The Hamilton Spectator
(May 14, 2009)
Hamilton enjoys many "patches of loveliness, but also patches of despair" that can be remedied by converting one-way streets to two-way and limiting truck traffic.
That's the conclusion one member of an international team examining Hamilton will present today to city policy-makers.
"Truck traffic can't be the sacred goose," offered Bronwen Thornton after walking around downtown Hamilton yesterday.
She is development director of Walk21, a United Kingdom organization promoting pedestrian livable areas.
After observing huge trucks crossing tranquil James Street North on Cannon Street, Toronto urban designer Paul Young said, "Trucks are killing the city."
Thornton, Young and four other experts were invited to Hamilton to offer advice on how to introduce active, safe and sustainable transportation policies.
They are part of the touring Canadian Walking Master Class project, which is funded by the federal government.
Young said that intersection of James North and Cannon showed the best and worst of Hamilton's transportation plan.
The visiting experts and staff from several city departments interrupted the walk to meet Dave Kuruc of Mixed Media art shop, which occupies the southeast corner.
He showed them how James North has prospered since being converted to two-way traffic with recessed parking areas and expanded sidewalks.
But his remarks were often drowned out by big trucks roaring west on Cannon, a one-way street.
Kuruc said he plans to press his point with city planners by inviting them to have tea with him on the narrow sidewalk on Cannon.
"We'll see how they enjoy that," he said.
Young noted how businesses along James North had added flower planters and street seating that combined with the trees on the street and slower traffic to make the area flourish as a destination.
The group also walked areas in Ancaster, Westdale and Ottawa Street North and found some nice pockets but a disconnect between them.
Jacky Kennedy, director of walking programs for Green Communities Canada, said she was delighted to find those pockets.
She said her previous image of Hamilton was framed by visits to offices near high traffic areas along Main Street.
The group was heartened to hear that York Boulevard and Wilson Street were being converted to two-way and walked past the portion of York where a lane of traffic will give way to an outdoor market area to complement the Farmers' Market.