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Short term solutions for solving gridlock in Toronto

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
OK, even as I type this the Mayoral candidates are having a debate about gridlock and early talk is about building subways or LRTs or whatever which probably won't happen in any of our lifetimes anyway.

What about short term solutions? Any ideas? I have a few.

  • Build more bike lanes
  • Move marathons and road-closing races, walks, etc outside the city limits
  • Create tolls on the DVP and the Gardener to reduce the # of cars using them and create a fund repair of those roads.
  • Stagger construction road closures or do the work 24/7
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
OK, even as I type this the Mayoral candidates are having a debate about gridlock and early talk is about building subways or LRTs or whatever which probably won't happen in any of our lifetimes anyway.

What about short term solutions? Any ideas? I have a few.

  • Build more bike lanes
  • Move marathons and road-closing races, walks, etc outside the city limits
  • Create tolls on the DVP and the Gardener to reduce the # of cars using them and create a fund repair of those roads.
  • Stagger construction road closures or do the work 24/7
re: More bike lanes - I doubt it will have any tangible effect on gridlock. People using bike lanes IMO are doing so in place of taking TTC when the weather is nice, not swapping using their car to get to/from work.

re: move marathons, walks etc. - these only happen on weekends. While they create an annoyance/issues on the road volume, it's only during weekends/does not disrupt work commuter traffic during the week which is the big problem.

re: Create tolls on the DVP/Gardiner - doubt this will have any tangible effect on gridlock. The majority of people causing commuter gridlock will still drive their cars to/from work because the public transit options for them to get out of their cars is just still too crap. Or conversely commercial traffic getting into/out of the city will still need to use the roads at the same time, they're just now essentially being taxed for it.

re: stagger construction/work 24/7 - this absolutely needs to be done/better coordinated.
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
re: More bike lanes - I doubt it will have any tangible effect on gridlock. People using bike lanes IMO are doing so in place of taking TTC when the weather is nice, not swapping using their car to get to/from work.

re: move marathons, walks etc. - these only happen on weekends. While they create an annoyance/issues on the road volume, it's only during weekends/does not disrupt work commuter traffic during the week which is the big problem.

re: Create tolls on the DVP/Gardiner - doubt this will have any tangible effect on gridlock. The majority of people causing commuter gridlock will still drive their cars to/from work because the public transit options for them to get out of their cars is just still too crap. Or conversely commercial traffic getting into/out of the city will still need to use the roads at the same time, they're just now essentially being taxed for it.

re: stagger construction/work 24/7 - this absolutely needs to be done/better coordinated.
Now that you have said why all my ideas won't work, what are your ideas?
 

Spinsah

TRIBE Member
Removing on-street parking from major streets seven days a week, from 7 AM - 9 PM would greatly improve flow in the city and be very easy to implement. There are enough Green Ps, private lots and side street parking to handle the overflow as it is.
 
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Spinsah

TRIBE Member
re: More bike lanes - I doubt it will have any tangible effect on gridlock. People using bike lanes IMO are doing so in place of taking TTC when the weather is nice, not swapping using their car to get to/from work.
I don't have the stats handy, but a good portion of those who would drive to work from within the city, swap out the car for the bike. I'm one of them. I drive in most days from December-March, it's faster and more cost-effective.

re: Create tolls on the DVP/Gardiner - doubt this will have any tangible effect on gridlock. The majority of people causing commuter gridlock will still drive their cars to/from work because the public transit options for them to get out of their cars is just still too crap. Or conversely commercial traffic getting into/out of the city will still need to use the roads at the same time, they're just now essentially being taxed for it.
Road pricing makes sense, but as a way to fund transit and as a way to provide incentive for travel outside of peak time, car-pooling etc. Stockholm is instructive in this regard.

The Success of Stockholm’s Congestion Pricing Solution | This Big City

Key takeaways:

"Public transport has seen a 4.5% increase in ridership, traffic is down by 18%, and waiting time to enter the city centre during peak hours has been reduced by 50%. There have also been environmental and economic benefits. Carbon emissions have dropped by 14-18%, ownership of tax-exempt environmentally sustainable vehicles has almost tripled, and retailers have seen a 6% increase in business.
 

glych t.anomaly

TRIBE Member
Removing on-street parking from major streets seven days a week, from 7 AM - 9 PM would greatly improve flow in the city and be very easy to implement. There are enough Green Ps, private lots and side street parking to handle the overflow as it is.
yeap, more traffic cops to basically enforce IMMEDIATE TOWING, and raise the TOW fines for this offense to $500/per fine.
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
Now that you have said why all my ideas won't work, what are your ideas?
I agreed with the staggering of construction and 24/7 work.

As for other options, I do not see any short term solutions that will significantly alleviate gridlock.

