Special Report: Walkable Streets

Debating Councillor Whitehead on Aberdeen Road Diet

Hamilton has an amazing opportunity to repurpose its excess lane capacity, built during our industrial heyday, to create a rich, safe, high-quality active transportation network.

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 06, 2015

So, last week I was walking home in the rain on Aberdeen Avenue west of Queen Street South and got splashed by one of the cars that was roaring past me just inches from the sidewalk. In frustration, I pulled out my phone, took a photo and posted it to twitter.

Aberdeen Avenue on September 29, 2015 at 3:45 PM
Aberdeen Avenue on September 29, 2015 at 3:45 PM

(Sidenote: as soon as I pointed my camera at the street, drivers started pulling farther away from the curb so I wouldn't get splashed. After I put it away, I got splashed again. Make of that what you will.)

I had no idea that one tweet would snowball into a wide-ranging debate that spanned almost a week and accumulated at least several hundred total replies.

The main reason it turned into a thing, I think, is that Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead decided to join the discussion, mainly to caution against doing anything to Aberdeen that might, um, slow down traffic.

As always, much as I might disagree with Councillor Whitehead on a given matter of policy, I have to acknowledge his willingness to engage publicly in the discussion.

The debate itself is worth unpacking a bit because it really drives home the fact that the case for putting Aberdeen on a road diet is so robust. Lots of issues came up, including rat-running on Stanley and the case for converting Queen to two-way, but to keep this article from getting too unwieldy I'll focus on the Aberdeen/Beckett/Garth discussion.

Minor Arterial

The section of Aberdeen Avenue between Queen Street and Highway 403, just west of Longwood Road, forms part of a shortcut route between the west mountain and west Hamilton. The City designates it as a "minor arterial" road according to this map in Appendix 11 to the Urban Hamilton Official Plan [PDF].

Map detail with superimposed legend from Appendix 11 of the Urban Hamilton Official Plan
Map detail with superimposed legend from Appendix 11 of the Urban Hamilton Official Plan

According to the City's Classification of City Streets [PDF], a minor arterial has a design speed of 70 km/h (!) and carries 5,000 - 20,000 vehicles a day. Aberdeen carries around 17,000 vehicles a day, a volume that falls in line with the definition.

The guideline also states that a minor arterial should be 20-36 metres (66 to 118 feet) in right-of-way width. I don't have an exact width for Aberdeen, but it is certainly less than the default minimum of 20 metres wide, even including the narrow ribbons of sidewalk. I would estimate it is approximately 15 metres (50 feet) in width, including sidewalks.

The Classification does not specify a number of lanes for a minor arterial, but note that one of the other nearby minor arterials on the map is Dundurn Street South, which is only one lane in each direction (with painted bike lanes).

In terms of traffic calming, the Classification indicates "gateway features" where required. Gateway features are street design elements intended to communicate to drivers that they are moving into a new and different area when entering the street.

Examples of gateway features can include bumpouts and neckdowns, planted islands, street trees, bollards, enhanced crosswalks, planters, and so on. Cycling should by default be accommodated through "wider lanes or separate facilities where required".

Putting Aberdeen on a Diet

Currently, this stretch of Aberdeen is four lanes, two in each direction, with a yellow centre line and the outer lanes immediately next to narrow sidewalks that line the two sides of the street.

A broad consensus is emerging among transportation planners and traffic engineers that an arterial street can comfortably carry up to 20,000 vehicles a day on one lane in each direction with a centre turn lane.

In fact, traffic often flows more smoothly - albeit with a significant reduction in dangerous speeding - when a four-lane street is converted to three lanes.

Some places go even farther. The City of Chicago's complete streets policy [PDF] recommends one lane in each direction with a centre turn lane for streets up to 25,000 vehicles a day.

Chicago Complete Streets Guidelines design tree (Image Credit: City of Chicago)
Chicago Complete Streets Guidelines design tree (Image Credit: City of Chicago)

This kind of a road diet accomplishes a number of goals:

What is most astonishing is just how inexpensive it is to implement a road diet. In most cases, it can be done using just paint, signage and cheap bollards. Yet the return on investment is tremendous.

According to the US Department of Transportation, road diets reduce crashes by 29 percent on average.

A recent road diet cost-benefit analysis was undertaken for the city of New Brunswick, New Jersey on a four-lane arterial that carries a lot more traffic than Aberdeen - over 30,000 vehicles a day.

They found that the proposed road diet would have only a small impact on vehicle delay - a few minutes a day - but taking a very conservative estimate of a 19 percent reduction in crashes, it would save up to $37 million in costs due to injuries and deaths over 20 years.

The authors concluded, "Public officials should be less timid in their approach to implementing positive changes that improve safety and walkability, even at the expense of potential delays to traffic."

Local Context

Here's a preliminary rendering of what a road diet might look like on Aberdeen:

Sample rendering of an Aberdeen road diet
Sample rendering of an Aberdeen road diet

As I mentioned, I don't know the exact width of the street but assumed a width of 13.5 metres (44 feet), not including sidewalks. Obviously the final design will depend on a number of factors, including the actual width and input from the various stakeholders. This is just a suggestion meant to indicate possibilities.

