Transportation

Runnymede Road a Model for Aberdeen

By Madeleine Verhovsek
Published July 11, 2012

I've been enjoying all the RTH "visioning" about how to improve the streets of Hamilton. A couple of weekends ago, we were driving on Runnymede Road in Toronto between Dundas Street West and Bloor West, and I couldn't help but notice how remarkably similar the street is to Aberdeen between Studholme and Queen in terms of width, older homes, mature trees, and traffic volume.

Runnymede between Dundas West and Bloor West in Toronto
Runnymede Road between Dundas West and Bloor West in Toronto

The City of Toronto has added street parking and bike lanes in place of extra lanes of traffic. How great would this be on Aberdeen - or, better yet, on Main, Cannon and the other high-speed roads in the lower city!

Work continues on a new pedestrian crossing at Aberdeen and Kent (RTH file photo)
Work continues on a new pedestrian crossing at Aberdeen and Kent (RTH file photo)

Madeleine Verhovsek lives in Kirkendall neighbourhood. She works as a physician at St. Joseph's Hospital.

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By Papa Wheelie (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 07:50:15

Cars on the left and right would be invigorating!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2012 at 09:41:54

Are you sure Aberdeen is wide enough to accommodate that kind of design?

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 08:30:07 in reply to Comment 79363

This is what pisses me off about RTH sometimes... No answer to a legitimate question about the size of the street... just downvotes.

I took a look on Google Maps... They seem to be similar widths, but it's hard to tell.

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By cando (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 09:00:25 in reply to Comment 79388

Actually there was a reply, look down to jason's comment where he says "for those wondering, that cross section would fit perfectly on Aberdeen. 4 car lanes= 2 car lanes with curb parking and bike lanes both ways....how ideal would this be considering the heavy bike traffic that uses Aberdeen and high school students trying to get to Westdale without being killed. Aberdeen has been reduced to 1-lane at Dundurn for a year during condo construction and I can only recall once having to wait 2 light sequences to get through in rush hour...usually it's only 1 sequence....like the rest of lower Hamilton - we have a massive overcapacity of traffic lanes."

When I was a kid my dad used to say there are Can Do people and Can't Do people. Can Do people get things done by starting with "How can we make this happen" instead of "Can we make this happen" or "We can't make this happen because..." I don't know Pxtl but his comment sounds like a Can't Do question not a Can Do question.

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By logonfire (registered) | Posted August 14, 2012 at 14:30:09 in reply to Comment 79389

The new hospital on Mohawk will severely impact the traffic flows (increase them) on Aberdeen and down the "Queen Street Hill" in a few months and then we'll see a lot of pollution problems along Queen and along Aberdeen as the stoplights interrupt traffic flow. Enjoy the 2 sequence delay while you can; it will soon be three sequences - and not just at rush hour!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:28:17 in reply to Comment 79389

The more specific you make your goals, the less flexible you are when you find out they're not functional.

The goal doesn't need to be "we will put this layout on Aberdeen", it can be "we will make Aberdeen into a complete street that's safe and functional for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists".

This is one possible plan. If it doesn't work, you come up with another one. So why could it fail?

The big question is width. Aberdeen is presently 4 lanes. We're looking at 4 lanes plus 2 bike-lanes... okay, that sounds like we don't have space. But are the existing 4 lanes super-wide? If so, it might fit. Or it might involve running the bike lanes in the door-zone, which isn't good.

Maybe we have to throw out a parked car lane on one side... okay, that could work. Also, what does Runnymede do at major intersections (you can argue that every intersection of Aberdeen is a major intersection)? Does it stay with that layout, or does it convert the parked car lanes into through-traffic and develop turning lanes? Where do the bike lanes go? You could probably just pull them over to the sides, actually - end the parking lanes near the intersection, pull the bikes lanes out to the side and pop a turning lane into the middle. Boom, cylists are happy, drivers are happy, and there's still plenty of place to park away from the intersections.

My point is that there's tons of design you could do, but you need to know your limits. And the big limitation is width.

So how wide is it? Wider than Runnymede, or not?

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By logonfire (registered) | Posted August 14, 2012 at 14:32:41 in reply to Comment 79403

Why put bike lanes on the dangerous through streets? Why not put them on the parallel residential streets which are quieter, less polluted and greener?

