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Commercial Street and Road Diets


While not obvious the road width from curb to curb on Commercial Street is 45 feet (13.7 m). This is far in excess of what is required for traffic in the study area. Given that the effective speed limit is less than 30 kph a traffic lane does not require more width than 10.5 feet (3.2 m) and a parking lane width does not require more than 7 feet (2.1 m) needs to be no more than 35 feet (10.5 m). That 10 extra feet would make a very good protected two lane cycle path. Or we could add 5 extra feet to each sidewalk. Or we could add five extra feet to the properties on either side of the road. That five extra space could be used as part of an outside seating area for restaurants, or it could be a display space for merchandise such as vegetables or clothing. In other words, that 10 extra feet which presently does not contribute one dime to the local economy, could actually help someone earn a living.



We need to understand that streets and roads are public space; the same as squares and parks. Streets and roads need a high degree of design to be suitable for everybody and all modes of transportation. Because so much happens on a street or a road, conflicts are likely to occur, and if our goal is to reduce conflict we need to design these public spaces according to a priority illustrated by an inverted triangle where preference is given to pedestrians, then other forms of active transportation, then transit, then transport, and finally vehicles. Designing streets and roads according to these priorities makes these spaces contribute more to the economy, and improves public health and safety.

Lately, there has been some discussion about removing vehicle traffic on this part of Commercial Street, or reducing the street to a one way lane without parking, or realigning the street in one way or another. I would argue that there is nothing to be gained by changing the street in any other way than reducing the area taken up by traffic and returning that unused 10 feet to pedestrians. I would continue by reducing the width of all the traffic lanes in the area including Victoria Crescent, Wallace, Cavan and Albert Streets; effectively reducing the speed limit to 30kph. This would also decrease the size of intersections and the primary area of conflict for all modes of transportation.

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