Comment 51719

By seancb (registered) - website | Posted November 17, 2010 at 10:00:26

SpaceMonkey,

So that you have some background on me, I live downtown. I work part time in the east end (I sometimes drive and sometimes cycle). I also run a computer consulting business which requires frequent trips to Burlington. And I also own (and work many hours in) my storefront at James and Cannon. Incidentally, anyone who wants to discuss this in person is welcome to visit my shop. We'll set a couple of chairs out front and try to have a conversation at Cannon&James. I promise you it is not pleasant, I live it every single day.

It is unclear what you are referring to when you say 'it' hasn't happened yet.

It is rather clear. I mean that a) We have made no effort to move traffic from the core onto the highways and b) we have seen almost no development in the highway-accessible business parks - only retail and residential.

you are supporting Pxtl's point that the "road ring" is not effective or useful for a lot of traffic

No. It is not a failure of the highway, it is a failure of the road design. Example, it takes 13 minutes to drive from QEW @ Burlington street to 403 @ Main via skyway. It also takes 13 minutes to travel the same distance via burlington/cannon/king if you are smart about which northbound connectors you use. Highway congestion is infrequent to say the least - the 403 can get busy at rush hour, but for the most part all of the highways move at 10-20 over the limit unless there is an accident. The fact that cars and trucks still use city streets to go from one end to the other is because the streets are designed to be just as easy as the highways. We should be actively dissuading this behaviour within the city in conjunction with building our "ring" highways but we have not. I repeat, this is not a failure of the highways, it is failure of the inner city street design.

As Pxtly effectively (to me anyway) points out there are many barriers to our cities roadways and there are no highways close to the core to help move traffic from one end to another.

This statement makes it clear to me that you simply do not understand my point. There are no barriers to our city's roadways! Our core lies very close to the 403. If you need to get in and out of the core, you should be accessing the 403. If that means keeping multiple lanes open on king and main (as they are now) then that is fine. But once you reach Queen, the traffic needs to be calmed. If you are in upper hamilton and need to get in or out, you can easily access the Linc. If you are in east hamilton you can easily access the RHVP. Almost the entire city is highway accessible! I am not saying that we need to cut off access to the highways. You misunderstand me. And then you throw in "move traffic from one end to the other" as if that is synonymous with "access to highways". It is a totally different thing altogether. Quickly moving from one end to the other is the crux of the problem. If you live in East Hamilton and want to drive to London, our traffic system should encourage you to use the RHVP and Linc to do so. BUt right now, you are encouraged to drive THROUGH the city.

You say that traffic which originates and has a destination outside the core should not be driving through the core. I agree with you on this point. I'm not sure that anyway was disagreeing with you on this. I can't remember anyone suggesting otherwise earlier. Who are you arguing with on this point?

You basically disagreed with me in the paragraph you wrote just before this one, when you said that we need to "help move traffic from one end to another".

Who said anything about driving around the city being an impossible chore?

Nobody did - including me. All I said was that pxtl was attempting to make it sound like the "cliff" and "lake" were an impossible chore to navigate which they clearly are not.

In fact most cities do exactly what Hamilton does. It tries to move traffic as efficiently (within reason) as possible.

I am not against efficient movement of traffic. I am against efficient movement of traffic through the downtown when it has no reason to be there. I sit and watch countless transport trucks rumbling down Cannon. Where are they coming from and where are they going to? I somehow doubt they are making deliveries in Hamilton. Maybe that steel is en route to the RBG? Or is it more likely it's en route to Windsor? And if so, these trucks should be taking the shortest route to the nearest highway. We havemade it fast, easy and legal to use downtown hamilton as a shortcut.

New York of all places is made up almost exclusively of one way streets and has lights which are synced to move traffic as quickly as possible.

I would gear up to argue about what exactly makes New York different but you did most of it for me with your next line:

Sure, cars can't speed because of the volume of cars on the road, but let's be honest.

OK, let's be honest! As I already said - it is not the existence of one or two or a dozan one way streets that is the problem. It is not the direction. It is the freedom of fast movement that is the problem. Cars and trucks do not cut through New York and use the city as a shortcut. That would be insane, Cars do cut through and use Hamilton's city streets as a shortcut since cars can speed because of the volume of cars on the road. On top of that, even the most auto-centric streets in NYC have wider sidewalks and a better pedestrian environment than any street in Hamilton. It's like comparing big apples to little oranges.

