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Less Cars on Yonge Street and King Street

Some interesting car-free ideas for you:

There’s been a few items in Toronto news lately about plans to not only narrow Yonge Street between Bloor & Front, but to change part of King West into a transit-oriented street temporarily next summer as a trial.

The Yonge Street idea has the street narrowing from 4 lanes to 3… providing wider sidewalks to encourage pedestrian traffic (which is in turn good for business).

Yonge Street south of Bloor is one of the most vibrant (if not THE most vibrant) streets in Toronto, yet it does not have any parking for this entire section… this is something that should be remembered by merchants on King Street.

The TTC wants to try out a plan on King West (probably somewhere between University and Spadina… so the Entertainment District) where the streetcar lanes become Right-of-Ways, and the sidewalks are widened into the curblanes on alternating blocks, with the other side of the streetcar tracks being where car traffic can go.

This is actually a TTC idea from 2001 (really good background info at that link) – one which James Bow of Transit Toronto calls “one of the most ingeneous suggestions the Toronto Transit Commission has made in a long time”.

The point of this is that more people use the King Streetcars than drive on King, yet the streetcars often move slower than pedestrians because of traffic congestion… making King Street for transit and pedestrians will encourage economic activity and help fight traffic congestion.

I really hope that both of these ideas come to fruition – I haven’t heard a lot of objection to the Yonge Street plan, but there is some (of course) to the King Street idea. The King Street one is really important, because if the TTC is successful in having a trial-run of this in the summer of 2008, Torontonians and King Street businesses will see that the world will NOT end if you plan for people and not for cars… that MORE people will spend time and MONEY on King Street, because it will be a more pleasant place to be.

I can only hope that it becomes permanent on King and other major shopping streets as well.

(King Street illustrations courtesy of Transit Toronto. You can click on them for larger versions.)

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