Monday, October 22, 2012



Just an ordinary Saturday afternoon with a touch of rain as I returned from the cottage.
Then radio 680's traffic report, which occasionally gets it right, said that 401 was basically stopped from the Don Valley to 400. So I went south on the Don Valley parking lot, which is usually crazy to do during daylight hours.,
The DVP was hiccuping with more traffic trying to flow in from all sides, including bullying their way in from lanes that dumped into the lanes filled with drivers who were actually obeying the rules about merging.
We all jerked our way south but just before the Gardiner, the overhead sign said it was slow from downtown to beyond Jameson.
So I took the Lake Shore which turned out to be molasses -like in its flow, and then there were the problems of all the cars  trying to get up to the Gardiner.
The Lake Shore stopped completely south of the Ex so I headed up into the Ex only to be met by drunken yokels hitting my car with banners as they left the latest losing soccer game by the local side.
I was heading north on Dufferin when it stopped, so I cut over to Tyndall where I once lived.
 I pride myself on my knowledge of streets in that area because of all of my years of working and living there. Fat lot of good my insider knowledge was. King was stopped so I headed up to Queen, which was stopped westbound too.
And then I realized that I was experiencing the Toronto phenomenon known as gridlock when out of the blue all the traffic jams come together in one smelly mess and block an entire chunk of the city.
All the escape routes have now been ruined by stop signs at every corner. And in addition to this deadly measles epidemics, there are No Turn and One Way signs that can turn a few blocks into impenetrable mazes.
I actually drove up a street north of Queen where all the escape routes were marked with No Entry signs. So I drove back down and noticed that the mouth was not marked with a No Exit sign of warning.
Finally I got to Dundas and figured I would cut over on Howard Park to High Park. I laughed so I didn't cry when I found that this escape route was blocked by an accident involving a streetcar and ambulances, fire trucks, cars and cruisers.
Finally I was lurching over speed humps north of Bloor and, gritting my teeth, came back down to Bloor West Village where only idiots try to drive on a Saturday.
The whole misadventure took over an hour from the 401-Don Valley intersection to my home near Royal York and Bloor.
I was so mad, I was almost catatonic. The wear and tear on me and the car at least wiped away the memory of the three or four fender benders that I escaped by a gnat's eyelash.
You read the news stories of the incredible waste of time and energy and money due to the horrendous traffic in major cities from Beijing to London to Manhattan to Paris to L.A..
I have driven in all those cities, and can report sadly that the stats are right,  that T.O. is now the sorry king of the gridlock that can hit without warning just because a major accident or road repair triggers the collapse of the road system as if it were potholes paved with cardboard.
My worry is that our politicians and traffic officials have become so inured to all the howls of protest at our traffic that they really don't do that much.
They spend more time moving a few hundred people by bike than tens of thousands of people by cars. They lament all the cars with only one person in them but that's the standard number on a bike.
The cops harass motorists with cash register speed traps and whether cars stop completely at a stop sigh, but cyclists routinely speed through red lights and the wrong-way on one-way streets. But that the heck, the other day I saw a cop on a bike doing exactly the same.
No wonder businesses and stores and people move from the core. Downtown may be filled with condo towers and pedestrians and cyclists but that's a misleading shell of activity because the real growth is out further, and in the suburbs and the surrounding Greater Toronto Area. Two out of every three Torontonians chose the suburbs. And the population of the GTA matches that of the downtown and suburbs combined.
The planners plot and the gLiberal politicians make their 10-speed way to City Hall and most of us each day prefer to live elsewhere than their beloved screwed-up Central Business District.
Away from exorbitant parking charges. Where the traffic jams have not yet blossomed evilly into gridlock that can strike unexpectedly, even on a Saturday at 3 p.m. when everything was going so well.

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