Often, people who live in the suburbs have suggested to Yannick and myself that we move out there, with them, because they too find traffic in Toronto a nightmare.
All right, thank you for your suggestion, but a few things are at play for us and why we will never ever leave the city’s core.
a) our work is in the city, his studio where he films Murdoch is literally a six minute drive. So, for 4:30 am wake ups that gives him an extra hour of sleep because he has zero commute.
b) we’re super social, and love dining out, and not so much at chain restaurants which seems to be the norm in the suburbs.
c) all my family live in various suburbs of Toronto, and I’m here to tell you the drive from their front door to the nearest Tim Horton’s/Home Depot/Milestones can take twenty minutes. I can be at the CN Tower in the same amount of time…so yeah, I’d rather sit in traffic in the city, than in the suburbs. Just my personal preference.
Today, I’m doing something a little bit different than I normally do with my daily musings. I’m offering up, my laywoman’s ideas on how to ACTUALLY GET TORONTO MOVING.
Earlier I posted the problems, well today, I will suggest some solutions.
1) SINCE CARS AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE, LET’S REALLY GET THEM MOVING
and this is my suggestion. It has long since been reported that Toronto has one of the most sophisticated lighting systems in the entire world. I imagine this cost a pretty penny. So, let’s USE IT. Get the lights timed in sync. Have East/West lanes with green lights at the same time for a good fair stretch of road, do this also with North/South routes also. This allows more cars to move along than if the light up ahead is green while the one you’re at is red, then by the time you arrive to the light, guess what? It too is now red. This is a ridiculous pattern with the lights in Toronto. You sit there watching a green light with no cars at it, go red as the traffic approaches. Why? Don’t do this. Please hire somebody to program the GD lights.
Also, do as other city’s with traffic issues have done, Paris, London, New York, make our transit systems private. Sell them off, let a corporation who deals in infrastructure take them on so they can expand them quicker than the government can, or will. We’re decades behind as it is, now you’ve added all these towers with hundreds of thousands of people moving into the core. We need more, efficient transit routes. We can’t build more freeways/arteries, so we must, with no other options get on top of public transit expansion. And while we’re on the subject. Lose the streetcars. No seriously. Get rid of them. You have them on roads with parking…which means, hello, nobody is going anywhere when a streetcar stops to pick up and drop off passengers. Don’t even get me started on when one breaks down. Yikes. Let’s buy more buses. Put more buses on the roads, they’re way more mobile anyway, make them electric/hybrids and it becomes the PERFECT solution.
Let’s recap: time the lights, sell off public transit let somebody with deep pockets take it over so they can expand it, and get rid of streetcars. Simple.
2) MANDATE THAT ALL DEVELOPERS MUST BUILD FAMILY SIZE HOME OPTIONS
When a developer comes along and says “I want to buy that hunk of land and put up two giant towers with seven thousand units” how about city planning say; “hey developer builder person, you can build a one twenty story tower, and on the other plot of land you must build X number of town houses with three or four bedrooms.” And if it’s a particularly big piece of land, how about not allowing them to build a tower at all. How about desginating some of these large parcels of land solely for the development of communities, bungalows, two storey semi-detached structures, and I don’t know a park or two. Have it be that the developers have to build the green space along with their development. Therefore beautifying the city while providing housing options, and getting riddiculously wealthy. Everybody wins.
3) THE BIKE LANE DRAMA You all know that I back the bike lane thing that’s happening all over the city. But, this is what they’ve done. They’ve taken two lane roads and made them one lane roads. Putting not only bike lanes, with parking but also these amazing boulevards with trees. EVERYWHERE. All right. Listen, trees do not belong ON ROADS, so stop with the built in concrete planters. Just stop. How are you going to plow the f’n roads come winter? Oh shit. Bet you didn’t think about that, did you? Well I have very bad news for you, you’re not. So let’s agree to plant the trees on the sidewalks, like we used to. Just a couple of weeks ago a young woman on her bike, was doored by a giant delivery truck, thrown off her bike, and sustained injuries. Horrible. Brutal. Not ok. Why did this happen? Well it happened because some city planner decided that the bike lane should be closest to the sidewalk curb, and parking/delivery zones would be on the outside of the bike lane. No. This is not a good idea. For situations such as these the bikes should be OUTSIDE the parking area. That’s what drivers and passengers are used to, it’s the way all other bike lanes were set up, stay with ONE DESIGN, so as not to confuse people in vehicles as to where the cyclists should be. If the road allows for it, such as being a one way, I propose this. Put East/West cyclist traffic in their own lane, behind a guardrail of some sort, give the other lanes for motorists and one curb side for parking. Again, simple.
The other huge problem with all these one lane roads now is right and left hand turns. This is what caused the huge delay we experienced the other day. This will also aid in moving pedestrians in an organized fashion, because remember, all these towers have people living in them, and they need to cross the streets. I propose, to revisit the most sophisticated lighting system I mentioned above, we need to program it like this:
a) when dealing with one lane roads, there needs to be a pedestrian all cross signal. Pedestrians may only cross on the all cross. Period end of story.
b) also when dealing with one lane roads, each of the four directions of traffic need to get turn arrows. It would work like this as an example: East bound traffic gets their right and left turn arrows, along with their green light. Move some cars, while pedestrians are on the curb, cuz they got to go first. Do this then with West bound traffic, then North and South. They don’t need to be long lights 30-60 secs. Yes you might sit in your car at the light for two minutes, maybe three, once the light phase has gone through it’s cycle, but you sure as f*&k sit there for TWENTY like we did the other day. Oh yeah, and remember how I suggested programming the lights so that they’re all green when they need to be, try doing that too. Watch the cars move, and the emissions drop.
So there you have it, my simple three step plan for actually GETTING TORONTO MOVING, and really doing something about air pollution.