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 13:10:07 in reply to Comment 79403

I dunno... That sounds like a "Can't Do" attitude to me! :P

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By jericho (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 12:32:54

Aberdeen is one of the main highway connectors in the city. There's no way it could go down to two lanes. Already with the construction at Dundurn it's caused traffic, mainly coming down the Queen mountain access, to divert throughout residential streets in Durand and Kirkendall. We need some streets to remain arterial, just as they do in Toronto. I think Aberdeen is already the kind of street we should be aiming for on Cannon and Wilson. It's a far nicer street to walk on than its neighbours Herkimer and Queen, both one way in large swaths.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 17:33:31 in reply to Comment 79364

Why does it have to be a major highway connector? Eliminate eastbound access on to the 403 and you'll cut the amount of traffic while at the same time still providing multiple alternative for eastbound traffic including the Linc, King, and Main (and even York).

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By logonfire (registered) | Posted August 14, 2012 at 14:34:11 in reply to Comment 79373

Don't be silly!

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 19:57:36 in reply to Comment 79373

Why does it have to be a major highway connector? Because it's near the trucking yard, the MIP, the rail yard, he other businesses along the edge of the MIP...

Really, is it that hard to understand?

But I am totally for converting it to look like that picture, and have some of the alternates tested out with 2-way (like Charlton, Herkimer, etc)

Comment edited by DowntownInHamilton on 2012-07-11 19:58:10

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2012 at 15:24:52 in reply to Comment 79364

Aberdeen is a residential street in Durand an Kirkendall.

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By jericho (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 18:22:06 in reply to Comment 79367

As it stands at that latitude you have arterial streets east west at Aberdeen, Main/King, and York. You're proposing making Aberdeen like it is east of Queen the whole way. I can't think of anyone even in Durand or Kirkendall who would get behind this. I don't even think residents of Aberdeen would support it! A better argument would be that Herkimer be quieted to two lanes with bike lanes.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2012 at 19:50:55 in reply to Comment 79375

To me the best solution would be a 2-way Queen and 2-way throughout Kirkendall, extend Charlton over the tracks, and then complete the Frid Street connection to Longwood. While Aberdeen would lose the ability to handle flow, we'd have Charlton as a secondary (2-way) route to double the effective number of lanes from the Queen street mountain access to Westdale.

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 19:59:00 in reply to Comment 79376

How would you extend Charlton over the tracks? Take part of 220 Dundurn and do it? Like the Vranich's would ever green-light that.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:34:01 in reply to Comment 79378

What are you talking about?

edit: in retrospect, Herkimer would work better if you could get it connected to the Frid extension, since Herkimer is wider and meant to be arterial unlike Charlton... but Herkimer might not be able to be run close to Charlton, I don't know the exact layout of the stuff being built at Frid's present terminus. But either way, 220 Dundurn blocks neither of those.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2012-07-12 11:39:28

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 06:12:09 in reply to Comment 79404

I'm talking about how you'd have to jog off of CHarlton, back onto Dundurn, then back onto Charlton again. A complete street is not that. YOu'd need to realign the streets to make that work.

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 12:16:54 in reply to Comment 79404

Not to make too fine a point........but Herkimer is classified as a "minor arterial" road; as are both Charlton and Aberdeen.

Main and King are arterial roads.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 12:35:37

This is exactly what we should do on Aberdeen. We spent tens of millions on a ring freeway system so Mountain residents can use the Linc to 403 instead of cutting through this SW neighbourhood. This design would be great for the local quality of life, and would help redirect unnecessary short-cut traffic onto the Linc where it belongs.

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By jericho (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 21:37:24 in reply to Comment 79365

there's no way this would divert traffic to the linc. If you live on the Browlands you're not going onto the Linc to get on the highway. The Linc does not serve every mountain resident. But more to the point, what's so bad about arterial streets? What's so bad about Aberdeen? These streets exist in every city on earth. If we reached bicycle nirvana and replaced cars with bicycles we'd still need broad avenues. This is an odd argument considering the recent movement against one-ways.

