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nhui06

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Plan in the works to redesign King Street

A year from now, the traffic-clogged street could be transformed into a free-flowing transit/pedestrian corridor from Liberty Village to the Distillery District.


http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/201...-redesign-king-street-and-quickly-keenan.html

If they do go ahead with this, wonder if SmartTrack should seriously consider adding a stop at Cherry St where the King Streetcar loop is. Will serve as a good connector for those who want to get off SmartTrack to use the King ROW streetcar.
 

downtownordinary

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If they do go ahead with this, wonder if SmartTrack should seriously consider adding a stop at Cherry St where the King Streetcar loop is. Will serve as a good connector for those who want to get off SmartTrack to use the King ROW streetcar.

It would make a lot of sense, especially if King East continues to add more office space (like Globe and Mail).
 

SaugeenJunction

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Looks like the city is looking at the King Transit Mall again:

Plan in the works to redesign King Street — and quickly: Keenan
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/201...-redesign-king-street-and-quickly-keenan.html

Picture spring 2017, just over a year from now: the snow thaws and people emerge from their winter doldrums to enjoy some warmth in the sun on a whole new downtown King St. One where snarled car traffic no longer fills the street, one where better streetcar service runs in dedicated lanes, bikes wheel along beside the roadway, Muskoka chairs sit along a pedestrian stroll, perfect for lingering and enjoying the sunshine.

Picture King, just one year from now, from Liberty Village to the Distillery District, as a transit and pedestrian corridor, designed with the help of some of the most prominent urban designers in the world.

A pipe dream?

Toronto’s chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, says it’s “reasonable” to expect it to be a reality in just one year, as a pilot project to test ideas and gather data should by then be in full swing.

The “King Street Visioning Study,” recently commissioned and formally kicking off in a few weeks, aims to “develop a transformational vision for King Street and generate design ideas to improve streetcar operations, enhance the identity of this significant street and its neighbourhoods and promote walking through significant, innovative place-making initiatives and improvements to the public realm.”

The timeline is quick by city standards: public consultations to generate ideas and a vision begin in the spring; recommendations come back in the fall; and “quick hits and quick actions, things that can be implemented in the short term” will likely begin as pilot projects immediately.

Work on the project has been contracted to some urban-design heavy hitters: It will be led by Public Work, the Toronto landscape architecture firm founded by the designers who came up with the Central Waterfront Plan that has transformed Queens Quay. They are partnered with two international firms: Gehl Architects, whose founder, Jan Gehl, may be the world’s most influential living urban design thinker, famous for his work in Denmark and for writing the report that led to the New York City’s rapid pedestrianization under mayor Michael Bloomberg; and Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants, headed by (and named after) the former New York City transportation commissioner widely credited with bringing the term “gridlock” into widespread usage. A fourth partner in the project is the local consultation firm Swerhun.

As Keesmaat notes, the process has yet to begin and is based on consultation to generate a vision, so it is early to detail the expected results.

“Part of the value of going through a public process is you don’t know what’s lurking out there in terms of ideas,” Keesmaat says. “That’s also part of the value of hiring experts who’ve done work in other jurisdictions. They might see this in a different way than we do.”

If it’s early to talk about details, the past work of those experts and their assignment makes clear what the broad strokes are likely to be. The mandate laid out in the city’s Request for Proposals that led to the contract calls for bold transformation, with pedestrians and transit getting priority.

Both Gehl and Schwartz (who often goes by the name Gridlock Sam) are famous for their work on streets that encourage walking, cycling and transit. And both have outlined theories in books, and established though practice, an approach that encourages low-cost, quick-implementation pilot projects using temporary materials that allow people to get used to an idea while also allowing data collection on the results on traffic and use of the road and sidewalks.

Keesmaat emphasizes that the plan is not to cut the street off to cars entirely — and suggests as an example that there may be a single motor traffic lane available, with the one-way direction alternating each block to allow local access to driveways but force through-traffic onto parallel streets.

King Street, which acts as the spine of Toronto’s financial and theatre districts and has grown in recent years as the main street for some of the city’s fastest-growing condo neighbourhoods, has long been the subject of proposals for transit priority — proposals that have seldom gone past the stage of words on paper.

Keesmaat says that part of what’s driving this attempt to put such ideas into practice now is the success and rapid growth of the neighbourhoods along King in the study area between Dufferin and River Sts.

“No matter what streetcar you put on King St., it’s instantly full,” Keesmaat says. “The reality is we have a golden goose here, inasmuch as there’s things we can do that don’t involve billions of dollars of capital improvements, and yet they can have a substantive impact on the quality of life in the city,” she says.

“We can significantly, exponentially, increase the number of people who are served through transit without having to build anything really substantive. That is what I’d call a quick-win, low-hanging fruit, and that’s why I’m excited about it.”

And the hope is that in the process, it will make the central neighbourhoods of the city better places to be, not just to move around in.

“This is also a place-making exercise,” Keesmaat says. “This is about adding to the distinction of the city, adding to the quality of pedestrian life of the city, enhancing local retail along the corridor. There are so many of our city building objectives that could be met through a project like this, it could highlight the potential of our city in a whole new way.”
 

mdrejhon

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I like the idea.

