Will Toronto Get Cars Out of the Way of the King Street Streetcar?

Toronto's King Street, despite running through some of the city's most densely populated areas, has been designed more like a suburban thoroughfare. But that is about to change. Photo: Wikipedia
Toronto’s King Street will be redesigned to prioritize transit and walking. Photo: Wikipedia

Despite running through some of Toronto’s most densely populated areas, King Street is designed like a suburban road. Cars have dominion while the city’s streetcar has no dedicated right-of-way despite high ridership — so it sits in heavy traffic. But it looks that’s about to change.

Toronto recently announced plans to overhaul King Street by 2017 with a pilot project to shift space from cars to pedestrians and transit. The specifics have yet to be worked out, but Brandon Donnelly at Network blog Architect this City says it sounds very promising:

This isn’t to say the street will be closed to cars. I would imagine that at least 1 lane would remain for cars going each way. Instead it will be redesigned to prioritize transit, pedestrians, and cyclists.

So why is this exciting?

The King streetcar is currently broken. If you’ve ever taken it across downtown during rush hour, you know exactly what I mean. It’s infuriating. You might as well be crawling on your hands and knees. One of the goals of this initiative will be to get it working again. Good.

The shoulders of downtown — along King West and King East — are seeing some of the greatest intensification in the region. So much that it’s common for people in this city to complain that Toronto misplanned it all by allowing this development before the transit was there. Well, this is a quick and inexpensive way to get the transit there. Remember that when the inevitable “war on car” rhetoric ratchets up over the next year.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Urban Cincy says word on the street is that the Ohio Department of Transportation will, at long last, adopt a fix-it-first policy. Streets.mn argues that suburban annexation by cities is tantamount to a bailout of the suburbs. And Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space explains Walmart’s recent roll back (get it?!) from its much-talked-about expansion into cities.