By Jason Leach
Published March 19, 2013
One of the things that jumps out of the traffic volume data is that our lower city streets don't carry that many cars per lane.
For example, right now Queen Street south of Charlton carries 12,000 cars per day. That's only 4,000 per lane - less than 50% of the urban industry standard in North American cities.
I would really love it if we could work our way towards the urban standard of 8-9,000 cars per lane per day.
This is why I believe we can do proper, complete streets on many of these downtown streets. Based on the traffic data, we could quite easily see Queen Street have one-lane each way with curb parking, except perhaps during 4-6pm.
Even that would seem overbuilt. Two operating lanes 24-7 with 24-7 curb parking would mean we have lane capacity to handle 16,000-18,000 cars - and the street only carries 12,000.
To me, it is essential to start building complete streets in Hamilton. Caroline Street south of Main is a complete two-way street. The new portion between King and Main is not. There is absolutely no need for three full lanes in operation there.
I don't have the data, but there's no chance Caroline is carrying 24,000-27,000 cars per day. King Street West barely carries that much!
The idea here can't simply be two-way conversion with high speed traffic. It should be safer, more manageable traffic speeds.
A great example to point to is Concession Street: 9,500 cars per day with 24-7 curbside parking on both sides and heavy transit use both ways. And it's never congested or "gridlocked".
Queen Street has light transit use southbound only and we could retain curb parking on the east side to avoid bus/parking conflicts. I personally have no desire to see Queen lose its street parking in order to accommodate three full traffic lanes.
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