Monday, September 19, 2005

Amateur urban planning

This morning I rode through Toronto's newest example of modern urban intensification. It was jammed with cars. I'm talking about Yonge and Sheppard, where new condo towers have been growing like tulips in April (or like dandelions in June?). The location is great for people taking the subway downtown since the station is about a 5 minute walk away. It's also deceivingly close to the 401.

I'm sure it's to the dismay of many who just bought condos there that the roads are often backed up between their parking lots and the 401 ramps. I don't live there but the traffic back-up has gotten in the way of my car-commute. Driving home, simply traversing the off-ramp of the highway can take 20 minutes.

So today, as I arrived at the base of the condo towers and found myself in the middle of perfect gridlock, I hopped off my bike, walked it on the sidewalk past the jam, and continued on my merry way.

I like all the new growth in this area. My concern is that the benefits from all this intensification are not going to be fully realized unless companies begin to relocate in the city. There are all kinds of studies on this problem of businesses locating in the suburbs, and the most common explanation seems to be Toronto taxes and real estate costs. I'd say that impractical development of the suburbs should take some of the blame also.

As much as people may be annoyed with the traffic jams, I've seen them enjoying other aspects of the area. Every evening when I ride past, the park is filled with kids and parents playing on the swings and people out for walks. It looks idyllic, and probably not too far off from how I imagine the architectural drawings of the buildings must have looked, usually showing more pedestrians and children playing than is realistic.

I'm sure the same traffic jam will be there tomorrow morning and people will be getting angry with each other as they jockey their way through the four-way stop. I wonder if they realize how perfect their neighbourhood is for riding a bike.

Darren J 9/19/2005 02:18:00 PM

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