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  • Lisa Coxon of Toronto Life shares eleven photos tracking Toronto's queer history back more than a century.

  • Michelle McQuigge reports for the Toronto Star that the Luminous Veil does save lives. I would add that it is also beautiful.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Marcus Gee thinks it makes perfect sense for there to be a dedicated streetcar corridor on King Street.

  • Ben Spurr describes a new plan for a new GO Transit bus station across from Union Station.

  • Emily Mathieu reported in the Toronto Star on how some Kensington Market tenants seem to have been pushed out for an Airbnb hostel.

  • In The Globe and Mail, Irish-born John Doyle explores the new Robert Grassett Park, built in honour of the doctor who died trying to save Irish refugees in 1847.

  • Justin Ling in VICE tells the story of three gay men who went missing without a trace in Toronto just a few years ago. What happened?
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  • Orville Lloyd Douglas is critical of Black Lives Matter on Pride, calling it out for being self-appointed representatives of black Canadians.

  • Alex McKeen writes in the Toronto Star about First Nations groups holding ongoing ceremonies in Queen's Park.

  • Betsy Powell, also in the Star, notes new restrictions and licensing Toronto is set to impose on Airbnb locally.

  • CBC notes that King Street is slated to become a street where transit, particularly streetcars, will have priority over other traffic.

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The Globe and Mail's Alex Bozikovic looks at the import of the proposals for a revamped King Street, as a portent of the future of the city meant not only for cars.

Who is a street for? For people in cars, or for everyone?

That’s the question at the heart of the City of Toronto project to remake King Street. The three options for the bold pilot project, revealed at a packed public meeting this week, would each give priority to streetcars and pedestrians at the expense of private vehicles.

Each would save untold hours for the 65,000 people who crawl along on the King streetcar each weekday; each would shift some of the space along the street from its current arrangement, in which the 16 per cent of users in cars occupy 64 per cent of the space. Any of these schemes would make King Street safer. They make sense.

So get ready for an endless opera of complaint. Whether City Council can tough out the inevitable car-centric whining, and defend a more just and sensible approach to the streets, will be an important indicator for the future of the city.

In Toronto, it’s not traditional to think about road users as equals. The primacy of the car is still unquestioned in city politics. Just look at the recent decision, championed by Mayor John Tory, to spend nearly an extra $1-billion to rebuild the eastern Gardiner as an expressway, to save a few minutes a day for 3 per cent of downtown commuters. You could add a lot of transit service for that kind of money.
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  • blogTO notes the amazing spike upwards in temperatures for this weekend.

  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of some stark war memorials of the former Communist world.

  • The Dragon's Gaze reports on brown dwarf HIP 67537b.

  • The LRB Blog looks at Donald Trump's interest in a Middle Eastern peace settlement that looks as if it will badly disadvantage the isolated Palestinians.

  • Marginal Revolution's Tyler Cowen reflects on his reading of Julius Evola and other hitherto-marginal writers.

  • The NYRB Daily notes the potential health catastrophe that could result from Donald Trump's anti-vax positions.

  • The Power and the Money's Noel Maurer suggests that the corruption marking the relationship of France and Gabon over that country's oil is finding an echo in the Trump organization's involvement in Filipino real estate.

  • Torontoist calls for regulation of road salt on grounds of its toxicity.

  • Transit Toronto looks at the various scenarios for King Street.

  • Window on Eurasia suggests Russia's economic growth will lag behind growth elsewhere for the foreseeable future, and looks at protest in St. Petersburg over the return of an old church to the Orthodox Church.

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Steve Munro writes, generally with approval, of the various plans proposed for King Street by Toronto city planners.