Ultimately we need a substantially better public transit system to get most people out of their cars.

For me it comes down to the most valuable commodity I have...... TIME. I essentially (and believe many others are the same) will take the travel option available to me that requires the least amount of time.
 

kuba

TRIBE Member
  • Build more bike lanes

    stupid idea
  • Move marathons and road-closing races, walks, etc outside the city limits

    good idea
  • Create tolls on the DVP and the Gardener to reduce the # of cars using them and create a fund repair of those roads.

    great idea
  • Stagger construction road closures or do the work 24/7

    amazing idea
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
I don't have the stats handy, but a good portion of those who would drive to work from within the city, swap out the car for the bike. I'm one of them. I drive in most days from December-March, it's faster and more cost-effective.
I would like to see the stats as well, but:

a) you said you've essentially already made the change (i.e. with current bike lane availability that exists), and presumably, so have many others who are doing the same thing as you. So adding more bike lanes I don't think would see a tangible net benefit
b) the most important part of this equation is that you still use your car to get to work (just not year round). For which I say the root problem is that you do not have a good/effective transit option to get you fully out of your car.

Road pricing makes sense, but as a way to fund transit and as a way to provide incentive for travel outside of peak time, car-pooling etc. Stockholm is instructive in this regard.

The Success of Stockholm’s Congestion Pricing Solution | This Big City

Key takeaways:

"Public transport has seen a 4.5% increase in ridership, traffic is down by 18%, and waiting time to enter the city centre during peak hours has been reduced by 50%. There have also been environmental and economic benefits. Carbon emissions have dropped by 14-18%, ownership of tax-exempt environmentally sustainable vehicles has almost tripled, and retailers have seen a 6% increase in business.
Right. To me road tolls is a way to help pay for the proper public transit infrastructure that is needed to get people out of their cars in the end. Goes back to my key point. If the time it takes to get to work is a good amount faster than taking your car, more people would be taking public transit.

But our current public transit system compared to all of the places where they show studies of the net benefits of road tolls already have much better transit systems in place to make it a more viable option in people's minds.
 
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Spinsah

TRIBE Member
Toronto is the only city in the OECD that is actually reducing its number of bike lanes. Bike lanes are cheap, easy to implement and almost always have a negligible impact on automobile trip time. Their social, health and neighbourhood benefits are extensive, so I'd ask those opposed, why not build bike lanes? After spending a week in Copenhagen this year, a city with less density than Toronto, that have invested heavily in cycling infrastructure, I'm a believer.
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
Removing on-street parking from major streets seven days a week, from 7 AM - 9 PM would greatly improve flow in the city and be very easy to implement. There are enough Green Ps, private lots and side street parking to handle the overflow as it is.
I love this idea. Most of the major arterial roads in the core already do this however, so we're likely a max benefit with this option.
 

praktik

TRIBE Member
What about buying back the 407 and making it open for everyone?

OR - keep it a toll road but all the money goes back into highways and transit
 

Spinsah

TRIBE Member
I love this idea. Most of the major arterial roads in the core already do this however, so we're likely a max benefit with this option.
Have you noticed traffic is worse on Saturdays than it is during rush hour? That is likely a result of parking restrictions. Same with between 7PM-9PM at night. This tweak would help, I think.
 

Spinsah

TRIBE Member
a) you said you've essentially already made the change (i.e. with current bike lane availability that exists), and presumably, so have many others who are doing the same thing as you. So adding more bike lanes I don't think would see a tangible net benefit
b) the most important part of this equation is that you still use your car to get to work (just not year round). For which I say the root problem is that you do not have a good/effective transit option to get you fully out of your car.
What I'm getting at is that it's not a matter of strict categories like cyclists, transit riders and automobile drivers; in a given week, I'm all three and so are many others. This modal mix is often ignored by planners and armchair critics alike.

Building more bike lanes encourages those who don't feel safe riding their bikes downtown to do so. A fear of downtown traffic is the most cited reason for those who say they're like to, but don't commute by bicycle. I'm fortunate that I have lanes most of my commute, but increasing those options, I'm sure would increase cycling uptake. The second piece of the equation is businesses supporting that option with facilities. Again, I'm fortunate enough to have showers, lockers and a secure bike room at work, which makes a hot sweaty commute an option for me.

But you're right that those winter months, and relatively cheap parking/painful transit options do suggest that transit is not good enough to be my mode of choice in depths of winter. Of course it's clear to most of us in this thread that massive capital and operational investment in transit is required in the GTHA, and what better way to pay for it then through dedicated revenue tools that appropriately cost finite resources like roads, parking lots etc?
 
