I try not to focus on local Toronto issues this much, but this morning an important initiative was announced and it’s blowing up my Twitter feed.
By spring 2017, the city hopes to have a pilot project in place that will transform King Street – running from Liberty Village in the west to the Distillery District in the east – into a priority-transit and pedestrian corridor.
This isn’t to say the street will be closed to cars. I would imagine that at least 1 lane would remain for cars going each way. Instead it will be redesigned to prioritize transit, pedestrians, and cyclists.
So why is this exciting?
The King streetcar is currently broken. If you’ve ever taken it across downtown during rush hour, you know exactly what I mean. It’s infuriating. You might as well be crawling on your hands and knees. One of the goals of this initiative will be to get it working again. Good.
The shoulders of downtown – along King West and King East – are seeing some of the greatest intensification in the region. So much that it’s common for people in this city to complain that Toronto misplanned it all by allowing this development before the transit was there. Well, this is a quick and inexpensive way to get the transit there. Remember that when the inevitable “war on car” rhetoric ratchets up over the next year.
The project will be deployed, first, as a pilot project. That will allow the project team to test and iterate. It has also become the way you get things approved in cities. You first make them temporary.
But I am certain that we will quickly discover how necessary these changes were.