Putting Pedestrians First

Walk21This week, the City of Toronto hosted Walk21, an international conference examining ways to improve the pedestrian realm on our streets. This year’s theme is “Putting Pedestrians First.”

The conference reflects a recent shift in thinking at City Hall, where the once-dominant car is now being asked to take a back seat to the needs of pedestrians, transit-riders and cyclists.

From the Toronto Star, City takes `anti-car’ report out for a spin (Oct. 4):

“Maybe a balance is no longer appropriate,” said John Mende, Toronto’s director of transportation management.

“And if you think that’s anti-car, perhaps it is. But we’re trying to make the other modes of transportation more attractive so people will choose not to drive.”

The City Works Committee is currently considering a report that recommends a significant change in the City’s transportation priorities. The report makes several suggestions, including “pedestrian scrambles,” where all car traffic would stop for a moment at intersections, and pedestrians would be allowed to cross the street freely, even across the diagonal.

Such a change in thinking will no doubt impact the final design for the 2009 reconstruction of Roncesvalles. City and TTC planners are meeting right now to discuss their plans for new sidewalk bumpouts along our street. The results of these discussions could have a big impact on available parking, sidewalk space, traffic flow and other aspects of the public realm. The BIA and Roncesvalles Renewed expect to meet with City staff later this month to discuss the plans.

Roncesvalles businesses are invited to get informed about these changes, and make their priorities known to the BIA and the City. Should sidewalk space be expanded, even if it means a loss of on-street parking? How would the City’s shifts in priorities affect your business? What could the City or TTC do to bring customers to Roncesvalles without a car? Should the TTC introduce a surface transfer that would allow TTC riders to stop, shop and continue without having to pay two fares? What is most important to you? Leave a comment, or email us, and let us know!

Further reading:

Transportation Services report Steps Toward a Walkable City (PDF)

Roncesvalles Village BIA Two (or Three) Proposals for Roncesvalles

City of Toronto Pedestrian Charter

Toronto Star Editorial: People Friendly Streets

David Gurin: Walking into the urban future

City of Toronto climate change action plan Change is in the Air (PDF)

One thought on “Putting Pedestrians First

  1. Fin

    If they’re going to take away some of the auto parking on Roncesvalles, I think the

    best way to compensate is better service on the Queen and King streetcars. I can’t

    count the number of times I’ve seen large groups building up as people wait for

    over 20 minutes. Streetcars must consistently on schedule and more frequent service

    must be added.

    The TTC can carry a lot more shoppers into our neighbourhood than cars, but we

    need to be able to count on it.

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