But will this general principle work on Aberdeen? Councillor Whitehead doesn't think so. He insisted repeatedly that traffic calming on this street will "create congestion" and "chew up capacity that is needed".

He also claimed that Beckett Drive is already congested and Garth Street is "jammed with traffic".

Are these streets actually congested? On Garth, in particular, Hamilton Police Service regularly sets up speed traps near Fennell. (They also occasionally set up a speed trap on Aberdeen east of Longwood.)

It's hard to believe the police would be wasting their scarce resources trying to reduce dangerous speeding on a street that is too congested to speed on.

Luckily, we have a source of real, live, local data we can use to get to the bottom of this. You may have noticed that Google Maps has a Live Traffic layer that superimposes green, yellow, light red or dark red lines on streets based on whether traffic is moving quickly or slowly.

I've often wondered how Google gets this data, and the Aberdeen discussion spurred me to finally look it up. The answer turns out to be quite ingenious: since 2009, it is generated using anonymized movement data from smartphones with Google Maps installed. (They also use data from on-street sensors where available.)

With the traffic layer enabled on your map, you can toggle between current live traffic and "typical traffic" for a given weekday and time.

Curious about the Garth/Beckett/Aberdeen route, I looked up typical traffic on a Monday at various times during morning peak, midday and afternoon peak periods. I screengrabbed the maps and turned them into an animated GIF:

Typical traffic on Garth, Beckett, Aberdeen on a Monday, AM peak, midday and PM peak (Image Credit: Google Maps)
Typical traffic on Garth, Beckett, Aberdeen on a Monday, AM peak, midday and PM peak (Image Credit: Google Maps)

As you can see, aside from brief slowdowns at intersections to wait for traffic signals, there is no serious congestion on Garth, Beckett or Aberdeen even during rush hour. For the rest of the day, they function as race tracks that encourage dangerous speeding.

For this reason, I think Garth should also be put on a road diet. If we reconfigure these streets so that their own design enforces safe vehicle speeds, we free up the police officers that we are currently throwing at the problem for more valuable work.

Manageable Traffic Volume

Whitehead insists that the daily volume of traffic on these streets cannot fit on one lane in each direction, but we need to point out that it already fits on one lane in each direction: on Beckett Drive, which the city incidentally classifies as a major arterial.

Beckett Drive carries 20,000 vehicles a day, signficantly more than Aberdeen (some of that traffic is going north on Queen and turning east on Herkimer).

Obviously Beckett Drive has the advantage of no cross streets between Auchmar and Glenfern (turns are not allowed onto Amelia), but that's why the road diet includes a centre turn lane: so that through vehicles are not stuck behind left-turning vehicles.

It's important to understand that almost all of the traffic on Aberdeen is cut-through traffic passing between the West Mountain and West Hamilton. A couple of years ago, when Beckett Drive was closed for reconstruction, the volume of traffic on Aberdeen collapsed to almost nothing.

Here's a photograph I took at around 6:30 PM on a weekday during the Beckett Drive closure:

Aberdeen Avenue during Beckett Drive closure
Aberdeen Avenue during Beckett Drive closure

No exaggeration: literally several minutes would pass without a single car on the street.

And no, I'm not saying we should close Beckett Drive. I'm pointing out that most of the traffic on Aberdeen is coming from Beckett, and Beckett is able to carry it all on just one lane in each direction - even during rush hour.


Whitehead refused to accept that we can implement a road diet on Aberdeen without causing congestion, despite all the evidence to the contrary. Instead, he advocated "Education, enforcement, stiffer penalties, [and] reducing speed limits" to deal with dangerous speeding.

I'm not sure what he means by education, but we're already doing enforcement and it's not working. Stiffer penalties for speeding would be up to the Province to implement, and reducing speed limits has been proven not to change driver behaviour unless it is accompanied with changes to the street design.

The problem with enforcement is that it only works - to the extent that it works at all - while the enforcement is actually happening, so it is an extremely expensive way to reduce speeding. Even then, it works by waiting for people to drive dangerously and then punishing them.

Presented with this, Whitehead countered that he advocates photo radar, pointing out that it is being used by the City of Edmonton.

He claims photo radar is "a deterrent for speed and generates revenue", but I don't see how both of those claims can be true.

Whitehead claimed that the photo radar setup changes driver behaviour at a given location, and then can be moved to another location to start changing driver behaviour there.

I'm not so sure about that: driver behaviour is highly context specific, and as soon as people figure out the radar system has been moved they will resume driving in a way that feels natural for the street.

Incidentally, I have no problem with photo radar, especially if the revenues are dedicated for road safety improvements. Hamilton already has a red light camera system, the revenue from which is being used to fund a strategic road safety program.

However, merely waiting for people to break the law and then punishing them will always be a worse solution than redesigning the street so that people are discouraged by design from breaking the law in the first place.

A well-configured inclusive street is self-enforcing by design, deterring dangerous behaviour all the time - whether or not the threat of punishment is in place. Enforcement is at best a stopgap while waiting for necessary redesign.

