2017-07-11 Tue


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Just continuing to log the Days of Direct Sunlight. Soon be gone. This photo was taken on July 11th 2017

More Muddy Thinking in Toronto

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We are all alive and well here in Toronto; at least, those of us who are alive and well are. That’s what we call Radical Incrementalism” here in Toronto, and all but one of us is proud of it.

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We are actually having a debate about streetcars.

On the one side are people, or at least, there is at least one person who points out that streetcars occupy two lanes of traffic, especially when their doors are open for, by law, drivers in the right-hand lane aren’t supposed to drive past the streetcar and decapitate passengers, or do other sorts of damage.

On the other side are people who recoil in horror and almost faint dead away before the vote is taken, pointing out that Toronto’s streetcars are iconic, for heaven’s sake, and that we should not tamper with an inefficient way of using mass transit because so many tourists take photos of the streetcars.

Of course the tourists take photos of the streetcars (or “trolleys” as my friends from New Jersey say). What else are they going to do once they finally get off one and realise that they could have walked to where they are going faster?

The locals who claim that the Streetcars are Untouchable (for iconic reasons) will be found to be the ones who also complain about congestion, about how it is faster to walk to where you re going than to wait for, let alone ride in, a streetcar.

You can’t have it both ways.

You can have the picturesque old-world quality of streetcars mingling with other vehicles, some of which are trying to maim or kill streetcar passengers, OR you can get rid of streetcars.

Let’s face it. If you were to get rid of streetcars you would instantly resolve all sorts of issues such as “streetcar bunching”, “broken-down-streetcar-with-twelve-streetcars-stacked-up-behind-it-and-a-million-people-waiting-downstream-before-catching-a-cab”.

The only question then is “Where to put the streetcars” and the answer is obvious: Either sell them to Venezuela, or put them on their own right-of-way.

Just don’t mix them up with General Motor-Powered Traffic.

Which prompts another question: What if we kept the streetcars and did away with the Other Motor Vehicles? Well, that’s a bit like turning College, Dundas, Queen, King, Spadina and Bathurst streets into streetcar right-of-way streets. But what then will you do with that unused lane? Give it over to cyclists? Patios for cafes and bars for three months of the year? Plant lawn in it? Flowers?

So, what will Toronto do?

It will sort-of ban vehicles from the streetcar routes, allowing the general motor-powered traffic to take pot-shots at passengers on a block-by-block basis.

Except, perhaps, for taxicabs whose drivers are arguably the worst-behaved most undisciplined drivers in the city. When you spend your entire work shift in a car driving on the streets, your mind takes on the attitude that the street is Your Turf and nobody else’s.