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John Street cultural corridor starts to take shape

Posted by Derek Flack / May 11, 2014

John Street Cultural CorridorThere are big plans for John Street, as the City and the Toronto Entertainment BIA work to see the street become a "cultural corridor." What that means in more concrete terms is that an increase in pedestrian space is on the agenda for the street in an effort to make it something of a destination rather than merely a thoroughfare. In keeping with the approved Environmental Assessment of the street, the first signs of what the transformation might look like are currently on display leading into the summer. The City has recently installed a series of planters along the east side of John between Adelaide and Queen as part of a pilot project to test out how a more pedestrian-friendly design might work.

John Street Cultural CorridorSomewhat similar to the parklets installed on Church Street last summer, the infrastructure is currently temporary. The planters will be in place until October 12, and could continue to return on a seasonal basis until full blown construction commences on the Street. The added pedestrian space comes at the expense of turning lanes through this short stretch, so technically doesn't cost much in vehicular capacity. It is, however, a bit tight for cyclists now, so ride with care.

This is only a glimpse of the major redesign in store for the street, but it looks promising. The planters are a hell of a lot nicer than bollards and the added space certainly comes in handy during peak times like rush hour and weekend nights when the area swells with foot traffic. For more on the project, check out this Metro Morning interview with Harold Madi, Director of Urban Design for Toronto.



flib / May 11, 2014 at 09:17 am
Slowest. Project. Ever.

And what's there now is only temporary. Yeesh.
W. K. Lis replying to a comment from flib / May 11, 2014 at 09:27 am
Expected from a city hall administration lead by a pro-car, anti-walking/anti-transit twin mayors.
Marilyn / May 11, 2014 at 10:53 am
Dumb idea! This is such a busy traffic area, especially on the weekends. Thanks for making it even slower!
Jacob replying to a comment from Marilyn / May 11, 2014 at 10:58 am
That's why I try to take transit whenever I go downtown. In fact, I did just that yesterday.

It is possible to spend a day without your car, you know.
Bingo / May 11, 2014 at 11:05 am
And that lane was mostly taken up by idling taxis anyhow.
FunnyBug / May 11, 2014 at 11:34 am
Cultural corridor with Hooters and Milestones? Hmmm....
steve replying to a comment from Marilyn / May 11, 2014 at 11:55 am
Yes a busy traffic corridor but not nearly as busy people corridor. Slowing the traffic is a good thing cars have plenty of alternatives, pedestrian do not.
Cute / May 11, 2014 at 12:28 pm
S / May 11, 2014 at 12:34 pm
I work in the area, and by far the biggest problem is the constant construction. How can you enjoy the sidewalk there if you're going to get barraged by a wall of dust from all of the construction sites?
Michael / May 11, 2014 at 12:58 pm
The only safe thing for cyclists to do through this stretch is to take the lane. Please don't try to ride in that narrow strip between the lane line and the planters, don't ride through the pedestrian boulevard, and don't try to ride on the right side of the remaining travel lane. Take the lane, no one is driving quickly through there anyway.
Randy replying to a comment from Michael / May 11, 2014 at 01:19 pm
Can cyclists not just go one street over and just avoid this debate?
James / May 11, 2014 at 01:46 pm
Is this a multicultural corridor? Or just a cultural corridor? If so which cultures ?
hamish wilson / May 11, 2014 at 04:38 pm
Going "one street over" should apply equally to everyone right? But it doesn't; and as cyclists, we still lack after c. 20 years a single, smooth, safe linkage to the Waterfront. So the selling out of cyclists in a privatization of public space for making a batch of money, and in the case of the City TV occupation of the road, it's for favourable coverage odds are, as Mr. Vaughan was in their employ right, though they have a larger parking lot that could hold events, and not block/slow the streetcar.

Yes, there are plans for the "one block over" - but it has a bad connection across Queen St., inherent conflict with peds and streetcar tracks, and sure, it could be fixed by getting the roads linked up as the Green P lot is vacant land, but at times the land (except for the street) seems to have much value.

Not too positive a legacy for Adam Vaughan, though he's done some great work on other files.
neonshaun / May 11, 2014 at 05:13 pm
I walk down this street every day to/from work.

This is such a crap idea.

People aren't walking in the extra space, because it's awkwardly short as the planters taper off to allow car turning.

The only thing I can see are those restaurants extending their sidewalk patio seating out into the road. So good for them, they get extra business, while people will have to walk through/around their tables?

Hooters and milestones and jack astors... about half of the restaurants on that strip are shitty chain restaurants.
Zi replying to a comment from Marilyn / May 11, 2014 at 06:46 pm
Poor flower! How will you deal with the masses without your motorized plastic bubble to keep you clean? Oh Foofy, buy some tokens, take a transfer, and get over yourself. Your shopping therapy can be done without your car.
Shawn / May 11, 2014 at 06:59 pm
So many negative internet haters. The plan is to eventually make the whole street a walkway, no cars or bikes at all. It will take years but it will be a great space eventually.

