Drivers Not Wanted

Perhaps some of the signage and cues had been updated along the new Queens Quay before I finally made it down there on Saturday, queensquayafter Ed Keenan wrote his first article on the street last week. As I rode and strode along the strip east from Bathurst to Sherbourne and back, there was little of the ‘potentially lethal’ chaos Keenan had witnessed there. One wide left turn and some willful pushiness on the part of three cars intent on making that light were pretty much it for me. Outside of that, perhaps not serenity now, but a pretty pleasant run, all in all.

That said, I still think Ed Keenan is wildly off-the-mark on his assessment of the street, and the need to mollify and coddle car drivers. “This is a new kind of street,” Keenan writes. “It takes intuitive signals about how streets work, patterns people have spent a lifetime learning, and up-ends them. That can be a good thing, but there have to be some instructions.”queensquay3

If Queens Quay is a ‘new kind of street’ here in Toronto, don’t you simply undercut that attempted innovation by catering to old ways of going about our business? The old way being about putting cars atop our transportation hierarchy. The whole point of the new Queens Quay is not to put drivers at ease with their traditional ways of driving.

This is the problem the city faces currently. Designing and building roads with the emphasis on car drivers not driving like they should. The result is wider than necessary streets and avenues, to safely accommodate drivers not obeying speed limits. Streets unfriendly to most other non-vehicular traffic.

I think the new Queens Quay should be disorienting to drivers, unwelcoming even. Aside from living down along that run of the waterfront, why on earth would you want to drive there? It’s the lake, folks, with the kind of public access we’ve been clamoring decades for. Now we should be concerned for those who want to cruise the strip in their cars?queensquay1

If you’re going to insist on doing that, you do it by the new rules. Slow the fuck down. Figure out what the fuck you’re doing. Fall the fuck in line behind the other modes of transport operating there. Streetcars, bicycles and pedestrians. Consider yourself an unwelcome but obligatory guest, like an obnoxious uncle, invited to a wedding purely out of family protocol.

Keenan’s not wrong in pointing out that a distracted, disoriented (and frustrated) driver is a dangerous one. Rather than hold their hands, though, and calm them with soothing, familiar signs, arrows and blinking lights, I’d prefer more of a New York Mayor de Blasio approach. Fall in line. Drive carefully. Suffer real consequences for not doing so. Vision Zero.

Driving along Queens Quay should be a nightmare. It shouldn’t be easy. It shouldn’t be intuitive in the traditional way of, as a matter of fact, I do own the road.

Frankly, in this writer’s opinion, there’s still too much of the space given over to car traffic especially as you head east past Yonge Street. Bikes and pedestrians vie for increasingly smaller amounts of the road while 4 lanes remain for cars, much of it underused on this particular Saturday at least. queensquay2Hopefully with more development in the area, that ratio will be readjusted in favour of non-car traffic.

If the new Queens Quay is truly about upending “lifelong habits and assumptions about Toronto streets”, let’s start with the biggest assumption and habit of all. Car drivers gonna car drive, and everyone else needs to adjust their behaviour and attitude accordingly because, well, car drivers couldn’t possibly change theirs.

stridently submitted by Cityslikr

6 thoughts on “Drivers Not Wanted

  1. I was down there on Saturday, too. I don’t think any of the lanes of traffic are working well.

    1. The streetcar moved at a crawl even though there was nothing in front of it and no apparent bunching.
    2. I was almost hit by a bike as soon as I got off.

    My sister in law who spends a lot of time down there says she sees pedestrians almost getting hit by bikes, streetcars and cars often. She wondered if the streetcar drivers have been told to slow down for this reason.

    Sidewalks should always be separated by a curb so pedestrians know they are entering someone else’s lane be it the street, a bike lane or a street car right of way.

    • Sounds like pedestrians need to learn how to use mixed use space. It is an ongoing problem with all the busy trails throughout the city. This is only new to places like Toronto it is the way to go in urban centres.

      • I was trying to make the point that this “new kind of street” isn’t intuitive for pedestrians either, it doesn’t “put pedestrians at ease with their traditional ways” of walking. Tourists, small children and dogs will have to learn very quickly.

      • “the new Queens Quay should be disorienting to (everyone), unwelcoming even.” ?

  2. The streetcar right-of-way should have had either grass or paving stones that allows the grass to grow in holes. Like they have in the northern cities of Europe.

    Why doesn’t the left turn signals use red arrows?

    Why doesn’t the transit signals use their own unique signals? Again like they have in Europe.

    Why doesn’t the bicycle signals use bicycle signals, like the have in the United States and in Europe?

    Why have English language verbage signs with the traffic signals? They don’t use verbage signs in the United States and in Europe.

    The Ontario government, under whose regulations they exist, fails miserably with not using pictogram or picture signs.

    And why can’t Toronto use the intelligent pedestrian signals, where the person does NOT have to press a button to activate the signals. In Europe, the signals sense whether not a person will be crossing and how long the person takes. They also can extend the signal for slow moving pedestrians.

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