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By lol (registered) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 16:17:53

that is almost as funny as the proposal to turn Main into one lane in each direction. Aberdeen has always been (at least as long as I can remember)a highway access and through street to one of the few mountain accesses in the city. Outside of the fact that Runnymede is about the same length as the through street part of Aberdeen, 403 to Queen, the two have absolutely nothing in common. Runnymede is a street that goes nowhere. It really is a residential street. It starts at Dundas and ends a couple of kilometers away at the park. Unless you believe that the park access makes it an important road. Start comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 17:30:23 in reply to Comment 79369

So if it's a highway access, the entire length of the street needs to be two-lanes the whole way?

Who is taking Aberdeen to get to the highway anyways, and do we want these people doing that? Maybe we would prefer some of these people take alternative routes to the highway - like the Linc, or King?

But to say we can't even have this discussion because the street is a sacred "highway access" and therefore any discussion should be off the table is a bit ridiculous. Why can't we propose alternatives?

For example, let's remove access to the 403 eastbound fraom aberdeen. That should cut traffic in the area substantially. Let people going eastbound take Main St.

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By LOL (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 23:20:25 in reply to Comment 79372

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 09:55:32 in reply to Comment 79429

Sorry Mr. Troll but it is not meant to be a "thoroughfare". It is meant to be a minor arterial road.

Minor arterial roads are meant to serve mainly local traffic demands.

The point you continue to miss (probably ignore) is that because of the design of these roads they encourage use that has them functioning as de facto major arterial roads.

What people advocate for here is to have these roads function as they should, not by encouraging high volume fast through traffic.

You know; the kind of traffic that goes THROUGH the lower city; not TO the lower city.

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By LOL (registered) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 15:54:40 in reply to Comment 79457

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By Anon (anonymous) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 16:42:01 in reply to Comment 79469

Squelch, squelch, squelch.

That can't possibly work here. We're Hamilton. We're so different than everywhere else. Exceptionalism!

London's downtown isn't close to the 401......didn't quite catch the name of those streets they built to race you on in though.

Give it up.........relatively narrow lower city.......must have one way thoroughfares.

You are actually quite amusing.

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By LOL (registered) | Posted July 14, 2012 at 05:43:39 in reply to Comment 79478

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 18:09:14

for those wondering, that cross section would fit perfectly on Aberdeen. 4 car lanes= 2 car lanes with curb parking and bike lanes both ways....how ideal would this be considering the heavy bike traffic that uses Aberdeen and high school students trying to get to Westdale without being killed. Aberdeen has been reduced to 1-lane at Dundurn for a year during condo construction and I can only recall once having to wait 2 light sequences to get through in rush hour...usually it's only 1 sequence....like the rest of lower Hamilton - we have a massive overcapacity of traffic lanes.

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 21:40:05

Re: the highway access argument - how much of the traffic accessing the 403 uses the Aberdeen Avenue ramps to get to/from Longwood Road?

I think that's important. Certainly a portion of the flow using Aberdeen is inner-city or mountain and that travel demand bears consideration, but I would think a substantial amount has an origin or destination in the west end, connecting to the 403-west via Longwood.

Perhaps 2-lanes would suffice for through traffic, east of the Innovation Park?

Comment edited by ScreamingViking on 2012-07-11 21:47:26

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By shortcutting (anonymous) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 21:56:15 in reply to Comment 79380

A huge part of that traffic especially at rush hour is people going from the west mountain to westdale and back, they should be taking the 403 instead of shortcutting down the Queen access.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 22:55:13 in reply to Comment 79381

This is fair, but it's an extra 4-5 KM from the Garth St. LINC access to the King/Main St. 403 on/off ramp if you take then LINC vs taking the Queen St. Hill.

Now sure you can go a lot faster on the LINC, but that's a lot of distance to traverse if you are looking to save time.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2012-07-11 22:55:38

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 09:53:09 in reply to Comment 79384

According to googlemaps, heading from Garth/Linc to King/Main/403 takes:

- 13 minutes to make the 8 km trip down the Queen St. Hill;

- 8 minutes to make the 10.8 km trip using the Linc to the 403.

So it's only a 2.8 km further in terms of distance (not 4-5 km) and since your'e going faster you actually end up saving 5 minutes!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2012 at 13:22:03 in reply to Comment 79395

To be fair, you're talking about folks traveling from exactly Garth/Linc. If they're coming from somewhere North of Mohawk, it might look better.

