Most nights I take a combination of streetcar, subway and bus to get home. Then there are some nights where I end up on the 502 Eastbound back to Bingham Loop from McCaul. If you follow newmediamike on Twitter you can usually tell when those nights are by the barrage of negative Tweets about my commute. Most of my vitriolic is aimed at the snails pace at which we crawl.
Earlier this week I ended up catching the streetcar at University and Queen after running an errand in that area. While I waited on the 502 I watched the intersection of University and Queen. East and westbound Queen could not get through because Southbound University drivers were blocking the way causing gridlock. I’ve seen this all down University from Gerrard down to the Lakeshore. Southbound University drivers block the east-west routes preventing traffic from flowing through. This is why it takes a streetcar up to 45 minutes to go from McCaul to Parliament. Bay Street is also bad for it as is Jarvis and Church.
How do we fix it? Better enforcement of the traffic laws prohibiting entering an intersection is one way.
Section 145 of the Highway Traffic Act states:
The council of a municipality may by by-law prohibit a driver or street car operator approaching, at an intersection, a traffic control signal showing a circular green or green arrow indication from entering the intersection unless traffic in front of him or her is moving in a manner that would reasonably lead him or her to believe he or she can clear the intersection before the signal indication changes to a circular red indication.
In plain English, Toronto should enforce the by law already in place which prohibits entering an intersection if you cannot clear it before the light changes. I tweeted it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to post traffic officers in the worst intersections, equip them with ticketing machines like parking control officers (which University resembles on the nights of really bad gridlock) and let them ticket every vehicle that is in the intersection. Make the fine a big one like 300 or 500 dollars. Then watch as first the city rakes in a ton of cash and then slowly drivers catch on that it’s going to cost them big time if they block traffic.
I’m sure this has been thought of before, but it really needs to be brought to the attention of politicians to do something about this or at least the police department. If the politicians are too chickensh*t to enforce it so dramatically, then invest in a sign campaign warning drivers of a fine for blocking the intersection.
Maybe it’s too simplistic, but I think this simple plan just may go a way to solving Toronto’s gridlock issues.