Does anyone who plans traffic flow management in the GTA take their job seriously?
I've been driving in various parts of this region at various times over the past few days - and it's insane.
It's mid-August. There are few teachers or students on the roads. Lots of people are still on holidays (technically, so am I!). The weather has largely been fine.
So it's only going to get worse - much worse - in just a couple of weeks.
How do commuters put up with this, twice a day, five days a week? No wonder drivers are so rude and inconsiderate - it's enough to turn Nelson Mandela into a screaming lunatic.
OK, the traffic volume around here is massive, part of the price we all pay for living in the Centre of the Known Universe.
On our major freeways, there's probably not much we can do, because freeways are so expensive to build, and take so long to build that by the time they're opened, they're already jammed.
I mean, on the 401 at rush 'hour' (which these days seems to last from 5:30 a.m. Monday right through to 8:45 p.m. Friday) you have places where there are eight lanes of traffic in each direction - and they're ALL stopped!
Maybe we could institute a program to get some of THESE people to trade houses with some of THOSE people - and they'd all already be home.
Every time I have used the subway and GO Train they've been pretty crowded, so people are taking advantage of what rapid transit we do have. Massive investments in improving that might therefore be part of the solution, assuming we had the money - which of course we don't.
And unless you're Dresden Germany, where Volkswagen actually brings parts to its downtown Phaeton factory by street car, how does rapid transit help commercial transportation, the lifeblood of our economy?
The only long-term solution appears to be for more people to do what I do - telecommute. So many workers these days leave a house which has a computer and a high-speed Internet connection, and drive an hour and a half to sit in an office behind a computer with a high-speed Internet connection.
Just ONE day a week spent at home, and our traffic is reduced by upwards of 20 percent.
Not gonna happen - but we should encourage it more.
However, there are some things we could do in urban areas which could have a major impact on at least that part of the traffic problem, at low cost and in short order.
I've gone on about roundabouts so often I'm sure you're all tired of it. Why can't we reach the only people who don't seem to get it - the people who DESIGN our road systems?
Greater throughput, less fuel wasted, fewer emissions, greater safety, lower operating costs - what's not to like?
If it works in Waterloo and Ancaster, why won’t it work here?
BTW, that roundabout I wrote about in the Ottawa suburb of Orléans a few weeks ago? Construction starts on Monday, it'll be finished by November, and it'll be cheap as dirt - or at least as cheap as moving a bit of dirt around.
I've only really seen 'flyovers' at major arterial roads in Munich Germany, but they do work a treat there. Munich, Stuttgart and Nice France, among others, have buried sections of major roads, again with great effect.
You really shouldn't get me started on the bike lanes again. I was out of town when the one on Jarvis Street was opened, and it is difficult for mortal (hu)man to comprehend the depth of idiocy this thing represents. A study by the city itself showed that in morning rush hour during that first week of operation, there were 27,000 cars, and 100 bicycles.
Really? Come on.
And it's summer! Is that ratio going to get better in November, December, January?
I got a (hands-free) call the other day from a friend of mine who also happens to be an avid cyclist. She was driving on Davenport Road which recently had a traffic lane replaced by a bike lane. The traffic was dead-stopped; she saw four bicycles.
Come ON! This is nuts!!
Another thing I noticed in my various drives around the GTA recently - isn't it about time we accepted the demonstrable fact that High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV or 'carpool') lanes simply don't work?
They're a great concept. But the incentive of an extra lane dedicated to car pools is quite obviously not enough to get people to share their rides. The only things I ever see in them are single-occupant cars who defy the law on the (apparently, very good) assumption that they'll never get caught. Is that fair to the rest of us?
Our traffic is so congested, at the cost of everyone's time, wasted fuel, extra emissions, business losses, and even public safety w/r/t fire engines, ambulances and other emergency vehicles, that we have to apply our admittedly scarce resources where they can do the most good to the greatest number.
As noted here, some of the solutions are as obvious as the nose on your face. OK, MY face.
However, we have a greater problem. Toronto Mayor David Miller and Prime Minister Stephen Harper may occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum, but they share one scary bit of philosophy - they both abhor fact- or evidence-based policy.
They both do whatever they want, regardless of what the numbers say.
We can't afford any more of this.
It'll take a while to get rid of Harper. Miller is gone this fall; we can only hope that whoever replaces him understands that a motorist's vote counts the same as a bicyclist's vote - and there's way more of the former.
Has any one of the mayoralty candidates made traffic an election issue? I wish they would. They'd win in a landslide - if anyone could actually get to the polls.