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That's my point... maintaining these is expensive, and spending money on "luxury items" is low on the priority list. Had we had a more "pedestrian/transit friendly" culture, I honestly doubt things like maintenance would be much better.

First, I think you'll have a hard time finding people who "desire" to live in places like these, or that think that these areas are somehow peak visual and aesthetic design. The majority of people simply don't really care, and don't want to pay more taxes to make the neighbourhoods look nicer. Seriously, have you ever met what you'd consider an "average suburbanite" go on vacation to Napoli or Barcelona, and say that they hated the visual design and how they make things look nice? I seriously doubt it. They go to Napoli, say "wow this city is beautiful", then go back. If you'd ask them if they'd want their taxes increased to make the arterials nicer, they'd likely say no because the status quo is perfectly adequate and functional (and well... it is).


Ok first, NJB, ugh

Second, you might be right on in that streetscape is less important than in a car, so let's look at some other cities shall we?

NYC, 64% of the city travels on modes that aren't car, namely subways. The Subway stations? Degraded mess filled with sludge. The streets? Bland and soulless. Maintenance has been completely whack for decades as the city rested on its laurels accomplishing basically no maintenance work. Please explain to me how "Car Culture" led to stations like Chamber Street reaching where they are today.

Want a non-american example? Check out Copenhagen Denmark, a city where transit is highly favoured, yet politicians routinely scale back transit project turning them into something that would make 2000s era go stations look anxious.

This is Copenhagen's BRAND NEW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT Station.
lufthavn1.png

No Canopies, no washroom, literally absolutely nothing.

Here's a bus renovated bus stop:

unknown.png

unknown.png

Yes I did post that in the correct order, that second crap shelter is in fact the "new" shelter.

Here's the render for the new tram route along Orbital Ringway 3:
herlev-station-final.png

That is in fact a render, and it makes Eglinton look like an architectural marvel.

Now please, I want to hear about how Copenhagen is a car culture city and how transit riders a treated as second class citizens, instead of Copenhagen simply having a cheapskate culture where everything is done as cheaply and as minimalistic as possible.

Remember, Correlaction != Causation, and we should absolutely be aiming our ire at the correct issues, not tangentially related scapegoats.
While these designs can certainly appear bare bones, I feel as if the discussion has been avoiding the central point. Aside from cost and willingness to spend money (and obviously ability to spend money), there's generally a better appreciation for urban design historically, in older European cities (for example). Aside from the fact that we're obsessed with concrete and asphalt (as someone who works tangentially in that space), this still doesn't explain why we have work that happens in an uncoordinated way along the same corridor; resulting in landscapes that have been finished 'nice' and has very shortly been combined with a mismatch of telecommunications, hydro, and water work that has resulted in uneven, uncohesive patches of asphalt in a sea of concrete.
 
I don't see what relevance the Copenhagen or Chambers Streets examples have. The discussion was not about any time any level of government cheaps out on spending for a public project, or defers maintenance, nor is it specifically about transit riders being treated as second class citizens (though they undoubtedly are); it is a specific and tangible discussion about suburban arterials, or "stroads", and how they don't invest any money into landscaping, greenery, etc because of car culture not caring for aesthetics. It is not a catch all example of any time a place is ugly. If you speak to one of those average suburbanites you mentioned, how many of them actually have to walk in one of these horrible places? If they were forced to do so every single day, perhaps the opinions you gathered might change.

I also find your claim that I'll have a hard time finding anyone who wants to move to these places to be dubious. If no one really wants to live in these places, why is Milton one of the fastest growing communities in the GTA? Why do people with the means to live in Toronto eschew the city for the suburbs?

And yes, as it happens I actually have met someone who says that European town centres are overrated and how the nicest part of Toronto is North York.

Also... New York? Really? You could make a lot of statements about New York, but bland and soulless?
 
Did you just call the streets of NEW YORK bland and soulless?
I personally don't agree with that statement, but there are many urbanists who do, and think as a whole the city has a strong lack of greenery, and overall is a concrete jungle. Plus the state of good repair in the streetscape does leave a lot to be desired.

While these designs can certainly appear bare bones, I feel as if the discussion has been avoiding the central point. Aside from cost and willingness to spend money (and obviously ability to spend money), there's generally a better appreciation for urban design historically, in older European cities (for example). Aside from the fact that we're obsessed with concrete and asphalt (as someone who works tangentially in that space), this still doesn't explain why we have work that happens in an uncoordinated way along the same corridor; resulting in landscapes that have been finished 'nice' and has very shortly been combined with a mismatch of telecommunications, hydro, and water work that has resulted in uneven, uncohesive patches of asphalt in a sea of concrete.
I agree these are all problems, all I'm saying is "car culture" isn't at fault here.