M.Harris / May 11, 2014 at 07:02 pm
Stop being so timid Toronto and just make it a pedestrian mall! These half-ass efforts just end up not satisfying anyone.
I just came back from Melbourne Australia - otherwise known as the Toronto of the southern hemisphere - and several blocks in their city centre are now essentially car free - and there are plans for more downtown car free zones. And despite what narrow minded Toronto retailers always say whenever anyone suggests closing off streets to traffic....those areas are packed full of people and business is booming.
Ideally, Yonge Street between at least Dundas and Queen should be car free. So should Kensington Market. So should Yorkville. It's not anti-car, it's pro-city. Most major cities have pedestrian only malls - what makes Toronto the only place in the world where it can't possibly work? It simply comes down to a lack of imagination from city councilors and Toronto BIA's.
Marilyn / May 11, 2014 at 09:05 pm
If it's going to be a pedestrian walkway, let's make it a pedestrian walkway! That would be cool!
Petra / May 11, 2014 at 09:47 pm
Hopefully this works better than the Church Street Parklets.

All they did was reduce parking spots, hinder pedestrian access, create smoking patios and provide temporary housing for the homeless. Really, just clouds of smoke and mentally ill gentlemen with no pants taking naps all day.

The shop owners counted the days until those parklets were removed.

And in fairness, they had almost no landscaping, unlike the Yonge street experiment the year before, so there were not really "Parklets" just pink fences with benches.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from M.Harris / May 11, 2014 at 10:38 pm
Absolutely right on. Comment of the day.
Water into beer replying to a comment from hamish wilson / May 11, 2014 at 10:52 pm
Adam Vaughan can suck my plums. He's a crook with his head up the Condo developers ass and 55 million in his #37 slush fund. When this 'posier of the people' runs for an M.P.P. seat all will be revealed.
mel / May 12, 2014 at 12:22 am
When will the city ever get the balls to move forward to making this city better????

Church St., Yonge St. all have done this make the city better thing.

Then back to the status quo.

mel replying to a comment from Petra / May 12, 2014 at 12:23 am
Oh, and how many customers come from one parking spot in front of a store??

I bet you don't even live in Toronto.

As for the mentally ill running amok in Toronto ... that's a different issue.
Mark / May 12, 2014 at 12:26 am
I dunno. If that's supposed to be a patio extension or what. But hey, looks like I'm gonna be buzzin' some patio sitters on my bike this season. Because its better than dealing with clubbers in their cheap luxury vehicles.
Herb / May 12, 2014 at 09:40 am
This pilot project doesn't reflect the EA. In the EA there was supposed to be a smooth transition between the pedestrian realm and the "car" realm with a "flexible boulevard" and a "non-barrier" curb (sort of like what you see at the Prince's Gate at the Ex. Instead the planters provide very much a barrier.

It basically ignores cyclists leaving them in shadow zone. Do they wait behind the long lines of backed up cars on John (like in this photo Do they squeeze into the small space between the planters and the cars? Or do they just say "screw it" and go into that wide open space that seems to be mostly bereft of pedestrians?

A much better idea for John Street would have been to make it inconvenient for drivers to use it as a through route. What I'm thinking of is a bike boulevard / pedestrian realm combo ( A bike boulevard would force cars to make turns at each block while allowing bikes and pedestrians to go straight through. This would reduce the traffic on John and make it a more sane space for everyone. We won't see this until the City's planners grow a pair and admit to themselves that we're not helping anyone by trying to preserve car access everywhere.
kn / May 13, 2014 at 07:44 am
Buy the parking lot behind these buildings to the east and turn it into a public park/square!
Kastef / May 13, 2014 at 01:10 pm
I wish they would just make it pedestrian only. That way cars and bikes would just avoid it. Right now it's slow for cars because there is no dedicated left turning lanes anymore, and damn dangerous for bikers. I rode up there yesterday and realized if a situation were to arise you have a choice between contorting your body around car mirrors/doors or letting those very tall square planters chew up your legs then ditching you back into traffic. Dumb. Just close it to traffic and let the restuarunts/shops benefit. Us cars and bikes will find anouther path.
Kastef replying to a comment from neonshaun / May 13, 2014 at 01:11 pm
Wouldn't it be great if the storefronts were reserved for local stores instead of chains? All hail the mighty dollar.
Talentscout / August 18, 2014 at 04:41 pm
Where are the pedestrians? Where is the traffic.../ I see no one going up this street....Adam Vaughan is a MORON>>>> BOYCOTT JOHN STREET...
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