Emboldened by the knowledge that Calgary city hall is actually stupid enough to pursue a plan to close a lane on Macleod Trail to make a bike track for an inconsequential number of cyclists, newly elected hipster in chief Evan Woolley has decided to make his first mark on city hall by upping the anti-car idiocy ante by proposing that 11th and 12th avenues be changed from the currently efficient and highly utilized one way streets that they are into two way streets. Those familiar with Calgary’s downtown know that both of those avenues are critical for commuting east to west without having to actually enter the core. The proposal defies all common sense unless of course one’s intention is to actually hinder our already congested traffic further.
Wooley did a number of interviews where he tossed out some anecdotes and vaguely referenced a supposed demand by businesses in the area to make the road two way. Woolley even admitted that he likely would earn the ire of traffic engineers (people who deal in facts) with his absurd proposal.
One way streets greatly increase traffic flow in that they allow for better synchronization of the traffic lights and vehicles are not held up by left turning traffic. One way streets are also much safer for both pedestrians and vehicles as there are far fewer points of potential conflict as demonstrated by the image below.
Cars idle less on one-way streets as the traffic flows with many less starts and stops thus saving energy and reducing emissions so any “green” case against one-way streets holds no water.
There were vapid mumblings with the usual buzzwords about “walkability” and the ever important “vibrancy” but really there is no case to support this inane proposal to choke traffic in Calgary’s beltline. Really folks, do you fear to walk in areas with one way streets? Is that what keeps you in the house? Let’s get real here.
One of my favorite literary characters is Sherlock Holmes and one of his most famous quotes was: “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” There is no case for traffic flow, environment, costs or safety in changing these streets. What remains is an ideological agenda to hinder automotive movement by any means possible and Evan Woolley is clearly on that path here.
In that area we have 10 St, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th,19th and 20th streets that are all two way, all are horrible for traffic and all can contain that ever elusive “vibrancy” if need be. Those streets will all become much more congested if Woolley has his way as well and I suspect that “walkable vibrancy” may be lost as frustrated drivers speed down those congested streets.
17th Avenue is a perfect example of what will happen if these streets are changed as Woolley wants to do. The word for that avenue is gridlock and people avoid traveling down it in droves.
People will not all jump on bicycles and ride transit no matter how hard you harass automotive users Evan. People will simply move further from the core and will stay away whenever possible. Hardly leads to a “vibrant” community in the long run and actually encourages that evil “sprawl” that the hipster set so dearly loves to decry.
This is still only Mr. Woolley’s first year as a city councilor. Perhaps this notion was simply a rookie error as he got taken up in his ideological zeal for a moment. If this is a sign of Evan’s thinking in years to come, I think Brian Pincott may have a competitor for the most ideologically extreme member of Calgary city council and that is saying quite a bit.
Evan will be asking for tax dollars to study this foolishness and rest assured a more formal pitch will be coming soon. We can safely assume that they will want to plant some bike tracks on there while they are at it too. Calgarians had best speak up and slap Mr. Woolley into some reality here sooner rather than later or it may make for a tough 4 years in office for Mr. Woolley and Calgarians alike. We have 140,000 downtown commuters and they need to get to work and back.
More resources on one-way streets vs. two-way can be found below.