king street toronto

Cars won't be banned from King St. anytime soon

One of the highest priority items for Toronto planners right now is to make King St. more transit friendly. It's home to the city's busiest streetcar route in the 504, which shuttles over 65,000 people across the city each weekday.

There's been talk of revamping the street to prioritize transit since at least 2007 when a streetcar right of way was proposed by the TTC. Under this plan, car use would have been restricted to local traffic and delivery vehicles.

While a pilot project was never undertaken, the transit-first concept returned to the table last year with the King Street Visioning Study, which promised another crack at improving life for commuters along this crucial stretch of the city.

Since the study was first brought to the attention of the public, there's been plenty of talk about drastic changes to the street, including a ban on cars throughout the week.

The city's Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat recently told the CBC that each of the options under consideration for a new pilot project "essentially get cars out of the way."

With the initial portion of the study due tomorrow, the Toronto Star got an advance look at the proposed scenarios for the upcoming project, which reveals that none of the plans on the table involve a complete ban on cars.

According to the Star, all three proposals call for the centre lanes to be reserved solely for streetcar use, but two of the proposals go further to reduce congestion on the street.

Option one would allow for a single lane of one-way car traffic that would alternate directions each block to prevent through traffic but allow for local access and deliveries.

Option two would see sidewalks extended into the street on both sides while car traffic would be forced to make right hand turns at intersections, thereby banning through traffic.

The third option is the most conservative and would see the centre lane devoted to streetcars and the elimination of left hand turns for cars, but no additional provisions.

It remains to be seen what the public will is when it comes to these plans, as community consultation will begin in earnest when these plans are officially tabled, but it's quite obvious that two of them are aggressive attempts to change the dynamic of the street.

While neither of these ban cars outright, they effectively diminish their impact of transit, which is the point in the first place.

Lead photo by

Ben Roffelsen

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