Urban Freeway? It's a street where most cars drive between 55 and 60 km/h. [...] don't exagerate and pretend there is some crazy 'urban freeway' slicing through Hamilton.

I am not pretending. Main and Cannon are urban freeways. For crying out loud, there is a merge interchange between Main and 403. From the start, drivers feel like they've merged from one highway to another. The timed lights encourage everyone who is not at the very front of the green wave to speed for half their trip across the city (you asked for the math and I gave it to you). This pair of streets have more E/W lanes than the linc. It is a wide, fast freeway. We aren't talking about a liesurely sunday drive across hamilton. People on Main and Cannon have one goal - to get from start to finish as fast as possible.

The people who live and work on these one way streets who think it's crap should be reminded that they live/work in a city. Cities are busy and loud places.

Volume is fine. Busy-ness is fine. 60-70 km/hr with no separation from people (i.e. pedestrians and cyclists) is not fine.

What do you mean by "through traffic"

I mean traffic that is cutting through the downtown to get somewhere else because we have made it easy to do so. This means traffic originiating outside of hamilton, driving through, with a destination outside of hamilton. It also means traffic originating in the east end and cutting through to the 403. It also means people exiting from the 403 and having a destination somewhere like Kenilworth. Basically, if your end destination is a highway, you should be taking the shortest route to the nearest highway to get there, even if the nearest highway isn't the one you eventually want to travel on. This means cars and trucks alike, but espeically trucks. If you are not doing business downtown then we should not make it your business to cut through it.

You've somehow decided that it is possible to move a car quickly across the city, but not within the city.

This is not what I said. What I said was that we have prioritized moving through the city above all other things, including simply getting in or getting out or getting around. I was simply stating how our priorities are out of whack.

I never pretended that it doesn't happen. In fact, I stated that it COULD and does happen.

Sorry, I was referring to this point that you made earlier:

As to your point about being able to go 60-70 for blocks and blocks, that is possible, but not indefinitely.

I misinterpreted your meaning to be that it doesn't happen often when it appears that you meant that the person can't speed for the duration of their trip, which is mathematically true.

My main point is that we should not be making it possible at all. This scenario is entirely a function of our traffic system, and at every single cycle of lights, we give many drivers this enticing opportunity. In my younger days, I took this opportunity many many times. I was pulled over only one time and given a warning. That was years ago. I have matured as a driver, but as you said, there are stupid drivers everywhere. So we can continue to dangle this tasty opportunity in front of them, or we can rework the system to make it faster to go around the city rather than through it. We can send signals via traffic planning that say "Look, it is not an efficient use of your driving time to try to go through downtown."

So yes, we should strive to make it efficient to move within the city in order to do our jobs, but we need to eliminate this "shortcut" mentality!

I have a better idea than standing on Cannon street to talk about stuff. How about I use Cannon street to get to your place quickly and efficiently so that we can have a drink at Hess? Come on, use your brain.

Please spare me the personal attacks. My place is at Cannon and James. And from my window, I watch kids from the schools that line Cannon navigate narrow sidewalks which are separated only by thin air from multi-ton trucks travelling 60-70km/h. It is absolutely inappropriate. Did these kids choose for their school to be located there? Do they have another choice? This isn't about people choosing to live downtown then complaining about it. It's about how we've built inappropriately scaled roads clear through the heart of our city. And yes, it's killing these neighbourhoods. Killed, actually.

So the invitation stands: please come down to the corner and see for yourself how awful it is at a human scale.

A final point about the lane widths. I was speaking about fatal collisions. You are speaking about accident rates. These are different. Yes, wider lanes and wider shoulders in a rural setting will reduce collisions between cars. But in an urban setting, where the transportation space is shared between people and vehicles, the best way to reduce fatalities is to slow the vehicles down. And the best way to slow vehicles down is to create narrow, winding roads that send signals to drivers that going over 30-40km/h is dangerous.

Comment edited by seancb on 2010-11-17 09:07:31

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