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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered


  1. In 2006, I was furious with John Sewell for opposing the St. Clair ROW. Looking back though, the sheer incompetence of the city’s design and implementation on the ROW has vindicated him.

  2. not the same Andrew as above.

    I don’t know whether he’s been fully vindicated just yet. Certainly, there are significant problems in both the design (centre polls) and implementation (everything) of St. Clair, but I do think we’re not quite yet at the point that we can call it a mistake overall.

  3. The process of St Clair was certainly a clusterfuck, but putting a ROW on it was not. Sewell sided with folks that were yelling about stuff that had little validity.

    And I agree with the second Andrew that we are still a long way from being able to determine if the endeavor was a success or not. Before this, the street was an entire mess from Bathurst west to Keele and Runnymede.
    Can we determine that these improvements are better than the alternative which was to keep it run-down and chaotic for transit riders, drivers and cyclists? We’ll see.

  4. What I don’t understand is the claim of “saving 1 minute of commuting time” which I have seen popping up at several places. Whose 1 minute is saved? Motorist? Or street car rider? If the former, then what is the point? IMO ROW is not about improving motorist’s commuting time, if it actually improves their commuting time, that is a happy by-product. But if dedicated ROW only improves street car travel time by 1 minute, then I would seriously question the value we get out of this $100M and all the troubles we are going through.

  5. Glen:

    I don’t think it was a mistake simply becuz I lived in the ‘hood for four years and can already see many improvements to the area. And putting transit first is one of the best steps they could take on that corridor. It was a horrible mess before and no matter the outcome of the urban design, it’ll still be better than what it was.

    More importantly, I know the “1 minute saved” line is trotted out repeatedly, but is more like 5-10 minutes. Why? Becuz every morning and evening during rush hour riders had to wait at the bottleneck of Bathurst and St Clair, or a few stops in either direction, and wait for less than capacity cars to arrive. Sometimes that would take up to 3 streetcars and 10-15 minutes. Adding more streetcars to the line wouldn’t save a thing as too much car traffic mixed in with streetcars.

    Lastly, I have had numerous friends look at houses along st. clair as they see it as a viable option to live on a transit line and get rid of their car.

    None of these are scientific, but calling it a failure now is almost silly. Only a small percentage of us care about process — and i think this is a really good thing — but most people just want to live near a vibrant street and have decent transit. I think this will be accomplished on St Clair. No doubt there are problems, but I can’t see why putting in a ROW was a bad thing.

  6. Thanks, Matt,

    I know the “1 minute saved” line is trotted out repeatedly, but is more like 5-10 minutes.

    That makes more sense. Based on what you said, I suppose the actual saving would be small when there is little traffic, but would be significant during rush hour, right?

  7. Matthew,

    IMO, the cost was not worth it. I would have made it a single track with passing sections at stops. Freeing up the space for bike lanes parking and streetscaping. As it is now, the street looks over powered by the ROW.

    BTW while adding extra cars would not decrease travel time, it certainly would alleviate the wait time.

  8. While I don’t agree with everything in it, that National Post is actually not half bad (ESPECIALLY for a NP editorial), and makes some pretty good points too.

  9. Glen,

    BTW while adding extra cars would not decrease travel time, it certainly would alleviate the wait time.

    Not necessarily. In congestion, extra cars are very likely to cause punch up, i.e., instead of waiting for 15 minutes before 1 car comes, you may wait for 15 minutes before 3 cars come one right after another, won’t really alleviate your wait time that much.