I don't see what relevance the Copenhagen or Chambers Streets examples have. The discussion was not about any time any level of government cheaps out on spending for a public project, or defers maintenance, nor is it specifically about transit riders being treated as second class citizens (though they undoubtedly are); it is a specific and tangible discussion about suburban arterials, or "stroads", and how they don't invest any money into landscaping, greenery, etc because of car culture not caring for aesthetics. It is not a catch all example of any time a place is ugly. If you speak to one of those average suburbanites you mentioned, how many of them actually have to walk in one of these horrible places? If they were forced to do so every single day, perhaps the opinions you gathered might change.
My point about bringing up Copenhagen and Chambers Street is to forward that exact same question, you would think that people who ride the Copenhagen S-Train every day would want to push the governments to build some amenities on the stations, maybe some canopies so that they don't get drenched waiting for the train every day, or maybe the people who use the NYC Subway would push the city to do some proper clean up so that the stations aren't covered in grime, or smell like wee. By the logic you're operating on, the only reason that's the status quo would be that there aren't enough people using public transportation in both of these cities, so the condition of the transit infrastructure doesn't matter to most residents, yet obviously that isn't true. What's actually happening is even the people who use the systems every day don't care enough to pressure their politicians to do better.
I also find your claim that I'll have a hard time finding anyone who wants to move to these places to be dubious. If no one really wants to live in these places, why is Milton one of the fastest growing communities in the GTA? Why do people with the means to live in Toronto eschew the city for the suburbs?
I want you to reread what I actually said carefully, because I didn't say this. What I said was "The majority of people simply don't really care, and don't want to pay more taxes to make the neighbourhoods look nicer". The reason people are moving to Milton isn't because they love the urban fabric, or think its a lovely place to live, but rather because housing is cheaper compared to the rest of the GTA, and because the houses are large enough to grow a family in (something that's hard to find in Toronto). Obviously if Milton was a nice city with a nice urban fabric, nice walkable streets, whilst also having the same housing prices and tax rates, most people moving to Milton would absolutely love it and prefer it, but people are settling for mediocrity because in the current economic situation, beggars can't be choosers.
And yes, as it happens I actually have met someone who says that European town centres are overrated and how the nicest part of Toronto is North York.
Great, and as someone who grew up in suburbia and met people who lived their whole lives in suburbia, I haven't. I don't imagine they're that common.
 
The entire problem I have with this idea is that somehow "car culture" led to this. Do you really think people who sit in cars absolutely detest greenery and want to drive in soulless roadways? I'd frankly wager no.

Below is Carrville Road in Richmond Hill, a wide arterial with a large grassy median spanning the entire length, and let me tell ya, people absolutely love this grassy median. It gives Carrville Road a very distinct look compared the rest of York' arterials, adding a lot of greenery that is often meeting. So if its not Car culture that causes bland streets what does?View attachment 473355
I think it has less to do with cars and more to do with conservative spending and wanting to be cheap. People in this country don't like paying taxes, and politicians constantly run on keeping taxes low, and by doing so, they need to find ways to cut costs. The best way to cut costs, make sure whatever you build doesn't need to be maintained much. So, there go your grassy medians, your on street flower parts, nice looking street lights, are all crossed off.

In fact, we don't even have to see this. Looking at York Region again, there is a horrible problem where it might take years to get basic road maintenance. The section of Bathurst Street was finally repaved after years of disrepair last fall, prior to which the surface looked like this: View attachment 473358
Please explain to me what part of "Car Culture" asked for the road to be degraded to this state before getting repaved? Fact of the matter is, it has nothing to do with Car Culture, its all about conservative culture on spending money on what's only necessary to make sure you don't reach damaging consequences, only doing maintenance whenever things get bad enough to warrant it. If we truly had a government that spent money based off what "Car Culture" wanted, Toronto would look very different.
Car culture perhaps in the sense that design of roadways and discourse about same is dominated by the civil engineer worldview of optimizing solely for level of service and driver safety, nearly to the exclusion of other factors.

If we were being 'cheap', we would not have allowed the car-oriented development pattern to emerge, as it is long-run very expensive to maintain. In the short run it is a bit of a ponzi scheme that can let cities keep taxes low.
 
