Out for a walk in the morning. We entered the serenity of the Humber Valley, like a typical jaunt for fitness. Despite rapid pace our vistas included a wild turkey scrambling for cover and a coven of turkey vultures high in the spruce. Little did we expect the parallels to Peak Traffic of urban Kleinburg that we encountered.
We emerged into the once quiet centre of Kleinburg. It is only about a block in length. This was an immense contrast to the idyllic Humber Valley trail. Cars backed up on Islington Avenue. And as they did, non-vigilant vehicles scurried like that wild turkey, leaving a short-lived gap as it found an escape route off the main road. Around the bend on Nashville Road, cars lurked at the intersection, waiting to pounce, like the vultures we saw, into the line that had formed on Islington.
Why this story? Kleinburg Area Ratepayers Association have regularly on their agendas an incessant discussion of traffic. How can it be cured. For the most part, the group has interim solutions – left turn restrictions upstream, parking solutions and studies offered by York Region. With every new development, the talk turns to the traffic it will generate.
But Kleinburg has already reached Peak Traffic. And, heretically I say, that is good. Sure there is capacity at 10:30am and 1pm and 11pm, but no more commuter and school-generated traffic can be accommodated. Although a traffic consultant will try to understand the commuter traffic, Kleinburg’s unique situation is exacerbated by helicopter parents. I love Brent Toderian’s repeated graphic that says: “There is too much
#traffic for Billy to walk to school. So we drive him.” He goes on to explain that this is Induced Traffic. When one strips away Induced Traffic, peak traffic in Kleinburg changes, but does not reduce. If our doting mothers suddenly changed into parents concerned with healthy (walking/cycling children) living, traffic would be reduced at 8:30am and 3pm. At least for the short term. We can analyze it easily. On a given PD day, the traffic is “lighter”. and the line-ups of cars shown in the picture above are lessened. But lets say for instance, if every day was a PD day. The phenomenon that would occur will revert to the cloister of cars once again. The voids will be filled by those that used to take alternatives.
Unlike my article about resolving Vaughan’s traffic problems in http://yorkurbanist.com/2015/04/18/vaughan-traffic-congestion-a-perception/ , Kleinburg could not create a complete street in its core. But what it could do is to create an Integrated street. An integrated street is one in which the modes of transportation, vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, mix without signage explaining the concept. The concept is that cyclists and pedestrians have the right-of-way. By doing that, vehicles are forced into slowing. Yes, there will be a speed sign at the entries to the village, but because the street and sidewalk fabric are all integrated, there is no restriction to any mode, nor parking. HERESY, you say. But it has worked in Europe and specialty villages of the USA.
Create a slower street and the Peak Traffic will be reduced, leaving only those vehicles whose drivers intend to use Kleinburg as a destination. Emergency vehicles are accommodated. Deliveries can occur. Cycling and walking is encouraged. Business will thrive. It just takes a leap of faith.