Bronson from Queen Street to Somerset Street is up for reconstruction in 2011 and in the following years the stretch from Somerset to the Queensway. The April proposal from the City consultants was to widen the street and narrow the sidewalks. This was to make the lane sizes match the city’s standard lane widths.
The problem with the City’s current approach is that it assumes Bronson is a four lane street. And that it is congested. And therefore, the solution is to widen it.
I don’t think Bronson IS a four lane street, and there is a whole pile of traffic engineering literature to support my view. Bronson only LOOKS like it has four through lanes. In fact, what it has is a right turn lane, a left turn lane, and through traffic that alternates from lane to lane to get through. Because the street looks wide, it encourages faster movement. The pace is set by the fastest car, which is the guy who passes on the right and changes lanes frequently. All this lane changing makes for fender benders. Cars find it hard to get on or off the street, because of the two lanes of opposing traffic to cut across. Pedestrians and transit users find it really unsafe to try to cross the street. It is not a plesant street to live along or have a business on.
Consider this analogy: Bronson is a patient with clogged arteries. The City’s doctor (engineer) sees the constricted artery, and suggests we pump the patient with more fat and gunk since not all of it is getting through. Surely a more reasonable approach is to put the patient (Bronson) on a diet, so that the artery can handle the appropriate amount of traffic safely and without killing the residents, businesses, and adjacent communities.
Tomorrow: how to handle the current traffic volumes