I must also point out that Edmonton's use of photo radar is only one part of a comprehensive strategy framed by the city's adoption of the Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic fatalities - the first Canadian city to do so.

This is from the strategy's Principles:

This approach does not ignore risk taking behaviour, but acknowledges human fallibility and the need for greater allowances for human error. Planning and developing a safe system means looking beyond standards and towards systematically planning and designing a sustainable and inherently safe road and transportation system for all road users.

Creating a safe system depends heavily on understanding and implementing these guiding principles:

  • The limits of human performance: we all make mistakes and we need to acknowledge the limits of our capabilities

  • The physical limits of human tolerance to violent forces: we are physically vulnerable when involved in a motor vehicle collision

  • Shared responsibility: this means all of us take an individual and shared role in road safety

  • A forgiving road system: so that when crashes do happen, deaths can be avoided and injuries minimized

This is exactly what we have been saying for years about our need to move from train-and-blame to engineering-for-safety.

Transportation Master Plan Review

Finally, after spending a week arguing strenuously against traffic calming on Aberdeen, Whitehead claimed he "will not prejudge the outcome" of the City's Transportation Master Plan review, which is currently underway.

This became the mantra of his replies: "I willing to wait for the recommendations coming out of the study", "let the study unfold", and so on.

Of course, this the same Councillor who already prejudged the Transportation Master Plan review earlier this year by denigrating lower-city residents who got engaged in the consultation process, implying that they are unemployed or don't have families and are trying to "hijack" the process.

The deeper problem is that Hamilton has approved a number of master plans over the past 15 years, but then mostly fails to put those plans into action. When it comes budget time, year after year goes by without streets being converted back to two-way or crosswalks being installed.

In Wards 1 and 2, the only significant street improvements have come about via the participatory budget process, which uses the area rating capital budget. This is despite the fact that many of the measures funded this way were approved in the 2007 Transportation Master Plan or the 2001 Downtown Transportation Master Plan.

Likewise, the City is already years behind its already unambitious schedule in implementing the Shifting Gears Cycling Master Plan, and some Councillors have even exercised vetoes to kill bike lane projects in their wards.

We must also recall that Whitehead is the same councillor who argued strenuously against the transit lane and then accused staff of having an agenda when the staff report endorsed keeping and fixing the lane instead of scrapping it. All this happened despite the fact that he had already made up his mind a month before the report came out.

He even commissioned a citywide survey loaded with leading questions, and then misrepresented the results when it came out that a majority of Hamiltonians supported keeping and fixing the lane. Whitehead was one of the nine councillors who voted to kill the lane, despite the evidence that it was effective and despite the fact that most Hamiltonians favoured keeping and fixing it.

Like many of his Council colleagues, he also tried to frame his vote as support for a "comprehensive" approach to the city's transportation system.

For his part, Whitehead maintains, "I am taking the time to listen and challenge ideas. Does not mean I am not getting something out of the discussion".

Given that Whitehead is one of the 16 people who gets a final say on the City's transportation policy - including, crucially, the decision on whether a given recommendation is ever funded in the budget - we must hope that this time, he really is engaging the issue in good faith.

Hamilton simply cannot afford the luxury of a myopic, parochial Council that keeps failing to make strategic policy decisions - and implement those decisions - based on clear understanding and good evidence of what is at stake.

Hamilton has an amazing opportunity to repurpose its excess lane capacity, built during our industrial heyday, to create a rich, safe, high-quality active transportation network. But it shouldn't require a citizen movement with thousands of supporters to shame Council into approving a modest, inexpensive traffic calming design on a dangerous street with lane capacity to spare.

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 kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 12:31:50

One very helpful (but probably unintended) thing I learned from this article is that Herkimer and Charlton and Bay have apparently been downgraded from "minor arterial" to "collector" streets!

The 2002 Durand traffic study labelled these streets as "minor arterial". See the map in Appendix E of:


and I have always described these streets as "minor arterials". The fact that these streets are now apparently classified as "collectors" (just one up from "local") means that we should be able to have much more aggressive traffic calming on them.

I wonder when the change was made ...

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-10-06 12:32:06

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 12:55:07 in reply to Comment 114066

also good news, Queen St is a minor arterial from Aberdeen to the waterfront. No need to keep treating this residential street like it's a highway. Also interesting to note, Fennell and Garth are minor arterials, although you won't find me wasting an ounce of energy trying to convince anyone to implement safe, complete streets in Ward 8.

Comment edited by JasonL on 2015-10-06 12:56:14

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By Stay Classy, JasonL (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2015 at 22:13:24 in reply to Comment 114068

"you won't find me wasting an ounce of energy trying to convince anyone to implement safe,
complete streets in Ward 8."

Because an eye for an eye always ends well.

quoteinvestigator . com/2010/12/27/eye-for-eye-blind/

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted October 10, 2015 at 08:41:19 in reply to Comment 114206

??? No, It's a battle not worth fighting in that area. Tough enough to get safe streets in the parts of the city where residents and councillors WANT them. Why would I agonize myself trying to push them in a ward where the councillor wants to speed to and from work in 7 minutes?

