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What about reducing car lanes on downtown Yonge?

Posted by Derek Flack / August 22, 2014

Yonge streetToronto has a long love affair with the idea of making downtown Yonge St. more of a public space than merely a thoroughfare, and once in a while we actually try it out. Last Sunday the first Open Streets TO revived a plan first hatched in the 1970s to turn the street into a pedestrian mall. The latest proposal to reimagine the street comes courtesy of Richard Valenzona, who would reduce two lanes of traffic and eliminate the curb to create a promenade featuring additional pedestrian and patio space.

Naturally, a reduction of two lanes of traffic would be controversial, but what's interesting about this proposal is that it's not completely pie in the sky. As winner of the inaugural NXT City Prize, Valenzona has the backing of Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmat to explore the idea. He's just won $5,000 with the top design in the competition, which also provides access to a group of working professionals and an additional $10,000 to get his plan actualized. That's still probably not enough to make something so radical happen in Toronto, but one suspects it'll be good enough to keep the conversation going.

Have a look at his full proposal here.



Whenthenightcalls / August 22, 2014 at 10:23 am
I have a better chance of impregnating Whitney Houston.
vic / August 22, 2014 at 10:44 am
This proposal looks very similar to the pedestrianized stretch of St. Catherine's Street in Montreal (which has even harsher winters than Toronto). If this is intended for just a few blocks, then it's a great idea
asdgsg / August 22, 2014 at 10:45 am
i think its a great idea. there are so many fricking road options for cars.. It wouldn't make a difference if we got rid of one...
woonerf fan / August 22, 2014 at 10:46 am
Love it.
yes please / August 22, 2014 at 11:01 am
love it
Miss Iolanda Saputo replying to a comment from Rob / August 22, 2014 at 11:02 am
There are pedestrianized streets in Oslo, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Ottawa. Calm down.
YES YES YES! / August 22, 2014 at 11:11 am
Absolutely. Yonge now has reduced lines downtown every day created by a string of selfish drivers who use it as a temporary drop off parking spot to wait for a passenger to run in and do a bit of shopping. Cut down one lane either direction and get rid of the free parking spots for lazy drivers.
A big NO to temporary closures like the one in Montreal. This creates a big empty landing asphalt landing strip. Permanent is the only way to go so proper landscaping can be done.
Water for Beer / August 22, 2014 at 11:12 am
uh...I guess all the delivery trucks would have to be replaced by drones.
Al replying to a comment from Water for Beer / August 22, 2014 at 11:22 am
Or they could deliver from behind, like most businesses there do now. Or they could use the remaining lanes. Your drone idea could work too, though.
MER1978 / August 22, 2014 at 11:32 am
Delivery trucks are able to access Saint Catherine which is otherwise closed off to vehicles.
Mel / August 22, 2014 at 11:38 am
Most of Yonge is down to two lanes anyways and it doesn't impact traffic at all.

Ryerson university construction has blocked a lane for years and the other office towers to the south have done the same.

Yonge street needs wider sidewalks, they're now too narrow for the crowds especially north of Dundas.
ANdré Luiz replying to a comment from Water for Beer / August 22, 2014 at 11:40 am
That´s a really good point!
Leo / August 22, 2014 at 11:55 am
This would hurt cyclists more than help. Traffic will be tighter and cyclists will be trapped. All it takes is one car waiting to turn right to shut the line down. Will a cyclist have the room to go around and pass cars that are stopped without going directly into un-coming traffic?
Amy / August 22, 2014 at 11:56 am
So he won on a revised plan from the 1970's that wasnt his?
jaaaaaaaat / August 22, 2014 at 11:59 am
this is an exact copy of exhibition road in london.

not sure if this is the best treatment given Yonge's use as a thoroughfare.
What would Drake do? / August 22, 2014 at 12:40 pm
I wonder what DRAKE thinks, we should get his input before proceeding on any of this.
Qaf / August 22, 2014 at 12:40 pm
I love it but this is Toronto after all where we can't even discuss encroaching onto vehicular territory without causing a massive shitstorm.
Do it / August 22, 2014 at 12:55 pm
Wish they would do this, get ride of the lanes, use half for cyclist, and widen the pedestrian road. Use the remaining lanes for shuttle street cars between the stops. Everytime I drive downtown, I would never use Yonge st. There are many other roads that are faster and safer to be on. The people who uses Yonge st are usually people who don't drive downtown, suck at directions so they follow one road up or down/don't use highway, and taxi drivers looking for fares.
links / August 22, 2014 at 12:56 pm
If the intention is to create a promendade like those in Europe, then I personally don't think Yonge is the way to go. How about somewhere that is actually nice to walk around like front street between yonge and jarvis?

