The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.
With the falling of the first snow flakes, I declare finished my biking season. I am too tropical to endure not the weather but the ice on the paths of my biking route to Downtown Toronto, so I need to decide whether to use my car or take public transit. In my town, public transit is controlled by a municipal agency called TTC, which despite claims that its acronym stands for Toronto Transit Commission, really stands for Take The Car.
Biking time from my place to my work is 25 minutes, driving is 30 minutes, but transit takes 50 minutes.
Now, if I am going to use the car and pay taxes over gas, car ownership, road privileges, and extraordinary expensive parking, you will assume that at least I could select the optimal route to minimise driving time, idling in traffic, and polluting cost. Think again. As I bike through Rosedale, a very affluent neighborhood, I assumed I could also drive to the streets everybody is paying with our taxes, but I find out that no, that this privileged neighborhood forbids going though OUR streets at rush hour.
I cannot turn into Rosedale from 7:00 to 9:00 in the morning, and I cannot turn out of Rosedale from 16:00 to 18:00. Giving the orography of Toronto, my only other route is through a congested street that doubles my driving time and my driving distance; The yellow route is 3 kms, the dark red is 6:
Now, I may agree that the roads of Rosedale may not handle road traffic in rush hour, but everywhere else in Toronto (everywhere else is neighborhoods with less than certain family income levels) parking in the streets is prohibited, the streets are adapted to traffic, and people pay the price for living close to the downtown core.
In this case, everybody in my neighborhood who goes downtown (and this is pretty much everybody in my neighborhood) has to drive double, hence polluting double. Yes, alternatives exist, as carpooling, but the mere fact that a handful of privilege people can dictate when can we go thought their (our) streets stills bothers me. Besides a poor road planning, now we also need to fight a virtual privatization of the few alternatives to drive.
I love how Rosedale looks, and I pity other neighborhoods that have gone through massive change on traffic patterns, like The Annex, but I also think that either all on the same boat or not. Why some places in Toronto have seen their streets take away by traffic while others are protected? Why we force people to pollute more just to keep some others comfortable? Why people in the Danforth have to suffer what people in Rosedale do not?
Public roads belongs to the public. We cannot create traffic jams and advocate for a greener city at the same time. The solution presented to the problem of traffic in certain neighborhoods cannot be at expense of everyone else. If we are going to protect certain areas from traffic, we should:
1) Include all areas affected and not only the affluent neighborhoods
2) Improve public transit
3) Improve and create alternative roads