Category Archives: Toronto

Don’t private the Eglinton crosstown

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Politics, transit, and graphs. I love everything about this ad. And it’s right, too. These public private partnerships have been terrible for Ontario.
Tomorrow is election day, so get out and vote!

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Aesthetic Law

This post inspired by me travelling, and trying to take photographs without radio towers or utility wires ruining the shot.

In Toronto, the view of the provincial parliament building, Queen’s Park, from the south on University Avenue, is meant to be protected.   Sadly, a proposal to build condominiums to the north was approved.

Toronto already suffers from a lack of great buildings, and subpar aesthetic appeal.  We’ve been tearing down historic buildings, rather than preserve them, to make room for condos and office buildings, which could be integrated into those older buildings.  This was like the nail in the coffin.  We really do not care enough about the little history we have.

The best example of preservation I know of is in Paris, where the need for office development wasn’t ignored, but placed outside the historic city centre.  Wikipedia tells me that the same is true for Canary Wharf in London.   I also like the name, which sounds like they’ve defended their culture and history without sacrificing commercial growth.

Ugh, it was even worse to read that part of the reason the Ontario Liberals did nothing was because of Rob Ford’s then popularity and their own upcoming election.  Can’t people take the politics out of government now and then?

Bumper to Bumper

What needs to happen to get more funding to GO Transit?  It really ought to be expanded.  This is what I was thinking about today:

1. Go Transit needs the least subsidies per ride in North America.  It’s a great investment in infrastructure and you get a good bang for your taxpayer buck. (Source: Wikipedia for the comparison, GO Transit (Background section) for the claim that it’s consistent)

2. The new GO trains hold over 1900* people each (new engines can pull 12 passenger coaches rather than 10).  How many cars is that?  Let’s do some math, and choose values that hurt my argument.  A 10-coach train could hold about 1580 people.  Metrolinx reports that “Currently the average vehicle travelling on the GTHA’s roads and highways during the morning rush hour carries less than 1.2 people” so let’s use 1.25, because the info seems like it’s from 2008.  1580/1.25 equals 1264 cars that could be taken off the road with a single GO train.  So I wondered how much space that would take on the highway.  1264 cars/3 per “row” is just over 420 rows of cars.  And I’ll estimate the length of a car to be 4 metres, which means that all those cars would fill the DVP one way from Bloor to Dundas, bumper to bumper.

*Edit (10/24/16:00) A reader noted that this is the seating capacity; I didn’t read carefully.  I can’t find an accurate figure for standing passenger capacity. Maybe an extra 40-50%?  Well, all the more reason to add trains.

I’m not even going to get into the environmental aspect (like CO2 emissions), the economical aspect (like productivity/man-hours lost in traffic), or how awesome it would be if they re-opened North Toronto Station (at Summerhill) so you could get from Kipling to Old Cummer or Agincourt in less time than it would be to drive.

How can I put this idea forward to the right people?

Recycling: doing it wrong

I realized that I still wasn’t up to date on what can and can’t be recycled in Toronto.

I thought it couldn’t, but it can be recycled:

  • styrofoam meat trays
  • disposable/one-use aluminum pie plates
  • shaving cream cans, but not their lids
  • the “window” parts of envelopes, and I had been separating them all this time!
I thought it could be recycled, but it can’t:
  • clear plastic containers for berries
  • clear plastic egg cartons
  • plastic cutlery
  • lids for mason jars
  • pizza boxes can, but you have to remove the parts that are stained with grease

Ride for Jarvis

I attended the Ride for Jarvis this week, organized by the Toronto Bike Union.  I enjoyed taking part, and I believe the cause is worthy.  We cyclists are not even asking for more, we’re just asking not to lose what we have.  We don’t want Toronto to be taking steps backwards.

We should be getting more, but that isn’t even the point right now.  Claiming we need more space for cars, the bike lanes are being removed in favour of returning the reversible lane.  However, studies have shown that adding more roads or more lanes just means more cars fill that space (npr.org article which references a UToronto study).  Bike lanes might affect traffic, but you know what contributes even more to gridlock?  More cars.

The counterargument is that when the two cars at an intersection want to turn left and right, nobody can get through.  The fifth lane helped the busier direction by ensuring always at least one lane would flow.  Possible remedies: restrict left turns, or even right turns.  It would be nice if Toronto had more one-way streets, because then that happens automatically.  Anyway, the only reason this is even an issue is because Jarvis used to have that feature.  Driving on Yonge, or Queen, or College, you can often find the same problem.  Yes, it’s a nuisance, but that’s what driving downtown is like.

And for those who say Jarvis is “intended to” be a quick route downtown for those midtowners, via Mt. Pleasant, I say that the bigger traffic problems are on Mt. Pleasant itself.  The northbound afternoon rush is backed up from St. Clair all the way down to Roxborough (approx 1.7 km, with only one traffic light in that span).

I say “intended to” with quotation marks, because not only is that a debatable issue, but it seems ridiculous that roads are created for one specific purpose.  Shouldn’t they be multipurpose?  Connecting people and places, being an avenue for cars, streetcars, bikes and buses, being part of a neighbourhood or community or facilitating commerce, or just plain being beautiful (rather than barren).

This is an issue of fairness (we just want to share the road), and safety (bike lanes make streets safer for cyclists).  It just seems ridiculous to rescind what’s already been provided, at large cost in a year when the mayor is projecting a large shortfall (which is being used as a political tactic to push through right-wind ideology)

I wonder if it would be effective to organize similar events for lanes on Birchmount and Pharmacy.

More links:

Cycling as a women’s issue – Torontoist article

Toronto Bike Union – they organized the event

Cricket and Baseball

I love Toronto.  Only in a city this diverse would I find out that India won the world cricket championship, without the media.  It was even my first guess when I stepped out of the subway and saw about 25 people cheering and waving Indian flags.

Last night I went to the Jays home opener.  I’d never been to a sellout game (or anything even close) and the crowd fever was contagious.  I was excited enough anyway.  Congrats to Robbie Alomar and Pat Gillick for their inductions into the Hall of Fame.  Now I wonder if they’ll retire Alomar’s #12.  Toronto teams don’t seem to like retiring numbers, but I like the gesture to players who contribute so much to the local sports scene.

G8/G20 Summits

Other than the people renting their downtown condos at lucrative prices (that work out to $50/HOUR and up), I don’t know of anyone who’s happy about the G20 being hosted in Toronto. The inconvenience of the security, plus the social outrage at the nearly $1B cost of it all (the media have reminded us that the economy is still struggling its way up) – it’s just fuel to the fire of protest.

But I think given the circumstances, spending truckloads of money on security is money well spent. As bad as it is, I’m sure everyone would agree that the absolute worst thing that could happen would be a serious security breach.  And even one problem would be embarrassing for Canada. (side note: I’m very curious as to what that would mean for our various levels of government, and even how the public would react, etc)
No, spending $1 billion is fine, given the circumstances.

But the circumstances should be different. For one, it’s all nice and well that they chose Toronto to host the G20, but they could have been a lot smarter than choosing the downtown core. I won’t be the first to suggest here that Exhibition Place would have been a lot easier to fence off, not to mention at significantly less disruption (fewer major streets closed) and less cost (fewer checkpoints).
And weren’t they just going to host both summits in Huntsville anyway?
And are the world leaders really going to go out and enjoy the city?  No, they’ll be shepherded from hotels to meetings and barely see the light of day.
So because of the government’s tremendous lack of foresight that led them to choose the convention centre, spending $1 billion on security is (sadly) a good move. Now if only two wrongs made a right…

Subway Pigeon

So a pigeon rode the subway. Big deal, I heard about that at least a month ago, along with the YouTube video. It must have been a slow news day for it to have made the front page of the Star’s GTA section.

Two thoughts from this:
1: Are you kidding me? Who cares? And somehow people are saying, “Damn, that’s one smart pigeon.” Even if the same pigeon came back to the subway, it’s more likely that the pigeon deemed it a safe place with food scraps than it thought, “Hmm, it’s an easier way to get to High Park, peck peck peck”
2: Do newspapers save stories like this for slow news days? I mean, reallllly slow news days.

