It’s no secret that there is a growing number of people that don’t like the layout and structure of Main Street in Hamilton. Sure, for those that are only interested in getting from point A to point B the roadway is just fine. You can quickly and easily get from west to east with ease. Five lanes and sequential green lights will get you there easily. But the people who actually live on or near Main Street, it’s not fine.
There is an article on Raise the Hammer documenting many people’s displeasure with Main. I won’t go into all of the issues and dangers of the roadway, but there are things that can be done to not only improve the safety for those who live in the neighbourhoods, but also vary the road’s usefulness.
If you follow Hamilton Today you’ll know there are two things that I talk about a lot. Public transit and cycling. I think that both are extremely important that transportation options other than the automobile are crucial to creating a livable community in Hamilton. I think that both can be used to make Main Street safer for those that live along the street and give those that make use of ‘alternate’ modes of transportation a safe option.
The proposal of making Main St a two-way street was all but quashed by city staff. Despite expert suggestions that two-way streets would serve the city better, especially with the introduction of LRT along King St, this isn’t in the cards. So what else can be done? Bike lanes and bus lanes.
The city of Montréal has a great example of solid, safe bike lanes in their downtown. Rather than having the lanes in the shoulder lane of the road, the lanes are protected and separated from general traffic lanes by a median or other barrier. These lanes are also bi-directional, which means that cyclists can travel in both directions.
These lanes create a safe place for cyclists to travel through downtown Montréal without fear of cars or trucks passing too closely. Hamilton already has a good example of these lane in Hamilton. The King St W bridge over the 403 already has this setup. Giving up one or two lanes on the north side of Main St would be sufficient to make this happen.
Now that we’ve gotten rid of a lane on the north side of Main Street, let’s look at the curbside lane on the south side of the roadway. Bike lanes for one side of the street, a bus lane for the other side.
One success the city of Rochester has had is the introduction of a bus lane in the downtown. A lot of the city’s public transit routes travel down the ‘main street’ of the downtown, some of which idle for a short period of time allowing customers to transfer routes. This bus lane not only allows buses a place to drive and sit, but also prohibits other vehicles from using the lane, aside from making a right hand turn.
Aside from the obvious benefit of giving buses an exclusive lane of use, it will also take any high-speed traffic out of the curb lane. For the most part buses do not travel at high speeds along the roadway. Cars, on the other hand, can reach high speeds regardless of what lane they are in. A bus lane could inprove pedestrian safety.
Any of these changes would likely require months of investigation and even longer to make it through the council process, but this is a realistic dream that could make a positive impact in Hamilton.
There are several routes that use Main St with a great number of routes passing through the downtown. A dedicated bus lane for the street