Simon Palmer’s blog

October 12, 2010

Toronto – WAKE UP!

Filed under: Uncategorized — simonpalmer @ 5:45 pm

Toronto is a city dominated and ruined in equal measure by cars.

Cars, and their insane drivers, prevent Toronto from being the world-class lakeside city it should by all rights be.  Instead it is a crucible of collisions with a cowering population stuck in the middle on an ugly traffic island.

Here are some thoughts for Torontonians:
1) The average stopping distance for a vehicle traveling 100kph is 80m.  You don’t need to leave 80m between vehicles traveling at 100kph, half that will do.  However, bear in mind that judgment and reaction time alone means you cannot stop within 40m from 100kph.  Nobody leaves 40m.  If you do, at least one car, and probably two, will pull into it.

2) If you travel at 120 while I am traveling at 110kph, and we both have roughly half an hour journey, you will arrive less than 3 minutes before me.  On the other hand the risk you introduce of an accident goes up as the square of the difference between our speed.  That means, if we both travel at 110, we both arrive at the same time and there is minimal risk.  Your extra 10kph buys you a couple of minutes – at the most – at the cost of dramatically increased risk.  In reality you’ll never recover those additional minutes, I’ll pass you again later as the traffic speeds vary during the journey, or we’ll both be held at the same light as we get off the highway 50m apart.  IT’S INSANE.

3) While you may accept the additional risk for 10kph, I do not.  Very few accidents at speed on a highway involve a single car.  You are making a choice for me.

4) More roads = more traffic, not less.  Countless studies prove the conclusions from the original British study about trunk roads (Google Trunk Roads SACTRA).  “An average road improvement, for which traffic growth due to all other factors is forecast correctly, will see an additional [i.e. induced] 10% of base traffic in the short term and 20% in the long term”.  The answer is public transport.  If Toronto is going to be a world class city and not drown under the weight of its own traffic as it is currently doing, you have to improve public transport.  Someone tell the new Mayor when he gets into office.

5) You will never have a usable lakefront until you get rid of the Gardiner Expressway.  It is an ugly monstrosity born out of an outdated and disproven philosophy which prevents Toronto from being a lakefront city.  Think Boston.  Think Big Dig.  Start now.

I want to shake Toronto by the shoulders.  WAKE UP!  Stop driving like morons.  Stop crashing into each other every day on your journey to work.  Stop killing thousands of people on the roads every year.  STOP DRIVING!  Press your public officials to build public transit.  Reclaim your wonderful, beautiful, majestic lakefront.  Be less Birmingham and more Sydney.  Less Shanghai, more Boston.

oh, and before I forget…

6) If you drive a Pontiac Grand Am or Grand Prix, please go to the nearest Police station, surrender your license to an officer and hold your hands out ready to be cuffed.  You are not in a sports car and you do not own the road.

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2 Comments »

  1. Wow.. have you thought of running for mayor? :)
    Very passionate.. makes me reconsider my 140kmh trips on the 407ETR!
    I think what’s going to happen is that GPS systems will be mandatory on every vehicle, and every section of a road will have sensors installed, which will tell your GPS what the speed limit is, then your car will restrict your speed to within a certain delta of the speed limit! No more speeding. Safe but maybe a bit boring – less risk though.

    Igor.

    Comment by Igor Abramovitch — October 12, 2010 @ 6:00 pm

  2. The GPS system may be it, but it won’t stop boneheaded lane changes and aggressive undertaking unless we have it drive the car for you. What’s needed is common sense, which is neither common nor a sense.

    Comment by simonpalmer — October 12, 2010 @ 8:35 pm


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