Toronto’s busiest transit corridor may soon be getting a facelift.
The City of Toronto has announced the launch of a new pilot study that aims to explore different ways of alleviating traffic congestion on King Street. The “King Street Visioning Study” will kick off in a few weeks, and one possibility it plans to investigate is the ban of small vehicle traffic on King Street between Liberty Village and the Distillery District.
“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,” the city’s chief planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, said to CBC reporters earlier this week. “We’ll get the public’s response and then we’ll try it so we can see how it works in practice.”
— jennifer keesmaat (@jen_keesmaat) January 26, 2017
An estimated 65,000 transit riders and 20,000 vehicles travel along King Street on a typical weekday. Authorities acknowledge that congestion and transit delays are a major problem for many of those people, and say the pilot project is an important step towards addressing the numerous issues they face.
Calls to reduce traffic on King Street date as far back as last summer, when Keesmaat penned a piece for the Toronto Star titled “It’s Time to Change King Street”. Now, with the pilot study about to start, the likelihood of a large-scale makeover is growing.
It’s time for a big move on King St. https://t.co/R8n7IMFTFW
— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) January 25, 2017
Many in the King Street area are in favour of a small-vehicle ban, including Erin Andrews, who bikes to and from her nearby work each day and struggles with overcrowding and traffic.
“I think they’ve done a great thing with the bike lanes on Adelaide and Richmond, but here on King Street… it’s so, so congested. When I take the street car from Strachan to Spadina, I can almost walk faster.”
Ali Zahid is the owner of Van Hawks– a bicycle shop located on Toronto’s West side. Like Andrews, he supports the idea of fewer cars in the downtown core.
“Toronto has to be the leader in North America in terms of how we structure the future and sustainability and urban mobility and how we move people around… Initially a lot of people will be pissed, but it opens up a massive opportunity for people to live a better lifestyle.”
Spearheading the study are the city’s planning department, Transportation Services, and the TTC, who declined to comment when contacted earlier today. Also involved are a team of international consultants and other city departments and agencies.