Run this as a summertime pilot. See what happens.

I think the response could be enthusaic.

I also suggest popups of some kind in the large spaces in the financial district (e.g. similar to Union's Market) between Yonge and York. This section is very restaurant-poor. This is where I work and I certainly wouldn't mind stepping outdoors to grab a bite.

Though I wonder, if some compromises might need to be made such as permitting a taxi stand in specific locations (e.g. between Bay and York on one side of the street, if certain streetcar-blocking problems with that can be solved).

And when pilot becomes permanent, install true transit priority traffic lights. Cue in the new streetcars. Now we've got a King LRT (almost, except for stop spacing). Brick-accent part of the road instead of repaving, during the next redo cycle.
 
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mdrejhon

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Heck, turning one side of King into a taxi-stand-proof cycle track might work.

I wonder if some people would advocate moving Adelaide/Richmond cycle lanes (still a pilot project) to a fancier cycle track in the King corridor. But that depends on what kind of King Corridor they would like to do -- and whether tracks are shifted or not, etc -- and how much protection for cyclists there are versus doing the same on Richmond/Adelaide.

I imagine studies and pilot project are needed to see what speeds up transit, makes cyclists happiest, pedestrians happiest, and cars/taxis happiest in the best possible compromise, that moves maximum number of people in the most pleasant possible manner.
 
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TOareaFan

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When they put "separated" bike lanes there, that made traffic slower.
drive adelaide most days.....if anything things have gotten faster (although I think it is more likely a draw with the improvement more coming from reclaiming lanes from construction sites).
 

muller877

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Heck, turning one side of King into a taxi-stand-proof cycle track might work.

I wonder if some people would advocate moving Adelaide/Richmond cycle lanes (still a pilot project) to a fancier cycle track in the King corridor. But that depends on what kind of King Corridor they would like to do -- and whether tracks are shifted or not, etc -- and how much protection for cyclists there are versus doing the same on Richmond/Adelaide.

I imagine studies and pilot project are needed to see what speeds up transit, makes cyclists happiest, pedestrians happiest, and cars/taxis happiest in the best possible compromise, that moves maximum number of people in the most pleasant possible manner.

If the city was smart about it they would make sure that alternative road capacity was increased at the same time King's capacity was decreased for cars (e.g. remove parking on Queen, change traffic light timing, etc). This would decrease the concerns for the autos.

But of course they aren't that bright. They will make the "test" everything else the same but no traffic on King. And behold. A huge backlash.

I think it is a great idea from Church to Bathurst (where there is Wellington/Adelaide/Richmond for autos). Beyond this the traffic is not that bad and the streetcar moves at a pretty good clip. There is also a lot less street life past these spots. Maybe the test can be from University to Yonge (there is no parking entrances for this stretch other than the TD Bank which is only a secondary entrance to the garage). Completely closed off to autos....and see how it goes.
 

pman

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Given the fact that Council is dominated by suburban representatives, it's hard to imagine how a progressive city-building project like this could ever be approved. For that matter, Tory's base is in the suburbs and he's already demonstrated where he stands with his advocacy for retaining the eastern Gardiner in more or less its present form.
 

BurlOak

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I think a transit mall idea in downtown could be acceptable to the suburbs as long as the transit on Eglinton, Finch and Sheppard is grade-separated.
Roads were there is significant car traffic - we allow cars to continue to flow.
Roads were transit and pedestrians dominate and cars can't make much progress anyway, we make it more transit and pedestrian friendly.
 

TOareaFan

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^it is missing on me why this notion of the "suburbs" should care much about King Street being converted...can someone help me there?

I would think the people most likely to be concerned about this would be people who bought/own condos on/near King that did so while continuing to keep a car and drive....perhaps, even, downtown dwellers who commute to the suburbs to earn their living.
 

LNahid2000

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^it is missing on me why this notion of the "suburbs" should care much about King Street being converted...can someone help me there?

I would think the people most likely to be concerned about this would be people who bought/own condos on/near King that did so while continuing to keep a car and drive....perhaps, even, downtown dwellers who commute to the suburbs to earn their living.
So that they can drive downtown and park on King St for cheap (or free on Sunday before 1pm). My parents do this quite often.
 

mpd618

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Given the fact that Council is dominated by suburban representatives, it's hard to imagine how a progressive city-building project like this could ever be approved.

By making it a pilot project that is explicitly temporary - and then using the presumed massively positive experience and data to turn temporary into permanent despite preliminary worries. The potential for negative consequences is a lot less scary and threatening when it's not forever. (Related: streets get closed for construction, and everyone is reasonably OK with it because it's temporary.)
 

crs1026

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So that they can drive downtown and park on King St for cheap (or free on Sunday before 1pm). My parents do this quite often.

Absolutely true....most suburbanites expect to come downtown and find a nice empty lot where they can park for five bucks or less and walk around the corner to the Royal Alex for an evening show. And be on the Gardiner within a few minutes after the last curtain call.

- King
 

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