What is the vision for people and goods movement in Hamilton and how do we accommodate the various needs and interests? Traffic planning in the 21st Century can’t be compared to the conditions in 1956, when the one-way system was implemented in Hamilton. There were fewer automobiles per capita, thus very little need for two-car garages and driveways. The subsequent designs of new and especially suburban homes were often dominated by the prominence of the garage and the diminishing of the front entry door. Many people on my east end street, including my father, rode bicycles to work and a common after-school job was delivering various goods such as groceries and newspapers using a bicycle with a large metal carrier over the front wheel. Public transit was combined with walking to move people around. It was common to see well-dressed couples walking along Main Street headed for a night of dancing at the Wondergrove on Parkdale Avenue. Even the musicians had to figure out how to get their instruments to the venue and often the determinant for “band leader” was the one who had a car. That was then; and now the picture has changed completely, so decisions on traffic management have to respond to current conditions.
Let’s use the example of Charlton and Herkimer, which are opposing one way streets. Conversion to two way streets would seem to require removal of all parking along Charlton and on the north side of Herkimer. How this change would impact the needs of residents and visitors is not clear. As well, pedestrians may find it more challenging to cross the street, as has been the case on John South. I have had to deal with many complaints, especially from seniors, who say they had an easier time with the larger and more predictable gap provided when one-way traffic was stopped at the Charlton and Young stoplights.
For these and many other reasons, we will have to plan carefully as we move away from the one-way system of the 1950′s, which I believe is why Council wants to move cautiously with further changes to traffic management.