On King St. a project to curtail the 4 wheeled beast (it was faster to walk than take the street car) has - not without local business and driver opposition - significantly reduced transit times through that downtown corridor since its implementation. And hopefully, if this is a slight shift in attitude towards a more European model it will prove more friendly to those mortal enemies of the automobile: the pedestrian and the cyclist.
40 pedestrians and 4 cyclists were killed last year by automobiles - mainly because - 'they got in the way' and after all 'time is money'! Yes, yes that's life. But the ever increasing funneling of the suburban and GTA vehicles and their emissions into the city spaces where less and less parking is available, tenable or affordable should lead some to finally consider basic well known common sense ideas like: LIVE NEAR WHERE YOU WORK!!! Because if time actually is money why do so many lemmings still commute? Don't get me started on all the 'wonders' or the supposed 'economy' of the suburbs. What do commuters really get to enjoy? How much is it worth, wasting hour upon hour, so much of their lives on some highway?
These days in the heart of the city gas stations are disappearing and like parking lots are being sold off for development. Condos are now more lucrative investments and these are now often being built with the limited parking being divided between bike racks and automobile spaces. If more walked instead of riding enclosed in the mobile AC, the air might even become a bit cleaner outside and people might breathe a bit easier too.
Anywhere that people can work, live and shop without recourse to the four lane or the free way is more energy efficient and should lead to a higher quality of life especially if one considers the idea with winter in mind. Just like the car, it would be climate controlled. Here are some examples:
The Well project, a downtown Toronto development has certainly shown some foresight or insight or special kind of vision for the future in its design at Front St. and Spadina Avenue. 6 residential towers and 1 office tower are all to be connected by a shopping mall, sitting atop below ground parking and a "well" that draws water from Lake Ontario to help heat and cool the whole complex seasonally,
The Yorkdale Mall and other and other shopping centres have apparently turned a corner too and independently realized that a few parallel changes might be in order as well. Yorkdale plans as well to bury its parking and build housing on the freed area around the mall.
Other solutions are now being considered as well to increase affordable housing in the city like low rise apartment buildings on lots too small for high-rises. Housing near transit have obvious environmental advantages. High-rises should always have 'conveniences' at their bases and Plazas should always be built with residential units above of the 'usual' retail shopping, because that's a built-in customer base if there ever was one. Oh, there'd be parking too, at the back!
The personal automobile for many is a necessary evil, if they can afford it. Yes, It's comfortably addictive, that's a given, but people shouldn't allow it to be the driving force in their lives.