As a disabled person, navigating Toronto is stressful and dangerous -- not just because of potholes and construction-brutalized sidewalks, but because of transit. And people. Especially people operating or riding transit. This is largely due to the absence of inclusion of pedestrians in the Ministry of Transportation's Accessibility Permit Program, currently only issued for drivers/passengers of cars, which leaves the rest of us vulnerable to harassment and injury.
Balancing on a self-propelled, two-wheeled mechanism is not everyone's cup of tea. Those who do it, though, agree that it's one of the most exciting experiences. Cycling is an activity that has significant social, economical and health benefits. And with all the new technologies available, it's only getting better.
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.
Transit agencies are able to operate at a loss during low-demand periods because they operate transit at a profit during peak periods. Regulators allow transit monopolies in exchange for the guaranteed service on low-ridership routes, which for-profit transport providers like UberHop are unlikely to consider.
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.
Sadly, in my experience, purposely ignoring pregnant women while riding public transit has become the norm, not the exception. What has happened to humanity? The lack of focus on others, supported by the technological tools to "zone out" or feign ignorance wherever and whenever possible makes this willful blindness not only possible but probable as well.
Cities and states around the world are engaged in hand-to-hand combat with mobile tech upstart Uber, a company that is rapidly disrupting the traditional taxi business everywhere. Viewed from an impartial distance, it is pretty clear that, whatever it is, Uber is providing a service traditionally provided by taxis. Complicating matters is that many cities have a chaotic and nonsensical approach to regulating public taxis. Before trying to make sense of where Uber fits into the chaos of its taxi ecosystem, cities such as Toronto would be smart to consider why it regulates the industry in the first place.
If Toronto and Canada really want to compete in the new global economy we need to innovate; sticking our head in the sand or relying on outdated statutes doesn't cut it. If there are legitimate concerns about specific facets of these new business models, then legislators need to meet with the firms and address them. It's time to get on with it.
American and Canadian transit opponents paint themselves as populist supporters of the common people, a tactic also used against carbon pricing. They fail to note that poor and middle class families will benefit most from public transit and other sustainable transportation options. To reduce pollution and address global warming, we must do everything we can, from conserving energy to shifting to cleaner energy sources. Improving transportation and transit infrastructure is one of the easiest ways to do so while providing more options for people to get around.
Changing the way we move through cities is a critical step in reducing carbon emissions. The most direct way to accomplish this is to provide urbanites with reliable alternatives to automobile travel. A two-car household that replaces one vehicle with alternative transportation can cut its annual emissions by 10 per cent.
The results of the recent municipal election have produced a strong mandate for renewed investment in transit and transportation. In an era of fiscal constraint, how does the Ontario government get the biggest bang for its buck out of this fund? The answer is right under its nose: trust in the made-in-Ontario Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) model. The government uses the AFP model as a means to leverage capital and expertise from the private sector to design, build, finance, and maintain major infrastructure projects. In doing so, the model transfers the risk of project cost increases and scheduling delays on to the private sector.
High quality public transit costs money. Someone needs to pay for it. At the moment, riders are paying a large portion of those costs. The City shouldn't change that. Someone working on Bay Street and living in King West probably doesn't need a free ride. But maybe someone at Jane and Finch needs a break on fares. A surgical approach is preferable to a blunt instrument.
I live in the city of Toronto with three young children. I am a driver and I am a pedestrian. But I am a pedestrian first. Unfortunately, many of the drivers in this city do not share my love of pedestrianism. They do not, in fact, seem to care about the safety and well-being of my children at all. So I put together a few simple rules to help them avoid running over kids with their cars.
There's growing recognition that prioritizing transit is crucial to moving a region forward. Transit-oriented cities have better air quality with lower greenhouse gas emissions and benefit from reduced traffic congestion with shorter commuting times. Evidence even shows people in cities with a range of transportation options, like Vancouver, are less sedentary, get more exercise and are happier and healthier as a result.
In railing against everything from bike lanes to transit spending, pundits and politicians often raise the spectre of a "war on cars." Of course, there is no war on cars -- but there should be. Combatting pollution and climate change, reduced dependency on private automobiles will lead to healthier people, fewer deaths and injuries and livable cities with happier citizens. And that's worth fighting for!
One innovative plan that has been considered for about a decade, but has never been funded, is a system commonly used in Europe called "headway operations." This means buses depart at regular intervals keeping the headway (time between buses) even and avoiding bunching, instead of trying vainly to stay on a fixed schedule in widely varying conditions. This is how most rapid transit systems including SkyTrain operate.