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 12:52:17

One strange thing about the road classification design guidelines is that even though both "collectors" and "minor arterials" are described as having the same 50-60 km/h posted speed limit, the minor arterials are supposed to be designed for 70 km/h and the collectors for 60 km/h.

Apart from the fact that these design speeds are both significantly greater than the legal speed limit (up to 20 km/h greater), what is the justification for the higher design speed on the minor arterials? Are they actually trying to encourage speeding to increase traffic flow?

And current thinking is that you design urban streets for the actual desired speeds (e.g. using traffic calming features like bump outs, chicanes, narrow lanes, speed humps etc.) rather than designing for speeds 20 km/h over the legal limit!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-10-06 12:55:43

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 06, 2015 at 13:42:49

For New Users To Twitters: How to view public conversations with councillor Terry Whitehead

Terry used Twitter like texting with a lot with Hamilton citizens on October 4th and 5th: twitter.com/terrywhitehead/with_replies

For full public Twitter chat conversation context, click the time/hours at the upper-right corner of each tweet on Terry Whitehead's twitter feed. Some of the most interesting conversation threads with Terry Whitehead on Twitter:

Regardless of your opinion (whose side you are on), I want to say Kudos to Terry Whitehead for participating in an online discussion with local citizens!

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By z jones (registered) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 10:16:19 in reply to Comment 114070

So I'm reading Terry's tweets (holy crap, this article doesn't scratch the surface of how bad/crazy some of them are) and came across this one:


Terry has taken a photo out of his car (real safe) of traffic backed up because Queen Street Hill is closed. Gotta ask, why was it closed? Was it because of a crash? Because I see crashes at Queen and Aberdeen ALL THE TIME. Just a thought but maybe all those cars racing through the light to get onto Aberdeen isn't such a great idea after all. If Queen was two-way some of them could just go straight down Queen instead of everyone trying to hang a left and t-boning cars coming across when the advance green is over. Just a thought.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 10:42:39 in reply to Comment 114118

it was during the wind storm last week. A huge tree fell and blocked the QSH for a few hours.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 14:13:44

Most of the day Aberdeen is a minor arterial (who chooses these names) but at rush hour (about 4 hours a day) it is a not a shortcut, it is heavily traveled and a mandatory route for thousands of people a day.

The light at Dundurn is a spectacular waste of time and a failure. At rush hour, you can sit there for two light changes before you can get through westbound and very often traffic stops in all direction (mostly no-one heading northbound on Dundurn.)

There should not be and there is no need for parking on Aberdeen.

The condition of the road is deplorable. Someone is going to get killed riding their bike along the edge of the road by the sidewalk. It is a danger to cyclists and pedestrians and a destroyer of cars.

The road should be reconstructed. Bike lanes should be put in with divisions from traffic (this will protect pedestrians from splashes as will the new road surface.). Parking should be banned completely and the light at Dundurn should be a normal stoplight.

It could probably be a "one and a half" lane road with one lane of traffic in each direction with right turn lanes at Locke, Dundurn, Queen, and Longwood westbound and a middle left turn lane the whole way down.

Because it is a bus route, their also needs to be places for the buses to pull out of traffic so they are not blocking traffic to pick up and drop off passengers.

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By Stephen Barath (anonymous) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 14:43:40

During last year's Ward 1 Participatory Budget, a road diet on Aberdeen was one of the top vote-getters by ward residents. It was decided not to allocate funding to a proper road diet because it was likely to meet opposition (from outside of the ward). People who live near Aberdeen want it to be calmed, and there's little reason it couldn't be.

I appreciate your bringing up the fact that, when any amount of rain falls, it's unlikely to be able to walk down Aberdeen without being splashed by a motorist. This probably seems like a pretty trivial complaint to anyone who mostly doesn't get around my foot. My walk down Aberdeen is to my job, and to me the fact that I can't get to my job without a car splashing my trousers is a failure of our transportation network in the same way a big pothole damaging a car's transmission might be to a motorist.

Other cities have boulevards separating humans from live traffic. This isn't possible on every single street, but they don't put 1500 millimeter-wide sidewalks directly adjacent to streets that encourage fast-moving traffic. Not as often as Hamilton does, anyway.

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By donttrustgoogle (anonymous) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 14:59:04

Your google map has to be wrong. I drive Garth, Beckett, Queen every weekday and I have to agree that there is a serious impediment to vehicular traffic...much more so than your GIF is showing. Also, some minor arterials are 4 lanes...like Fennel Avenue. So why can't Aberdeen? Also note that there are two major arterial roads (Beckett Drive, and Main Street/King Street) that don't connect. That sounds problematic to me. This is what happens when everyone just focuses on their own NIMBY situation.

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By Googlist (anonymous) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 20:41:03 in reply to Comment 114074

Yeah, I'll take google's data over self reporting from an entitled Hamilton driver who thinks it's okay to race down other people's streets so he can get home a minute faster, thanks.

