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“Livable Cities” suburban residential densities can fund Subway Construction


In this amateur Urban Designer’s opinion, higher density building standards along mass transit corridors in Toronto’s suburbs – that mirror Toronto’s Core densities, with a large number of 3 story walk-up apartment buildings on single or double lots, and zoning changes to permit ‘alleyway Grand Parent Flats’ over top of/instead of garages – can  produce the necessary tax revenue needed to fund a Subway network in Toronto like those of London, Moscow and Paris.


Once outside the Circle Line subway, most of these Moscow Subway routes are above ground, separated train lines. The Circle Line is key to the Moscow Subway network – it allows most to avoid the core of the city – instead you use the Circle Line to get to the appropriate spoke in the wheel – and then transfer. Toronto needs a Circle Line to direct LRT volumes that are coming. Just $50Billion – an investment we should undertake now.

When Rob Ford was elected Mayor of Toronto in October 2010 he immediately proposed stopping construction of 3 of 4 Light Rapid Transit (LRT) lines in favour of redirecting the Provincial funding for them to subway construction. Subway construction costs a lot more than street level separated rail – so the bang for the buck fell well short of what residents perceived was needed. The number of kilometres of subway Toronto was going to get under Mayor Ford’s plan – and his inability to get private funding to augment the Provincial 8.4 Billion dollars already in the funding package – paled in light of the public transit commute experience that many Torontonians face each day.

The need for new mass transit in key areas of the city where population numbers are mushrooming - North Etobicoke, North York and North Scarborough - is making public transit – and the highway type roads there – next to useless at rush hour (now 3 hours long, morning and night). Grid lock and the perception that the Mayor didn’t really have a plan, caused a political backlash for the Mayor’s Office on transit. The result was that the Mayor’s public transit plan was effectively killed in favour of the existing LRT plan in a vote at Toronto City Council on February 8, 2012.

People are giving up on public transit and switching to back to cars –  which is leading to more expressway grid lock in a city that already has the longest automobile commute times in North America – or citizens are just leaving the labour force, because their commute time and compensation didn’t jive with the erosion of their quality of life – 3 hour commutes combined with the ‘new normal’ 12 hour work day.

The solution so far, for cash strapped cities with-in the neo-liberal schema of extremely low corporate tax rates, has been to invest in low cost surface rail separated from automobile traffic by transit right of ways. This LRT solution is the last option standing, mainly because of the low population densities in a suburban development model that was built based on the car.

We now understand that the model is unsustainable and that higher density development, walking and cycling infrastructure improvement, and more public transit is the long term answer.

Zoning increases needed to make Sheppard subway a reality: Chong
A rendering supplied by the Tridel development group to city planners. It shows what the intersection of Victoria Park Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East might look like after it were redeveloped using density rights allocated from the subway station.
(Image and Text courtesy of Inside Toronto – from the article sighted)

When Rob Ford asked private developers to come up with a workable subway funding strategy based on private borrowing that was financed over time by increases in tax revenues that would arrive through increased development along proposed subway routes – the developers came back with a plan for high towers at major intersections all across suburbia.

See, Inside Toronto:
Zoning increases needed to make Sheppard subway a reality: Chong
– Highrises at major intersections required to get support of developers”

They like to build condo’s apparently, and I guess they thought if their banks were going to foot the bill for public infrastructure – at a moment in time when the Mayor was over a barrel – they figured they could ask for the moon – and get it.

Silly, greedy capitalists – by doing so they pretty much killed the privatization of Public Transit in Toronto (likely Mayor Ford’s neo-con, hidden agenda for all public inheritances).

In this amateur Urban Designer’s opinion a less neighbourhood invasive option would make this kind of Subway financing do-able. Higher density building standards along mass transit corridors  in Toronto’s suburbs (extending one bus stop width on either side of the corridor) – that mirror Toronto’s Core densities, with a large number of 3 story walk-up apartment buildings on single or double lots, and zoning changes to permit ‘alleyway Grand Parent Flats’ over top of/instead of garages – can  produce the necessary tax revenue needed to fund a world class subway network in Toronto.


See more on Subway Financing – Ford Style – at

“Subway Financing Falling Apart? (Update 3)” – June 4, 2011 –



Posted: February 17th, 2012
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Car Problems

Yeah, definitely a new camera.

See more xkcd –



Posted: February 17th, 2012
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Public Works and Infrastructure Committee – Re: John Street Corridor Improvements

A letter to Toronto City Council members.