Or maybe pick a street that already has restaurants like Duncan or even Victoria?
W. K. Lis / August 22, 2014 at 01:28 pm
Keep thy streets only for the automobile gods. Keep it holy, do not step you unclean shoes upon the surface reserved only for the automobile gods. Kneel before them. So sayeth your prophet, Rob Ford.
Gary / August 22, 2014 at 02:24 pm
I've been waiting forever for this to happen. Yonge Street is a people street, not a car street. It's also our main street and pedestrians need to be the priority here. The sidewalks are not wide enough and it's only a matter of time before we are forced to widen them, due to safety issues. Why not just accept the reality that the pedestrian crowds are growing and do it now? Put some planters, trees, benches and some art too and really do it right. Toronto's main street deserves something special. What are we waiting for?
Davy Gravy / August 22, 2014 at 02:55 pm
Reduce the lanes to zero.
Common Sense / August 22, 2014 at 03:14 pm
How about this. Let's have a referendum on it. And whoever votes for it is banned from owning or renting a vehicle other than a bicycle for life.
TJ / August 22, 2014 at 03:50 pm
Personally, I think part of the fun in Toronto is cruising (not literally) down Yonge Street and seeing all the bright lights at night. Thats what a lot of small town folk do when they come to Toronto and experience it for the first time. Torontonians know better than to drive down Yonge street (unless you had to) in this stretch because you'll just be stuck in traffic for 10-15 mins.
Toby Buckets / August 22, 2014 at 05:32 pm
The car traffic is holding that area back. It would be much more fun to visit without having to listen to constant honking and passive aggressive engine revving.
marty / August 22, 2014 at 05:57 pm
make it no lanes and make it permanent.
how ya like me now / August 22, 2014 at 06:19 pm
Put a roof on it and call it a mall!
WEB / August 22, 2014 at 09:06 pm
Someone needs to tell Jennifer Keesmat that the people that drive in cars are also the same people that decide where to locate head offices.

It is not a war on the car. It is a war on the wealthy. Envy ain't a great sin to acquire. It isn't much fun. Choose another sin that is more fun.
Daniel / August 22, 2014 at 09:43 pm
Maybe if cyclists paid taxes to help maintain the the roads they plague, drivers would take your ideas more seriously.
Nahid / August 22, 2014 at 10:45 pm
I didn't know cyclists were exempt from property taxes. I've been paying those for years. Where can I get my refund??
Rowan / August 22, 2014 at 11:00 pm
I haven't lived in Toronto long, but I think this is a fantastic idea. Toronto seems too given over to private transport. Granted the weather conditions where I'm from are different, but the pedestrian malls make such a positive impact to the atmosphere of the city.
Michael / August 23, 2014 at 12:51 am
If we start from the basic notion that cities are for people to live in, not just drive in, then this idea makes great sense. Sure I am a cyclist, but I'm also a pedestrian, a motorist a father of three and a 905er. But you know at some point, we really have to ask ourself, do we want to be just another... Albany NY, in Ontario or do we want to be a livable city. Because you cannot have a great city if you make the car god, just ask Detroit.
Davy Gravy replying to a comment from Daniel / August 23, 2014 at 04:12 am
You don't think cyclists pay taxes? Do you have a cite for that*?

* Thanks, but actually no cite is necessary, since you couldn't hope to find one in any case. Better to just let your imbecilic and substance-free allegation hang out here, like your ass, for all to see.
Prophet Rob Ford / August 23, 2014 at 10:11 am
Thank you, Mr. Lis, for acknowledging my near-godl status. Let me say it again: cars,Cars,CArs,CARs,CARS! No Yonge street closing, but opening. Expropriate all Yonge Street buildings, widen Yonge Street to build the Rob Ford Parkway so North Yorker, I mean Torontonians, can get out of the goddam downtownthatwon'tvoteford!
scottd replying to a comment from Rob / August 23, 2014 at 01:02 pm
Europe has snow.
Dave / August 23, 2014 at 06:43 pm
Cyclist smell like sweat, rent condos, and get me my coffee in the morning.
Plezzzzzzz / August 24, 2014 at 11:14 am
Prophet Rob Ford / August 25, 2014 at 11:21 am
meatballs / August 25, 2014 at 02:20 pm
The render looks stupid even before you consider there's only half a dozen people on the street. The reality will be you'll have hipsters and morons with their noses buried in books and devices wandering aimlessly, that mother with the stroller will be yakking on her phone, and the cyclists will be forced to weave dangerously around these crowds.

This isn't Europe. It doesn't always work out in Europe, either. I lived in Cardiff where they pedestrianised St Mary St (the equivalent to Yonge St) and in doing so angered all the local business, forced all the traffic to cram onto neighbouring streets, and basically wasted a ton of money building something nobody wanted. (what am I saying? Toronto loves building stuff like that)
stop rob ford / September 8, 2014 at 10:02 am
What does Rob Ford does in Ontario?

He is all about creating more congestion and reducing lanes by wasting our tax dollars. Rob Ford allowed city planners to continue with a plan to reduce lanes on streets where there is a traffic chaos which is not going to happen at all. Here is what Toronto is going to be with Rob Ford, we will see more congestion which rob ford loves to see because he thinks it's funny even if it's not funny.

We cannot support reducing lanes on young street, but we can build a brand new tunnel based connector which is 6-8 lanes in each direction which incudes widening of young street in Northern Toronto and York region which can be re-designed for expressway based traffic which can be called Highway 11 with a tunnel through Barrie and a route to existing highway. I oppose all reducing lanes plans because it causes more congestion. It's not necessary at all, fire Rob Ford and don't let him be premier of Ontario at all.
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