What About A Pedestrian Mall?

What’s the problem?

Traffic on Dundas gets all kind of congested, what with busses, cars, bikes, pedestrians…the sidewalks are quite narrow (case in point: two wheelchair users could not go down the Dundas sidewalks side-by-side) and drivers can’t even turn off Dundas throughout most of the day. Also, many merchants on Dundas are looking for ways to improve their business—not that many of the businesses aren’t doing well, but things could always be better.

What kind of solution can we imagine?

What if Dundas St., between Wellington and Ridout, was a pedestrian mall? It works in other cities—Montreal, Vancouver, many European cities. It could create walking traffic of pedestrians who are more likely to stop in to retailers and restaurants, and turns a visit downtown into an outing or day trip and not just a place you drive to/through. Trees could be planted down the middle of the street, and of course a pedestrian mall would encourage walking and biking, so it might help keep our Forest City green.

What might make this solution possible?

Talk about it. Ask people what they think about the idea (it’s pretty controversial, especially because it’s not actually clear whether it will help or hurt downtown businesses). Try and approach the issue using baby steps…before suggesting that whole chunk of street be car-free, discuss the possibility of eliminating on-street parking or creating flexible, moveable parking spaces, so as to widen sidewalks. Get involved volunteering with initiatives that help make Dundas temporarily car-free, like Car-Free Sunday or Park(ing) Day, and use these initiatives to inspire locals to think about the possibility of Dundas being a pedestrian space all year round.

What do YOU think can be done to make this happen?

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by bob on November 24, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    The problem with this idea is that dundas street is straight grime! no one wants to walk along dundas, you are either going to get asked for money (likely several times on a 2 block jaunt) and or stared at, or threatened (depending on the time of night). Remove the welfare office from the centre of our downtown and you will help eliminate the 30+ baby mammas that congregate there with their dead beat fathers as well.

    Reply

    • I like walking along Dundas! I get asked for money but never in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable, and I’ve never been threatened.

      I mean, some things to think about: are the social services and the people who use them really a problem? Or is the problem actually our perceptions of these services and people? Have you ever actually stopped and talked to a panhandler or an OW recipient? They’re people in your community, aren’t they worth knowing? Is hiding them away by removing the welfare office really a solution to anything?

      It just seems a little close-minded to me to dismiss Dundas as “straight grime” based on these sort of shallow reasons based largely on offensive labels like “baby mamma” and “dead beat father”.

      Reply

  2. I’m a big advocate for pedestrian streets (see http://bit.ly/ids0Ab ). I’ve backpacked around Europe a few times and the best streets in most cities are the walking ones. The larger patios, street vendors, new park space, new sitting areas, it just brings back great memories and experiences. I’d love to see one here, but I know many people are against it. I understand the traffic issues, that diverting traffic and buses would be an issue, but most discussions taking place are saying that they want to reroute the buses anyway. Parking is something else to think about, but if Dundas is blocked off, sidestreets become easy parking lots, which can benefit the businesses there. CarFree Sundays have been interesting, and a good step, but having more often is important. Maybe next summer have every sunday car free?

    Reply

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