Staff is recommending what the Mayor’s Office has likely told them to recommend.

Toronto City Council should stick with the long term plan for transportation and reduce grid lock through encouraging sustainable alternative forms though applicable infrastructure improvements – like cycle lanes, and better walking environments.

Please support the “Alternative B” recommendation by City Staff as presented in “John Street Corridor Improvements Environmental Assessment Study” – in keeping with the City of Toronto’s ‘Complete Streets’ Policy.



City of Toronto Public Works and Infrastructure Committee,

- and -



(Councillor Paula Fletcher is councillor in the ward where I live; find your councillor’s address -

Re: “John Street Corridor Improvements Environmental Assessment Study” – City of Toronto reference number: P:\2012\Cluster B\TRA\TIM\pw12002tim


City of Toronto Public Works and Infrastructure Committee,

Please support the “Alternative B” recommendation by City Staff as presented in “John Street Corridor Improvements Environmental Assessment Study” – in keeping with the City of Toronto’s ‘Complete Streets’ Policy.


The Alternatives in Redeveloping John Street

Alternative A: Narrow Lanes with a flexible boulevard

• 3.2 m wide travel lanes to maximize road narrowing and calm vehicular speeds;

• Cyclists move in tandem with vehicles;

• A continuous ‘flexible boulevard’ along the east side that maintains an expanded sidewalk while accommodating occasional deliveries & other programming;

• Narrow 3-lane section south of Wellington Street to accommodate turning movements; and

• Mountable curbs for flexible boulevards and to accommodate truck turns


Alternative B: Conventional Lane widths

• 4.2 m wide travel lanes to accommodate cyclists beside vehicles;

• Deliveries at curbside as currently permitted;

• Roadway width maintained and not widened north of Queen;

• Northbound right turn lane provided at Adelaide Street;

• Lay-by provided in front of Metro Hall; and

• Typical 3-lane section south of Wellington to accommodate turning movements.

(Via City of Toronto action document – reference number: P:\2012\Cluster B\TRA\TIM\pw12002tim - - page 10)


City of Toronto Sustainable Development Policy

City of Toronto’s sustainable development policy – also known as the “Complete Streets Policy” – is described at the City of Toronto website under “City Planning” which is linked to a page titled, “Transportation Planning“, which states, in part:

“Transportation Planning oversees policies and projects with the goal of improving transit, discouraging automobile dependence and encouraging alternative forms of transportation such as walking, cycling, subways and streetcars.

“Transportation Planning delivers a number of services including identifying strategic improvement opportunities, assessing transportation needs that focus on implementing the Official Plan, and developing leading-edge policies on major transportation initiatives in the City and the Greater Toronto Area. We research and analyze transportation and travel trends in the City and surrounding Regions and provide travel demand forecasting services city-wide. We work closely with the TTC, GO Transit and other transportation agencies in the many areas of mutual interest.”


And as well, directly from the City of Toronto Official Plan - (December 2010) in chapter two of which under the title “Shaping the City“, and in a section titled “Policies“ (page 2-26, 2-27 and 2-28) states:


(Item 1 and item 7 of 14 items)

1.  Travel demand management (TDM) measures will be introduced to reduce car depndancy and rush hour congestion by:

a) increasing the proportion of trips made by transit, walking and cycling;

b) increasing the average car occupancy rate;

c) reducing the demand for vehicular travel; and

d) shifting travel times from peak to off-peak periods.

7.  Policies, programs and infrastructure will be introduced to create a safe comfortable and bicycle friendly environment that encourages people of all ages to cycle for everyday transportation and enjoyment including:

a) an expanded bikeways network;

b) provision of bicycle parking facilities in new developments;

c) provision of adequate and secure bicycle parking at rapid transit stations;


d) measures to improve the safety of cyclists through the design and operation of streets and through education and promotion programs

(via (



In support of the Toronto Cyclists Union  ‘Action Alert’ of February 14, 2012

“In June 2011, the short-listed design concepts for John Street were released. Alternative A recommended 3.2m travel lanes where cyclists would ride in the centre of the lane in tandem with vehicles. Alternative B recommended 4.2m travel lanes which would provide an extra 1m of space to cyclists to ride beside vehicles. The extra space would also allow for sharrows or a different pavement pattern to delineate the space for cyclists. In June, the bike union expressed support for the project and Alternative B for these reasons. Now, city staff are recommending to the Public Works Committee that Alternative A be adopted instead.”