Inspired by trial street interventions by other cities, Toronto looks to take a short-cut in reaching a demonstration of what is possible with pilot configurations using a minimum of construction. This has several advantages. A trial avoids the lengthy, complex and finality of a formal proposal assessment, which can take years before anyone has a chance to learn whether a scheme actually works. A pilot can use temporary, movable installations such as planters, signs and road markings that can be quickly changed for fine tuning, to test alternate arrangements, or to undo the changes. Residents, businesses and politicians can buy into a trial hoping to see improvement, or at least to determine that side-effects are tolerable for the broader goals, without fearing they are locked into major expense and upheaval that might not work.

This is a refreshing change from endless studies producing little action, with the only downside being that some changes are simply beyond the limitations of a pilot. If a trial works well enough, then more lasting changes requiring construction can follow.

King is not a street like others in Toronto where transit priority has been attempted. Spadina, St. Clair and Queens Quay are all wider, and options for increasing road space on King are few. Traffic patterns and business needs differ on each street, and a layout that works in one place may not be appropriate for others. Equally, the benefits or horrors of these streets do not necessarily apply on King.

The city has three proposed layouts for a transit-first King Street. At this stage they exist only as general schemes, not as detailed, block-by-block plans. On that fine-grained level any new scheme will succeed or fail. Even if a plan achieves transit improvements, too many small annoyances, too many details overlooked could collectively derail a scheme. The planners flag this as a need for both a “micro and macro” view of the street – the big picture of better transit, and an awareness that every block, every neighbourhood along the street is different.

Common to all plans is a substantial reduction in the space available for cars and trucks. Some areas now used for loading, drop offs and cab stands would be repurposed either as through traffic lanes with no stopping, or as expanded sidewalk space into what is now the curb lane. Left turns would be banned throughout the area.
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Edward Keenan describes for the Toronto Star the various proposals for a redesign of King Street.

Anyone who was gearing up for a fight over a car-free King St. can stand down.

The Star was given an advance look at the long-awaited proposals under consideration for the pilot project.

When the options are publicly presented at a meeting Monday night, all will include space on the road for automobiles. Perhaps controversially, none of the proposals will include bike lanes. Two of the three proposals give more space to pedestrians and public realm improvements such as seating or patios. And all are intended, first and foremost, to “move people” by giving priority on the road to streetcars, according to Toronto general manager of transportation Barbara Gray and chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat.

“Transit first is the frame around which we’re going to lead this decision,” Gray says.

“The objective is to create a transit priority corridor. The objective isn’t to create a car-free corridor,’” Keesmaat says. “It’s about being transformational, improving streetcar operations, and innovative placemaking.”

City staff members will present three options to the public for consideration a meeting at Metro Hall on Monday evening at 6:30, the start of a public consultation process during which proposals will be evaluated and refined over the next few months. A final recommendation will be voted on by city council in July, and if approved, will launch on the street for a pilot project period this fall.

The article goes into much more detail.
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CBC News' Ramna Shahzad looks at a whole range of proposals that may see a broad stretch of King Street partially or even entirely closed off to car traffic.

The city is considering a number of options for a King Street pilot project, including making it solely a transit, pedestrian and cyclist zone in the downtown core, Toronto's chief planner told a conference Wednesday.

At a Green Cities conference Wednesday morning, Jennifer Keesmaat,announced the launch of a website that will look at a range of pilot options for King Street along the six- kilometer corridor from Dufferin Street in the west to River Street in the east.

"We want to make sure that the areas of the city that we are directing growth to in fact have excellent transit service and the King Street corridor can be a big win," she said.

The idea of King Street going car-free is just one possibility floating around. Keesmaat won't confirm what the options are yet but says the city will propose them at a public meeting Feb. 13.

"There are a series of options that we will be bringing forward to the public looking at how we can essentially get cars out of the way," Keesmaat said. "We'll get the public's response and then we'll try it so we can see how it works in practice."
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Steve Munro's analysis of traffic and scheduling patterns on the 514 Cherry route is not flattering for the TTC. Functionally, it is less an independent route and more a somewhat exotic variation on the King line.

