Complete Streets and Community Action

Involving the Community in Sustainable Transportation Innovations

Ryan McGreal

Pedestrian Carnage on Toronto Streets

So let's be careful out there. Easy fixes aren't available, certainly none to replace having more alert and safety-conscious motorists and pedestrians.

Toronto Star editorial, November 5, 2012

Enforcement Doesn't Work

Enforcement doesn't work

Not About Making People Perfect

Telling people to be careful is not effective. Humans are not reliable that way. Some are better than others, but nobody's perfect. You need a solution that's not about making people perfect.

— James Bagian, Astronaut, NASA Engineer & Safety Director

What Does Work

What is Traffic?

Traffic does not mean cars. It means people going somewhere.

What is a Complete Street?

Complete Street Characteristics

Complete Street, Before and After

Complete street, before and after

Sidewalks, Bike Lanes, Crossings

Wide sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes

Wide Sidewalks, Shade Trees

Wide sidewalks, shade trees

This Could Be Gore Park

People actually like to congregate

What Complete Streets Do

Benefits of Complete Streets

A Note on Speed

A vehicle's energy is related to the square of the speed. When you double speed:

Speed Kills

Pedestrian Fatality Rate by Vehicle Speed
Vehicle SpeedPedestrian Death Risk
Source: UK Department of Transport 1997
32 km/h (20 mph)5%
48 km/h (30 mph)45%
64 km/h (40 mph)85%

NYC Protected Bike Lanes Study

New York City protected bike lanes study

Jarvis Street Bike Lanes

  • Number of cyclists tripled
  • Bike trips make up 10% modal share
  • Avg rush-hour commute went up 2 minutes
  • Collisions went down 23%
  • Cost to remove them: $300,000

What About Two-Way Traffic?

Two-way traffic sign

Two-Way Safer for Pedestrians

  • Designed for speed, driver inattention
  • More turns = more points of contact
  • Children 2.5 times more likely to be injured on one-way streets (Canadian Journal of Public Health, May 2000)

Two-Way Better for Local Street Retail

  • Better storefront visibility
  • Motorists can approach from either direction
  • Studies from all across North America

Business Owner on One-Way Streets

Our windows are no good nowadays, people have no time to stop and look. Nobody comes from the west end of the city any more. We would like to see King Street two-way once more.

— Ben Wunder, King Street business owner, May 1957

Business Owner on One-Way Streets

Try telling someone to find our store from the west end. It's a complex set of directions, wastes both time and gas, creates more travel and really thwarts our accessibility to customers. For a retailer, making it hard for a customer is never a good thing!

— Aaron Newman, King Street business owner, May 2012

Two-Way Supports LRT Success

  • Better balance between automobile and LRT speed
  • Walkable environment supports higher LRT use
  • Encourages more transit-oriented development
  • King-Main Rapid Transit Benefits Case Analysis, Metrolinx, 2010
  • The North American Light Rail Experience: Insights for Hamilton, MITL, 2012

Two-Way Will Not Create "Gridlock"

  • Downtown streets have excess capacity
  • Multi-lane closures on Main, King Cannon - no gridlock
  • "Induced demand" means some traffic "disappears"
  • More driving options

Cities Converting to Two-Way

Berkeley CA, Calgary AB, Cedar Rapids IA, Columbus OH, Crystal City VA, Danville IL, Denver CO, Fort Collins CO, Greensboro NC, Iowa City IA, Jacksonville FL, Louisville KY, Milwaukee WI, Minneapolis MN, Oklahoma City OK, Oregon City OR, Rochester NY, Sacramento CA, San Francisco CA, St. Catharines ON, St. Petersburg FL, Texarkana AR, Vancouver WA, Wichita KA, and Wyandotte MI

Hamilton Streets Today

Today, Hamilton streets cater overwhelmingly to drivers:

  • Multiple one-way driving lanes
  • High vehicle speeds
  • Very few bike lanes
  • Narrow sidewalks
  • Few crossings

Main Street West, Hamilton

Main West - not a complete street

Pedestrian Crossing Prohibited

Pedestrian crossing prohibited, King and Dundurn

We Know What to Do

A re-imagined Main Street West

1992: Vision 2020

Our transportation system improves community health by reducing the need for automobile use and making it easy and attractive to walk, cycling, skateboard or roller-blade.

Public streets are designed and managed to safely and comfortably accommodate public transit, cyclists, pedestrians and automobiles as complementary forms of transportation.