Car culture perhaps in the sense that design of roadways and discourse about same is dominated by the civil engineer worldview of optimizing solely for level of service and driver safety, nearly to the exclusion of other factors.
Oh so now we're throwing Civil Engineers under the bus are we, who make plans and designs based on the specification and requirements gathered from the urban planners who make the actual decisions?
If we were being 'cheap', we would not have allowed the car-oriented development pattern to emerge, as it is long-run very expensive to maintain. In the short run it is a bit of a ponzi scheme that can let cities keep taxes low.
Say it with me...

L O B B Y I N G
 
Oh so now we're throwing Civil Engineers under the bus are we, who make plans and designs based on the specification and requirements gathered from the urban planners who make the actual decisions?

Say it with me...

L O B B Y I N G
Not throwing individual engineers under the bus. Throwing the profession under the bus, and the culture around road design (coming from politicians and urban planners) that solely prioritizes what roads can do as a transportation tool, specifically for cars, and does not conceive of streets as tools for place-making and the value associated with that. It is hard to fault individual engineers for going along with a system that only thinks in terms of cost, vehicle level of service and driver safety. Responsibility for that system is a joint failing of the profession, politicians, urban planners, and voters. I'm sure in no small part due to crafty lobbying and social engineering executed by interest groups such as automakers, oil companies, and real estate developers.
 
Great, and as someone who grew up in suburbia and met people who lived their whole lives in suburbia, I haven't. I don't imagine they're that common.
I think a lot of people who grew up in car-oriented suburbia are somewhat horrified with the idea that it would be inconvenient to drive places, they would have to pay to park, would have to walk, etc. in a less car-oriented urban environment. Just about everyone I know from where I grew up (more a small town than a GTA-like suburb) nearly uniformly express their horror at the idea of visiting downtown Toronto. To be fair, I think it's mostly the driving stress.
 
Not throwing individual engineers under the bus. Throwing the profession under the bus, and the culture around road design (coming from politicians and urban planners) that solely prioritizes what roads can do as a transportation tool, specifically for cars, and does not conceive of streets as tools for place-making and the value associated with that. It is hard to fault individual engineers for going along with a system that only thinks in terms of cost, vehicle level of service and driver safety. Responsibility for that system is a joint failing of the profession, politicians, urban planners, and voters. I'm sure in no small part due to crafty lobbying and social engineering executed by interest groups such as automakers, oil companies, and real estate developers.
What's the difference? What is core to the engineering profession that you think is rotten? The idea that the engineers primary duty is to their client and to fulfill their client's wishes? Do you think that the engineer should be obligated to stand up in protest every time a politician has misguided requirements on a neighbourhood plan? That simply isn't, nor should it be their job. The engineer creates a list of requirements, and from that list of requirements they gather a list of features to design around. For instance, if the focus on the requirements when designing a neighbourhood is to design it around allowing cars to reach each house, to allow cars to move around town efficiently, and the only requirement relating to pedestrians is that there should be some space left for them, then the engineer will design roadways that maximize speed, throughput, and leave pedestrians as an afterthought because that's what they're told to do. This isn't a failure of the profession, this is how its supposed to work. Sure the engineer might make recommendations based on feasibility, for instance if the requirements that are being given are mutually exclusive (for instance, if the city wants an LRT line that optimized for speed, but also takes an extremely circuitous route through the city trying to hit major destinations), the engineer might be able to chime in to say that what the planners are asking for might be difficult/impossible to achieve, and that alternatives should be looked into, but that's as far as it goes. The fault here lies entirely with the Urban Planner, as well as the City Council, the engineers did nothing wrong.
I think a lot of people who grew up in car-oriented suburbia are somewhat horrified with the idea that it would be inconvenient to drive places, they would have to pay to park, would have to walk, etc. in a less car-oriented urban environment. Just about everyone I know from where I grew up (more a small town than a GTA-like suburb) nearly uniformly express their horror at the idea of visiting downtown Toronto. To be fair, I think it's mostly the driving stress.
I don't think its that simple, with the big point of contention being the point of alternatives. A major problem with policies that increase driving inconvenience is that with the way the GTHA is designed, because the region was designed around the car, and as such getting around without a car is almost universally worse than doing so with a car. We've had this discussion before, but to restate, sure you can add tolls to the DVP/Gardiner/401, but unless you provide a viable alternative to using the car to making the same trips car users made before, all you're doing is introducing a tax to car owners where at best the alternative is "move somewhere else". And ye, when getting around by car is by far the best way to move around, adding obstacles to doing so is going to be met with derision. If there's one thing I've learned speaking with many York Region residents is that they would absolutely love to have a european style regional rail network with great coverage, and would absolutely ditch their second car if that option was given to them, but that option doesn't exist yet (while GO is getting better its still nowhere near that point), and in my experience most suburbanites have given up on believing that such a thing ever happening in their lifetimes. Its amazing, I often tell many of these people about GO Expansion and what that plans to bring, and most of them react as if I was selling them Snake Oil, like they absolutely can't believe that a project such as GO Expansion can exist, or can progress at, well tbh its still kind of at a glacial pace.
 
