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University Avenue (History and Future Redesign)

the_yellow_dart

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I agree with the wooden telephone posts. Are these really necessary in this day and age??? They just get in the way. Some parts of Yonge (esp. near St. Clair comes to mind) are so choked with 'patios' taking up sidewalk and 30 million poles for this that and the other thing that there's no room for people anymore.
 

Tewder

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We are all familiar with the concept of a walk of fame. It's been done to death - stars in the sidewalk with celebrities names in them. Now imagine the sidewalks along University dotted with something similar, except instead of stars, trilliums or maple leafs or something. Instead of celebrities' names, each trillium/maple leaf has the name of a city/town/other community in Ontario. I can just imagine a family on vacation from Timmins or something walking up and down the street looking for their city's name, maybe taking a photo with it or something. A small project, yes, but a nice way to commemorate the vastness and diversity of our province.
I like that idea. In the Place de la Concorde in Paris each statue represents one of the 'great' cities of France and each fountain one of the rivers. I love corny symbolism like that... and the French do it so well.
 

skorji

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Why don't they start by adjusting the traffic lights to allow people to actually cross the street in one go without having to speed walk. It is a physical and psychological barrier to people trying to move between the hospitals / rehab facilities between Elm and Gerrard St on either side of University, and pedestrians would benefit at all major intersections with University.
 

299 bloor call control.

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And this might also be a good place to try physically segregated bike lanes.
And I believe they are going to try that on University, it was mentioned in a piece last month on this year's bike initiatives. I use University on my bike commute between Queen and College, it's a great route, but definitely not for the faint of heart.
 

299 bloor call control.

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Ah yes, here it is:
Next flashpoint in bike-lane wars: University Avenue
Posted: February 03, 2010, 11:42 AM by Rob Roberts
By Natalie Alcoba, National Post
A New York model of "separated" bike lanes could be coming to University Avenue, as city staff study ways to map out a denser downtown network.

"It's one of several routes we're looking at. It's still in the pretty early stages," said Daniel Egan, manager of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure for the city.

But University represents an attractive choice for city planners: it is wide enough to mark off space exclusively for bikes, unlike neighbouring Spadina Avenue where "sharrows," or shared lanes between bikes and cars, are being contemplated.

Bike lanes are a contentious issue in Toronto -- some believe the city is not moving fast enough on creating a web of lanes, routes and trails, while others seethe at the idea of lanes on major arterial roads, such as Jarvis Street.

It is already an issue in the mayoral race.



An update on the Toronto Bike Plan released last spring described Queen's Park Crescent and University Avenue, between Richmond and Bloor streets, "as the streets with the most potential to establish physically separated or buffered bicycle lanes serving the downtown."

Staff said the major north-south route could connect to existing lanes on Hoskin Avenue, Wellesley Street, College and Gerrard. "In combination with planned bicycle lanes on Simcoe Street, the Queen's Park Crescent-University Avenue bikeway would also provide a major new connection to Queens Quay and the waterfront Martin Goodman Trail," a staff report said.

University still poses challenges, however, because of the various hospital entrances and the fleet of cabs that routinely hug the curb.

"If you know University, there's a lot of taxi activity, and it's a pretty challenging environment to make a bicycle lane work. So if we can do something like the New York style that allows those things to keep happening, I think we'll have a better chance of making it work for cyclists and getting community and political support for it," Mr. Egan said yesterday. Staff met with members of the cycling community this week and still have more public consultation to do with businesses.

He said the "New York style" involves using paint and plastic flexible bollards to separate the bike lanes from traffic and parking, while keeping the parking there. "The street can pretty much function the way it is now, but you've got a much safer, more comfortable space for cyclists to occupy," said Mr. Egan.

The Toronto Cycling Committee has endorsed separated bike lanes as the preferred option for bike lanes on Sherbourne Street, which is set to begin reconstruction next year.

The emphasis on downtown lanes coincides with the expected launch of a public bike-share program this year, at an estimated start-up cost of $11-million. Bike routes don't require council approval but bike lanes do, said Mr. Egan, so a report will come forward to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee in April that will include recommendations about specific projects, including whether or not to go forward with lanes on University.



Read more: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/...oint-in-bike-lane-wars-university-avenue.aspx
 

W. K. Lis

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I agree with the wooden telephone posts. Are these really necessary in this day and age??? They just get in the way. Some parts of Yonge (esp. near St. Clair comes to mind) are so choked with 'patios' taking up sidewalk and 30 million poles for this that and the other thing that there's no room for people anymore.
When they decided to bury the wires along St. Clair Avenue West, people got upset. So they decided not the bury the wires along Roncesvalles Avenue, but people are upset they are not doing so. Makeup your mind.
 

JasonParis

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Agreed. Why try to build a pedestrian avenue somewhere that there are no pedestrians. Yonge is full of pedestrians screaming for some friendly space.
Yup and despite all the changes to Downtown Yonge over the last 15 years, it still doesn't strike me as particularly pedestrian friendly.

