Categories
Election Maps Toronto

Why Toronto needs new ward boundaries

The City of Toronto is in the process of reviewing the ward boundaries. This is an overlooked and much needed initiative. Due to population increases in central Toronto, North York and in Scarborough, parts of the city are unrepresented at City Hall. Some councillors are overworked with development proposals in their wards, while other parts of the city are relatively quiet.

While some will argue for fewer politicians (the idea has a populist appeal), I would like to see more city councillors, elected by ranked ballot (which Mayor John Tory supports), to best serve the needs of our diverse and dynamic city. Based upon the population from 2011 census, Wards 20, 23, 27, and 42 are the most underrepresented at City Hall; Ward 42 includes the new Morningside Heights neightbourhood, while condominium construction have swollen the number of residents in Wards 20, 23 and 27. Simply put, the boundaries have to be changed to provide more equal representation. Ward representation 2011 census Map of how each ward is under-represented or over-represented in Toronto, map based on one previously created by Christopher Livett

The city’s review process, which you can find more about here, is being conducted by independent consultants, so far free of political influence. Though the first round of public consultations have already occurred, there will be further opportunity to participate in the development of ward boundary options. There has yet to be a decision as to how many councillors Toronto should have going forward, or what the boundaries will look like. The committee will report to city council in early-mid 2016 with their recommendations, giving plenty of time before the next election, which will be held in October, 2018.

Categories
Maps Toronto Transit

Mapping an accessible TTC

IMG_3898

Last week in Torontoist
, I wrote about the challenges of getting around on the TTC for passengers who rely on mobility devices, such as wheelchairs. Most of us never think about this problem unless we’re directly affected by the consequences of an inadequate system, as I was after a cycling injury in 2012.

But for TTC users with mobility disabilities (or even passengers with strollers, wheeled carts, or luggage), it’s an issue. While the bus system is (mostly) fully-accessible, the backlog in the delivery of new streetcars and the installation of elevators in subway stations leaves the system failing many of its riders. The alternative, Wheel-Trans, is also underfunded, inconvenient and useless for last-minute travel plans.

Here’s what the subway system looks like if you require the use of elevators to navigate the system:

accessible map - now 2015

By 2016, only one more station  — St. Clair West  — will be equipped, by 2017, Wilson, Ossington, Coxwell, and Woodbine (and hopefully the Spadina Subway Extension to Vaughan Centre, with its six new fully-accessible stations, will open by then) will follow. But there’s not enough funding to make the entire system accessible by 2025, the deadline set by the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). Seventeen stations, including Islington and Warden, remain unfunded.

The entire bus fleet is accessible, though not all bus stops are (the TTC requires a solid, concrete or asphalt place to deploy the ramp or lift, and room for the passenger to board; some suburban stops without a bus pad, or narrow urban sidewalks make loading a passenger in a wheelchair difficult). The first four low-floor streetcars are operating on Spadina Avenue, 200 more are still to be delivered. By now, the Spadina, Bathurst and Harbourfront cars were to have been fully-equipped with the new trams.

In the meantime, the few bus routes that operate in the central core don’t have many accessible connections; east-west travel is particularly difficult. For example, the 47 Lansdowne bus is inaccessible from either subway station it services (Lansdowne and Yorkdale), and offers no barrier-free transfers south of Dupont Street. The map below shows this problem:

TTC - Downtown v3 Crop

Elevators at Ossington would connect the subway with three accessible bus routes, including the 94 Wellesley, a useful east-west alternative. (The 94 serves four subway stations and enters three of them, not one is equipped with elevators.) Meanwhile, both Toronto Western and St. Joseph’s Hospitals are isolated from the accessible transit network.

Categories
Cycling Toronto

Mapping the City’s Bike Network Gaps

Bike-Routes-WO-GapsToronto’s Bikeway Network, as of January, 2015

Over at Torontoist, I posted a short article about the gaps in Toronto’s cycling infrastructure. You can read it here. What follows is a quick summary and some more thoughts (and another map, showing the bikeway network without the sharrows and signed routes without bike infrastructure).

Toronto’s bikeway network is composed of multi-use paths (off road trails in parks and ravines, shared with pedestrians), cycle tracks (separated bike lanes like those on Sherbourne), bike lanes and contra-flow bike lanes (painted bike lanes without separation; I don’t consider the flex-posts on Adelaide, Richmond and Wellesley to be proper separations — see this Metro Toronto article about a garbage truck entering the bike lane and destroying these flimsy plastic markers). The city also considers other signed bike routes (usually quiet residential and collector streets without heavy traffic) and sharrows to be part of its bikeway network, but I don’t.

Bike Routes - WO Gaps, sharrowsToronto’s Bikeway Network, as of January, 2015, with the sharrows and signed routes removed

When the sharrows and signed routes are eliminated, Toronto’s bikeway network looks very thin, especially outside the downtown core. Furthermore, most multi-use trails (shown in green) are not cleared in the winter (the Martin Goodman Trail the only exception) and many are unlit; they are not the safest options for women or vulnerable users.

Below, I show some of the gaps in the existing network; where bike lanes and multi-use trails should be connected to create at least a complete network of bike-friendly routes across the city. Several circle routes are slowly coming together (via the Humber, Don, Rouge, Highland Creek and east-west hydro corridors) but there are many gaps that need to be closed to complete these circuits. The Waterfront trail is a disconnected labyrinth in Scarborough; I’d like to see a new multi-use trail beneath the beautiful Scarborough Bluffs to connect the trail to the parks below otherwise isolated and inaccessible without a car.

The gaps in the existing bikeway network show the shortcomings in cycling infrastructure to support a minimum grid of safe bike routes in the suburbs, which would be mostly built on city streets, not in ravines or hydro corridors. Note that there are only three designated places to cross Highway 401, which is a much greater barrier to more Torontonians than the Gardiner Expressway is downtown.

For his part, during the 2014 campaign John Tory said that he would support bike lanes where it was “sensible.” But he did not define what that meant or provide a timeline for specific goals. Given the number of bike-unfriendly councillors returned to city hall; one of whom is now John Tory’s deputy mayor, I don’t have too much confidence in seeing much more than a few downtown projects and more multi-use trails constructed in the next four years.

Bike-Routes-Gaps
Some of the many gaps in the existing bikeway network