What's the difference? What is core to the engineering profession that you think is rotten? The idea that the engineers primary duty is to their client and to fulfill their client's wishes? Do you think that the engineer should be obligated to stand up in protest every time a politician has misguided requirements on a neighbourhood plan? That simply isn't, nor should it be their job. The engineer creates a list of requirements, and from that list of requirements they gather a list of features to design around. For instance, if the focus on the requirements when designing a neighbourhood is to design it around allowing cars to reach each house, to allow cars to move around town efficiently, and the only requirement relating to pedestrians is that there should be some space left for them, then the engineer will design roadways that maximize speed, throughput, and leave pedestrians as an afterthought because that's what they're told to do. This isn't a failure of the profession, this is how its supposed to work. Sure the engineer might make recommendations based on feasibility, for instance if the requirements that are being given are mutually exclusive (for instance, if the city wants an LRT line that optimized for speed, but also takes an extremely circuitous route through the city trying to hit major destinations), the engineer might be able to chime in to say that what the planners are asking for might be difficult/impossible to achieve, and that alternatives should be looked into, but that's as far as it goes. The fault here lies entirely with the Urban Planner, as well as the City Council, the engineers did nothing wrong.

Maybe this is hitting a nerve. I don't necessarily fault individual engineers, and yes, fighting clients on every project is not practical. But there is a lot of orthodoxy around roadway design that seems to be seldom questioned. And engineers, collectively, have a role to play in influencing the discourse around how we build cities. They are professionals and have a professional responsibility. If we just wanted robots we might as well replace them with software.

The PEO's code of ethics does mention that the ethical responsibility extends beyond merely robotically implementing what the client asks for. I think we can all agree that there is room for doing better than "one more lane oughtta do it".

Through the Code of Ethics, professional engineers have a clearly defined duty to society, which is to regard the duty to public welfare as paramount, above their duties to clients or employers. Their duty to employers involves acting as faithful agents or trustees, regarding client information as confidential and avoiding or disclosing conflicts of interest. Their duty to clients means that professional engineers must immediately disclose any direct or indirect interest that might prejudice (or appear to prejudice) their professional judgment.

The code states that "it is the duty of a practitioner to the public, to the practitioner's employer, to the practitioner's clients, to other licensed engineers of the practitioner's profession, and to the practitioner to act at all times with,

  1. fairness and loyalty to the practitioner's associates, employers, clients, subordinates and employees;
  2. fidelity to public needs;
  3. devotion to high ideals of personal honour and professional integrity;
  4. knowledge of developments in the area of professional engineering relevant to any services that are undertaken; and
  5. competence in the performance of any professional engineering services that are undertaken."

I don't think its that simple, with the big point of contention being the point of alternatives. A major problem with policies that increase driving inconvenience is that with the way the GTHA is designed, because the region was designed around the car, and as such getting around without a car is almost universally worse than doing so with a car. We've had this discussion before, but to restate, sure you can add tolls to the DVP/Gardiner/401, but unless you provide a viable alternative to using the car to making the same trips car users made before, all you're doing is introducing a tax to car owners where at best the alternative is "move somewhere else". And ye, when getting around by car is by far the best way to move around, adding obstacles to doing so is going to be met with derision. If there's one thing I've learned speaking with many York Region residents is that they would absolutely love to have a european style regional rail network with great coverage, and would absolutely ditch their second car if that option was given to them, but that option doesn't exist yet (while GO is getting better its still nowhere near that point), and in my experience most suburbanites have given up on believing that such a thing ever happening in their lifetimes. Its amazing, I often tell many of these people about GO Expansion and what that plans to bring, and most of them react as if I was selling them Snake Oil, like they absolutely can't believe that a project such as GO Expansion can exist, or can progress at, well tbh its still kind of at a glacial pace.

Agreed. This is partly a failing for how GO Expansion is being communicated to the public. It has the potential to be fairly transformational for the GTHA. I don't agree that we can only (or primarily) attack the problem of auto dependency by building hundreds of billions of dollars worth of transit over the next 50-75 years and then consider reigning in auto-oriented urban design. We need to attack the problem at both ends. There is no 'free roadway usage'--people are paying with money or they are paying with their lives in lost hours due to congestion. We can park this debate as it is well-off topic for this thread.
 
