Comment 34856

By Mahesh P. Butani -- http://www.metroHami (anonymous) | Posted October 17, 2009 at 15:15:58


Appreciate your feedback and thank you for coining the term "Concentrated Looping System" :-)

That really has the making of a buzz word - which if spun the right way, could lead to many interesting outcomes in our downtown not only for the LRT, but also for our many local interpersonal networks that are trapped in linear think!

Deploying linear thinking in transit and urban planning can be a very dangerous approach – most often resulting in rapid-fire / point-to-point solutions with little substance and lesser sustainability.

We simple do not have the end point densities and commuting patterns to affordable sustain a monolithic point-to-point transit linkage – A kind of linkage that connects two ends but yet continue to keep large swaths of the community isolated.

The rational behind my initial post here was primarily to suggest a ‘distributed’ approach to removing constrictions in our thinking. And using 'pattern discovery' through the LRT example, to frame more relevant questions, way before 'design solutions' are dived into with premature and seductive drawings and plans - which end up freezing discourse and derailing logical approaches to development.

Speed has indeed affected our thinking more than we realize! We are simply in love with speed, and that is why we drive, talk, eat and think fast – and not because 5000 people are late every hour, every day, every year - driving down Main or King.

The primary goals of transit linkages in our times - should be to facilitate the organic growth of many dispersed micro-destinations across the city - and replicate or better the ease of accessibility and variability that automobiles currently offer.

Point-to-Point ‘RAPID’ thinking kills all that. It brings about a senseless, mind-numbing pursuit of receding goal posts – presumably leading to park & ride hyper growth that many cities across the world are desperately fighting to stop. We are a 700K +/- grid city with an intimate geography. We are lucky! Our solutions should celebrate this and build on it with 'smart' systems and networks that leverage these conditions and not supplant it with heavy linear systems that are designed for much intense conditions.

My descriptive "8 & U" loops for the LRT resulted from a very quick search for some logical patterns that already exist in our core & lower city. My need to indulge in pattern discovery was the outcome of a quick and dirty two location poll (at Walnut – King & Main) that I had conducted last year. Around 30 car drivers were polled during morning peak hour – the results were:

Around 75% of car drivers on both King and Main were in fact –not-- on these two roads just to get from the west end to the east end or vice versa.

Almost all cars on King going west originated in the lower city mostly before Gage.
70% were heading directly to the 403 East & West Exits.
10% were going towards Westdale, Mac, Dundas and beyond.
20% were going to various points in the core and the lower city.

Around 60% of all cars on Main going east originated off the Main-East exits off 403 E/W, with 10% coming from West End and beyond and 30% originating from around the lower city.
45% were going to various points between the Core and Parkdale / Centennial area.
25% were going to various points between the Core and Gage
30% were going to various points in the core.

If this poll was conducted at Dundurn or other locations on Main & King the results would definitely have varied. Besides, this does not factor in the HSR transit rider numbers during this period.

The loops suggested earlier are only to trigger ideas – It is the approach behind that could give us: the incremental growth which prevents fatal top-down planning errors from being permanently etched out on our landscape; help us tackle the issues of slowing down speeds in our core by consciously removing the thruway metaphor from our city and breaking up the linearity of the east west corridor by inserting LRT/HSR/BRT loop/s in its middle which connects the many dispersed critical high-traffic community nodes, with options to grow as incremental demands emerge.

Our search for solutions should be a response to questions such as: How does one help the community live a better life? Rather than how does one develop a speculative tool for land development or how do we rapidly win this board-game of Monopoly.

Our past has had many such speculative tools deployed - resulting in an inner city mall and high speed boulevards on York and Main. It would be extremely unfortunate if the inner city automobile expressway is replaced with an LRT expressway.

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