Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Hamilton needs traffic calming, now

Early Sunday morning, there was a terrible accident just down the street from where I work. Two cars were racing down a one way street and one crossed an intersection struck and killed a twenty-one year old pedestrian who was just trying to cross the street. The debris field, if you can call it that, stretched for so long I had to take a side street for about a dozen blocks before getting back on the main road. It's the latest fatality in an increasing trend and has made some wonder whether Hamilton's system of one-way streets should be totally done away with.

I wouldn't like that. The one ways actually facilitate traffic, especially during rush hour; and complete chaos would ensue if there was an "unconversion." One only has to take a look what happened last year with James and John, the main access / egress to the Escarpment. Traffic simply switched over to the already congested Wellington / Victoria pair and the route they lead into, the Claremount. And those are north south routes. Try to do that to the King / Main pair which runs east-west, and it would be anything but pleasant.

What is needed, instead, are more traffic quieting initiatives. These would include taking out a lane of traffic from each direction -- or two, if a bus transitway is accepted as part of the transport master plan here in Hamilton; chicanes and rumble strips, and replacing some of the more dangerous intersections with roundabouts. All of these would force cars to slow down. The posted limit is 50 km/h, but the "real" limit is 60 and it's not uncommon to see people push it to 70 -- I know because it's the route I take to go to work.

Roundabouts are very popular in Europe because they help reduce the rate of acccidents and speeding; but Hamilton has very few of them -- matter of fact, the only major Canadian city I'm aware of that has quite a few of them is Edmonton. It's at least worth considering. Putting in a few traffic circles would cost a lot less than the widely suggested "alternative."

UPDATE (Thursday 7:42 AM, 1242 GMT): Sorry this is so late -- I was following the nailbitter in Virginia yesterday so I didn't check to see where all my hits were coming from. Fellow Liblogger Altavistagoogle of Edmundston, New Brunswick responds to my thoughts at his blog. Having travelled through NB where roundabouts exist at some major interchanges -- or used to, I think the Trans Can has been twinned since then -- he does raise some valid questions about what I have suggested; and I think everything -- everything -- should be put on the table. As for photo radar, I am in total agreement with him on that. It's time to bring it back, revenue grab or not.

Vote for this article at Progressive Bloggers.

No comments: