For those of you thinking that this maybe a support statement for our Mayor, I’m sorry to disappoint you, it is not. It’s also not about to bash him and I’ll try to avoid political discourse as much as possible.
So here we go with the political statement first. As Toronto is in the middle of a budget crunch, usually local governments look to development to improve the bottom line. In the case of our City, what we have done in the past is to allow for an un-proportionate level of growth in the density of the City. It is only a matter of walking in the downtown core and see the amazing amount of condos going up. City Hall allows all this construction, but what puzzles me more, is that the infrastructure to support this amount of growth in the population living downtown is close to nil. You can clearly see that as there is no space to allow for new streets, new public transit, anything that permits such growth to occur. In short, Toronto is still run as the city it was 30 years ago.
In the past, I’ve posted about my dislike of the horrible streetcar of Toronto. While I’m not a fan of the system as a whole, I particularly dislike the actual streetcars that run on our streets, heavy, noisy. Waste of time and money if you ask me.
Another thing that I most dislike about the Toronto traffic is the ubiquitous left turn we have all learned to love. Yes, when you are driving, most of the time you can turn left at any intersection and on with your drive. What I’ve noticed lately is that, as the city grows and the streets remain the same, the amount of traffic (or transit as a teacher of mine pointed out) increments exponentially. New studies place Toronto as one of the worst for traffic in North America. There is simply no more space for wider streets regardless of the amount of people that live here. Yet what hasn’t changed is the left turn. At any point, you can just decide to turn left which allows you to turn immediately left, what a surprise. But in most cases, where even our main streets are only two lanes per direction, the left turn turns into a disaster, chaotic zone. No one behind can keep moving, as the driver is patiently waiting for all the cars coming from the opposite direction to pass.
Most people are not even aware of the rules about entering an intersection with the intention of turning left. So most of us just make up our own rules in order to avoid being trapped in the middle and yet, advance as fast as possible, which most of the time proves to be an impossible task.
UPS made a study a few years ago showing the amount of money (and we are talking millions and millions here) they would save by NOT turning left, regardless of local regulations. Not only does UPS save a lot of money, they also save time (which of course translates into money) and produce less traffic by only turning right.
I think it is time for Toronto, to either build wider streets, or simple not allow left turns just about anywhere. I don’t think we will build wider streets or intersections. We do a poor job building them as they already are.
So lets not turn left at all. I’m sure Mayor Ford will be happy about that.