I've always felt that University Ave. is really the only place in Toronto where you feel, first and foremost, that you're in the capital of Ontario. While elsewhere in the city, Toronto's status as the largest city in Canada, as the cultural/financial capital of the country, or as one of the most multicultural cities in the world is apparent, only here do I (and I would suspect others) feel like I'm in a capital. That said, I feel that any alterations to University should play up the capital city thing. So here's my modest proposal for Toronto's grand avenue: We are all familiar with the concept of a walk of fame. It's been done to death - stars in the sidewalk with celebrities names in them. Now imagine the sidewalks along University dotted with something similar, except instead of stars, trilliums or maple leafs or something. Instead of celebrities' names, each trillium/maple leaf has the name of a city/town/other community in Ontario. I can just imagine a family on vacation from Timmins or something walking up and down the street looking for their city's name, maybe taking a photo with it or something. A small project, yes, but a nice way to commemorate the vastness and diversity of our province.
I love this idea. It's so easy to forget that Toronto is a capital city. We need to show some Ontario love (even if we aren't likely to get any back).

The Legislature also needs to be floodlit at night (as I've said many times before).
 

jn_12

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I agree whole-heartedly with the trilliums in the ground idea. We already have maple leafs in the cement at the ACC, so why not?
 

wyliepoon

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My redesign of University Avenue (section around the Dundas Street intersection shown here), with segregated bicycle lanes, bicycle facilities, wider sidewalks, public seating areas and newsstands/cafes. Six lanes of traffic are retained.































 

kettal

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I'm a bike fanatic, but I honestly think a University bike corridor would be a mistake.

The street is a wind tunnel of the worst variety, there's few businesses or attractions on the street, and the University / Avenue Road corridor is a major car throughfare (and an efficient one at that). Worst of all, it plays right into the war-on-cars conspiracy.

The parallel Beverly Street & Simcoe combo makes a much more attractive bike route (with a few minor improvements required). Even Yonge Street would be better for a bike priority route.
 

W. K. Lis

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I'm a bike fanatic, but I honestly think a University bike corridor would be a mistake.

The street is a wind tunnel of the worst variety, there's few businesses or attractions on the street, and the University / Avenue Road corridor is a major car throughfare (and an efficient one at that). Worst of all, it plays right into the war-on-cars conspiracy.

The parallel Beverly Street & Simcoe combo makes a much more attractive bike route (with a few minor improvements required). Even Yonge Street would be better for a bike priority route.
The addition of deciduous trees (not evergreen) would act as windbreaks as they mature. Evergreen trees would dump snow on the lea side, while deciduous trees allow the wind through the bare branches but the friction through the branches would slow the wind speed.
 
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Chuck

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For starters, University is not as bad as it is made out to be. Stroll down the street at lunch time on a pleasant weekday, and it is jam packed with pedestrians. University is not devoid of life.

I think that the issue with University (as with Bay Street) mostly has to do with reputation. Neither were ever commercial strips, therefore there's no demand to add stores. Both streets have residential density either along or beside them, both are on or near the subway, both have wide sidewalks as it is, and neither have to overcome the sketchiness factor like Jarvis does. From an urban planning perspective, there's little no reason why either street can't be at least as successful as a secondary commercial street like Eglinton or Church.

University simply has to overcome its long time status as a non commercial strip in order to be more successful. Transit, trees, sidewalks, residential and employment density are already there. Maybe the city should offer tax incentives to property owners to open up their ground floors to shops and restaurants. A movie theater at Dundas would draw people outside of normal business hours. The Osgoode Hall and Sick Kids lawns could be turned into welcoming city parks. Marketing of the street also couldn't hurt.

Other than that, little has to be done to the street itself because it already has so much going for it. Width and configuration are non issues when you consider that Broadway and Park Avenue in New York, which are nearly identical in scale to University, are teeming with activity.
 

Ervin

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I don't understand, does every street in Toronto have to have stores and cafes wrapped around it? Why do some of you guys have such an obsession with sticking a store in every nook and cranny of the city? Is it really that terrible of an idea to have a single long, quiet business oriented street?

I walked down University Ave many times, and it's a great street. Commercially filling it won't make it better in any way.
 
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junctionist

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I don't understand, does every street in Toronto have to have stores and cafes wrapped around it? Why do some of you guys have such an obsession with sticking a store in every nook and cranny of the city? Is it really that terrible of an idea to have a single long, quiet business oriented street?

I walked down University Ave many times, and it's a great street. Commercially filling it won't make it better in any way.
It's a beautiful street as a grand boulevard that stands apart from the banal four lane asphalt roads in Toronto, so it's logical that we'd like it to attract more people, especially given the existence of similar streets in other cities.

Also, a reminder to everyone: University isn't lacking in pedestrians during the day. There are always people walking to the various offices and government institutions and as using it as corridor between parts of downtown.
 
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