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By Googlist (anonymous) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 20:43:39 in reply to Comment 114093

I.e. hitting a red light at rush hour is not a "serious impediment"

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By Downtowndowner (anonymous) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 15:23:23 in reply to Comment 114074

I'm still laughing at the guy who thinks having to stop at a red light is unfair and then calls people NIMBY because they don't want their street to be a death trap.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 16:59:14 in reply to Comment 114076

The debate with Councillor Whitehead and the tendency of suburban councillors to micromanage street design in the lower city wards (especially wards 1 and 2), while calming their streets as they see fit, makes me think we need another term:


Only In Other People's Back Yard's

OIOPY's think that street designs (or pollution levels) they would never tolerate on the street where they live are absolutely necessary on streets in distant neighbourhoods they drive through ... and that sometimes needing to drive through a neighbourhood should give them a veto of the residents who actually live there on what the neighbourhood should be like.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2015-10-06 17:02:01

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 06, 2015 at 15:19:25 in reply to Comment 114074

The difference is that Fennel has grassy boulevards between the traffic and the pedestrians in most regions. Aberdeen lacks this feature. This means that high-speed through-traffic is directly next to pedestrians - that is unsafe and unpleasant.

I'm not sure how Google calculates their map, and I agree that the map doesn't seem to show backups where I'd expect to see them, but I would assume Google's algorithm fixates on unexpected backups. A long wait at a left-turn is, presumably, expected, so we don't see the well-known backup of Northbound drivers attempting to turn West off Beckett Drive.

Either way, if you think about the backups you see regularly when driving Aberdeen/Beckett/Queen/Garth, they generally occur at bottlenecks. Beckett Drive is noly 1 lane in each direction, is it's only natural that traffic would back up where 2 lanes become 1... so why do we need the 2 lanes in the first place?

I think Ryan's design might be overconfident in cramming 5 lanes of traffic into what's currently 4 lanes, but his point is fair: if the traffic is fast going to Beckett, backs up getting onto becket, then backs up a second time turning left getting off of beckett before going fast again, doesn't that indicate that the fast regions are unnecessary? If it was all 1 lane, it would be smooth the whole way through and the locals could actually have guests park on the road or ride bikes or other zany things like that.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 07, 2015 at 06:16:54 in reply to Comment 114075

Google uses crowdsourced data to generate traffic information.

Millions of smartphones now create the worldwide traffic-congestion-information network. People using Google Maps as their GPS navigation, transmit how fast their car is going, and this is aggregated into traffic information.


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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 06, 2015 at 17:48:51 in reply to Comment 114075

Plus, waiting for two light cycles during rush hour at one light along your route is not really chaos.

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By Not Chaos (anonymous) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 18:33:20 in reply to Comment 114083

No one said it was chaos. Just stupid and unnecessary.

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By Whatev (anonymous) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 23:47:03 in reply to Comment 114084

Why is it stupid and unnecessary for drivers to have to wait 2 light cycles during rush hour?

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By Because (anonymous) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 08:24:33 in reply to Comment 114099

Having the intersection empty with nothing moving through it has no legitimate purpose - i.e. is unnecessary. Stupid - because it is easily resolvable by using a normal traffic signal.

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By Agreed (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2015 at 22:19:00 in reply to Comment 114109

Agreed. When using this route to get home, or visit friends who live in the area there, there are many, many times where this de-timed light serves no purpose. Same can be said about the de-timed light at Garth and Lime Ridge - it works during peak hours and is a massive nuisance for the rest of the day.

I also have a great anecdote about someone I spoke to last night who told me that stop signs should all be removed, because they are annoying an unnecessary. I had to ask if he was serious because I've never heard such nonsense in my life. Strangely, this fellow was in favour of road diets and traffic calming measures.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted October 10, 2015 at 03:31:45 in reply to Comment 114207

There are very, very few stop signs in The Netherlands. Priority is almost always controlled by yield signs.

As far as I am aware, the number of four-way stop signs is precisely zero. And The Netherlands has the safest roads in the world.

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By Do as the dutch do (anonymous) | Posted October 10, 2015 at 17:25:09 in reply to Comment 114211

what's it sound like in your echo chamber?

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted October 09, 2015 at 22:41:34 in reply to Comment 114207

Apparently roundabouts are more efficient than 4 way stop intersections. But they do take up a whole lot more space.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 06, 2015 at 15:23:37

When my son was two years old, he stayed with a sitter on Garth st. She was a wonderful ECE, but she wouldn't take her gaggle of kids to the park or anywhere. Why? Because it would be irresponsibly dangerous to walk 5 kids along Garth Street. This is not a commercial or industrial road, people live there, just like Aberdeen, and it is grossly irresponsible to use these roads as somebody else's highway.

Many cities have arterial roads that are 1 lane in each direction. That would be perfectly appropriate here. I'm a cyclist so I love bike lanes, but for this case I'm not actually fussy about what approach would be taken. I really don't care if the solution would be a permanent parking lane or a bi-directional cycle track or shoulder-style bike lanes or whatever. Let city staff pick whatever fits the best for the neighborhood.

