By Ryan McGreal
Published January 09, 2014
This dispatch from the we-have-too-much-lane-capacity files comes to you courtesy of the polar vortex.
Earlier this week, the west lane of Queen Street South was closed at Hunter Street, presumably because of the large accumulation of packed ice there. Walking past the corner in mid-afternoon, I was able to watch the automobile traffic on Queen while it was reduced to one lane.
Smooth flowing traffic on Queen at Hunter with a lane closed
It should come as little surprise that traffic was moving in a smooth flow and a reasonable speed despite the lane closure and the icy conditions.
It occurred to me, not for the first time, that Queen Street is an excellent candidate for conversion to two-way automobile traffic. It's clear that one lane in each direction is adequate to accommodate automobile traffic flow, and a northbound lane would actually make the street more useful to motorists.
Queen has to be one of the least essential one-way streets in a city burdened by far too many inessential one-way streets.
It's already two-way south of Herkimer, where it connects to the Beckett Drive escarpment access. All the northbound drivers who travel down the escarpment have to go somewhere, and are currently diverted either westbound on Aberdeen or eastbound on Herkimer (another pointlessly one-way street) instead of just proceeding north on Queen.
Last year, a two-way study group met and walked the length of Queen Street as part of a grassroots environmental assessment process approved as a compromise after Council recoiled from a motion by Councillors Brian McHattie and Jason Farr to establish a two-way implementation team for Queen and Cannon Street.
No one can accuse Council of moving too quickly on two-way conversions - even the conversions that were approved in the Transportation Master Plan back in 2001, most of which are still pending more than a decade later. At the current rate of conversion on Queen, we can expect it to be completely two-way by mid-century.
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