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jozl

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There has been a lot of press lately about the high number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths on Toronto's streets. At the same time the din form car drivers complaining about the sorry state of vehicular traffic flow has gotten louder. We have two, seemingly, conflicting forces at play.
I'm in my mid sixties. I have been riding a bike regularly in downtown TO for over forty years. I also own a car so I'm familiar with the frustration drivers encounter when trying to get around town on four wheels. I'd say I use my bike or walk about 90% of the time (I hardly ever use the TTC).
I am convinced that a significant number of our transportation problems can be mitigated with better designed streets. Vehicular traffic needs to be slowed down but at the same time it needs to flow with fewer stops. The stop and go contest a car driver needs to navigate through is a major cause of frustration. The few times I do drive my car downtown I'm always terrified of accidentally hitting a cyclist or pedestrian at the same time hoping I don't crash into another car. There are dozens of traffic signals, signs, jaywalkers and blind turns to contend with . It's exhausting.
We are relying on the discretion of individuals to keep the system safe and it's not working.
Roundabouts, yield signs, road surface, and woonerfs are some methods of traffic control that have proven to be effective ways to increase safety as well as improving traffic flow. My motto is "Slow down and get there faster". I'm curious to know what design ideas people have, or examples they have seen, that improve the efficiency and safety of streets.
 

Burnt creek

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There has been a lot of press lately about the high number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths on Toronto's streets. At the same time the din form car drivers complaining about the sorry state of vehicular traffic flow has gotten louder. We have two, seemingly, conflicting forces at play.
I'm in my mid sixties. I have been riding a bike regularly in downtown TO for over forty years. I also own a car so I'm familiar with the frustration drivers encounter when trying to get around town on four wheels. I'd say I use my bike or walk about 90% of the time (I hardly ever use the TTC).
I am convinced that a significant number of our transportation problems can be mitigated with better designed streets. Vehicular traffic needs to be slowed down but at the same time it needs to flow with fewer stops. The stop and go contest a car driver needs to navigate through is a major cause of frustration. The few times I do drive my car downtown I'm always terrified of accidentally hitting a cyclist or pedestrian at the same time hoping I don't crash into another car. There are dozens of traffic signals, signs, jaywalkers and blind turns to contend with . It's exhausting.
We are relying on the discretion of individuals to keep the system safe and it's not working.
Roundabouts, yield signs, road surface, and woonerfs are some methods of traffic control that have proven to be effective ways to increase safety as well as improving traffic flow. My motto is "Slow down and get there faster". I'm curious to know what design ideas people have, or examples they have seen, that improve the efficiency and safety of streets.
Fair intro and balanced intro. I cycle in toronto including the areas south of Bloor. I also own a car and have had to drive in those same areas occasionally. Its much much more frustrating to drive and it shouldnt be that way. The mindset of all transit and transportation planning should be based on what allows people to get around as efficiently and as effectively as possible. And that includes for streetcar users and for motorist. The streetcars (like the bathhurst streetcar going to the ex) makes far too many stops, instaed it should stop only at major intersections. People can and dont mind walking to the next closest intersection and if you cant due to mobility issues, no amount of stops (unless its your front door) is going to be sufficient. So you might as well try to satisfy the transit riders instead of trying to ensure that there is a stop in everybody's front door. If there were fewer stops then you know that you could get to your destination quicker and only then are your going to be enticed to take public transit. That means fewer cars on the street and better traffic flow.

PS.: the waterfront street car, is another one. It seems like it makes stops at every fifty meters. Once last year, I road along the bike path at the most leisurely pace and passed something like 3 different streetcars along the way heading in the same direction as me. If commuting by bike is faster than public transit, then we we have a problem with public transit.
 
