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Your Ride: Toronto

Glyn Bowerman is a Toronto-based journalist and theatre artist. He's a regular contributor to Spacing and writes about transportation issues in Metro every Tuesday.

Finding a fix for road rage in Toronto a long and winding road

When he was asked what he hates about Toronto during a radio-station debate this week, mayoral candidate John Tory said “traffic.”

I’m not sure whether the sound of horns blaring across the city just then came from listeners signaling agreement or whether it was just the normal howl of frustration. But it’s a fair guess many of us agree: we could change our civic motto to We Be Jammin’ and everyone would know what it meant.

If you’re not sitting in a traffic jam in this town, you’re usually walking beside one or waiting for someone who’s stuck in one.

Sadly, no mayoral candidate will bring help in time for this weekend. Most of the downtown core will be closed Sunday for a marathon, while the Yonge subway closure between Bloor and Eglinton will force more travellers into cars.

Most of the proposed solutions to road congestion from candidates are really long-term: building transit to give people options besides driving. Looking even further ahead, a lot of research as convinced me that tolls or congestion charges are the only thing that will work, but long-shot candidate Ari Goldkind is the only Toronto politician proposing those.

Let’s forget the long road ahead: the guy riding his horn behind me tells me we need something to change -- now.

All the candidates have quicker road proposals to make traffic flow better, preventing the usually unpredictable jam-ups that have now become a regular

feature of driving: All three major candidates would carry on with plans to co-ordinate traffic signals better, a process already underway.

Both Olivia Chow and Tory suggest enforcing existing laws against idling or parking in curb lanes for deliveries.

Both Chow and Tory emphasize better construction and road-closure planning to prevent multiple disruptions on the same days. Chow says she’d hire a full-time staffer to manage the file, while Tory says he’d personally chair the committee tasked with scheduling.

Chow has said specifically she’d charge developers by the week for closing road lanes for their construction work, rather than a flat fee -- a promising

idea. Tory also promises to look into these fees to discourage lengthy lane closures.

There’s a lot of overlap there, so for many voters the choice on these questions might boil down to who they trust to manage things.

Though it’s not in his platform, this week Doug Ford pledged to study widening the lanes on the Don Valley Parkway. It sounds like an OK idea, but it would be expensive, and many experts say that within a few years, traffic would slow to about the same levels.

The truth is, none of these will fix congestion, but all of these ideas will help a bit. For a while. And they seem possible to implement quickly.

When it comes to Toronto traffic, anything that can arrive quickly seems like a miracle.

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