Toronto Mayor John Tory recently unveiled a six-point plan to fight traffic gridlock in the GTA. According to the official media release, Mayor Tory will be personally overseeing the implementation of this plan to battle traffic congestion…But why should Torontonians take any new hope from this political promise?
This plan’s objectives might remind some of Tory’s previous stewardship of the Your32.com campaign while with Civic Action. However we now also see actionable items that promise to use a combination of technology and boots-on-the ground enforcement – to hopefully make a demonstrable difference to swelling commute times on our constricted roadways.
Yet these six, seemingly simple, steps (below) also carry an enormous amount of immovable mass and bureaucracy below their surface. Resources that will all need to be re-coordinated and mobilized to rise up in harmonic unison, in order for positive results to actually become visible in our surface traffic. Somehow, the clear scope of these specific points seem to represent more than just political posturing. It also provides us with clear points of comparison to the previous regime, and reminds us that foresight and planning seem to have been in short supply in our municipal affairs, for too long now.
This plan is far from a miracle cure, and will certainly see its share of snags along the way, but at least it’s a more responsible and realistic approach to the problem, in the sense that it doesn’t kick the can down the road, with high-handed calls for more roads or transit.
Instead it’s taking a hard and focused look at what City Hall can do immediately to start finding the pressure-relief valves in the existing situations. Starting with a single, month-long educational process, that reminds us that we’ve all had enough of endless and expensive studies and reporting periods that such issues would normally entail. This transparently demonstrated sense of expediency alone, should give many people renewed hope in the political processes at City Hall.
For now, if we leave aside the utopian dreams of building a fleet of 21st century Jetson Cars, or at least a network of 20th century rail-transit cars, we’re left to make the most of what we currently have to work with, as we try to foresee a better tomorrow.
So let’s temporarily put aside our pressing needs for new transit, roadway and cycling infrastructure, along with any other social-engineering projects that the future might hold. Instead, let’s take a cue from Mayor Tory focus on what strictly needs to happen right now, out on our existing roads at this moment, in order to help things move a bit better asap – at least according to the following base requirements set out in the mayor’s initial plan:
- Strict enforcement of “No Stopping” regulations on major roads
- Enhanced road closure reporting
- Launch of a multi-organizational Traffic Enforcement Team
- Accelerate the 2015 Traffic Signal Re-timing Program from 250 signals to 350 signals
- Establish more stringent criteria and higher fees for the closure of lanes/roads by Private Development Projects
- Speed up Public Sector construction projects by extending work hours and reducing duration of construction on major roadways.
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Keep in mind that the mayor also told the media that he’ll launching this fight against traffic congestion with a new “zero-tolerance” policy, which will be rolled out after a month-long education period.
“Traffic is strangling this city and costing us millions in lost productivity. We need to take immediate action to get Toronto moving so people can get to work on time and home to their families sooner,” said Mayor Tory. “I believe this issue is so important to the everyday lives of Torontonians, I will be working with city staff to get this one as soon as possible.”
This leaves many Torontonians wondering a few things…What can actually be done within the constraints of existing resources, and why it’s taken so long to start moving things forward on the many underlying issues to begin with, and finally, what kinds of barriers this latest initiative might face as it gets out of the starting gate.
At the very least, what we get from this announcement is that we have our first policy initiative to track with our new mayor, in order to gauge if and how such plans are actually implemented, and followed through on. It’s good to see that the new City Hall has its initial priorities in order, at least.
Comment, Tweet, or Subscribe to get timely updates on any of the following key issues and considerations – as they each get developed to see what barriers they face, and what benefits they could possibly yield…
- Traffic Control Systems & Optimizations:
What are they, and how are they being modernized/optimized for better results
- City Planning and Public Works Projects
- Real-Estate Development & Construction
- Transit & Commuting Issues and Initiatives
- Pedestrian’s Rights & Responsibilities
- Communications Initiatives: Breaking through departmental walls and info-silos to allow one hand to work with the other
- Police Work: The age of the cop who walks the beat on the street is long gone, but what does it take to make better use of paid-duty police standing around construction sites,
- Work-Shifting & Tele-Commuting
- Commercial Transport & Delivery
- Optimizing Construction Zones & Times
- Mandating Delivery Windows & Enforcing No-Idle Regulations
- Re-shaping Traffic Patterns with Directional Roads
- Regulations & Law Enforcement