Especially since Garth at the Linc is a traffic nightmare. Often the back-up is so bad that traffic in some legs of that overpass stop completely for long periods of time. Not just "get really slow" but utterly stop as an intersection becomes impossible to enter even when the light is green. Bad enough that the similarly-snarled Queen at Aberdeen intersection starts looking inviting.

Now obviously, this doesn't mean we should be letting the highway-form of Aberdeen continue, I'm just trying to highlight the reality of that route at rush-hour. Google isn't giving you rush-hour numbers.

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By LOL (registered) | Posted July 16, 2012 at 13:09:39 in reply to Comment 79408

I live in Westdale a family member lives not far from Garth and Limeridge. Queen st is 8 km and 403 is 13 km. That works out to over 60% further and takes a little longer as well. For us Queen St hill remains a viable option.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 17:08:23 in reply to Comment 79408

Yeah, it is a bit of an odd choice of intersection, but it's what was presented, so it's what I went with.

I till don't think there's any reason Aberdeen needs to be an access to the 403 eastbound. How far out of the way is it really to go down the queen street hill to King instead? Maybe Queen should be out thoroughfare instead of Aberdeen?

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By LOL (registered) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 15:55:56 in reply to Comment 79416

Out of your backyard and into somebody elses.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2012 at 22:06:59 in reply to Comment 79416

Ah, but Queen is one-way - you can take King or Main to Queen to get to the hill, but you can't take Queen back.

If only there was a simple solution to this problem.

If only.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2012-07-12 22:07:21

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted July 14, 2012 at 16:58:06 in reply to Comment 79425

There used to be, but it was converted as part of the silver bullet to solving the city's ails - 2-way conversion!

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:34:42 in reply to Comment 79395

and if Aberdeen was made into the model shown above, it would add another couple minutes to those shortcutting from Queen, making the ring highway an even more desirable route.

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 22:37:33

Here is the story, this is a give and take conversion. The majority of traffic on Aberdeen is people coming from/to the West Mountain going from/to the 403, either direct along Aberdeen, up Queen St. or down Dundurn and onto Main.

This traffic isn't likely to stop if you make a bike lane conversion on Aberdeen as even if Aberdeen is reduced to one lane. Waiting in traffic on Aberdeen will still be shorter and faster then taking the LINC out to Ancaster to get to the 403 (which is about an extra six KM if you are coming from W5th and Mohawk) and will push more traffic onto Queen from Main. Now this may facilitate the conversion of two way streets in the area such as Queen, Locke, Charlton and Herkimer, to offer better traffic access which is good.

However, these conversions come with a price. You are making Main an even more attractive highway off ramp if you are heading up the mountain and if you make Queen two way, you have all the traffic cutting across Aberdeen, now splitting between cutting across Aberdeen as well as King/Main. This means making Main and King even more of a dominant highway access in the area for eastbound traffic, and you are damning it to be FAR less likely to ever be changed from the fives lanes of one way car traffic that it is right now.

Now I would be supportive of this idea, but then again I'm for leaving Main and King one way, and maybe sacrificing a lane on each for and LRT/sectioned off bike access. However, if you want to see Main and King turned two way, you have to get traffic off of these streets, not put more traffic onto them.

Like I said, give and take and pick what battle you want to fight.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2012-07-11 22:57:10

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted July 11, 2012 at 23:01:18 in reply to Comment 79383

This is of course assuming you could without taking a political hit at the polls. I suspect Terry Whitehead and Scott Duval would oppose any such conversion and play to their base and gang up on Brian McHattie whose ward actually has Aberdeen in it. I could be wrong though.

Comment edited by -Hammer- on 2012-07-11 23:01:36

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 11:22:37 in reply to Comment 79385

It's in Farr's too, so it would be a fair fight. ;)

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 00:27:20 in reply to Comment 79402

Farr's ward ends at Queen St. Aberdeen is out of his jurisdiction.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 00:55:31 in reply to Comment 79431

Aberdeen goes all the way to James.

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By DBC (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 09:26:46

That entire neighbourhood, from Bloor to St. Clair is built for all users. Not just the car. I have been to several hockey games at George Bell Arena and always drove up from the Gardiner.

