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April 21, 2010


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Why do they have to take away from cars at all on University? Looking at it from street view in Google Maps, the entire length has tons of green space and other non-transit uses that could be converted.


I see professionalism isn't necessary to be automobile journalist.

Your entire column is vitriol. You didn't bother to look up any numbers yourself. In my part of town, west of Spadina up to 20% of all residents bike to work. 29% of all Torontonians cycle for utilitarian purposes - to go to work, shopping, visiting, school and so on.

12 million cars? What nonsense. There are only 2+ million citizens in Toronto. About 640,000 commute as car drivers; 400,000 take public transit; 80,000 walked; and 20,000 biked. (http://www.toronto.ca/cycling/reports/statistics/statistics-tables.htm#mode).

Maybe I shouldn't even mention the cars are "public transit" quote, but I should at least point out that you've decide to make the whole idea of public transit meaningless. But if we did follow you down that rabbit hole we could conclude that since the roads are public, and considering how much money we waste expanding roads to fit the one-person-one-car model, that cars-as-public-transit have to be the most colossal, wasteful public program out there. And since we charge a "toll" for people to get on the TTC and GO, it would only stand to reason that all car drivers should be paying a toll to get on any public road. It's only fair.

If you're going to spill verbal vomit, why should people choose to read your columns instead of any old blog? The only difference is that you're getting paid, but you don't bother to put any journalistic effort into it. At least I do some research for my blog.

Kevin Love

Toronto's population is 2 1/2 million. Somehow I don't think they have 12 million cars. Who is the math challenged one here?

I see from The Star's own website that the commute mode share where the lanes are going is:

35% Cycling and walking
34% Transit
29% Motorists (drivers and passengers)


Looks like a fair share of the public space for car drivers would be less than one-third.

Kevin Love

James Schwartz

I'm trying to figure out if I should laugh or cry at your weak attempt at humour in this article. 12 million cars in Toronto? 1200 bicycles? Haha.

I see sidewalks that are underutilized every day. I only saw 10 pedestrians pass by my office in the last 10 minutes, but I saw at least 40 cars. Using your logic, we should rip out the sidewalks to make room for more automobiles. Isn't that a great idea Jim?

The fact is, driving is a privilege. Cycling and walking is a right. Having the option to bicycle or walk safely to your destination is a right that isn't available in Toronto.

Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers should all have their share of space on the roads. To deny any of them their share of the road is wrong.

University Ave. has excess capacity in the target area. The bottleneck on University is near Bloor street, not between Wellesley and Richmond.

By the way, University avenue will still have 8 lanes of traffic. 6 of those lanes are for automobiles. It's a win-win situation for everyone.

The people of Toronto deserve transportation options.

Dario "DjDATZ" Zgrablic

Yep, they've gone completely bonkers.

The "temporary" saying is so that people would accept it easier, but then when it's in place, they'll create some BS study that says it worked, and keep it there.

I find Toronto extremely funny actually. They try so hard to attract people by saying things along the lines of "it's the best place in the world to live" but then they make it so inhospitable by tacking on extra taxes, making you use those horrendous recycling bins, raising parking fines drastically, and making driving in the city, frankly, a pain in the ass.

Oh, and don't even get me started on driver education and this crap: http://www.thestar.com/news/investigations/article/793087--testing-drivers-on-roads-less-travelled


Minneapolis is colder and more spread out than Toronto, and they've got one of the best bike networks on the continent.

Chicago's climate and urban form is almost identical to Toronto, but it hasn't stopped them from putting us to shame with their rapidly expanding bike infrastructure.

Swedish cities have colder, darker, wetter winters than Toronto, yet have cyclists making upwards of 30% of commutes year round.

Seems this disease extends well beyond crazy old Toronto, city of 4 million people and 12 million cars.

If we give 10% of downtown streets to bikes, a bike:car ratio of 11% would make it a net benefit to the traffic situation, even for drivers. Not an unrealistic goal.

Wayne Scott

Oh Jim, are you ever going to understand all this. The publicly funded urban roads belong to all of us, not just the least responsible urban travellers among us. We non-motorist homeowner's pay municipal taxes, too. Why is it so hard to grasp this reality. You still have most of the road to operate unnecessarily big, powerful, noisy, dirty and dangerous vehicles on.

Luke Ventura

Montreal sure is a flat, tropical paradise.

