By Ryan McGreal
Published February 17, 2009
(this blog entry has been updated)
One of the more interesting proposals during the process of developing the York Boulevard Streetscape Master Plan was a pedestrian scramble intersection at the corner of York and MacNab, in which all vehicular traffic would stop and pedestrians could cross in any direction - even diagonally.
The scramble intersection at York and MacNab was included in all three proposals presented to the public last November, but disappeared from the final plan concept released last week.
I contacted Khaldoon Ahmad, the urban designer in charge of the master plan, to express support for the plan and also to inquire about the scramble intersection.
Ahmad referred me to Hart Solomon, a manager in the city's Traffic Engineering and Operations office of the Public Works Department, for details on a traffic study of the scramble intersection. I have not yet received a response from Mr. Solomon.I don't want to detract from the excellent work the city has done developing a more liveable plan for York, but it frustrates me to see yet another pedestrian-friendly enhancement, already in operation in several great cities (including Vancouver since the 1940s and Toronto since 2008), compromised because it would threaten the sacred cow of traffic flow.
Of course, if we simply cut all our downtown streets over to two-way traffic and stopped trying to manage flow down this or that artery, motorists would simply find their own ways through the city and we could stop worrying about whether a given pedestrian enhancement created an unacceptable slowdown on a given street.
Update: This blog entry originally included a quote by Khaldoon Ahmad on the traffic study. Ahmad contacted me to advise that he is not authorized to provide official city comment and to request that I remove the quotation.
When I contacted him, I did not explicitly state that I would use his response in an article (I had assumed that this would be understood, given that I contacted him as a member of the local news media). You can jump to the changed paragraph.
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