In the name of beautifying streets and the desire to create urban promenades, we often end up with poorly planned arterials that subject pedestrians and others to unnecessary safety risks. Look no further than the Front Street at Union Station in Toronto, where every morning a flood of commuters inundates the neighbouring streets.
On the morning of Oct. 28, 2015, 12 pedestrians were struck by cars in the City of Toronto. While some would say it's the result of a wet, grey day, this statistic follows an average of six pedestrians being hit each day, a stunningly high number set to increase as density intensifies and our population ages.
It's a sad day for Toronto as a family will hold funeral for a seven-year-old girl. She was hit by a van near her home. Her death is an unimaginable loss to her family and the community. This loss of life should compel us to think about making our streets safer for all, but especially for pedestrians and bicyclists, who are more vulnerable than others are. The tragedy is raising questions about the harmful impacts of increased traffic on residential streets.
Close Robson Street first, then ask the public what they think afterward. That's what was announced this week in Vancouver. City voters by now are used to the "act first, consult later" antics of the Vision government. Make no mistake — the permanent closure of Robson Square is a done deal. Since the 2010 Olympics I've spoken to many people who object to the permanent closure of Robson Street. One realtor pointed out to me that on one side of the square you can sell haute couture; on the other side you can sell pizza by the slice. Blocking the street has done little to improve the appeal of Robson Street between Howe Street and BC Place. Keeping the street open in their view is important to its success. It helped moderate my own view on closing off 800-block Robson.
In large part, a city's reputation rests on its central core, with a decayed and hollowed out inner-city tarnishing a community's reputation (even if it may have clean and affluent suburbs) and a healthy city core being a source of civic pride that encourages tourism and new migrants to move to the city.
In some European cities, planners are finding that making life more difficult for drivers while providing incentives for people to take transit, walk, or cycle creates numerous benefits, from reducing pollution and smog-related health problems to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and making cities safer and friendlier.