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Napoleon

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I have to say, out of all North American cities, Montreal has some of the most impressive street safety policies. In particular what I find greatly enhances safety is:
  • No right turns on red. This produces so many collisions. It's great for smaller cities and less urban places, but with the pedestrian density in an urban core, it's a recipe for problems.
  • Advance walk and bike signals. These are often paired with a "straight only" phase for cars with a forward arrow, followed by a general green where turns are permitted.
  • End the pedestrian phase prior to the end of the general green. This allows cars to make turns without potential conflicts with pedestrians. I notice with the count down timers that pedestrians often enter the intersections with 2 seconds left...it's a recipe for frustration and accidents.
  • Much better cycling infrastructure. Cycling infrastructure is well-protected, well-signed, and well-used!
 

mdrejhon

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I'm now a fan of these kinds of street optimizations.

I would now even support a Gardiner teardown (even though I formerly did not support that) as well as a pedestrian/cycletrack/LRT-only King Street.

If King is ever rebuilt, I'd use Union-plaza style brick repaving, a 2-way cycle track on one side, and 2 streetcar tracks on opposite side, with proper slightly-raised perfect rampless level boarding with the New Streetcars (much like an LRT in other cities than Toronto) -- no folding ramp needed.

And for King, use what some cities use: automatic-green-light transit priority plus double-car consists (2 new streetcars chained) with 8 sets of simultaneously opening doors, subway-style, gapless level wheel-on boarding. Possible small curb protecting between cycle track and streetcar tracks. And with far-side platforms and no cars, the LRVs predictably zoom through automatic green lights, probably more than doubling the speed of King TTC streetcar. True rapid transit! Swap out the trolley pole with a pantograph (the new streetcars are upgradeable). Like the faster LRTs in other cities. Pedestrians, cycle track, and LRT on King.

This can be doable to move more total number of people per hour on King than when that road has cars today. (emergency/ambulances will still be allowed to drive on the tracks, and delivery trucks permitted overnight).

If New York City can do similar kinds of "dramatic road optimization initiatives" nowadays, and even close down Times Square permanently to cars, then so can Toronto redo the King corridor.

It will be a generational change when they redo King properly, maybe 20 years, but it's on the wall now with the King pedestrianization study and possible trial in a few years from now.
 
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Burnt creek

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If King is ever rebuilt, I'd use Union-plaza style brick repaving, a 2-way cycle track on one side, and 2 streetcar tracks on opposite side, with proper
Problem with that is that you end up forcing motorists on to other alternate roads. Which will congest other roads further which leads to more frustrated and impatient driving. My sense about the downtown traffic is that it's not your typical Sunday drive types but rather transportation that supports the businesses either as suppliers or customers. Hence hampering that traffic is going hurt the businesses
 

W. K. Lis

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Before the 1910's, the law was that streets were available for so that "all persons have an equal right in the highway, and that in exercising the right each shall take due care not to injure other users of the way." Slowly, the automobile lobby (AKA the automobile clubs) forced and were able to change the laws so that the automobile was "king" and the streets were for cars, and cars only. See link.

We need to return to the law, as it was, before the automobile came around.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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Councillor Holyday wants you to know that road deaths are just a fact of life...

6 mins ago
Councillor argues that some cyclist/pedestrian deaths are acceptable.

Oliver Moore@moore_oliver
Stephen Holyday pushes back at Kolb over any road death is too many, notes other important problems facing city (gun violence and so on)

What does other important problems having to do with dealing with this one, I wonder. If he can't multitask in his decision-making, he should leave his job to someone who can.

AoD
 

rbt

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Councillor Holyday wants you to know that road deaths are just a fact of life...

6 mins ago
Councillor argues that some cyclist/pedestrian deaths are acceptable.

He's not wrong. There is an acceptable level; but it should be closer to the levels you find in Japan, or even below that.

Even 1 in 70 billion (one auto related death per decade world-wide) would be some deaths and probably a pretty acceptable quantity of them.
 

