Comment 80815

By kevlahan (registered) | Posted September 11, 2012 at 09:49:54

I was disappointed to learn that Bob Bratina has essentially come out against two-way conversions, even though as a former Ward 2 Councillor he knows that the neighbourhood associations strongly support this change.

In fact, the Durand Neighbourhood Association was constantly trying to get Bob's help in moving forward on two-way conversion, and he was supportive at the time.

Of course, we need to examine each street individually, but Bratina points out only road-blocks and disadvantages (based on anecdote). He does not mention the strong resident support, years of study and expert opinion supporting two-way conversion. Or the fact that the city's own planners supported two-way conversion back in 2001 in the Downtown Transportation Master Plan whose goal was to "Put People First" (not cars).

As former Ward 2 councillor, Bob should also know that the 2002 Durand Traffic Study found that over 40% of vehicles travel at over 50km/h on minor arterial streets in the neighbourhood (such as Bay, Herkimer and Charlton, ...) and more than 200 vehicles a day travel at >65 km/h. These high speeds are not only illegal, but dangerous for residents. The Durand Traffic Study also showed that these streets are way under-capacity, and this excess capacity means that two-way conversion should not be a problem. Two-way conversion addresses directly this issue of high speed on residential streets.

Regarding his specific examples of Charlton and Herkimer, I am surprised by the claim that two-way conversion would require removing all parking! I live on Charlton and there are currently two lanes for traffic and curb-side parking. Two-way conversion would simply mean switching direction on one of the lanes! The only possible reason to remove the parking would be if we wanted to maintain the (planned) bike lane. In that case, we would need to make a trade-off: bike-lane or two-way conversion or reduce parking.

Removing all parking on Charlton and Herkimer would be extreme, but we need to stop putting parking at the top of the priority list. I was appalled back in 2002 that no recommendation in the Durand Study for pedestrian improvements was allowed that would decrease parking, even just locally. This was a very strange rule in a study that was supposed to be focused on improvements for pedestrians!

Regarding seniors, this is again anecdote. I know seniors who find the high speed waves encouraged by one-way traffic very scary since it makes it difficult to judge how much time they need to get through the gap, so I guess we're even on what seniors think. The solution here is clearly to provide safe pedestrian crossings at each intersection, not to gamble on which sort of street is easier for seniors to dodge traffic on.

Opponents of two-way conversion keep talking about "going slow" or "being careful", but what they really seem to mean is to avoid making any changes at all. After all, it has been 11 years since the "Putting People First" plan was officially adopted, and we still haven't implemented the conversions that were recommended in the plan.

Being careful with two-way conversion would mean converting a few streets each year, monitoring the effect of the conversions, learning how to correct any problems, and implementing what we learned in the next round of conversions. This is careful and evidence based, but keeps the project moving forward.

Not being careful would be converting all one-way streets overnight to two-way, as they did in reverse back in 1956. But then no one is actually proposing this!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2012-09-11 10:30:39

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