The 514 Cherry car has been running since June 2016. Although originally planned as a net new service, budget for the route fell victim to the 2016 round in which headroom for the “new” service was created by reallocating vehicles from 504 King. The purpose was to concentrate service on the central part of King where there is higher demand, but in practice, the original schedule did not work out. In November 2016 the headways on 514 Cherry were widened to compensate for longer-than-planned running times.

The 514 Cherry car has been something of an afterthought for the TTC in several ways. Planning and construction for it began years ago, but implementation was delayed until after the Pan Am Games were out of the way and the Canary District began to populate with residents and students in the new buildings. Another major blow has been the failure to build the Waterfront East LRT which is intended to eventually connect with the trackage on Cherry Street as part of a larger network. In effect, the spur to Distillery Loop is treated by the TTC as little more than a place for a scheduled short turn of the King Street service, much as trackage on Dufferin Street south of King is for the route’s western terminus.

Riders bound for the Distillery District face two challenges. One is that the older streetcars do not have route signs for 514 Cherry, only a small dashboard card wrapped over the “short turn” sign. Tourists might be forgiven for wondering if a 514 Cherry will ever show up. As new streetcars gradually appear on this route, this problem will decline, but it is an indication of the half-hearted way service was introduced that good signage was not part of the scheme.
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  • Bad Astronomy notes the weird polar hexagonal wind systems of Saturn.

  • blogTO notes that Presto is now in fifty TTC stations.

  • The Broadside Blog talks about ways to be a good guest.

  • Centauri Dreams notes efforts to image planets orbiting Alpha Centauri A and/or B.

  • Crooked Timber takes a first look at the origins of Trumpism.

  • Dangerous Minds notes that the Jesus and Mary Chain are set to release a new studio album.

  • The Dragon's Gaze looks at the testing of the James Webb Space Telescope mirror.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that HIV is now recognized in the US as a carcinogen.

  • Language Hat looks at principles for naming in different languages.

  • Language Log notes that Trumps' granddaughter did a good job of reading Tang China poems.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that the TPP is dead.

  • The LRB Blog looks at the continued threat of tuberculosis.

  • Steve Munro looks at 504 King travel times.

  • The NYRB Daily notes the likely future degeneration of Turkey.

  • Seriously Science notes that the most one posts comments on Reddit (and other forums?) the worse they become.

  • Transit Toronto looks at TTC bus route changes planned in light of subway expansion.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at ethnic conflict in Archangelsk, in multi-ethnic Stavropol and among Circassians in Krasnodar, even with Belarusian activists in Smolensk.

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blogTO reports on a King Street streetcar initiative I quite approve of.

Remember the plan to overhaul King Street? City staff want to make this main thoroughfare better for pedestrians, drivers and commuters who rely on the streetcar by giving it an extreme makeover.

One of the ideas is to make dedicated sections for a streetcar right of way and to reduce vehicular traffic on the street. King would be known as a "Transit Priority Street" according to the preliminary plans.

[. . .]

Public consultations for this pilot project are supposed to begin this winter. As previously reported, the pilot might come to fruition as early as spring 2017.
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Shannon Martin's CBC report highlights an issue I'd not heard of before. I have some sympathy for Corktown residents and their noise complaints, but not nearly enough to think that ending the 514 Cherry streetcar route is anything like a good idea. blogTO has more discussion about the issue.

It can be almost impossible to find peace and quiet living downtown, but some Corktown residents say the screech from the recently installed 514 Cherry Streetcar is unbearable.

"It's become a form a torture for us," said Jason Mednick, standing at the corner of King Street East and Sumach Street. "Equivalent to waterboarding."

The 514 went into service in June. The TTC introduced the service to relieve crowding along the congested King streetcar route and to connect new residential developments in Corktown and the Distillery District with the rest of the transit system.

But Mednick says the noise was instant and alarming.

"About every 10 minutes or so, 20 hours a day, we listen to excessive screeching and squealing as they negotiate the turn," said Mednick.

