When’s The Last Time You Drove Down King Street? – Ward 33 E-Blast May 18th

Before we discuss the King Street Pilot Project that you are hearing so much about on the radio, I must insist that we first set the scene. Ask yourself the following questions and write down the answers, honestly, on a small piece of paper:

1) When was the last time you drove along King Street between Jarvis and Bathurst Streets?

2) How many times in the last week, month and year?

3) When you do, what distance do you travel along this stretch: 1 or 2 blocks, 3 blocks, the whole stretch between Jarvis and Bathurst?

In Toronto when a major transportation decision must be made, city staff make two big mistakes. First, is limiting outreach to the local surrounding community where the change is to be made, most often a downtown location. They don’t go to the car reliant suburbs where residents are most likely to be misinformed by media and then overreact. The second mistake city staff make is providing the media with inadequate materials to illustrate what is being proposed. This leaves agenda-driven media outlets with the ability to have a field day attacking the proposal and still maintain their integrity.

The mistake of ignoring the suburban driver is, of course, being made again tonight when the biggest and final consultation takes place. The meeting will be held in the downtown Intercontinental Hotel Ballroom. Watch the video:

So, now take another look at that piece of paper with your answers on it. City Staff did a bit of surveying to discover that, for the most part, cars have already abandoned this stretch of King St. Because it is so congested we tend to enter and exit it only briefly, to drop off theatre & restaurant patrons. Parking lot entrances all tend to be on the side streets which are our usual destinations. Trucks and taxis make up most of the vehicle traffic, delivering restaurant supplies, diners and theatre patrons. Do the answers you wrote down about your own travel reflect that to any degree?

Toronto staff are proposing a pilot that reflects the information above. It redesigns the street to move the City’s most heavily loaded streetcars efficiently through this stretch of road while continuing to allow some on-street parking plus more efficient pickup and delivery and short-stretch car travel. It allows streetcars to unload large numbers of King St transit riders more safely and quickly, getting them out of other vehicles’ way. Staff propose the pilot operate for one year in order to gather data for four complete seasons. Have a look.

The illustration above attempts to explain the King Street Pilot Proposal. It demonstrates the mistakes the city makes in communications perfectly. The drawing does not reflect the scale of any of the blocks from Bathurst to Jarvis. Continually, while I was getting my briefing, a staff member would interject, “Keep in mind this is not to scale.” Why the hell isn’t it? If we are about to enter into a city-wide debate and the drawing is likely to bounce all over the internet, shouldn’t it illustrate precisely how my driving experience will change? All week long I have been listening to AM talk radio describe the proposal incorrectly and who can blame them.

The best way to understand the drawing, year-long proposal and the data that led to it, is to attend a consultation and have the fancy little illustration explained in person. You likely won’t go down to Front Street tonight to attend and since you won’t, I hope your answers to the questions above were similar to mine. That is: Hardly ever unless I’m in a cab and never more than a block or two.