Wednesday, October 12, 2011



I have been writing about Toronto's awful traffic since the jams began. Meaning, my entire life.
I wrote a blog titled Eternal Traffic Hassles.  I thought I had experienced it all. But something happened on an ordinary Wednesday after I wrote it that left me vowing to move to Peterboro (which is the way we used to spell it.)
It really can't get any worse. I thought I had seen it all but then on just another morning, when nothing special is going on, my trip downtown was like going to Hades.
How critical is the situation? The city isn't about to die, but there's little doubt that CEOs are going to move their headquarters because of the hassles about downtown traffic and parking. And the strain on commuters is enormous and probably a drain on energy.
Mary and I had appointments with Dr. Bernie Gosevitz, who has long been our doctor because he is one of the best around. So we started off at 8 a.m. , because she is limping so badly, we would never have made it via our usual trip on the subway.
I figured that leaving an hour for me to get to a 9 a.m. appointment was more than adequate. I even foolishly had illusions of leisurely hunting for a parking spot that didn't require a second mortgage to rent.
The direct route from near Bloor and Royal York to Jarvis and Bloor - where Gosevitz is ensconced in the Rogers headquarters where he is one of the Pooh-bahs - would have been along Bloor.  Except  that artery suffers from hardening even at that time,  thanks to illegal parking of cars and delivery trucks and a few cyclists.
So I headed down to the Gardiner, which was stopped. So I cut down to the Lake Shore, which was cranky.  Finally we got to Yonge, which was blocked, so I headed south and ended up coming up Parliament, thinking smugly that I would be swinging around the downtown chaos.
 Big mistake! It didn't matter what major street or minor street or lane that I tried, there was a snarl or construction or illegal parking, even several 18-wheelers needing repairs.
So I arrived just after 9, bailed out and left Mary to look for parking and then to hobble to the office because her appointment was after me. After our examinations which took an hour, we headed home.
I'll spare you the details but it was another hour. At that rate, you can only make one appointment a day and never go to work.
Later that day,  I went downtown again,  to the Symphony. It was raining, and Mary was limping, so I paid $10 to park underneath. A speedier trip than earlier in the day, but it took 30 minutes just to get out of Roy Thomson Hall and the parking underneath.
The next day, I went downtown and back four times by the great solution, they say, of the subway. Total time was as long as by car even in foul traffic, six escalators weren't working, some idiot running for a train hit me as hard as I've been hit since I played football, but the cost was a bargain at just over $8.
No wonder 80% of the city doesn't move by the TTC despite that price to sit on half-a-seat.
Before Detroit fell on evil times, it was rated along with Los Angeles as the only North American cities above Toronto in vehicle registrations and traffic problems. Now it's just L. A. and let me assure you that Toronto is worse. When some supposed expert discovered that a year ago, I wondered what took him so long.
A few years ago, I drove my oldest son and his family from their lovely home near Laguna Beach in California to the L.A. airport.
The trip was equivalent to driving from Hamilton to Pearson. Except the trip was during the Friday evening rush hour.  Not exactly a picnic but it wasn't as bad as driving anywhere in Toronto during the Friday evening rush.
I think the clincher is that I would never dream of driving from Hamilton to Pearson at that time. I would borrow the money and ship my son's family by limousine.
This really has become a traffic tale of two cities. The suburbs vs. downtown.  It's reflected everywhere from traffic signals and signage to the shrunken size of downtown roads. Even the problems of cyclists are different. They are too few to be much of a problem during the rush hour in the suburbs except the stupid politicians have cut into the road space with bike lanes.  But downtown they buzz around like angry hornets, with mouths to match, zipping from roads to sidewalks to roads, making life dangerous for pedestrians and difficult for motorists. And in a new development, the electric bikes now appearing on our streets are making even the ordinary pedal pushers feel unsafe.
I repeat what I said in the Sunday Sun on Oct. 1 in a column saying that politicians, not cars, are the problem when it comes to the roads. During rush hours, cyclists should be banned from major streets, for the safety of everyone, especially the tempers of drivers.
Of course if we had a proper system of roads and traffic management, we wouldn't think too much of  bikes competing with thousands of tons of metal and plastic. But the way things are these days because City Hall is so inept, we begrudge even the space taken up by ants.
The annual cost of traffic congestion in the Greater Toronto Area is said to be $2.2 billion. Right now, the major search for solutions is only of a bit of the core,  like .001% of the GTA. The study originally was to cover the area from Lake Shore to Queen, Bathurst to Jarvis, but a big deal was to extend it further north to Dundas.
How pathetic! Might as well spit in the lake. But then this daily hassle only costs a couple of billion.

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