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The Streets of Toronto – Part 4, The challenges facing our city

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In the final segment of this 4-part series, Christopher Hume summarizes the challenges and solutions that Toronto faces with density and mobility.

Now more than ever, pedestrians and cyclists want access to the streets of Toronto. Christopher Hume explores the urban revolution that is changing the way we look at streets in this 4-part documentary. For more on this special look at the future of our city and cities, visit the Toronto Star:

Or read an excerpt of Christopher Hume’s column below:

How pedestrians and cyclists are changing the face of Toronto: Hume

The historic dominance of the car is being challenged and that’s having a profound effect on Toronto.

Cities are their streets. Great cities are those with great streets. Other things matter, of course — parks, buildings, transit — but it’s streets that bring a city to life, that make it a place people choose to live, visit, work, play . . .

Streets have different roles. Some connect us; others, conversely, keep us apart. Streets are what enable us to organize space and bring order and coherence to what would otherwise be arbitrary and chaotic. At their best, streets are both a destination and the way to get there. They don’t just make cities possible, they define them, give them form and create their character. They are a city’s circulatory system, its largest arteries and its smallest capillaries.

Streets have also become the forgotten element in our efforts to create a livable city. In Toronto, the focus is on parks, housing, towers and transit; streets are left to fend for themselves. At the same time, however, streets are under more pressure than ever as the historic dominance of the car is challenged by other groups, namely cyclists and pedestrians. The car has wreaked untold damage on our streets as well as our cities. Its needs are at odds with those of the urban environment. Cars are quick. Cities are slow. Cars want highways, fast roads that run as straight as possible with as few interruptions as possible. City roads, by contrast, must accommodate not just vehicular traffic but the activity that unfolds along its edges, the shops, restaurants, museums, malls, schools, cafes, courts . . .

Now cyclists are clamouring for a piece of the street. They want their own lanes. Then there are the parkers; they demand places to park their cars whenever and wherever they want. Pedestrians want wider sidewalks. That doesn’t leave much room for drivers. This means a lot of contested space on a typical four-lane road in Toronto. Indeed, our city’s streets have become a battleground where a generational struggle for mobility is playing out.

For more on this story visit the Toronto Star: Cities are their streets. Great cities are those with great streets. Other things matter, of course — parks, buildings, transit — but it’s streets that bring a city to life, that make it a place people choose to live, visit, work, play . . .

Streets have different roles. Some connect us; others, conversely, keep us apart. Streets are what enable us to organize space and bring order and coherence to what would otherwise be arbitrary and chaotic. At their best, streets are both a destination and the way to get there. They don’t just make cities possible, they define them, give them form and create their character. They are a city’s circulatory system, its largest arteries and its smallest capillaries.

Streets have also become the forgotten element in our efforts to create a livable city. In Toronto, the focus is on parks, housing, towers and transit; streets are left to fend for themselves. At the same time, however, streets are under more pressure than ever as the historic dominance of the car is challenged by other groups, namely cyclists and pedestrians. The car has wreaked untold damage on our streets as well as our cities. Its needs are at odds with those of the urban environment. Cars are quick. Cities are slow. Cars want highways, fast roads that run as straight as possible with as few interruptions as possible. City roads, by contrast, must accommodate not just vehicular traffic but the activity that unfolds along its edges, the shops, restaurants, museums, malls, schools, cafes, courts . . .

Now cyclists are clamouring for a piece of the street. They want their own lanes. Then there are the parkers; they demand places to park their cars whenever and wherever they want. Pedestrians want wider sidewalks. That doesn’t leave much room for drivers. This means a lot of contested space on a typical four-lane road in Toronto. Indeed, our city’s streets have become a battleground where a generational struggle for mobility is playing out.

For more on this story visit the Toronto Star or visit the in-video links to the next part of this 4-part series.

3 Comments
  1. Paul Fos says

    Hay I wrote a book.Great In Toronto were too stupid to look both ways.Urban eletis snobs of TO need a babysitter.Your no longer Cdns you are PC pansies.

  2. Urban Cargo Bikes says

    Thanks for making this 4 part series. Such great information! Many interesting things to think about. Ride Safe!

  3. rogue warr says

    you ride bikes i'll drive my car and try not to hit you. lol

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