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Red streetcar tracks

A few months ago when I wrote about “Toronto’s great streets” I mentioned that Queens Quay West – while magnificent – has had its share of issues. Cyclists and pedestrians often find themselves battling for space. And drivers are consistently driving in the wrong places.

Part of the problem, I think, is that the turning radii (among other things) are a bit atypical and unusual compared to the rest of the city. And so if you’re at all in mental autopilot, it can be fairly easy to make a wrong turn. You really have to be paying attention.

Below is a screenshot from Google Street View showing the foot of Lower Spadina, looking east on Queens Quay West. If you’re making a left turn from the former onto the latter, you need to end up on the left (north) of the streetcar tracks (even though the tracks themselves might be directing you elsewhere).

There’s lots of signage telling you not to drive onto the tracks, but that hasn’t really been working. So the tracks were recently painted in bright red. You can see what that looks like here. Some people are still getting mixed up, but it’s certainly more noticeable.

What I am wondering today is whether all of this signage and paint should be considered a symptom of poor design. In other words: Should good design require few instructions? Or, is this simply a normal part of iterative city building?

What do you think?

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