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Having a two-way conversation

(Cartoon by George Longley)

Featuring a labyrinth of one-way streets, getting around downtown Oshawa can sometimes be, at best, a nuisance for those familiar with the road system, and daunting for those who are driving here for the first time.

The city is taking a hard look at converting both Celina and Albert streets into two-way traffic, and this is definitely a conversation worth having.

While change can be difficult to deal with, there are upsides to moving away from one-way streets.

As pointed out by Ward 4 city councillor Derek Giberson, thoroughfares heading in one direction can often lead to speeding, and other dangerous driving habits.

Giberson says there are families and seniors who live on or travel these roads who are truly frightened of the cars traveling well above the speed limit, and often making numerous lane changes.

There were also discussions around the positive impacts on local businesses.

Someone traveling on a one-way street may see a business they are interested in, but if they pass it, and are unable to head back in the right direction, they may just continue on in their journey.

With all this said, the decision to convert these roads is far from complete, and evidence and public opinion may show it is not the right choice.

There were also discussions surrounding busier streets such as Simcoe, King and Bond, but changing these roads would require much more planning and money.

The city completed a study on converting some of these major streets a decade ago, and the estimated costs were upwards of $10 million, so who knows what they would be 10 years later.

The sheer amount of work to convert, say Simcoe Street South, to    two-way traffic downtown would be one of the most significant road projects the city has seen in a while.

But again, there is no harm in investigating what the potential cost or impacts may be.

Other communities such as Whitby and Ajax have moved to two-way traffic in their downtown cores, and the changes have been successful for the most part.

Whatever happens to Oshawa’s downtown streets, it is crucial city staff do their due diligence, and the voices of the public and business-owners are heard on the issue.