But fix this crap. Aberdeen does not need 4 live lanes. Garth does not either. Both of these encourage dangerously fast traffic a hair's-breadth away from families walking with young children.

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By stefancaunter (registered) - website | Posted October 06, 2015 at 16:54:01

People need to look at the money involved in the situation. Things are not always what they seem.

In my opinion, some of the resistance to reducing danger comes from the media, and the legal, police, insurance and medical industries.

I could be wrong, but take a look at any of the 20 different law firms, promising large cash settlements to "accident victims" on prominent billboards, radio ads, and on the side of HSR buses. Do you think they want "accidents" to go away? Does anyone working in their offices? Do the insurance companies? The cops? The court officials? The hospital workers? EMS workers? The radio station? The newspaper. The HSR?

None of these influential folks, and again, this is just my opinion, are likely to want collision frequency or severity to decrease. Why would they? An increase in safety means a decrease in business, for a lot of people.

Just my $0.02

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By Righton (anonymous) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 20:04:05 in reply to Comment 114080

Yeah, and all those oncologists who couldn't survive without cancer.

I think the insurance company is behind hurricanes, floods and tornadoes too.

Crown attorneys cause crime. Its a known fact.

Drug companies cause disease.

Farmers cause hunger.

Environmentalists cause Global warming.

Single mothers cause welfare.

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 17:22:23

As someone that lives on Aberdeen I don't think I ever enjoyed living there as much as when they closed the the Queen hill for repair. It was that experience that made me submit a traffic calming project along Aberdeen for Ward 1 Participatory Budget. Happy to see others thinking similar and very happy to see Ryan engaging the idea.

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By GPS (anonymous) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 19:39:55

And how many of those cars exited the 403 to cut across Aberdeen to access Beckett Dr.? You know there's something wrong with your street design when it draws cars off the highways on to city streets in order to make time. Why not stay on the highway and Linc to access south Hamilton.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 20:30:17 in reply to Comment 114085

This is really the kernel of the argument. Why are drivers choosing Aberdeen to get to the highway from the mountain?

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By It's faster. (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2015 at 23:12:30 in reply to Comment 114091

I do it, because it's faster. If I go from Mac to my house on the mountain, (Mohawk/Garth Area) it's actually faster to take Sterling to King, King to Longwood, Longwood to Aberdeen, Aberdeen up the escarpment.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 10, 2015 at 11:17:04 in reply to Comment 114209

My wife makes the same commute in the opposite direction and has found the Linc is faster.

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By It's faster. (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2015 at 08:55:01 in reply to Comment 114218

That's cool, I take the same route reversed in an out of work and it's faster for me. I leave around 8am and roll in anywhere from 815 to 820. Highway puts it around 8:20-8:30, longer if there's a collision anywhere along the 403.

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By Time of day (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2015 at 06:41:03 in reply to Comment 114218

It is easier to get out of Toronto in the morning. The 403 at the Linc heading into Hamilton is bumper to bumper in the morning.

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By Standby (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2015 at 13:35:25 in reply to Comment 114222

Just wait until Aertropolis becomes more residential sprawl......

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted October 10, 2015 at 08:44:11 in reply to Comment 114209

your trip makes sense, especially if you live close to the escarpment. the ones Whitehead is suggesting deserve to control what happens in other neighbourhoods are the drivers headed to the GTA on the 403, and are choosing to use QSH/Aberdeen instead of the Linc or Mohawk Rd to get to the 403.

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By Maybe (anonymous) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 17:37:11 in reply to Comment 114091

Maybe they are not. Maybe they are trying to get to Longwood to get to mac - The largest employer in Hamilton.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 21:38:03 in reply to Comment 114145

The 403 has an exit very close to Longwood without cutting through a residential neighbourhood.

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By So (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2015 at 08:47:59 in reply to Comment 114157

Are you saying that someone who lives at West fifth and fennel has to go up to the linc and around?

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[ - ]

By JasonL (registered) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 20:58:38

just one day, so take it with a grain of salt, but I left City Hall today at 5:30. Was at Garth and Fennell by 5:35 and Garth at the Linc at 5:37.

I was expecting a 10-15 minute drive at that time of day (which would be an insanely easy, quick commute in a city).

Nope. 7 minutes. Am I crazy in thinking that shouldn't even be possible?

Using the #35 College bus from James and Hunter to Garth and Garrow we get a trip time of 22 minutes. Although I imagine it's a few minutes longer during rush hour as it becomes crush-loaded between downtown and Mohawk College.

Add some walking time at the start and end of the trip, and it's easily a 30 minute commute.

The only reason a city councillor should be posting pictures of 8 single-occupant cars waiting to turn left is if there is a bus with 75 people being held up by the 8.

