CITY TRAFFIC – GOING NOWHERE part 1
The population of the world is growing and it is increasing primarily in the cities. One hundred years ago the most populous city in the world was London with 4.6 million( M) and the second was New York with 4 M. Today London has 19 M and New York 13 M, but they pale in comparison to Tokyo which has 37 M and is the largest, followed by many cities in the East which are far larger than London or New York.
I cannot comment on traffic anywhere but in my city. To say that the movement of traffic is slow, is an understatement. When repairs to the roads are in process, chaos ensues. The political answer is “spend money”……..wider roads, more street-cars, more subways, more buses and as more people come to live in the city……wider roads, more street-cars and more subways and buses. We are not solving the transportation conundrum by spending the money with no solution in sight. There is a solution, but it involves disturbing the normal life patterns of the citizens.
I live in a condo in the centre of Toronto. I rise early and can see the flow of traffic from 6 A.M. onward. It amazes me that from 6 A.M. until 8.15 A.M. the traffic is no problem. The cars are moving along at an acceptable pace. As if by magic, at exactly at 8.15 the cars are now bumper to bumper. What happened? Everyone using this route left their house at exactly the same time in order to arrive at work by 9 A.M or thereabouts. On statutory holidays when the schools and government offices are closed, the traffic flows freely at 8.15 A.M. and beyond.
When politicians offer their regular solutions, they have no knowledge if, in fact, they are lessening the traffic problems. They have not succeeded in the last 50 years and their solutions usually lead to more congestion in the process. It is obvious why institutions and businesses open between 7-9A.M. Most people are in bed between 10-11 P.M. and need 6-7 hours of sleep so that they can wake up refreshed and ready for work or school. Human nature cannot be changed, but it can be modified. If schools and places of work staggered their opening hours between 7 and 11 A.M. and people worked their regular hours, the traffic patterns would change dramatically. Realistically, at the beginning there would be a great deal of dislocation, but with the passage of time people would adjust. We cannot continue with these dead-end solutions to traffic but we have major problems with our elected officials. Winning an election is more important than solving the traffic problem in an unorthodox way. The answers must be forced on officialdom, possibly with tax breaks for the companies involved. The world is urban not rural and will continue in this direction for the foreseeable future. Hours of employment cannot be legislated but can only be agreed to by consensus. People are creatures of habit, but habits can be changed.
CITY TRAFFIC- GOING NOWHERE part 2
Changing personal habits is the complete answer to the traffic problem but not only times of cessation and commencement of work and school. This generation is known for hyper-parenting. Make sure the kids are 100% safe. It is a fact that children account for a high percentage of street crossing accidents but if children are effectively trained over a period of time the odds of there being an accident go down dramatically. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that until the age of 10 children are not ready to go out on their own. But walking with them as practice to nearby schools would give parents confidence and at the same time cut down on the traffic. There are rules to follow. They must look both ways before crossing with the light, no multitasking when crossing and yes, you can speak to strangers for directions but never follow them anywhere. Ask two people if unsure. The odds that the person asked for help is a murderous stranger are very small.
The bicycle predated the automobile and arrived in the late 19th century. The roads at the time were very poorly constructed, with many pot-holes and very quickly the bicycles were discarded in favour of automobiles. In the 1970`s the 10 speed bike made its appearance along with the off-road bike (mountain bike) and people began again to use this mode of transportation for exercise but not for transportation. The Toronto City Council recognizes that the bicycle is now an integral efficient mode of transportation and recreation and has a policy of implementing programs to facilitate its use. There are lanes on public roads that are for bike use only.
A 2007 Decima study showed that that 48% of Torontonians are bicyclists and 60% of households owned a bicycle. When the use of bikes faded there was a plausible reason. The roads were not without many pot-holes and generally safe as they are now. There is a legitimate reason to try bikes for transportation at this time, as there are too many cars on the road and there is very little reason to believe this will change in the future. Toronto has an official bike plan to create a city-wide cycling network . This plan will ease traffic problems and benefit the environment.
City Traffic going nowhere–Part 3
Politicians are interested in one thing only. Getting elected or re-elected. Not in doing the best for their voters if it causes any dislocation in the lives of the voters. I spoke to Rob Ford during his campaign for mayor for over an hour in 2010, John Tory recently and Josh Matlow on Toronto city council. I gave them my ideas on minimizing the traffic problem. That is, phoning big firms and changing their hours of operation to coincide with other big firms to change their hours so people do not all go to work to be there at the same time. Co-ordination is necessary . Schools and government jobs can enter the equation as well. YES, at the beginning it will bring turmoil and dislocation but the present hours are not set in stone and eventually citizens, and voters will adjust. YES THEY WILL without spending big money on roads , subways and buses that do not work.
WILL THIS HAPPEN HERE, NOT VERY LIKELY. TOO MUCH WORK AND TROUBLE FOR THE POLITICIANS.