1996: Downtown Ideas Charette

The efficient movement of traffic should not take precedent over other objectives.

2001: Putting People First

The future downtown must be built on a human scale, with streetscapes offering comfort, access and safety for pedestrians.

2005: GRIDS Growth Strategy

Expand transportation options that encourage travel by foot, bike and transit and enhance efficient inter-regional transportation connections.

2007: Transportation Master Plan

Design streets to support a pedestrian and transit-friendly environment.

Studied to Death

Vision 2020, Downtown Ideas Charette, Smart Moves, Putting People First, Downtown Transportation Master Plan, Transportation Summits, Economic Summits, Pedestrian Summit, Pedestrian Charter, Durand Walk and Bike for Life workshop, Pedestrian Master Plan, On The Cusp...

2002 Durand Traffic Study

  • 40% of vehicles speed on minor arterials
  • 200+ vehicles a day >65 km/h
  • Durand streets have excess capacity

Experts Keep Telling Us

Dan Burden, Dave Cieslewicz, Denis Corr, Storm Cunningham, Richard Florida, Richard Gilbert, Ken Greenberg, Christopher Hume, Peter Lagerwey, Christopher Leinberger, Eleanor McMahon, Donald Schmitt, Nancy Smith Lea, Bronwen Thornton, Paul Young

World Health Organization

The vulnerability of the human body should be a limiting design parameter for the traffic system, and speed management is central.

World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention

Ontario Coroner

Ontarians not only need to walk, they need to walk safely. To do so, they need safe walking spaces.

Ontario Coroner's Report on Pedestrian Deaths, 2012

Public Health

Neighborhood walkability was inversely associated with the development of diabetes in our setting, particularly among recent immigrants living in low-income areas.

— Gillian L. Booth et al., Unwalkable Neighborhoods, Poverty, and the Risk of Diabetes Among Recent Immigrants to Canada Compared With Long-Term Residents, Diabetes Journal, 2012

Quality of Life

One-way street residents were significantly more bothered by traffic (noise, volume, danger), less satisfied with their block (cleanliness, peacefulness, air quality), and therefore made more life-style adjustments (less use of front of house, rearranging use of rooms, installing buffers).

— Bernie Jones, One Way to Neighborhood Deterioration?, Journal of Planning Education and Research (April 1986)

Hamilton Chamber of Commerce

Walkable environments should be viewed as economic infrastructure that attract employment and should be invested in accordingly.

Walkability and Economic Development, Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, 2012

Downtown Transportation Master Plan

  • Approved in 2001
  • Five Year Review in 2008
  • Many conversions still outstanding
  • No funding for outstanding streets

Two-Way Implementation Schedule

Street Name Target Date for Implementation in 2001 New Target Date after 5-yr Review Date Completed
James 2006 - 2005
John 2006 - 2005
York/Wilson beyond 2006 2009 2010
King beyond 2006 2010 (pending LRT) X
Bay beyond 2006 (optional) optional X
Hunter 2006 removed from list X
MacNab 2003 2008 outstanding
Park 2003 2008 outstanding
Hughson 2004 2009 outstanding
Hess 2004 2009 2004 (South section instigated by DNA, north extension outstanding)
Caroline 2002 2009 2012 (only from Main to King - York Street extension outstanding)
King William 2006 2010 outstanding
Rebecca 2006 2010 outstanding

The Political Challenge

  1. Policy direction
  2. Weight of evidence
  3. Expert advice
  4. ??
  5. Victory!

Obstacles to Progress

  • Resistance to change
  • Fear of failure
  • Ideology/partisanship
  • Personality/resentment

Citizens Need to Lead

  • Nearly everyone agrees on what we need to do
  • Council remains indifferent
  • Leadership needs to come from citizens, not politicians

Overcoming the Obstacles

  • Engage respectfully
  • Challenge ideology with evidence
  • Build a broad coalition of support
  • Reduce the risk for politicians
  • Work toward a majority

Support is Growing

  • Councillors McHattie, Farr, Morelli support conversion
  • 84 resident letters on two-way implementation team
  • Lower city neighbourhood associations
  • Downtown BIA - soft support
  • International Village BIA - polling members
  • Chamber of Commerce - investigating

New Citizens Group

  • Plan to make a case for complete, two-way streets
  • Present and persuade to groups across the city
  • Build public support for conversion