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A driver’s thoughts on Toronto’s parking ticket tizzy

What can be learned from true ‘world class’ cities?

The “Tory ticket blitz” lacks the creative elements that could have taken Toronto businesses and it’s suppliers closer to the level of “world class” status – a term we throw around liberally while not taking the lead from well-established world class cities.

As a driver who spent five days a week in New York City for more than 10 years, the differences are glaringly obvious.

NYC has engineered many options for commerce to be legal and have a place to exist. There has always been an understanding between shippers and receivers. In the case of restaurants, groceries, and other sun-up-to-sundown operations, that one employee would stay behind a couple of hours after closing or come in a couple of hours early to receive trucks during off- peak hours. After all, everyone wanted their product before the day started so it became only logical to set the stage before operations commenced.

Some smaller businesses use their own vans to pick up supplies at a hub outside of the city while office buildings would have overnight drop boxes for smaller parcels. Perhaps the mail room of a large office building can be reinvented for small parcel deliveries without the formalities of that personalized attention?

The result is that truck traffic is heading in the opposite direction of rush hour traffic – a transfer from the overused portion of available road to the underused portion.

More to it, traffic lights on major thoroughfares are synchronized. I can take Amsterdam Avenue from Lower Manhattan (Canal St.) to the George Washington bridge and get only six red lights.

It’s poetry in motion as bicycle couriers and skateboarders get around by tagging trucks and cars. It never seemed dangerous, but symbiotic as they appear to be very competent commuters.

Design initiatives are a key component to any big city’s woes. Any street in NYC as narrow as Yonge St. or Dundas (approx 60-ft wide ) is a one- way street. Wider streets in NYC like Amsterdam Ave., Bowery, or Canal St. (100-ft wide) are two-way.

One-way streets work to keep things fluid because they virtually eliminate the confounding left turn at intersections, free up some parking space, and make things safer for pedestrians. A less complicated intersection has its advantages. Working models to this advantage are apparent in streets like Adelaide and Richmond. Many engineers would disagree with me on this observation. They cite that one-way streets causes drivers to drive faster and that two-way streets are a good traffic calming measure to the point that we’ve been calmed to a crawl. The same engineers and city planners also agree that one-way streets move traffic more efficiently and at a higher capacity. Same old story: one side is for the motor vehicle, the other is for the neighbourhood and nothing gets done.

NYC has a “Don’t block the grid,” policy. If you fail to clear the painted grid of the intersection, the penalty is demerits and a fine. No excuses. The signs posted at intersections show an animated car character with angry headlights and its grille of shark-like teeth. It seems to function by raising the level of consciousness. It also helps that NYC officers are walking a beat and can simply walk up to you when the need arises.

Naturally, there’s some short-term pain for long-term gains to anchor themselves, but the solutions are anything but a mystery. The other option is to continue to shoe-horn ourselves onto streets that we outgrew a long time ago.

If the plan is for LRT, bicycles, cars, and pedestrians to share the narrow Eglinton Ave. thoroughfare, then maybe tall skinny double-decker trams would have to be engineered. The NYC model is not that costly.

I gave up on driving a transport truck in downtown Toronto unless it’s overnight. Not because I’m soft, but because I like my clean CVOR and I see the city as dysfunctional. My last daytime shift in downtown Toronto with a rig was about 12 years ago. I was making a right turn and stopped mid-turn to look at my blind spot – three teenage girls who were emotionally prattling on about something while walking, walked into the side of my trailer. No one was hurt, but I came to realize that despite all my best efforts, I can’t guard against that kind of reckless abandon.

St. Clair West is another place to avoid if you drive a truck. From a topographic image, it looks like abstract art. The remodeling has tightened up lanes, made them jagged and jogged from side to side to accommodate the new streetcar right-of-way.

Again, more shoe-horning. To defend yourself in a truck on this road requires that you take both lanes because if a car gets beside you, it’s extremely tight and the next jagged jog you take next to that car that snuggled up close, that so desperately wants to get by, is now out of your mirror. It will be your fault, not the road design’s.

The years of cranes in the air means development and condo living has also put demands on centralized living and shopping with little change in the logistics.

The solutions don’t rest exclusively on the transportation industry as parking options are scarce. While media cameras take liberties depicting the transportation industry as the problem, fostering more of the “blame game,” rarely is it expressed that trucks are the reason we enjoy the life we have due to the high-volume movement of goods into cities.

We should at least ask why it works in “world class cities” and in what capacity it could benefit Toronto? “All boats rise with the tide” and if one mode of transportation benefits, there will be a net benefit to other modes of travel.

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3 Comments » for A driver’s thoughts on Toronto’s parking ticket tizzy
  1. Lee says:

    Wow….!! What more can be said or added to that article. Great points, knowledgeable and well written. One could only hope those who make decisions in this city would actually read this…. However, even if they did, they likely wouldn’t react to any of it. And that’s the shame that got it where it is today.
    Once again, kudos for a good read and thank you.

  2. Well put and I totally agree with your view!

  3. Jon Bonsma says:

    I,ve driven coast to coast and in all the big cities. I have said for many years, put me in any city traffic, except Toronto. There is absolutely no respect for truck drivers there, and the trucker is automatically at fault for being there, until proven innocent. Total avoidance of inner city deliveries might change things…

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