually people will stop asking for conversions.

Brilliant in the juvenile mind..............

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By Gored (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2014 at 15:36:29 in reply to Comment 105990

Agreed, I'm starting to think this is deliberate divide-and-conquor on the part of our traffic engineer overlords.

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By apathetized (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2014 at 16:11:38

This city is too ridiculous. It half asses everything it does. No wonder people don't bother voting.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2014 at 16:14:21 in reply to Comment 105992

Indeed. York street conversion is half-assed. So is James. What's the point of conversion if you have one lane going west and three lanes going east?

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By bikehounds (anonymous) | Posted November 05, 2014 at 19:17:25

I really wish the rest of king william was two way so that it was a viable alternative to king through international village to James. This place I tell ya

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 05, 2014 at 20:15:04 in reply to Comment 105994

more importantly, Bay St should be two-way, IF they would do it properly 1 lane each way with bike lanes and intersection turning lane. Then it would make the westbound lane of Wilson/York useful for people who don't need to be on King.

This would allow the two-way conversion of Main to be much more palatable knowing the Hunter and Wilson are westbound alternatives.

Bay has space for this: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-hKJz7kfAPCI/T5...

In the meantime, enjoy the 60's folks.

Comment edited by jason on 2014-11-05 20:17:08

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 06, 2014 at 21:59:51 in reply to Comment 105997

Do both Hess and Bay 2-way.

Give Hess the complete-street-with-bike-lanes approach, and just let Bay focus on through-traffic, imho.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 06, 2014 at 22:37:43 in reply to Comment 106021

Bay is the best north/south route from the southern edge of Durand all the way to the west Harbour. It simply doesn't carry enough traffic to need to viewed as a through street. Hess is only 1-lane through the village and can't be a north/south cycling route.

I would prefer this for Hess from King to Barton: two-way cycle track in the east lane. One northbound lane in the centre. Street parking on the west side.

Bay St could have several options due to it's changing width from Herkimer to Cannon. For example, if converted to two-way from Herkimer to Hunter, it would be impossible to add bike lanes without removing all parking. Not sure that will fly in the hood. If it remains one-way from Herkimer to Hunter it could have a parking protected bike lane northbound, one NB car lane and a buffered southbound bike lane in the west curb lane. From Hunter to Cannon it is wide enough for two-way traffic plus bike lanes. Parking bays already exist from King to York.

It could have one lane each way with left turn lanes at Main, King and Cannon. Bike lanes on each curb, protected by a buffered paint zone and bollards:


North of Cannon should be a basic design like Dundurn, but with the bike lane next to the curb instead of between parking and live traffic.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2014 at 16:15:21 in reply to Comment 105997

Agreed. Except for the bike lanes.

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By Fake Name (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2014 at 12:10:00

Has anybody at city hall been asked *why* they have to remove curbside parking for this change? Has Councillor Farr chimed in on this issue?

Because I'm honesly curious what possible justification City Hall could have for this street losing its parking when half the local residential roads outside of the core (and a decent number of roads within the core) have a similar width and sport two-way traffic and single-side parking.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 06, 2014 at 12:51:33 in reply to Comment 106009

20-minute city, baby

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By one to two-way side street, off Barton E (anonymous) | Posted November 06, 2014 at 16:27:30

There is a side street one long block long, north from Barton E., immediately west of Birch Ave., called Fullerton Ave. It is wider than most residential side streets. It is one-way northbound, probably/maybe as a counter to fast drag multi-lane southbound Birch Ave.--and this one-way on this Fullerton resdntl side street is very inconvenient, and dumb & unnecessary. It is the short street just east of the Barton St. Library near where the old Siemens etc. industrial complex is/was--and so that's why likely the one way--but it is WIDE and residential, and it is a silly thing to keep that street one-way.So, new Ward 3 councillor...

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted November 09, 2014 at 13:40:58

Seriously these partial conversions are ridiculous and make driving in this city even MORE confusing for visitors (and even residents). I lived at an apartment on Rebecca Street. On-street parking is needed there. I just can't understand the hostile attitude the City of Hamilton has towards a liveable downtown.

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