Bloor West was always full of people walking and shopping. Many of the side streets are 30 km/h and have speed humps to control traffic. The whole neighbourhood is vibrant. It is built for everyone. No one way streets either. Doesn't seem like the planners considered the car over all other road users as this part of Toronto evolved.

In other words, this neighbourhood looks nothing like anything in Durand or Kirkendall. So who has it right Toronto or Hamilton?

I had no problem getting to where I was going from the Gardiner; I just didn't get there on a desolate 5 lane one way freeway with synchronized traffic lights. No one on this site is advocating the complete elimination of traffic lanes for cars. People want balance. Currrently in Kirkendall and Durand there is little if any balance. Everyone will still be able to get where they are going, they will just have to do so with some consideration for other road users and neighbours.

What is so wrong with that? We are sacrificing much of our lower city for the sake of a few minutes out of peoples, day. Ridiculous.

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By LOL (registered) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 16:02:11 in reply to Comment 79394

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 10:36:44 in reply to Comment 79394

bingo. And this is the point that needs to be made over and over to the CHML crowd and those who accuse us of having a 'war on cars'. A war on cars wouldn't see us suggesting road designs that still leave the vast majority of roadspace for cars...we're just looking for a bit of balance. Not even TO balance, just SOME balance...any amount of balance would be much better than what we have now.

Comment edited by jason on 2012-07-12 11:47:32

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 06:20:33 in reply to Comment 79399

LOL at not having a war on cars.

Leaving 1 lane going each direction on Main isn't a compromise. That's just making it so difficult to get to where you want to go by car that people will forget about a trip somewhere.

EDIT: No, I won't bike from Hamilton to Mississauga. No, I won't take transit since it does not fit my schedule (presently). No, I won't take transit to go to visit family members in Dundas for Sunday dinner when I'm bringing something for the meal. No, I won't take transit to Burlington to visit other family. At this time it just doesn't work.

Comment edited by DowntownInHamilton on 2012-07-13 06:28:33

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By LOL (registered) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 16:03:38 in reply to Comment 79436

does not work for me and most of the rest of the citizens either.

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By LOL (registered) | Posted July 12, 2012 at 23:13:57

We should absolutely have balance on our roads. Let's figure out how many person kilometers each mode of transportation accounts for, driving, transit, cycling, and walking then we divide up our roadways accordingly. That would give us real BALANCE. What you are crying for is not balance but is in fact what you envision for whatever reason you do. If that neighbourhood is so horrible why in the world did you move there? Why would anyone move to an area that is so bad if they had any choice? The prices in that area are not real low so you must have moved there because you found it attractive for some reason. Now that you are their you have decided that it should all change to suit you,to hell with every one else in the city who dares to use YOUR road. Reminds me of people who move next to an airport then complain about the noise from the planes and try to limit the planes or shut down the airport.

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 11:22:18 in reply to Comment 79428

Let's figure out how many person kilometers each mode of transportation accounts for, driving, transit, cycling, and walking then we divide up our roadways accordingly. That would give us real BALANCE.

Why person-kilometers? Why is a trip from my house to Fortino's (2.7 km) worth three times as much as a trip to the farmer's market (900 m)? The purpose is the same either way.

What about the health benefits of walking and cycling (better physical fitness) and the negative externalities of driving (motor vehicle collisions, increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease for people exposed to exhaust)?

What about the other uses of streets and sidewalks? (Chance encounters, window shopping, road hockey, learning to ride a tricycle, street festivals, drawing with chalk ...)

Every problem has a solution that is simple, elegant, and wrong. You are designing a city for computer models rather than for people.

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By LOL (registered) | Posted July 13, 2012 at 15:38:12 in reply to Comment 79460

the primary purpose of our roadways is transportation, the moving of people and goods from point A to point B. Every other purpose is secondary to that one. We do not build roads for meeting places we have parks, establishments, homes and commerce for that. Roads are for getting to those places as well as work, stores, professionals, and all the other places we need and want to get to. All the other extraneous activities do and will take place wherever and whenever they can. We do not build roads for kids to play roadhockey, even kids are smart enough to figure out there are streets to play roadhockey on and streets that are not appropriate. I am sure with just a little thought you can figure it out too.

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