It's just unfortunate that downtown Toronto is situated in the most northerly arctic section of the rocky mountain foothills. It's no wonder this city has 4 times more full-time cars than it does licensed drivers.

The solution to the gridlock problem is certainly to have more large single-occupant vehicles on our streets.

Mike T.

Jim, you're missing the point entirely and letting sheer numbers of current road users affect your opinion. We HAVE to encourage "alternate" (alternate to low-occupancy cars that is) methods of transportation. The current automobile is killing us slowly. What have our winters got to do with it? Places like Poland, Denmark and Portland WA (with their constant wetness) are inundated with bike commuters. Why? Because they have seen the light and they have decided to become bike friendly out of sheer necessity. My son works in Montreal and the Bici's are everywhere - even in Outremont on the north side of the mountain from downtown. I was there last fall and saw them. Yes they get taken off the streets for their winter.
Maybe bikes and their bike lanes HAVE to annoy motorists in the hope that dialog and change will result. Making fuel more expensive (which is your only solution) doesn't work does it? Non human powered vehicles, no matter WHAT their source of energy (except for solar) are killing the planet. I'm not bright enough to solve this issue but unless we do solve it we're doomed. Making fun of the situation isn't helping. Jim, use your position to help bring real change. And yes, I'm a hypocrite. I ride a bike just for fitness (I don't commute as I'm retired) and I drive a Corvette.

Kent Chims

I am one of the few Torontonians who live in this city without a car. You might be surprised to hear this, but there is a growing number of us, and I believe the current non-car owning population is about 11 (give or take).

Just yesterday, I attempted to walk my daily commute. Unfortunately, in my commute I had to traverse Mount University, the highest mountain peak in all of Canada. The absolute peak is only a few metres north of the intersection of University & Dundas.

Getting up is always difficult, but once you get to the peak, you can just put on your skis and gravity will take you the rest of the way. There is snow on the ground in this city for 11 months of the year, after all.

Last week, despite being warmer than average for mid-April, I had to dress in 7 layers and wear the extra-thick winter socks under my hiking boots. I got as far up as University at Queen Street, but the bilzzard was just too much. I had to call the search-and-rescue dog sled team to save me, and I missed 3 days of work.

I'm starting to get fed up with living in the hilliest, coldest city on earth. I am seriously considering moving to a warmer city such as Chicago or Montreal, or at least a flatter city such as Portland. Not only are their climates hospitable, their municipal governments can install bike lanes without being called insane. Imagine that.

Well, I have to go now and put my frost-bitten limbs back into the warm water like the doctors suggested. Thanks for the blog, Jim.


I drive to Warden station and take the subway daily to the office at Yonge/Bloor. Bikes are a good alternative to the car downtown. People who drive downtown are crazy to deal with the congestion and delays. They need to seriously expand the subway capacity (more subway stations being built and more trains to deal with the volume of people). We don't need LRT as that's a joke for public transit. Who needs streetcars? We need subways which is a real alternative to the car. If cutting down car lanes on University Ave. and other major roads downtown pushes people out of their cars due to frustration, I'm all for it. You don't need to drive downtown. It is well served by transit. The only ones who should be driving are taxis, police, fire, ambulance, tow trucks, cars transporting the ill/frail and delivery vehicles. The rest can TTC, bike or walk.


I live in Montreal and on the nicest day in the dedicated bike lanes, your lucky to see maybe 10 - 15 bikes maximum in a 10 minute span.

The funny thing about the bixi bikes is that no one rides them uphill!!! Only Montrealer's know this but the majority of people that use these bikes, live at the higher elevations near Mont Royal. In the morning, on nice, non raining days, usually commuters from the Plateau, they use Bixis to coast down the mountain to downtown, to avoid using public transit and pedaling.... Also, avoiding buses during the summer time, you can avoid certain smell and contact with other peoples bodily fluids and you aren't at the will of bus schedule.. In the afternoon, during the commute home, you'll witness this strange phenomenon of the morning bixi bike commuters taking buses back up the mountain! Do you know what happens to all the bixies at night? 5 - 10 pick ups with bike rack trailers, take about 20 minutes to clear the jammed pack bixi racks and put them on the trailer, of course these trucks idling during this activity. Then they haul them back up the mountain to repeat the cycle!!! It's the dirty little secret about the bixi bikes in Montreal.

I don't think Toronto can repeat the kind of "success" that Montreal has with its bixi bikes.

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