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Morning Brew: Rob Ford wants to chat, what next for transit tax?, cut the speed limit for bikers and walkers, TTC looking at bendy busses, Jays win and Raptors lose

Posted by Chris Bateman / April 24, 2012

MB Street Crossing FedoraRob Ford plans to call city councillors - including the ones he doesn't always see eye-to-eye with - into his office over the next few days for a series of brainstorming sessions, reports the Globe and Mail. The move could be an olive branch to the group of councillors - dubbed the mighty middle - who have voted against the mayor in recent key votes and helped steer the agenda away from Ford's own vision.

So we know drivers hate commuting in Toronto, but what are we going to do about it? After a weekend poll by the Toronto Star confirmed support for a transit tax to fund new infrastructure, John Lorinc at Spacing asks what needs to happen to get the wheels moving (pun intended). A list of transit projects the tax could fund is high on the list of priorities. The cause also needs a champion - but who will step up?

The Toronto Board of Health says cutting the speed limit to 30 kilometres per hour on residential streets and 40 everywhere else - among a host of other changes - would improve conditions for walkers and cyclists, reduce injuries in accidents and improve the overall health of the city, reports The Grid. Chances of this ending up as fodder in the "war on cars"? 100%. Would you support a reduced speed limit if it made it to city council?

A document posted on the TTC website suggests the Commission is looking into a fleet of 60-foot articulated busses (bendy busses to you and me) to serve some of its busiest routes. The tender sent to seven vehicle manufacturers, including Metrolinx, seems to be courting offers for several of the high-capacity machines. Let's hope this works out better than London's first fleet of flexible, super-capacity people movers. (via Reddit)

This week's Retrontario blast from the past takes us to the Toronto Islands in the 1970s, a time when a kid could reasonably expect to ride a horse, a giant plastic swan, a car on rails, a miniature train, a rowing boat, a pleasure cruiser, a swing set, a gondola and a ferry all in a single day. Those were the days...


Photo: "Fedora Noir" by GregoryIV in the BlogTO Flickr pool.



vampchick21 / April 24, 2012 at 08:52 am
Ford doesn't have a vision. I don't think he ever had a vision beyond "kill everything David Miller liked". He doesn't have a clue how to be mayor, and I think once he started to realize all the work and obigations that came with the job, he doesn't really want to be mayor.
Darryl / April 24, 2012 at 09:05 am
Do they really think 30km/h is reasonable? Will those extra 10km/h make that much of a difference? I'm a cyclist and a walker, and I think this is a waste.
Michael Polo / April 24, 2012 at 09:07 am
You can create any laws you want, it doesn't mean that people will conform. You only have to look to texting while driving as an example.

The only difference will be more money in the coffers of the police and province.
akswun / April 24, 2012 at 09:20 am
Bendy busses!!!... Was wondering about them the other day while riding the new trains. Kinda miss the center articulation point. Does the TTC still run the extended streetcars as well?
Darryl replying to a comment from akswun / April 24, 2012 at 09:25 am
I ride bendy streetcars on Queen all the time. Not enough bends though :)
Bendy Buses / April 24, 2012 at 09:29 am
I love riding the Freeva bendy buses up and down Yonge St. I stand in the center with my backpack and listen to Alicia Keys on my iPhone and it's awesome!
maria / April 24, 2012 at 09:30 am
30 km/hour is crazy. Think of the Auto Bahn in's really not about the speed limit, it's about the common sense of the driver. You can't get a license without passing a series of complicated tests over there so why can anyone get a hold of a license here? And we wonder ehy there are so many accidents on the roads... I am a cyclist, a walker AND a driver. To me even the 50 km is too slow realistically. This proposal is just another excuse to stop those 'criminals' they call speeders on their way home from work and make them pay everything they earned that day.
john / April 24, 2012 at 09:42 am
fully support lowered speed limits, cities are for people, not cars, everything should be kept to a human scale.
Chris / April 24, 2012 at 09:43 am
I hope these "meetings" are a genuine realization by Ford that he can't just stomp his feet and expect Council to go along - he actually has to show a willingness to work with them, even if they're not always on the same page. The approach he's taken thus far has been wholly ineffective, so maybe he's starting to see the light. As much as I want this guy gone, I also want Council to get on with the business of running this City and not spending all of their time and energy fighting with each other while nothing gets done. We still have at least 2 more years of Ford, so we need to get Council working in some form, or else we'll just keep treading water.