Northern Light

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There has been a lot of press lately about the high number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths on Toronto's streets. At the same time the din form car drivers complaining about the sorry state of vehicular traffic flow has gotten louder. We have two, seemingly, conflicting forces at play.
I'm in my mid sixties. I have been riding a bike regularly in downtown TO for over forty years. I also own a car so I'm familiar with the frustration drivers encounter when trying to get around town on four wheels. I'd say I use my bike or walk about 90% of the time (I hardly ever use the TTC).
I am convinced that a significant number of our transportation problems can be mitigated with better designed streets. Vehicular traffic needs to be slowed down but at the same time it needs to flow with fewer stops. The stop and go contest a car driver needs to navigate through is a major cause of frustration. The few times I do drive my car downtown I'm always terrified of accidentally hitting a cyclist or pedestrian at the same time hoping I don't crash into another car. There are dozens of traffic signals, signs, jaywalkers and blind turns to contend with . It's exhausting.
We are relying on the discretion of individuals to keep the system safe and it's not working.
Roundabouts, yield signs, road surface, and woonerfs are some methods of traffic control that have proven to be effective ways to increase safety as well as improving traffic flow. My motto is "Slow down and get there faster". I'm curious to know what design ideas people have, or examples they have seen, that improve the efficiency and safety of streets.

I am in a very similar circumstance as a regular pedestrian, and sometime cyclist/TTC user, while also be a driver.

I also have a very similar take.

In my local area, East York, there has been a penchant for speed humps, which annoys me no end, (try taking those even ever so slowly when your back is prone to spasms); and putting up crosswalks or lights, every 100m, on some roads.

It seems to be that most collisions btw pedestrians and motorists result from too many lanes of traffic, too much inability to predict driver or pedestrian or cyclist behavior, as well as some excessive speeds.

To take the latter first, I don't the speed limits are the problem, in most cases. Rather, its the drivers exceeding the limit and/or showing volatile/unpredictable speed, as often happens from too many stops and growing frustration.

I think the answer to that is narrower/fewer travel lanes and or creating a perception of a narrower road through tree-line boulevards.

Many streets in East York have an 11M cross-section, on a side street, which is nuts.

That's almost the minimum width for a 4-lane road.

In other words, the road is engineered to handle speeds well above 40km/ph, and no surprise, some folks drive like it.

That's not ok, and does endanger lives.

But the answer is trimming the cross-section of pavement to 7M (standard in the old City of Toronto) and putting in a 1.5M boulevard with trees on each side of the street, and slightly wider sidewalks.

****

I think that eliminating channelized right-hand turns is key.

The City will be doing that at River/Dundas this year, but in East York, needs to do this at Woodbine/O'Connor, St. Clair/Vic Park and Eglinton/Vic Park, among other spots.

This serves to reduce already wide crossings by at least one lane and one island and make road users behavior more predictable.

Ultimately, I think we need to try to move away from six-lane roads which typically profile as 7-lanes at intersections featuring left-turn lanes.

But to do so, may, be hideously expensive as these roads are largely present where major arterials are 2km apart instead of the City-norm of 1km.

The means they need to handle larger volumes, on fewer roads.

I would prefer to use existing roads where practical, but sew together new routes that parallel Eglinton/Lawrence/Ellesmere, for instance, so as to eliminate the need for them to be six lanes across.

****

We still don't provide sidewalks on all major roads (see Millwood, west side, running south from Redway to the Millwood/Leaside bridge).

That, and providing bike lanes on most major roads would help to provide safe spaces for different road users and clarity as to where to expect them.

***

Finally, I think we need to focus on evening out speeds, with far more sophisticated traffic lights, so as to reduce driver impatience.

Standing still at an intersection with no cross flow of traffic drives just about everyone (pedestrian/cyclist/driver) nuts.

The lights need to be 'Smart' and no when there's no reason to impede flow, because there's no cross-traffic (of any kind).


My .10c
 

rbt

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I'm pretty sure the councillor means that our current statistics are acceptable, given our budget pressures, just as today's newest stats are acceptable...

Yeah, I understand what he probably meant; but the specific wording chosen was either lucky or unusually clever because he could explain his way out of it if press actually picked it up.
 

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