Excess Lane Capacity Means Room for Complete Streets

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.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By Conrad664 (registered) | Posted March 20, 2013 at 12:20:51

All streets going north and south should be 2 way streets not only Caroline and Queen don`t forget the east end the likes of Victoria Wellington Wentworth Sanford Sherman

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted March 20, 2013 at 21:23:29

Great post, Jason. I'm struggling to understand why the people who have been annoyingly married to statistical analysis (see Stadium debate) now back-pedal when presented with some pretty basic numbers.

Glad to see folks from the masses presenting solid cases for this. Especially those who live in the area and see first hand how these changes (or lack thereof) affect daily life.

As a suburbanite living in the amalgamated city, I like to provide my 2 cents about what I think will make the city better. But it bugs the hell out of me when suburban council members and citizens seem to provide much of the resistance to initiatives like this.

The only people I know that support the downtown freeways are some of my out-of-town/ fellow-'burbanites who want to get to places like Ivor Wynne at 80km/h or, simply blow through to get back home. That's fine..but, no decisions should be based on that.

(And actually, many out of towners I know find driving in Hamilton mighty intimidating. If you aren't used to it, cutting across 4+ lanes of quickly moving traffic to try and get to your side street is a pretty stressful situation.)

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2013 at 17:43:42

Now to identify the fiscal capacity.

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