Will Council give equal space to pedestrians?

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!

8 thoughts on “Will Council give equal space to pedestrians?

  1. Has there been any talk of trying to get this developer to pony up funds for a pedestrian bridge over the O-Train along the old Wellington alignment? I know Diane Holmes moved to add a pedestrian bridge funded (at least in part) by the developer of the Hickory condos.

    1. Yes, the developer is putting in $450,000 (?), indexed to inflation until such time as he builds his building(s), towards the cost of a ped cyclist bridge on the old wellie right of way. We asked for the bridge to have separated bike and ped lanes. We also asked that for the hickory street bridge, being partly funded by the condo developers at the carling end of the neighborhood.

  2. Kind of ironic given that IBM’s urban swat (or swot – not sure which term and spelling they use) team will be at Planning Committee regarding development around light rail stations.

    1. Ahh, but when those high paid boffins recommend the city pay attention to pedestrian level of service, just like for vehicle transportation plans, council just might listen. So they are an ally, not a foe.

  3. Walking is good for the body. It results in an increased respiration rate as the body demands more oxygen for effective self-propulsion. It also results in the increased excretion of nitrogen which is roughly 78% of the atmosphere we breathe. This increased excretion of nitrogen involves a process that is called urination.

    Might you please ask the city planners to dig up their tables for the biological needs of those 5,700 pedestrians, plus the several thousand daily visitors, not to mention the other diverse perambulators in a city of a million plus, and ask those wise men how they expect these homo sapiens to perform thier required bodily functions and what number and type of faciities are required to support them? As I get older my bladder appears to get smaller and there are times when my bladder desperately requires an answer to these questions.

    1. I also sit on the PAC for the station design committee, which listened, and made some improvements. We insisted on sewar connections to each station so that there could be a washroom, even if for station guards, crowd events (like bluesfest) or convenience stores. And we made the argument for public washrooms in select stations. Thus far, deaf ears.

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