Comment 2348

By bigbri54 (registered) | Posted November 25, 2006 at 20:24:35

Facts on the ground: My hypocricy

For the longest time, one-way streets have been part of the coming-of-age experience in Hamilton. In the late sixties, we might head up Parkdale Avenue in my big, black '65 Pontiac, hang a right at Queenston and after the Delta we'd be in one-way cruise control all the way downtown. You'd often seen chicks (hey, that's what we said back then) hitchhiking, and you might treat them to some Jethro Tull on your 8-track, as you all headed into that red ball sun, which could dance on the trolley wires, and drop them off somewhere along the way. Just beyond James Street, before "urban renewal," beyond the Grange and Torch taverns, we'd turn left at MacNab or Park, another left on Main and head back east, sometimes all the way past Nash Road, perhaps to stop at the Millionaire for a burger. And then do it all over again - on a Saturday night, we might do it half a dozen times. I vividly recall one sweet summer eve in 1971 leaving a house party on Main West near Longwood, finding a comfortable groove, and hitting every light green almost all the way to Highway 20. It was efficient and predictable – comforting. There was something magical about joining those rivers of life on a Saturday night - or even a Thursday morning - honing your driving skills, flirting with the passing parade of life in Hamilton.

Happentance, 30 years later: the '90 Voyager's transmission gave out, no money to throw good after bad, I vividly recall the minivan looking downcast as it was towed into oblivion on Charlton Avenue West. There was a bank loan still to be paid, so the only alternative was not owning a car. For almost 10 years, I did not own a car, yet lived in downtown Hamilton and worked in downtown Toronto. It can be done. I soon realized that GO Transit, the HSR (arguably), taxis, cycling and walking took care of 95 per cent of any one's transportation needs (you could always rent a couple times a year for special occasions and errands). Becoming a full-time pedestrian in Hamilton was eye-opening, you can't help but feel that the concept – pedestrianism – is surely as foreign as the Mountain incline railway to most Hamiltonians today. One of the first things you notice is the river of cars and trucks washing down Main Street in one- or two-minute bursts, some of them thumping that hip-hop song from $10,000 digital sound systems. If you're waiting to cross James, the cars, they all hurtle by, most everyone well above 50 km/h, some slicing for a better lane. It creates a bit of a wind that can heave grit and paper cups at you at the corner. You're inclined to huddle behind the bank building for protection. I defy any one to stand at Main and James any afternoon – any time – and conclude that that is a healthy environment for coming of age. Bigbri

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