As for lowering the speed limits? Dumb idea that I hope never gets any traction at Council. City streets don't need to be made any slower than they already are, and dropping speed limits by 10 km/h is just going to frustrate drivers and encourage them to speed even more, thus making the streets less safe for cyclists and pedestrians.

If anything, I might suggest that speed limits on certain main arterial roads in the City are already too slow as it is.
steve replying to a comment from maria / April 24, 2012 at 09:44 am
I am sure everyone has seen a variation of this many times. A motorist (for argument sakes cyclist and pedestrians too, but they are less of a damage to life an limb then motor vehicles) performing an onerous maneuver right in front of law enforcement and nothing is done. Until he police start to do traffic control and punish violators nothing will change.
Ba / April 24, 2012 at 09:45 am
The worst drivers on the planet AKA Toronto drivers won't handle a ludicrous 30KM/40KM speed limit any worse or better than they handle the current 40KM/50KM limits. It starts with the province overhauling the licensing system and making it more challenging to get a license. If I see one more incompetent d-bag struggling to parallel park his/her car in a spot twice as big as they need, I'm going to lose my f'ing mind.
oh replying to a comment from vampchick21 / April 24, 2012 at 09:47 am
Considering Miller was wrong on pretty much every front, Ford has a great vision.
Imagine, living on a budget and pushing for a permanent transit solution. That doesn't sound too bad to me
Johnny Tronno / April 24, 2012 at 09:48 am
"the 1970s, a time when a kid could reasonably expect to ride a horse, a giant plastic swan, a car on rails, a miniature train, a rowing boat, a pleasure cruiser, a swing set, a gondola and a ferry all in a single day."

Wait, a kid can't do that now at Centreville? What has changed so much?
J-P replying to a comment from maria / April 24, 2012 at 09:50 am
There's a huge difference between controlled-access highways and city streets!
One reason for lowering the speed limit is that it dramatically improves collision survival rates for pedestrians:
at 30 km/h the survival rate is 95 per cent;
at 50 km/h the survival rate is 45 percent.
Cheryl / April 24, 2012 at 09:55 am
If reducing pedestrian accidents is the goal, how about doing something about the rampant J-Walking that goes on this city?
the lemur replying to a comment from maria / April 24, 2012 at 09:57 am
If drivers are as terrible in Toronto as you suggest (not actually arguing that there aren't some terrible ones) because it's too easy to get a licence, then it doesn't make sense to let them go faster than they are currently allowed to.

Bad drivers and badly trained drivers don't magically become safer drivers when you raise the speed limit.
Why Leave 905 replying to a comment from Johnny Tronno / April 24, 2012 at 09:59 am
I will *NOT* let my child ride anything that will endanger their life. We can do all of those things with our Kinect now anyway...
the lemur replying to a comment from maria / April 24, 2012 at 10:08 am
I think lowering speed limits on residential streets makes sense in some cases. I live on a one-way side street off a major arterial, on a short block that has the first stop sign after leaving that main road. The limit is 40 km/h and most drivers go much faster than that, only to come to a sudden stop, or make a half-assed stop.
Antony / April 24, 2012 at 10:18 am
I love how the argument against lowering speed limits is "Drivers don't obey the speed limit now, better not change anything or... they'll ignore the law more".

And other road users are the "scofflaws"?
Smokey Mirror replying to a comment from the lemur / April 24, 2012 at 10:19 am
Then ticket them for speeding and/or a rolling stop! Is lowering the speed limit going to change police presence in your area? I'd be surprised.