Comment edited by JasonL on 2015-10-06 20:59:53

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted October 07, 2015 at 02:56:27 in reply to Comment 114095

Wondering how fast an A-Line LRT would be:

With the LRT taking a dedicated lane, and full traffic priority, fast all-door boarding (8 doors simultaneously! When we're using 2-vehicle peak-hour consists -- a chain of LRT vehicles, Calgary C-Train style -- for subway-style feel). I'd imagine ann A-Line LRT could get you from City Hall to the LINC area in under 10 minutes (via Upper James) at typical LRT operation speed. The straight tunnel ramp would be faster than a curvy ramp like Jolley Cut -- about a 6-to-7-degree tunnel ramp slope to get from Lower/Upper. LRTs average 27kph when including the stopping delays, almost twice as fast as a bus.

Not bad at all. If the LRT is configured properly, with proper traffic priority, it can be nearly as fast as driving.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-10-07 03:00:22

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By readtheaboveposts (anonymous) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 21:36:28 in reply to Comment 114095

According to the above posts you should have driven down king to the 403 up to ancaster down the linc and back down garth.

After all the time you wasted and the pollution you casused, you then take off your hair shirt and start self flagellation.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 07, 2015 at 17:21:21 in reply to Comment 114096

That trip is not what the above posts were advocating for.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted October 08, 2015 at 10:39:02 in reply to Comment 114143

I wanted to take Terry's commute to see how hellish it is. The time spent on the above drive equals 30 hours of commuting over the course of a year. Barely over 1 day. Insane. We should build a double decker road over Queen/Beckett/Garth

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted October 06, 2015 at 22:37:37

I commute to Toronto twice a week for work. To get home I always exit the 403 at Aberdeen and then go left at Locke to get home. So I essentially 'go around the back'. The reasons I don't get off at Main are first that it is really hard to cross Main to get to Dundurn from that off ramp and second, Dundurn between 4 and 6 is like a PARKING LOT if you're going South. What do I see looking way down the line of cars? Virtually everyone signaling left onto Aberdeen. And you know where they're going - up Beckett Drive... Who are all these people?? The only ones who should really be using that would be living in the area bounded by Mohawk/the Escarpment/ W5 and Sanatorium but even then is sitting for 15 minutes on Dundurn worth it? The 403 was moving fine. Take it up the mountain, get off at the Linc and then Mohawk / Garth.

No way do I want to see it being made easier for more cars to use this area. Make it harder and get those folks using the highway. When 220 Dundurn is done and we have couple hundred more neighbours Dundurn will be impassable at rush hour. GOOD.

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By Cut Through (anonymous) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 12:33:11 in reply to Comment 114098

Those would be the cars that didn't impatiently cut down one way Homewood (or insert name of other eastbound one way street in the PM or westbound in the AM)to get to Locke (or whatever street)to avoid the traffic on Dundurn (or other minor arterial). Why on earth are all of these streets one-way? They only encourage speeding cut through traffic.

Stanley, Homewood, Herkimer, Charlton, Herkimer, MacDonald, Hawthorne etc. etc. What possible good reason is there for this ridiculous set up that no other neighbourhood in the city has had it inflicted on them. It is total BS and there is no sound argument for not undoing it all. NOW.

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By Stephen Barath (anonymous) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 08:56:01 in reply to Comment 114098

My limited experience driving on Dundurn is different than yours- besides the occasional slowdown on Dundurn South for left-turners, it proceeds quickly at pretty much all hours as far as I can tell. It's unpleasant by bicycle because the lanes are inadequate, and unpleasant on foot because a)the sidewalks are not buffered from traffic by anything most of the way; and b)there are plenty of conflict points with impatient drivers. Many of these were specifically identified as issues by residents in the Kirkendall Traffic Management studies- drivers failing to observe the stop sign at Charlton before zooming onto Dundurn; drivers being impatient at the LCBO and Beer Store parking lots.

I think your observation that much of the traffic on Dundurn is bound for Aberdeen and Beckett Drive is correct. In the morning, the reverse is true, and traffic comes all the way down Charlton to use Dundurn to proceed to the west end.

You're also right that Dundurn needs to be made more difficult for cut-through-traffic to use. I understand it can't be given the same treatment as Locke, but there should be some crossing in the 700 meter gap between the lights at Herkimer and those at Main. You're right: the highway is right there. Cars should be using it, except for a very few residents near the edge of the mountain for whom Aberdeen and Beckett actually make logical sense.

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By Cultosaurus (registered) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 09:56:43

This whole "debate" with Terry Whitehead just further compounds my bad attitude in general about Hamilton. This guy can barely string a coherent sentence together, shakes his head at logical arguments presented to him and then talks in a circle once he's obviously been proven wrong. He is everything wrong about politicians and yet he still gets voted in every election by a significant, depressing margin. So no only is this incompetent a councillor in Hamilton, but he also backed by a large portion of his ward who must also share his gaps in reason, logic and cognitive ability. How does Hamilton ever move forward with the likes of Terry Whitehead getting in the way?

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By Crispy (registered) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 11:25:22 in reply to Comment 114116

The primary goal of every politician is re-election. If his constituents want status quo on Aberdeen, throw any logic out the window, Whitehead will fight for that status quo.

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By ergopepsi (registered) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 11:58:48 in reply to Comment 114125

Sadly I think Clr Whitehead is a master of just that. Don't say too much, don't say too little. Don't scare anyone with weird changy ideas. Works like a charm.

