|On Saturday, Kerry Gillespie, from the Toronto Star's City Hall Bureau, wrote an article titled, "Politics blocks the road to change; Cheap solutions could ease congestion".
The gist of the article is that political pressures make it nearly impossible to deliver on some of the ideas that exist for improving traffic flow and transit use in the city. Parking spaces are defended to the death against increases in lanes for moving cars. Lanes for moving cars are defended to the death against increases in transit rights-of-way.
Forget the St. Clair LRT enhancement. Any business that thinks they will suffer from reduced parking or any resident who thinks his right to drive will be impeded is going to raise hell. It is hard enough to get the political will for even much smaller changes. From the Toronto Star again:|
"I used to walk into city hall and say: Look, I want to remove 15 parking spaces on King St. These guys would go bananas. They'd much rather have a proposal to build a billion-dollar subway, because usually it's not their money and it seems to be an easier sell than to get into confrontation with local residents," [traffic consultant Richard] Soberman says.Never mind the fact that these changes might actually help everyone get around faster, and might actually help the complaining businesses.
The problem is an image problem. Any solution that is not pro-automobile suffers from an image deficit because we're collectively in love with our cars.
Here's a suggestion. If we really think that some places can be made better with a little bit less car and a little more transit, a little more bicycling, and a little more walking, then let's prove it.
Car Free Day is a global movement that has had -- so far -- just a small impact here in Toronto. However, if we try it on a larger scale, some people might learn that a car-free day is not the end of the world. In fact, they very well might enjoy it.
In the long term, successful, well-liked Car Free Days can help build some of the political momentum that can make more progressive changes possible.