In discussions with other Sidney citizens, I have argued against the conversion of the one-way section of Beacon to a two-way street; I believed that the conversion would, at significant expense, have no effect on tourist traffic or business activity. A friend with the opposite view told me to read the research reports provided by STIG on the Sidney city website; if I did, he claimed, I would certainly change my opinion.
I read all of these reports. Not only is my opinion unchanged, but also I have considerably more confidence that it is the correct view.
The cities discussed in the STIG reports are, almost without exception, much larger than Sidney: Dallas, San Francisco, even Vancouver, Washington, which has a population of 164,500, about twice the size of Victoria, more than 15 times the size of Sidney. Large cities use one-way streets to move traffic faster through the city (for drivers who simply want to pass through to a destination beyond the city) or to a distant part of the city (e.g., from south Los Angeles to north Los Angeles).
STIG argues that conversion to two-way traffic will slow it down, which is true in Los Angeles, but it is not true in Sidney, which is not trying to move traffic at a fast rate of speed. If smaller cities have high-speed, one-way streets, it’s because many cars have no interest in stopping there.
These high-speed, one-way throughstreets are typically wide. In Los Angeles, where I lived for 20 years, they are typically eight lanes, with bumper-to-bumper traffic. They have relatively few traffic lights; pedestrians who want to cross these streets are definitely in danger; and the businesses on both sides of the street are practically invisible from the opposite-side lanes (businesses in which the drivers have no interest).
None of this research is relevant to Sidney. The Beacon one-way section does not produce faster traffic; if anything, it’s slower. Pedestrians are safer in this section, not subject to greater danger. Businesses on both sides of this section of Beacon are visible and immediately accessible.
Two-way streets would present problems for business supplied by large trucks, which would block the street, which is why several business owners are opposed to conversion. And what if one wanted to make a left turn on this new, two-way street?
There are two possible solutions: a left-turn lane at every intersection, or banned left turns, as the STIG reports favour. Neither is a good idea for Sidney.
Leave the one-way section of Beacon alone. If Sidney wants more tourists, it should develop some tourist attractions.