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By Crispy (registered) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 12:05:29 in reply to Comment 114127

I don't think he holds a monopoly on that.

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[ - ]

By splash rynan--whitehead (anonymous) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 13:21:10

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By watman (anonymous) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 13:37:02 in reply to Comment 114131


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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 16:57:39

It's pretty bad when Edmonton is taking us to school on road safety. I have never feared for my life as much as I did riding a bike through that city.

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By Maybe Not (anonymous) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 19:30:43

And the evening rush exiting the 403 at Aberdeen to the access?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 07, 2015 at 20:30:08 in reply to Comment 114151

That's what the Linc is for.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted October 07, 2015 at 20:59:37

Worthy of note is what happens to Aberdeen when it passes through the Durand mansion district. Seems that the ultra-rich rather like traffic calming and don't like cut-through rat-running car drivers on the street in front of their mansions.

Aberdeen between Queen and James streets is traffic calmed and is not a through street for car drivers. The wealthy people who live there used their political clout to make it that way.

As a somewhat non-wealthy person, I want the same traffic safety measures for my children as the rich people successfully got for their children. This means "yes" to traffic calming and "no" to cut-through rat-running car drivers.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 08, 2015 at 01:47:03 in reply to Comment 114155

There are bump-outs, but it's still 1-way with no stop-signs. You can see the compromise that happened - they added traffic calming, but still designed it for through-traffic as a 1-way so that drivers can get to Bay, the pair of Queen. How many drivers do you think realize that there's a high-speed connection going north? Not many. Basically a ninja-backdoor they left for people working at City Hall and St. Joe's.

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By Agreed (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2015 at 18:29:26

Two way Queen = Garth to Beckett to Queen to King to Mac.

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By NOt (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2015 at 00:19:15 in reply to Comment 114179

Not with LRT on King. No way. No room.

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By OK (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2015 at 08:44:14 in reply to Comment 114182

Well by then you'll have two way Main.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 09, 2015 at 00:51:27 in reply to Comment 114182

King opens up to 5 lanes at Locke. With LRT, that becomes 3, so still more (plus synched lights) than current Aberdeen.

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By Plumber (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2015 at 02:20:55 in reply to Comment 114183

Clearly you are not a plumber.

The bottleneck between Queen and Locke will block the traffic. When you close off a pipe it reduces the flow. It doesn't matter how open it is after the blockage.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 09, 2015 at 13:07:55 in reply to Comment 114185

If it becomes a serious problem, the city could prohibit left-turns through to Locke. This means there's at least 1 lane of completely uninterrupted traffic (where we currently have 2, since the other lanes face pauses from stopped buses and turning movements). Also, hopefully 2-way Main will mean the 1-king will become the 1-main instead of splitting accross two streets, which would also help keep the remaining lanes of King running smoothly.

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By LOL_all_over_again (registered) | Posted October 17, 2015 at 23:44:41

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted October 18, 2015 at 21:37:48 in reply to Comment 114296

no clue who you're talking too here (not that it matters) but I've driven daily on Beckett for 15 years. One time it was slow in a massive blizzard a few years ago.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted October 19, 2015 at 10:11:54 in reply to Comment 114298

I live near Queen and Aberdeen and walk to work 50% of the time, More in warm weather)I walk down Queen usually from about Herkimer North

I also drive down Markland turning left at Queen frequently.

I have lived there 21 years.

When I walk home at night, Queen is stop and go from Aberdeen to Herkimer at the very least and sometimes all the way to Charlton. This is daily and sometimes it is worse like a couple of weeks ago when the traffic was blocked by some construction. If you try to turn left from Markland on to Queen you need a kind soul to let you get over which usually happens because the cars are stopped for significant periods of time.

I have never seen the traffic move southbound freely at that time of day.

Traffic from Aberdeen Eastbound turning on to Queen is better.

Mornings are busy such that Queen Northbound is always backed up to Beckett.

Jason is correct from what I can see that Beckett is always moving save and except 403 closure days and when there is construction or an accident. But that is irrelevant because you end up stopped at Queen if you are going Westbound.

Beckett moves way better than the James street hill which is a disaster ever since they changed the traffic patterns around St Joe's. It is a route to be avoided at almost all costs and may be a reason why people go down Beckett and across Herkimer through Durand.

Maybe you guys are talking apples and oranges or maybe one of you is being disingenuous.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2015-10-19 10:12:33

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2015 at 10:39:27 in reply to Comment 114299

Beckett Drive itself moves just fine except for the back-up at the left-turn where it meets Aberdeen. Making Queen two-way would actually help the traffic coming off Beckett Drive, because then you'd have more cars going straight through instead of all being forced to turn left.

Also, having live traffic lanes on Aberdeen wouldn't change this left-turn business, because the left-turn is already only 1 lane. That lane would not be subtracted, so nothing changes there.

In short, calming traffic on Aberdeen would not have impact on Beckett Drive, and making Queen 2-way would likely make it better.

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