The Calculus Of Crazy

So this morning TTC CEO Andy Byford lit the always short fuse of car-loving Ford Nation. uttermadnessIn an interview with Matt Galloway on Metro Morning, he floated the idea of closing King Street to car traffic during the morning rush hour. Reaction from the auto-huggers was swift and sadly predictable.

“Where are the cars supposed to go?” tweets radio talk show guy, Jerry Agar.



Nothing Mr. Byford suggested was new or novel or particularly bold. In fact, King Street has been a problem for the city’s transportation department for over 20 years now. I wrote about this very thing in February. Back in the early-90s, city staff tried banning cars along the route during peak times in the day, using overhead signs and markings on the road.

upyoursGuess what happened?

“… this “passive” system of deterrents didn’t work,” according to a staff report, “motorists did, and continue to, ignore it.”

Motorists ignored the rules of the road. Just said, fuck it. I need to turn left here, I’m turning left here.

There’s no war on the car going on. It’s the exact opposite. This is all about the over-weening sense of entitlement and primacy in the minds of those using their private vehicles as their sole source of getting around the city.

I attended a seminar last night given by Jarrett Walker, author of the book and blog site, Human Transit. He talked about ‘symbolic transit’ and symbolic decisions made about transit based on incomplete information.

For at least two generations now, the Car has been presented as a symbol of freedom. That which will get you wherever you want to go whenever you want to go there. There are car advertisements attesting to it. carcommercialSleek machines blowing down the open roads, never another car in sight.

I remember that happening with me behind the wheel once. Driving in Montana. When was the last time you experienced that commercial sensation making your way through Toronto or the GTA?

The fact is, the primary source of congestion on our streets now is the over-abundance of private vehicles, and the position where they sit at the top of our transit policy decision making. Streetcars aren’t the problem. Not even the St. Clair disaster. Not bike lanes. Not scrambled pedestrian intersections.

Cars, and our continued catering to those who drive them.

Of course, you can say this until you’re blue in the face, trot out studies to back up the case but those fixated with their cars will simply tighten their grip on the wheel and demand the removal of anything they perceive that impedes their forward motion. redqueen1The Deputy Mayor’s response to the TTC CEO’s thinking? Replace the King streetcars with buses. How would that be better? Who the fuck knows other than they can get out of the way of cars when they pull to the curb to pick up and drop off passengers.

But a car driver’s sense of their right to the road is boundless.

Who else demands a space to stop their car right in front of the place they’re stopping? I live on a street that neither buses nor streetcars run down. I have to walk to where they are. And then, when I arrive where I’m going, I have to exit at the nearest stop to my destination and walk to it.

Why do drivers expect preferential treatment?

And why do people look around and see congestion on King Street, or Bathurst Street or Dufferin Street, Bloor Street and Finch Avenue, all roads with different modes of public transit, snarled in traffic, and come away saying, get rid of the streetcars/buses/build us a subway? When the one common element is cars and the excess of them on our roads?


It’s car madness, frankly. A steadfast refusal to admit the obvious and be open to real solutions in alleviating the problem. Problem, what problem? I don’t have a problem.

The first step to dealing with it is to admit you have a problem.

Unfortunately, we still seem not to have hit bottom quite yet.

sanely submitted by Cityslikr

10 thoughts on “The Calculus Of Crazy

  1. So many stupid people, eh?

    TO Council needs to communicate better, get on the right level and be a tad less haughty.

  2. Listen. Your world is so black and white. Either cars only or no cars at all.
    Why can’t you realize cars have a time and place, and so does public transit?
    Why can’t we all just get along?
    Look, I agree with the notion that King St between Spadina and Bay should be off-limits to cars because frankly, you’d be an idiot to drive down there anyway. It’s so damn crammed. So cars don’t move much anyway.
    But…if you extend this logic to say “people who have cars are idiots” or “the love of the car is stupidity” or whatever, you are totally ignoring the myriad of reasons why people need cars for *certain* tasks. And you are also ignoring the fact that *smart* car use can allow for co-existence of the private vehicle and public transit.
    I.e. appropriate and necessary uses of a car: taking a friend/family member to a hospital because they aren’t in a condition to walk or take public transit
    I.e. smart use of a car: on the weekends and for out of town trips.
    I own a car and I walk and I use public transit. This seems to work for me, why won’t an appropriate mix like this work for you, cityslikr?

    • Dear torontopeter,

      Reading over the post, we here at All Fired Up in the Big Smoke are a little curious how you arrive at a cars only or no cars argument in it?

      Our assertion is we need to stop placing cars first in our transportation policy. Whether or not it’s in the widths of roads, parking policies or choosing the mode of transit to accommodate drivers. The funny thing about that is, if we did, it would make the necessary uses of a car easier.

      We never suggested people who have cars are idiots. Some do make idiotic statements in their defense of driving, however. Will replacing streetcars along King Street with buses really lessen congestion? The Deputy Mayor thinks so. He’s not an idiot because he owns a car. He’s an idiot because he has no idea how transit works but insists any expressing an ill-informed opinion about it.

      • We need a better city planning and less interference from those who imagine their opinions to be well-informed.

        Of course, a lot fewer stupid people too, eh?

      • Hi cityslikr,

        Ok so I think we are in agreement.

        1. Cars and public transit can indeed co-exist.
        2. Neither cars nor public transit considerations should trump the other; in most circumstances there is a solution that can accommodate both.
        3. The Deputy Mayor is indeed an idiot.

  3. it would seem instead of floating ideas around and around and around that just get sucked into the gas fumes the city should just go for it!
    If it don’t work change it back. Car owners will honk their horns in protest but eventually their batteries will die.

  4. In NYC, they proposed to close Broadway through Times Square to cars in an experiment. The outcry of impending disaster was deafening. They tried it anyway. It worked so well, and people realized traffic actually got better, so the city made it permanent immediately. That was about 5 years ago and they haven’t looked back. I say try it and see how it works. From Bathurst to Jarvis

  5. Pingback: Cycling in Toronto and the toxic effect of consistent anti-bike rhetoric | #TOpoli #BikeTO | Pressed by Sol Chrom

Leave a Reply