Totally Toronto (2)

It’s an easy target, but:

The Current on Friday morning had a long segment on roundabouts, hooked to Case Ootes’s proposal that Toronto should have some. There aren’t any at the moment.

The main interview was with the City of Toronto’s transportation manager, who discussed them intelligently enough from theory – he’s not responsible for any real ones, there being none in the city, and none really contemplated. Roundabouts are hard to retrofit into an existing urban landscape, since they’re so space-intensive. Not impossible, but the expropriation is expensive.

Usually, new roundabouts are installed as a traffic-control measure in rural and suburban areas, which brings us to Ontario’s busiest roundabout, right here:

View Larger Map

in scenic Ancaster, well within CBC Toronto’s listening area.

It’s sort of an interesting application of the idea, designed as a transition between an 80k rural highway, which many motorists drove at 100 km/h, and a 50k suburban arterial. Drivers were supposed to sharply cut their speed at a certain point, but not all of them wanted to. Signs and speed enforcement didn’t do the trick, but physical changes to the road actually did. Residents were resistant at first, but accepted it after it became clear it solved the problem.

Not far away in rural Ancaster, roundabouts may be the key to the life-and-death question of how to make Hwy. 52 less lethal. 52 has become very dangerous since it became connected to the new 403 extension for much the same reasons that Hwy. 2 was dangerous when I was growing up: a mixture of cars and trucks acting as if they were on a 400-series highway, school buses, pedestrians and slow-moving farm vehicles. Counting from the 403 extension opening in 1998, road deaths come to more than one per mile. You can read all about it here.

The Hamilton planners haven’t really solved it, beyond posting an oddball 70 km/h speed limit, but are proposing five new roundabouts in rural Ancaster, three of them on 52. I’d install them every mile and a quarter at each concession, but it’s a start. This may actually turn out to be the solution – physical changes to the road will always be a better way of controlling behaviour than enforcement.

There’s lots of room for them, as you can see. Here’s 52 and Jerseyville Rd., one of the proposed locations:

View Larger Map

Now there’s an interesting story, if the CBC ever wanted to do a piece on roundabouts – a well-established and articulate community group, planners who have studied the issue in detail, local residents who have watched the road for years – everything you need, really. Pity it’s so far from the end of the subway.