Cannon Street Driveability Fail

By John Neary
Published June 15, 2012

This morning at 9:30 AM, I took my son out in the car to Tiffany Falls in Ancaster. As we approached Cannon Street from our house on Mary, I saw that the two left lanes of Cannon were blocked between Mary and Catharine for roadwork.

Traffic on the remaining two lanes was a bit busier than usual, so instead of being able to turn left and immediately catch the green wave I had to wait for the green wave to pass.

I was stopped at the red light at Catharine with five other cars. It cost me about a minute's delay.

A greater disruption to traffic occurred just after the light turned green again. A driver heading north on John Street turned east (i.e. the wrong way) onto Cannon and accelerated halfway down the block to Catharine before making a right turn into the parking lot at Barton Radiator Works. All of the westbound drivers stopped in their tracks.

I see someone driving the wrong way on Cannon or Mary at least once a week, although it rarely brings traffic to a halt like it did in this case.

If closing two lanes of traffic doesn't cause congestion - even at a near-peak travel time - why do we need four westbound lanes on Cannon Street?

And if the occasional motorist is going to drive the wrong way on our one-way streets, why don't we either step up enforcement or, better yet, redesign the street to permit two-way traffic?

John Neary lives in Beasley Neighbourhood and practices general internal medicine at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton. He would like Hamilton to develop an urban environment that creates less gainful employment for his profession.


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By brendansimons (registered) | Posted June 15, 2012 at 14:22:09

This is probably the best argument for lane reduction on our downtown arterials. Over the past few years, lanes have been continuously closed on King, Cannon, Victoria, Wellington, Wentworth - all with absolutely minimal effect on traffic flow.

Traffic flow is a terrible metric to judge the quality of urban streets, but experience has shown even that thin argument is baseless.

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted June 15, 2012 at 23:55:13 in reply to Comment 78545

I was leaving the Ticats game the other day (yeah I know....) I left my parking space and traveled west on Barton - a two way street.

Traffic was slow in a couple of spots early on but I was always moving.

Now I realize that King, Cannon and Burlington streets all assist in moving East West traffic but the fact that a 2 way street can move part of 27,000 shows that it can handle traffic.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 15, 2012 at 14:28:45 in reply to Comment 78545

To be fair, Main street actually approaches something that could be described as congestion at 8:30-9:00AM, even with all lanes open. Now, that's not necessarily sufficient justification to keep it as-is, just saying that Main does actually reach its capacity daily.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2012-06-15 14:29:19

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 15, 2012 at 19:10:27 in reply to Comment 78546

I've never seen that, but if it does it would be for mere minutes... if King, York and Cannon were two-way, those eastbound cars on Main could be spread out based on final destination instead of all being forced onto one street. Notice in the morning 'rush' how empty King is heading west around Bay or Queen...ditto for Cannon. All this wasted lane capacity that could help ease any burden on one particular street if they were all two-way.

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By Chevron (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2012 at 21:56:24 in reply to Comment 78557

Where are the high employment zones that draw the most eastbound traffic in the morning 'rush'?

Downtown, obviously: The downtown population basically triples from 9-5 every weekday.

But where else? Where's the traffic coming from and where's it going to, and in what volume?

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 15, 2012 at 20:54:08 in reply to Comment 78557

"I've never seen that"

Well then I think you need to get out more!

Again, I come across King most weekdays between 8:30 and 9. It gets busy, especially when there's a bit of a weave with 1 lane on the right closed at the A&W renovation, and then half a block up the left lane is closed at Hess. It gets busy along here, what with people turning into the parking spaces and lots, going up Hess and simply avoiding the buses. When the traffic is shunted into 2 lanes in front of the A&W it gets worse. Traffic is usually backed up for about a block due to this.

I have no problem with the arterials and side streets being converted to 2-way. I do have a problem with our throroughfares (King and Main) being converted.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 15, 2012 at 21:09:49 in reply to Comment 78559

oh sure, these streets get 'busy', but never stop and go congestion. unless the 403 is completely closed or there's a blizzard. I live downtown and have for a decade...on these streets everyday. I've never seen a big city slowdown. ever.

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By DrAwesomesauce (registered) | Posted June 15, 2012 at 22:26:48 in reply to Comment 78562

To some Hamiltonians busy means having to slow down to something less than 50 km/h.

Yeah, terrible congestion.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2012 at 15:05:07 in reply to Comment 78546

Whereabouts on Main?

It's quite a long street, and I'm not sure it has the same problem throughout.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 15, 2012 at 15:36:23 in reply to Comment 78547

I can't think of any spots that particularly stand out after you get through Dundurn and past the Tim's backup between Dundurn and Poulette. Just generally slightly-congested traffic all the way from Dundurn to Victoria.

Obviously it never reaches anything I'd call backed up or actually bad, but it looks to be pretty close to capacity.

Then again, I don't recall it getting worse when it lost a lane for work on Vranich's building over there, so that does lend weight to the studies that Ryan points to about how traffic vanishes when capacity is lost.