(no web address)



Michael Holloway
Resident Ward 30,
Jones Av. and Dundas St



Find your councillor’s email address via the ward map page; and inform them you want John Street redeveloped as a Complete Street:
City of Toronto: Ward Profiles -




Posted: February 15th, 2012
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Separated Cycling Infrastructure taking over Transportation Thinking in London UK election

Henry Warwick cycle courier - Image from the London Evening Standard

Henry Warwick Cycle Courier

One of the most experienced bicycle messengers in London UK, Henry Warwick, 61, died in a collision with a bus last Friday – in what witnesses are calling a classic example of the, “.. ‘half over take the cyclist, forget they are there and then swing left’ manoeuvre.” (‘swing right’ here in Canada). The driver has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving.
(See “Tributes paid after ‘brilliant’ cycle courier dies in crash with coach” -

The tragedy is playing into a City of London Mayoral race, which is already focused on cycle safety. Candidates are positioning themselves to be the one most concerned about making London streets safer for cycling. The Times of London has played a part in making the issue central in the campaign with their “Cities fit for Cycling” campaign.


Give cyclists a head-start at traffic lights

Rhoda Buchanan and Kaya Burgess
Last updated February 10 2012 12:01AM

Cyclists would have a five-second head-start on other traffic at dangerous junctions and all cycle lanes would be reviewed for safety if Ken Livingstone is re-elected as Mayor of London.
Mr Livingstone made his pledge as the Times campaign for safer cycling amassed a total of 25,000 written pledges of support, and more than 1,300 letters were written to MPs urging them to support the campaign and attend a parliamentary debate.

Greater Manchester Police also gave their backing to the campaign, joining a growing list of politicians, celebrities and businesses who support the call for “Cities fit for cycling”.
A debate in the House of Lords this week also suggested that ministers consider mimicking a new scheme in Paris that would allow cyclists in Britain to run through red lights if they are turning left at a T-junction.

.. read the rest… –


And from

London Mayoral candidates under pressure to make radical changes for safer cycling
Posted: 10 February 2012
Report: Eddie Allen
As momentum builds on road safety issues, yesterday the focus moved to London as the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) added its voice to recent demands for radical improvements to cycling infrastructure, with the launch of its ‘Love London, Go Dutch’ campaign, asking Londoners to petition mayoral candidates to deliver radically different, continental-style cycling infrastructure in the capital.

The LCC campaign has three main demands: Implementing three flagship ‘Go Dutch’ developments; making sure all planned developments on main roads that they control are redesigned to Go Dutch key principles and ensuring that the current Cycle Superhighway programme is completed to Go Dutch standards.

This is very much in line with British Cycling’s road safety strategy and it is clear that cycling will be a prominent issue in the London mayoral elections with Boris Johnson having invested in flagship projects including the cycle hire scheme and cycling super highways whilst Ken Livingstone, having pledged to improve conditions for London cyclists announcing yesterday that if he is elected cyclists would be given a five-second priority at busy junctions. the rest… -


This “Dutch Style” meme marks a sea-change in philosophy around cycling issues. A great divide has always existed between cycling advocates – one element advocating for rules and regulations that will enable cyclists and automobiles to coexist on the same infrastructure – and those who believe the two cannot mix, and that separated infrastructure is the only way to achieve that elusive ‘critical mass’ that will take cycling from being viewed as a children’s recreational form to a serious urban transportation alternative.

Of coarse, one candidate is on the one side and his interlocutor, on the other – we’ll see who wins – and if ‘Dutch Style’ infrastructure actually get built.

But the discussion embraced is a qualitative change.

Hallelujah! :)



Posted: February 11th, 2012
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MP Olivia Chow’s Town Hall on Cyclist Side Guards for trucks – February 22

Today I received the Toronto Cyclists Union’s Ring & Post newsletter, in it a notice about a Town Hall to talk about cyclist safety particularly as it relates to trucks and bikes.


Safe Trucks Town Hall

“Join us for an event with MP Olivia Chow and many other advocates for cycling safety on February 22nd from 7pm to 9pm. Testimonials by friends of loved ones who have died at the wheel of their bikes by collision with a truck will also be a part of the event. Lets implement this simple and effective tool for bike safety now, come out and discover how to make it happen!”


I don’t know if anyone noticed… in the image, the “guard” is inside the wheels!!! I’m no expert, but I thought the idea is to prevent the cyclist from ending up under those wheels. ;)

Sign up for the Toronto Cyclists Union’s “Ring and Post” newsletter –


Posted: February 10th, 2012
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