Link: Pigeon gets off at Runnymede station
Link: A year-old video of another TTC pigeon

Downtown Relief Line (part 5)

Final thoughts:
-King is a better choice for a subway, from Shaw to the Don River
-Greenwood is a decent choice for an east-end transfer, and might help connect to the Greenwood Yard
-The rail corridor is a cost-effective option in the west end
-Dundas West station is a natural transfer point in the west
-Use a curved route and keep the number of stations down to make the route efficient and cost-effective
-A couple of my east end stations (see Part 3) would probably not be cost-effective, so I removed them
-The first stages would be to build south of Bloor/Danforth, on the east side and then the west
-Building northward to Eglinton would not be as beneficial until the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is built
-In the east, the line could continue to Don Mills, possibly as light rail
-In the west, the line could follow Weston Road, at least until Lawrence
-Hopefully this would take a lot of pressure off the Yonge, Bloor, and Danforth lines

Map! (click for large version)
city map with subway lines plus DRL

Stations, from northwest:
Mount Dennis
Earlscourt
Dundas West
Parkdale (Queen/Dufferin)
Shaw (at King)
Niagara (King at Bathurst)
Spadina South (at King)
St. Andrew
King
Jarvis
Parliament
Athletes Village (around Eastern at St. Lawrence)
Queen East (at Broadview)
Gerrard (at Jones)
Greenwood
Cosburn (at Donlands)
Thorncliffe Park (or “East York Centre”)
Flemingdon Park (Don Mills at Eglinton)

Downtown Relief Line (part 4)

This Thought will look at the West end of a potential Downtown Relief Line.

But first: I was thinking about the Greenwood plan from part 3, and while I still support the benefits of a transfer at Greenwood, my idea for a stop at Greenwood and Cosburn was shaken a little when I biked past that intersection and found it to be amongst a scattering of bungalows, with nowhere near what is necessary to support a station. A potential solution to this: from Greenwood/Danforth, continue southwest like my original idea. But the line would then curve northwest, maybe to Donlands and Cosburn, which is a busier area and closer to apartments on Cosburn, and still fairly central in the East York area. The subway line could go underneath Greenwood station, and curving northwest might actually help connect it to the Greenwood subway yard (which is west of Greenwood Ave… remember that Greenwood station is actually a block east of there).

Okay, the west end! We left off at Niagara Station (King at Bathurst). Like I mentioned earlier, King is better than Queen, because it passes through high-density neighbourhoods. West of Bathurst, then, I would place a stop at Shaw St (2nd exit: Crawford St), to get the middle of a cluster of buildings, and also to connect to the Ossington bus.

West of there, there is some debate over the best choice. If it is possible to continue along the rail corridor, then it would save a lot of money to do so, and not serve much less than if the line had stops at King and Dufferin, and King and Jameson.
The rail corridor plan is better not just because it would be cheaper to build, but having fewer stops would be more economically efficient, and also provide a faster trip.
Continuing along King would better serve the area (after stops at Dufferin and Jameson, others might be at Roncesvalles and King, and Roncesvalles and Howard Park) but would be slower and more expensive.

I would advocate the rail corridor if possible. After stopping at Queen and Dufferin, there might be a possibility for one more stop before Dundas West Station. The rail corridor is a good continuation north of Bloor. Stops at St. Clair and Eglinton are obvious for their east-west connections, even if they don’t have supporting density. To fill in the holes (if worthwhile), Dupont/Annette would be a good midpoint between Bloor and St. Clair, and Rogers Road between St. Clair and Eglinton. Both these streets have bus connections.

It is probably less worthwhile to have these extra stops than it would be in the Thorncliffe and Flemingdon neighbourhoods, because a bus connection seems less important than providing excellent transit service to high-density areas. They haven’t even built stations between major avenues on Yonge Street, so how could an Annette or Rogers station be justified?

Stations in the west end, continuing from the east:
Shaw (at King)
Parkdale (Queen/Dufferin)
Dundas West
Earlscourt (St. Clair)
Mount Dennis (Eglinton)