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Keeping it moving

Last week, Mayor Tory launched another "TO" program. We already have ActiveTO, CaféTO, CampTO, BigArtTO and now, there is MoveTO: a City staff action plan to help manage congestion and build a more resilient, modern and safe transportation system.

The plan went through the formality of being considered today at the Infrastructure and Environment Committee. It proposes five key measures that will help make the City’s transportation system more resilient in response to the effects of COVID-19 on Toronto’s overall transportation network. The five key proposed actions that can launch starting early next year include:

  1. ‘Smart’ traffic signals – automatically adjusted signal timing based on actual traffic demand. Staff are proposing 500 locations over the next five years.

  2. Intelligent’ intersections – helps to improve safety at intersections for pedestrians and cyclists. Staff are proposing 100 locations over the next two years.

  3. Advanced Transit Signal Priority (ATSP) – detects buses running behind schedule and extends green times when necessary. Staff are proposing the first 100 priority locations be installed over the next two years with a focus on key TTC corridors across the city and to develop a strategy to enable transit signal priority at all 2,400 signals within the city.

  4. Continue and grow the Construction Hub Pilot Program – a program that helps manage traffic and reduce congestion caused by construction work zones, and works to improves communication with the local community so that these areas are safer to navigate no matter what your mode of transportation. The next step is a focus on working with developers to do more to reduce the amount of time the right-of-way is closed to construction.

  5. Transportation Demand Management Strategy – a set of measures to help avoid congestion at specific times, locations, and on certain modes of transportation. Staff propose building on the existing Smart Commute program with local employers to provide additional supports for commuters, while developing strategies to address more localized instances of congestion.

These five recommended strategies aim to reduce travel times for cars, improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists at intersections, improve transit operations, and coordinate construction activities to minimize impacts on the transportation network. Transportation Demand Management refers to working with major employers and logistics firms to reduce travel demand at peak times. This can lower their costs due to shortened trip times and reduces idling in traffic to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for all of us.

MoveTO really speaks to a lot of the feedback I get about transportation and travelling around the city. There is a tendency to propose solutions that can improve the situation for one mode of travel but may make things worse for another. Our Transportation managers have tried to review the whole, city-wide grid and where there are pinch points, they first consider how the area is working for all modes of travel and then use technology, enforcement and some road and intersection redesign to improve the area for all users.

Local opportunities

Our ward is truly the biggest winner of MoveTO. Our major arterial roads — Bayview, Steeles, Don Mills and Victoria Park — will be Smart Signal Corridors. Here's the map:

The area circled in red is Don Valley North. Our busiest roads are all there, and this plan will help traffic move smoothly along these corridors as traffic flows change.

This means that when we see accidents on the DVP/404 or 401, or when the workday ends in the Consumers business park, these smart signals will be able to adapt to move people faster through intersections and to their destinations.

In short, we've really hit the jackpot here and I'll be looking to make sure we see these changes implemented in an expeditious manner.

In closing, I’ll let the Mayor’s words at the announcement of MoveTO speak for themselves:

“MoveTO will keep Toronto moving now and into the future. This plan will help the city better manage traffic congestion in Toronto and deploy smart, common sense approaches that will help pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and drivers. We are implementing this plan as fast as possible to make sure we have a modern and safe transportation system that responds and adapts to traffic in real time. These are realistic solutions that I know will make life better for everyone as they move around our city whether they are walking, cycling, riding transit, or driving.”


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