Maybe this is hitting a nerve. I don't necessarily fault individual engineers, and yes, fighting clients on every project is not practical. But there is a lot of orthodoxy around roadway design that seems to be seldom questioned. And engineers, collectively, have a role to play in influencing the discourse around how we build cities. They are professionals and have a professional responsibility. If we just wanted robots we might as well replace them with software.

The PEO's code of ethics does mention that the ethical responsibility extends beyond merely robotically implementing what the client asks for. I think we can all agree that there is room for doing better than "one more lane oughtta do it".

Through the Code of Ethics, professional engineers have a clearly defined duty to society, which is to regard the duty to public welfare as paramount, above their duties to clients or employers. Their duty to employers involves acting as faithful agents or trustees, regarding client information as confidential and avoiding or disclosing conflicts of interest. Their duty to clients means that professional engineers must immediately disclose any direct or indirect interest that might prejudice (or appear to prejudice) their professional judgment.

The code states that "it is the duty of a practitioner to the public, to the practitioner's employer, to the practitioner's clients, to other licensed engineers of the practitioner's profession, and to the practitioner to act at all times with,


  1. fairness and loyalty to the practitioner's associates, employers, clients, subordinates and employees;
  2. fidelity to public needs;
  3. devotion to high ideals of personal honour and professional integrity;
  4. knowledge of developments in the area of professional engineering relevant to any services that are undertaken; and
  5. competence in the performance of any professional engineering services that are undertaken."



Agreed. This is partly a failing for how GO Expansion is being communicated to the public. It has the potential to be fairly transformational for the GTHA. I don't agree that we can only (or primarily) attack the problem of auto dependency by building hundreds of billions of dollars worth of transit over the next 50-75 years and then consider reigning in auto-oriented urban design. We need to attack the problem at both ends. There is no 'free roadway usage'--people are paying with money or they are paying with their lives in lost hours due to congestion. We can park this debate as it is well-off topic for this thread.
To chime into the discussion, I work in transportation engineering and this is absolutely true. While my engineer ancestors designed plenty of standards that make certain types of work easier, the profession has a duty to the public, that's our number one objective. I am disappointed that the profession did not lead on this earlier, particularly given the environmental and blandness of the way we've designed cities. This includes providing technical advice that may contradict decision makers (though ultimately, they can still make the less recommended decision). Frankly, I and many newer generation engineers argue that we owe it to future generations to build and design a more sustainable world, which includes more active cities. That is the most paramount duty.

@ARG1 , I appreciate your defense of my profession. It is however, a collective failure that we carry, along with decision makers and planners of the era.
 
To chime into the discussion, I work in transportation engineering and this is absolutely true. While my engineer ancestors designed plenty of standards that make certain types of work easier, the profession has a duty to the public, that's our number one objective. I am disappointed that the profession did not lead on this earlier, particularly given the environmental and blandness of the way we've designed cities. This includes providing technical advice that may contradict decision makers (though ultimately, they can still make the less recommended decision). Frankly, I and many newer generation engineers argue that we owe it to future generations to build and design a more sustainable world, which includes more active cities. That is the most paramount duty.

I don’t blame the engineers, I blame the policy makers who direct the engineering. Consider the European vs North American approaches to the lowly crosswalk. Imagine how much simpler it must be to design and install this crosswalk versus our equivalent - ours probably requires twice the number of drawings, four times as much passing around of plans between municipal departments, more coordination between Guild, Hydro, construction contractors, procurement, sign makers and line painting…. No wonder we get so little done. Is this model any less safe? Probably not, within the culture of driving responsibly and keeping a sharp lookout (which is not the norm in the GTA!)

The North Anerican equivalent is not designed to the Engineeer’s satisfaction, but rather the lawyers’ needs.

- Paul
D40870B2-09E3-4058-9203-41A4E1C9FCC5.jpeg
 

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I don’t blame the engineers, I blame the policy makers who direct the engineering. Consider the European vs North American approaches to the lowly crosswalk. Imagine how much simpler it must be to design and install this crosswalk versus our equivalent - ours probably requires twice the number of drawings, four times as much passing around of plans between municipal departments, more coordination between Guild, Hydro, construction contractors, procurement, sign makers and line painting…. No wonder we get so little done. Is this model any less safe? Probably not, within the culture of driving responsibly and keeping a sharp lookout (which is not the norm in the GTA!)

The North Anerican equivalent is not designed to the Engineeer’s satisfaction, but rather the lawyers’ needs.

- PaulView attachment 473926
And the needs of the car come first, in North America.
 

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