The City of Brandon’s recent decision to revert a portion of 10th Street back to two-way traffic is yet one more instance of council acting without appropriate expert opinion.
To claim that 10th Street is an artery or thoroughfare is a clear misunderstanding of what a thoroughfare is. What distant parts of the city are connected through 10th Street in the middle of downtown? Why should the city wish travellers to have an expedited route through downtown in the first place?
In any case, Brandon’s downtown streets were not originally built as thoroughfares — and that includes Rosser and Princess — contrary to what many residents perceive. Rather, they became treated as thoroughfares as the downtown declined in importance as the commercial centre of the city, beginning some 40 years ago.
More importantly, the use of one-way streets, especially in small city downtowns, is considered by many experts to have a positive effect in terms of downtown revitalization efforts. Certainly they are not the trigger for revival, but they are supportive of a myriad of other revitalization strategies. In fact, reducing the sense of the streets being thoroughfares is meant to make them more user-friendly for those coming downtown for a purpose, not just “passing through.”
In addition, angle parking is widely considered beneficial for downtown revitalization. It helps reduce traffic speed, improving safety. And it allows more people to be able to park closer to the businesses they wish to patronize. Lack of parking is a very commonly cited reason that drew people away from downtowns and toward the spacious parking lots of the suburban malls, leading to the eventual hollowing out of downtown commercial districts across North America.
The naysayers who disliked the one-way streets and the angle parking are mostly people who preferred the alternative because it is what they are used to. There are very few rational, objective reasons why these are actually bad for downtown traffic flow.
The experts in city planning across North America generally endorse one-way streets and angle parking as positive elements of healthy and vibrant downtowns, especially for small cities. The evidence, rather than anecdotal stories, supports this view.
Judging by the article in the Brandon Sun’s Oct. 25 edition, many of our 10th Street businesses agree.
Associate Professor of Geography
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 29, 2013