I haven't read the report yet, but I'm sure the media focusing on this stupid traffic thing is just misdirection from budget cuts. Let's talk about this "host of other changes" that they suggest.
steve replying to a comment from Cheryl / April 24, 2012 at 10:23 am
I agree, we will need a law for that first. We a;so need to address the drivers that grid-lock, run red/yellow lights, stop signs, ignore no turns, refuse to yield, I am sure I have missed few. The problem with traffic is the traffic almost exclusively motor vehicles
the lemur replying to a comment from Smokey Mirror / April 24, 2012 at 10:33 am
Well, yeah, enforcement is the other side of the equation. The only cops around my area are the parking enforcement ones early in the morning.

Some more detailed analysis here:
agentsmith / April 24, 2012 at 10:35 am
Wow, articulated buses? Welcome to the 20th century, TTC!
vampchick21 replying to a comment from oh / April 24, 2012 at 10:36 am
Too bad Ford doesn't have a clue how to make it happen. Have you paid attention to his 'efforts'?
ok ok ok ok ok woooooo / April 24, 2012 at 10:36 am
We should just eliminate pedestrians.
Chris replying to a comment from vampchick21 / April 24, 2012 at 10:44 am
So true - when Ford was presented with several options for helping pay for his Sheppard Subway plan (and which would at least generate some kind of longer term kitty for future transit expansion), he rejected it out of hand, which essentially cost him the votes at Council. Instead, he's now seemingly grasping at the notion of a Casino in Toronto funding any future transit expansion, in tune with all this alleged "private funding" (which in reality is non-existent). He's still clinging to, and selling folks (at least in Scarborough and North York based on the most recent polling numbers) on this notion of "free" transit expansion. He still hasn't shown any inclination to accept that we can't get meaningful new transit in this city until we're willing to pay for it, with a sustainable funding model.

He does have vision - its just that his vision is near-sighted.

Wub Wub replying to a comment from ok ok ok ok ok woooooo / April 24, 2012 at 10:51 am
That's exactly what the high speed limit is TRYING to do.
the lemur / April 24, 2012 at 10:51 am
We do happen to have more wide streets than London does, so bendy buses would work well on some routes.

What I'd like to know is why Metrolinx is bidding to supply bendy buses to the TTC - where are they getting those buses from?
eli replying to a comment from the lemur / April 24, 2012 at 11:10 am
I dunno brainz. Why not ask them instead of speculating on a hipster advertising site
CanoeDave / April 24, 2012 at 11:33 am
With all the angst and urgency about transit in the GTA and discussions about the L.A. Transit tax, it seems to be forgotten what is already being done and that the GTA- half the size of greater LA- is already spending double or more than LA through existing taxes. Just start adding up the projects already on the books; Transit City/Eglington Crosstown, $8.5billion, on its’ own the biggest infrastructure project in North America; Spadina Subway expansion $2.5 Billion; $200 million doubling the Union Station TTC Platform; $550 million reno of Union Station; Pearson Airport express train; Massive rebuild of Union Station train sheds by Metrolinx/Go; Ongoing building of large parking structures at Go Stations across the GTA; Go Track/capacity upgrades across the GTA; New TTC buses, Street Cars and Subway Cars. If one recalls the transit mess created during the construction of the St.Clair Right of Way one must understand that Toronto will be up to its’ Ying Yang in expenditures and construction disruptions for at least 5 years so we have a lot of time to make plans for what is next. If anything a new Transit Tax should be dedicated to increasing the transit subsidy for existing ridership up to levels closer to world standards.
Parker replying to a comment from Johnny Tronno / April 24, 2012 at 11:34 am
I dunno why the writer phrased it like that. All those rides are *still running* at Centreville. Although the Sky Ride was shut down for most of last season. Hopefully it'll be working this summer.
Go outside replying to a comment from Why Leave 905 / April 24, 2012 at 11:43 am
You're joking right?
Please tell me you're joking.
David / April 24, 2012 at 11:48 am
There's a short film called "Stopping in Cabbagetown" which shows many cars making rolling stops in the streets of Cabbagetown.
Mark Dowling replying to a comment from agentsmith / April 24, 2012 at 12:20 pm
agentsmith: TTC had artics before, the Ikarus. It didn't end well.

lemur: Metrolinx has contracts with manufacturers where it buys on behalf of 905 municipalities to a joint specification, so the municipalities benefit from economy of scale and Metrolinx just brokers the deal. TTC normally orders enough not to need to join with someone else but it's good that the option is there.

