Comment 37382

By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted January 25, 2010 at 13:42:20

realitycheck >> "Main Street has a width that will easily accommodate dedicated LRT lanes in both directions, as well as two lanes for two-way automobile traffic and an additional lane of bumpout parking. In such a format, King Street can also be converted back to two-way traffic. Why is this much more preferable traffic design being completely ignored?"

Although Main Street has an extra lane – it also has a deeply disturbed memory of being (ab)used as an inner-city Highway.

Like human beings have memory – so does materials, artifacts, buildings, including streets.

Like metals and plastics that bends back to its original form, streets too often force themselves back to their original form and intent – in spite of our best intentions to shape them to meet changed needs of a new generation.

This is a very simple design/planning principle that has been ignored in our times - from which most of our modern urban design tragedies have originated.

Our Main Street's -disturbed memory- will force (some of us who are unaware of this principle) to continue to make us look at it in a way that will help -it- to perpetuate -its- existing dysfunctionality.

Although the previous generations may take full responsibility for the resulting blithe from Main which helped destroy our micro-economy for decades; and although they may try to correct it – their past actions have been embedded into the memory of the street.

Strange as it may sound, its wider carriageway is not an asset – it was the cause of our downfall for decades. And if we are lured or seduced into looking at it as an asset to justify laying the LRT tracks there – we will only be perpetuating our blithe for a longer time.

New York City is primarily composed of inner city highways – they call it Avenues. Their consistency made them the financial capital of the world, and in turn they gave the world a city that every one wanted to get a bite off.

We tried it in our past; we are incapable of being New Yorkers. We don't talk that talk, we don't walk that walk. Our Main Street and York Blvd are mere remnants of an experiment to become what we were not.

In the process, we lost an opportunity to create our own identity – the quintessential Hamilton persona – that of a small BIG town with a swagger, and a history that is as compelling as that of New York – if we had only believed in it hard enough.

Our original road patterns were a natural fit for developing a near perfect European town in North America. Instead we pursued the dreams of the big city – without the sensibilities that goes with such an undertaking.

In trying to make sense of our proposed LRT routes, we must first acknowledge that streets too have memory. And this memory forces use and form that -it- is familiar with, in spite of our best intentions to re-form it.

An exercise in taming the Main would involve visualization – intense collective visualization – of how we all see the Main of the past, its present and its future.

This just may help in erasing the streets acquired intelligence – through its recent memory of (ab)use, and if this succeeds, it may point us in the direction of what it always wanted to be.

University planners over decades tried to fight the pesky diagonal foot paths cut by students traversing the shortest possible routes thru pristine lawns – until one day someone got wiser and said, let us lay the lawns after the students have etched out their routes. All were happy after that.

The IV/Gore offer that organic etching - without expensive consultations.

Our preferences refuse to take simple etchings like this into account, because it is the perceived increase in real estate values under the guise of triggering renaissance on the Main – that is driving our choices. Not much has really changed since the days of laying the original tracks across Canada!

We need to dig deeper into our streets memories to find out what our street have been trying to tell us for so long.

Failing which, we will be back where we started in the seventies, only this time instead of two tracks; we will have three tracks to cross over – on our way to the waterfront from the escarpment.

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