The City engineers have voluminous tables of how much space to allocate to motorists. They use these all the time, requiring developers to provide turn lanes, traffic signals, and road widenings, at the developer’s expense, as a required part of the building approval process.
Yet we are seeing more and more new buildings with minimal parking, which means lots of dependence on pedestrian access to the building. These people have to move to and from the building on the sidewalks. Yet I don’t recall the approvals of the new high rises on Parkdale, or Preston, or Carling, or anywhere else, getting into the nitty gritty of how many people and how much space they will need.
Let alone any discussion of amenities, such as benches, that the elderly (and others) might want to use on their way to the transit station. Or pedestrian scaled lighting. Or safe routes to school.
Nope, the city seems convinced they can stuff any number of pedestrians onto existing 5′ wide sidewalks that are glued to the roadside curb.
So, I am appearing today at Planning Committee to point out the folly of their ways (don’t everyone line up at once !).
The example at hand: a proposed government-tennanted office complex at 801 Albert St across from the Bayview Station (don’t worry, no signed leases yet, and in my view, unlikely to see any soon. But the developer is covering himself by getting the 32 storey limit approved for offices, apartments, hotels, or anything else he fancies).
So this building would have SIX THOUSAND employees in it (all of Tunney’s now has 10). And only 250 car parking spaces.
So what did the city transportation study deal with?
The parking, the turn lanes, etc for the 250.
And only a slight nod to the 5700 who will walk in and out every day. On the five foot wide Albert sidewalk. Or along the new 10′ wide cycle path along the OTrain. Any walkway widening will not be automatically charged to the developer, the way the road “improvements” are.
The city engineers have tables that show how much walkway space is required, but they let them sit on the shelves gathering dust. The Downtown Moves study is the first to actually dust them off and see how wide the walks should be. http://westsideaction.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/measuring-the-pedestrian-level-of-service/
So I’ll be at Planning Committee pointing out he folly of their ways at 801 Albert, the inequity of their planning for the 250 whilst slighting the 5700+ pedestrians. And pointing out that for this, and other developments, if they are going to have transit oriented development they’d better make sure there is enough pedestrian space in the public right of way.
What will happen if the sidewalk requirements conflict with the existing quasi-monopoly of public space taken by motor vehicles? Now, that will be an interesting fight. I can already see community activists at the next high rise proposal demanding to know if the walkways will handle the expected pedestrians and where will the city be getting that space?
A good place to start will be Parkdale: an already congested road. Narrow sidewalks. Lots of new condos. More coming. Will the city widen the walks to meet the engineering standards at the expense of the existing motor vehicle allowance? Stay tuned for fireworks!