Photo Credit: Patti Foley, downtown Bolton, Fall 2011
The following article was written and submitted to Just Sayin’ Caledon for publication by former Bolton Area Councillor Rob Mezzapelli
Recently you may have noticed lane markings on Queen Street, north and south of King Street, in Bolton’s downtown core. These markings are to help move vehicles around and through the core in a more safe and controlled manner to maximize public safety and vehicle movement efficiency.
In 2015 the Bolton Transportation Masterplan (BTMP) was completed which looked at Bolton in its entirety in all aspects related to transportation. A key area within the Plan was Bolton’s core and a list of recommendations have been made to be implemented using a thoughtful, phased-in approach. The changes you have seen downtown over the past year are the recommendations resulting from a study that involved intensive public input.
Implementing the downtown changes recommended in the BTMP required that specific triggers had to be reached prior to making those changes. These included significant milestones such as restricting all non-local truck traffic on King Street and Queen Street between Healey Road and the Queen Street roundabout, as well as completing the Emil Kolb Parkway (EKP) to by-pass all non-local trucks and through-traffic cars around Bolton. Tracking and monitoring was conducted both pre and post condition and the data clearly showed that trucks and through traffic are being diverted around Bolton.
All day parking on Queen Street downtown was reinstated last summer allowing cars to park in the core during the morning and evening peak hours. Again, data was collected and during peak hours the congestion and queuing impacts were minimal. What this allowed, at least during daytime hours was that cars could now be parked in the curb lanes. This accomplished a few things: 1) It slowed down vehicle speeds, 2) It created a greater and more protected separation between vehicles and pedestrians, and 3) It promoted and encouraged the usage of the EKP by the types of traffic it was intended for.
The limitation on this scenario is that it requires cars to be parked to provide the benefits. Although usage of these spaces was high, it was never guaranteed, and was entirely lost overnight when on street parking is not permitted. The markings you see now provide the safer, calmer, more pedestrian focused environment 24/7. Again, the Region of Peel and the Town of Caledon will be monitoring this as they have throughout the process.
One additional benefit the markings provide which we never had before is dedicated lanes along Queen Street, particularly at the King Street and Queen Street intersection. Knowing which lane you need to be in depending on which direction you are going is important for traffic safety as well as movement efficiency.
There may be some minor adjustments that need to be made and if so, they will be identified in the monitoring phase and implemented so that the downtown functions as safely and effectively as possible.
Once this phase has been monitored and studied and any adjustments needed are identified and implemented, the final phase of recommendations can begin. This is the exciting and visual part where the focus and work can shift from the roadway to beautifying and enhancing the public realm.
Sidewalk and parking stall treatments can be implemented, sidewalk furniture and natural landscaping can be added and expanded store fronts can become a reality. This ultimate vision for the core, as supported by several plans and studies, will create an environment that is safe, welcoming and attractive for pedestrians.
Equally important, this same environment will provide a significant benefit for our local businesses and will encourage others to join and diversify our business community. All put together, this area will become a revitalized, dynamic, welcoming place for both pedestrians and businesses to enjoy.
For an interesting read on how pedestrian friendly areas directly and proportionally have a positive impact on business success, click on the following link. https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2018/1/16/why-walkable-streets-are-more-economically-productive