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silver1

TRIBE Member
Have you noticed traffic is worse on Saturdays than it is during rush hour? That is likely a result of parking restrictions. Same with between 7PM-9PM at night. This tweak would help, I think.
I would say it's "as bad" on weekends (due to the allowance of road parking) as it is on week-days (much higher volume).

But on weekends, I don't really care too much as for the most part travel is for the most part "optional".

One other long term element that I think will alleviate gridlock is the spread/adoption of the "home office". Once big companies get on board that many office type people can be as effective (if not more due to the elimination needing to commute) when working from home, I think that can have a significant impact on congestion.
 

ravinjunkie

TRIBE Member
Build better parking lots - multi level to decrease street parking ESP AROUND HOSPITAL AREAS.

Increase left hand signals at intersections and give them a longer signal or allow a longer pedestrian signal for crossing.

Improve pedestrian crossing - create more pedestrian bridges.
 

Spinsah

TRIBE Member
I would say it's "as bad" on weekends (due to the allowance of road parking) as it is on week-days (much higher volume).

But on weekends, I don't really care too much as for the most part travel is for the most part "optional".

One other long term element that I think will alleviate gridlock is the spread/adoption of the "home office". Once big companies get on board that many office type people can be as effective (if not more due to the elimination needing to commute) when working from home, I think that can have a significant impact on congestion.
That will help, but with the way the GTHA is projected to grow, it's a minor offset.

If you have the time this Toronto Board of Trade discussion paper does a good job of of laying out the gravity of our current predicament and how to get out of it, all with a healthy smattering of statistics and metrics.

http://www.bot.com/advocacy/Documents/Campaigns/DiscussionPaper_AGreenLight_March18_2013.pdf
 

futronic

TRIBE Member
It would be nice if all streets south of Bloor were one-way (i.e. how many cities in Canada/US do it). Unfortunately it can't really be done in Toronto as streetcars run down the middle of the road.

-- Jay aka Fut
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
That will help, but with the way the GTHA is projected to grow, it's a minor offset.

If you have the time this Toronto Board of Trade discussion paper does a good job of of laying out the gravity of our current predicament and how to get out of it, all with a healthy smattering of statistics and metrics.

http://www.bot.com/advocacy/Documents/Campaigns/DiscussionPaper_AGreenLight_March18_2013.pdf
I've seen this paper before. I agree with almost everything in it. But it essentially speaks to the overall root issues of:

1. We need better transit (i.e. getting to 80% of the people within 2 km of transit).
2. It's going to cost way more than has been pledged so far (i.e. $16b has been pledged so far but it'll need $34b on top of that).
3. Ideas to make up that money (most of which I agree with).

All of these other ideas going around in this thread outside of the mass needs for expanded and far reaching transit are to me trivial and will have negligible impact.

But I DO think that the expansion of the home office over time will have more than a trivial impact. Think of the noticeable decrease in traffic from Canada Day to Labour Day throughout the summer during the work week. I'm guessing on average there is an ~10-20% average decrease in traffic volume during the summer period. I'm looking for stats on % people taking vacation during the summer, but this was my direct commute time savings during the summer holiday months the past several years.

We could definitely get to a day where say 20-30% of office workers could say work from home ~3 days a week, giving us say a net 5% general decrease in commuter traffic, which is not something to discount.
 
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veteze

TRIBE Promoter
1. convert major streets to one ways.

king goes eastbound
queen goes westbound
dundas goes eastbound
college goes westbound

1 lane parking (south lane)
1 lane cycling (north lane)
2 lanes (center) traffic / streetcar

2. stop the nonsense of ridiculous 1 ways cutting through all the neighbourhoods. allow traffic to flow through neighbourhoods if it needs to.

3. implement synchronized traffic light systems. we still don't do this and it can apparently be done using wireless systems at not too outlandish an expense.



i will vote for any candidate who says they will do any of these things
 

veteze

TRIBE Promoter
Removing on-street parking from major streets seven days a week, from 7 AM - 9 PM would greatly improve flow in the city and be very easy to implement. There are enough Green Ps, private lots and side street parking to handle the overflow as it is.
and this
 

wakipaki

TRIBE Member
1) moving to a majority one way system for minor and major roads in the downtown / midtown / uptown similar to NYC and Montreal - one of the major head f@cks is traffic being snagged by people trying to make a left turn (parked cars also don't help in the right) if you do it in a systematic way it works wonders (not Annex/Little Italy side street randomness, but one street north, next south, one east, next west formation) - bathurst south, spadina north, university south, yonge/Bay North, Church south, Jarvis North etc...

2) Garbage pick up at night while we are sleeping (even union hell France does this)

3) CONGESTION CHARGE - even if it doesn't have massive effects, you should still be taxing suburban commuters who don't pay TO property tax

4) 24/7 city construction

5) way better enforcement of ticketing stupid drivers
 
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