Artics should work reasonably well on routes like Finch West to bridge the gap to light rail, but one of the benefits of artics is multiple doors so all-door-boarding and proof of payment checks should be part of the deployment.
THE MAYOR / April 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm
Hey sure this mic is off? Allright..huddle around and lissen up crew. My legacy is on the line here. I don't wanna go out a complete loser. Does anyone here have any objections if I get baptised by the Focus on the Family whackjobs here in the mayor's office in front of a TV crew? Harpo's people said it was my last hope. Oh yeah...Mammo has to have an exorcism because of all the "stuff" that gets shoved in his ass. Rug? Please don't try to pork Mammo in the pooper with the cameras on this time.
Mamosthumb / April 24, 2012 at 12:41 pm
thumbs down on lower speed limits, crazy commies trying to tell me how fast i can drive.
iSkyscraper / April 24, 2012 at 01:03 pm
Although no one seems to have noticed, the speed limit program is modeled on the new 20 mph Slow Zones in New York City, which themselves are modeled on the 400+ "Twenty is plenty" zones in London (20 mph equals about 30 km/h). These are meant for small residential areas that meet certain conditions. Not rocket science. See:

This is the kind of proven, real-world stuff like bike lanes and off-vehicle transit boarding that Toronto should be importing right away rather than be afraid of. Get your head out of the sand already, Hogtownians.
Ban Cyclists / April 24, 2012 at 01:21 pm
Or we could just get rid of the cancer altogether and ban cyclists.
Chris replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / April 24, 2012 at 01:56 pm
Well, when you have the Deputy Mayor of the City imploring voters not to elect any more cyclists, in response to a vote about outsourcing City cleaning services (still not sure how he made that connection, by the way), it can be hard to see the light in terms of progressive thinking at City Hall.
Alex / April 24, 2012 at 02:37 pm
Germany probably has stricter licensing laws because their cities probably aren't built in such a way that a car is necessary. When you design and build cities around cars, you can't then be picky about who gets a license.

I don't support lowering the speed limit though. People causing the accidents aren't going to follow the speed limit anyway, so instead you're just slow down traffic even more in the city and punishing the good drivers who know how to drive responsibly at higher speeds.

It's not just drivers you know, a lower speed limit won't stop stupid pedestrians or bicyclists. Walking/biking while on your cell/listening to music and not paying attention to the world around you as you jaywalk or go through a red is asking for trouble. As a serial jaywalker I know the golden rule of eye contact, and not being stupid enough to just expect cars to stop for you.
the lemur replying to a comment from Alex / April 24, 2012 at 03:18 pm
It's more to do with associating cars and driving with personal freedom (North America) or with personal responsibility (Germany).

Also, Germans love rules.
agentsmith replying to a comment from Mark Dowling / April 25, 2012 at 11:14 am
Well anything named Ikarus is bound to end badly. It seems that particular brand/model was just poor quality to begin with.
Andrew replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / May 1, 2012 at 10:02 am
Right, but then New York City has installed 300 miles of bike lanes in the last 5 years alone. And has people governing the city who are smart and forward-thinking. I can't understand how Toronto even dares to compare itself to New York. They are in college, while we're still in the sandbox... No wonder why we can't understand limiting speeds in certain areas and adding bike lanes and infrastructure as important...
bimbimbop replying to a comment from Alex / May 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm
penalties for speeding are usually in relation to how much you are speeding by (5km/hr is ok, 20 over is not), So people who go 50 in a 40 will now likely be going a 40 in a 50, not 50 in a 30. Also its not the pedestrians that are stupid, usually people getting killed are senior citizens who move slowly and get plowed down by Josh's and Trixies tweeting on their iphones.
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