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By Biro (anonymous) | Posted June 15, 2012 at 17:28:44

Anyone taking odds on three lanes westbound/one lane eastbound?

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 15, 2012 at 20:57:40

I see people driving the wrong way on Catherine all the time. Just on Thursday, when I was getting onto Charlton, an older man turned off of Charlton onto Catherine. I had my windows down and honked and told him he was going the wrong way, and his response, shouted out his window was "oh, it's OK". I replied with "no, it's not OK" but he just kept going.

This happens regularly. People unfamiliar with the one-way side streets make wrong turns or simply find it more convenient to disobey the rules of the roads. Further to that, I've seen the police do the same thing, without their lights or siren on.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted June 15, 2012 at 22:26:40 in reply to Comment 78560

I'm so used to one-way streets I actually occasionally do the reverse mistake - cruise along in the left-hand lane of a street I assumed was one-way but wasn't.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 15, 2012 at 21:12:00 in reply to Comment 78560

yea, I see this everyday. I understand why people do it. 1-way is inconvenient for everyone...drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, transit users etc..... goes to show that average Hamiltonians aren't as stupid as city hall thinks. We can subconsciously detect a complete waste of our time and energy when we see our destination but aren't allowed to drive directly to it. Our populous handled an overnight conversion in the 50's...and we could handle it today.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 25, 2012 at 20:56:49 in reply to Comment 78563

Since when is Dundurn north of King considered downtown?

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted June 15, 2012 at 22:14:39 in reply to Comment 78563

...or it could be that people don't pay attention to signage, fellow drivers or are just ignorant.

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By Half full vs empty (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2012 at 19:59:46

"If closing two lanes of traffic doesn't cause congestion - even at a near-peak travel time ".

This could be used as an argument for why having 4 lanes is a good thing. Construction and lane closures for other various reasons can be done with minimal impact on congestion. Imagine if it was 2 lanes and 2 lanes needed to be closed for construction. Not pretty.

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By MikeS (anonymous) | Posted June 16, 2012 at 20:03:20


What were you doing driving through downtown on Canon? Shouldn't you be using our ring highway?

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted June 17, 2012 at 13:53:07 in reply to Comment 78584

Although your comment is clearly a troll, there is no direction in which I can legally drive from my house except north to Cannon Street. And Cannon to Queen to King is my fastest route to the ring highway.

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By MikeS (anonymous) | Posted June 17, 2012 at 14:13:22 in reply to Comment 78598

It wasn't meant as a troll comment. The point I was trying to make is that what some people call a "ring highway" isn't really a ring.

People on RTH continually say that because of our "ring hwy", people shouldn't be driving through downtown to access the highway.

I don't know if you are one of the people complaining of all the truck traffic on Cannon? Your chosen route is an example of why the trucks drive through downtown to access the highway. It is simply faster and shorter.

As long as you're using Cannon to access the highway, then you can't complain about others doing the same.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 17, 2012 at 21:54:59 in reply to Comment 78599

dude...he has no choice! Cannon is ONE of the main things we've been discussing here.
The ring highway is for all the Steelcare trucks that start at the 403 and Aberdeen and end at the QEW and Eastport...15 minutes on the dot...instead they plod for 20+ minutes through the city. Local residents are allowed to use their local streets. It's local residents like John who are tired of his neighbourhood being a pass-through freeway.

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By MikeS (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2012 at 15:33:47 in reply to Comment 78605

I know that Cannon is a One Way street. And, I agree with you. He doesn't have a choice. Well, he does, but the choice that makes the most sense is to use Cannon. The same is obviously true for many cars and many trucks. Until there is a realistic alternate route to Cannon, Cannon will remain a busy road with lots of cars and trucks.

No one here is talking about trucks that start at Aberdeen and end up at Eastport so I'm not sure why you're mentioning that... especially considering that's East bound traffic.

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By no contiuous ring (anonymous) | Posted June 18, 2012 at 13:00:20 in reply to Comment 78605

Actually this supports my belief that no matter what is done there will be a large volume of traffic on Cannon,Wilson,King and Main along with Victoria and Wellington so long as the perimeter road stops at Wellington and Burlington. There simply is no other reasonable choice to get to the 403 for more than 100,000 residents (178,000 lower city residents not including Dundas or Stoney Creek as of 2006 census)

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted June 18, 2012 at 13:19:07 in reply to Comment 78628

Why would that many people be trying to get to the 403 each day? Most of the people who live in Hamilton work in Hamilton.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 16, 2012 at 21:06:49 in reply to Comment 78584

ummm, he said he lives on Mary near Cannon. Is he not allowed to use his neighbourhood streets?

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By TnT (registered) | Posted June 19, 2012 at 07:24:57

Traffic congestion is something I hear people complain about in Toronto, so obviously no one would live there!

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By 4 Way Street (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2012 at 07:44:32

Funny that drivers, of all people, move to neighbourhoods where the streets are fouled up and the traffic infernal. Goes to show that this is not in the realm of rational thought, even for those who presumably would know better.

Maybe there's a rose in the fisted glove.

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