The 514 runs along King Street and makes a sharp turn south at Sumach, heading to Cherry Street on its way to the newly-constructed streetcar loop across from the Distillery District. That tight turn is partially what's causing the sharp squealing sound that's irritating many residents.
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CBC describes how TIFF has bisected the various streetcar routes running along King Street.

The King streetcar route has been split into two for the first weekend of the Toronto International Film Festival.

TIFF festivities have closed part of King Street West for a second straight year. As a result, the TTC is not servicing any streetcar or bus stops between University and Spadina Avenues from Sept. 8-11.

Instead, there are eastern and western loops for the streetcars. Rush-hour buses that serve the route are diverting around the festival closures.
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  • News of Proxima Centauri b spread across the blogosphere yesterday, to Discover's D-Brief and Crux, to Joe. My. God., to the Planetary Society Blog, and to Centauri Dreams and The Dragon's Gaze.

  • blogTO notes the impending opening of Toronto's first Uniqlo and suggests TTC buses may soon have a new colour scheme.

  • The Dragon's Gaze discusses detecting exo-Titans and looks at the Kepler-539 system.

  • Marginal Revolution notes Poland's pension obligations.

  • The Map Room Blog looks at how empty maps are of use to colonialists.

  • Steve Munro examines traffic on King Street.

  • The NYR Daily looks at what an attic of ephemera reveals about early Islam.

  • Otto Pohl announces his arrival in Kurdistan.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog and Window on Eurasia note that more than half of Russia's medal-winners at the Olympics were not ethnically Russian, at least not wholly.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at Ukraine's balance sheet 25 years after independence and considers if Belarus is on the way to becoming the next Ukraine.

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Black tower #toronto #baystreet #financialdistrict #ernstyoung #skyscraper

The Toronto-Dominion Centre, the Mies van der Rohe obelisk on the southwest corner of Bay Street and King, rises proudly among the towers of the Financial District.
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Steve Munro at his blog does a sterling job crunching data on the new 514 Cherry streetcar route, noting the young route's irregularity.

The Cherry branch is intended to serve the developing eastern part of the Distillery District which is just becoming occupied after its use as the Athletes’ Village for the Pan Am Games. Substantial additional development is planned here over the coming years, and eventually the route could be extended south to link with a reconfigured Queens Quay East and the Port Lands redevelopment.

The scheduled service is every 8-9 minutes peak, every 12 minutes Saturday afternoons, and every 14-15 minutes at all other times. Any irregularity in headways can lead to long waits defeating the attractiveness of this service.

Service at Mill Street northbound (just leaving Distillery Loop) shows a wide variation in headways, and the standard deviation of the headways for weekday service is regularly at or above 6 minutes. This means that a substantial share of the headways lie in a range at least 12 minutes wide. This is vastly beyond the TTC’s goal for service reliability at terminals. The situation on Saturday is slightly better with SDs in the 2-6 minute range, but the Sunday stats are the worst of all. Note that these numbers include only one Saturday and two Sundays with an infrequent service. Therefore the number of observations per hour is small.

At Dufferin Loop (measured at Springhurst, the street immediately north of the loop), the situation is slightly better, but not by much.

Quite evident in the charts is that cars running on very close headways, under five minutes, are not uncommon. For a route with a wider scheduled headway, this means that would-be riders will often see two 514 cars followed by a long gap. If they are simply travelling along the central part of King, this does not matter, but if they actually want to use the stops on Cherry or Dufferin because they live or work nearby, they face an uncertain fate.

More, including his data, is at his website.
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Sunday night I rode the new 514 Cherry streetcar created this weekend just passed, travelling west on King from its eastern terminus in the Distillery District to its western terminus in the Dufferin Loop, at the foot of Dufferin Street.

My streetcar was waiting in the Cherry Street Loop.

514 Cherry, pre-departure #toronto #ttc #streetcar #514cherry #distillerydistrict

I got off a bit more than a half-hour later at the last stop on the line, Dufferin at Bringhurst.

514 Cherry, Dufferin and Bringhurst #toronto #ttc #streetcar #514cherry #dufferinstreet

The streetcar sat at the Dufferin Loop for a bit.

514 Cherry at rest #toronto #ttc #streetcar #514cherry #dufferinloop

Then, it got going again.

514 Cherry eastbound again #toronto #ttc #streetcar #dufferinloop #514cherry
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The Toronto Star's Brennan Doherty describes the impending start of the 514 Cherry, Toronto's first new streetcar route in 16 years.

Transit aficionados waiting by the Distillery Loop Saturday morning got a chance to ride the first new TTC streetcar route in 16 years.

The 514 Cherry made its first trip around 10 a.m., heading north on Cherry St. before turning west on King St. E. and trundling along to Dufferin St., before ending up at the Dufferin Gate Loop.

Passengers who hopped on the streetcar’s inaugural run rode for free —including those waiting at stops along the way. A few of the TTC’s old streetcars were also brought out of retirement and put on display at the Distillery Loop for the launch event.

Service on the 514 route is expected to run every 8-9 minutes during peak commuting times, seven days a week. Off-peak wait times will be about 15 minutes or less, said the TTC in a release. Regular service starts Sunday.
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In the Toronto Star, Jennifer Keesmat suggests that Torontonians might do well to look to the example of Australian metropolis Melbourne in finding a way to deal with gridlock on King Street.

Other cities around the world are rethinking their downtown surface transit streets and transforming them into complete streets that are more than just corridors for movement. They are creating iconic, vibrant and attractive streets with inviting public spaces that help make their cities more livable and economically competitive.

One such example is Melbourne, Australia, named the world’s most livable city for the fifth year in a row in 2015. In the mid 1990s, with the help of Danish architect Jan Gehl, the city embarked on an ambitious plan to revitalize its downtown by creating great public spaces that cultivate public life. Melbourne has come a long way in a short period of time, something I saw for myself on a recent trip Down Under.

The city recently adopted Walking Plan 2014-17, which sets out the next chapter in its quest for liveability and competitiveness. An important thrust of the plan is to create what are called ‘High-Mobility Streets’ on corridors served by trams (a.k.a.: streetcars). This type of street will have high frequency streetcars and priority bus services, with excellent pedestrian access to and around stops.

Swanston St. was one of the first streets transformed into a high-mobility street and preeminent civic space. Where once cars and streetcars competed for limited space in the right-of-way, today the street is shared only by streetcars, bikes and pedestrians. It functions as a high-frequency public transit corridor capable of carrying 5,000 passengers in approximately 50 streetcars each direction per hour: a capacity at the lower end of LRT performance.

Essential vehicle access for deliveries, property servicing and access to off-street parking is limited to certain times of the day using a permit system. Streetcar stops are universally accessible, with paving and curb design supporting safer cycling. High-quality streetscape materials across the entire right-of-way — such as bluestone paving, trees, street furniture and pedestrian-scale lighting — promote patio-style outdoor dining and active public life.
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  • blogTO identifies five fast-changing neighbourhoods.

  • Crooked Timber praises Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan quartet.

  • The Dragon's Gaze examines the formation of supermassive stars.

  • A Fistful of Euros reflects on global income inequality.

  • Geocurrents examines Russia's demographic issues.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that the head of the Russian Orthodox Church has blamed ISIS on gay pride parades.

  • Language Log looks at how language issues influenced the outcome of Taiwan's election.

  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that First Worlders are responsible for poor conditions in Bangladeshi factories.

  • The Map Room examines "persuasive cartography".
  • Marginal Revolution notes that discrimination hurts economies.

  • Livejournal's pollotenchegg notes Ukraine's rapid shifts in natural gas consumption by source country.

  • The Power and the Money considers if the United States might be governed by people who think it a good idea to provoke a war with China.

  • The Russian Demographics Blog links to sources on the Circassian genocide.

  • Strange Maps notes Chinese cartographic propaganda.

  • Transit Toronto favours a partial pedestrianization of King Street.


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