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University Avenue (History and Future Redesign)

kettal

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But at the same time, it's not the kind of place where drivers will park on the side of the road to have a stroll or pick up a snack, and in some ways that's a good thing.
 

Coruscanti Cognoscente

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Wylie I usually like your stuff but I just do NOT like the idea of moving the median to the side. I'd prefer what someone else suggested (taking out a lane from each side and ADDING it to the median, taking some sidewalk space as well) and making the median BIGGER and GRANDER with maybe some little cafés in the middle. I've always loved the median and moving it to the side would ruin the grandeur of University. Don't ruin the street by destroying the one thing that actually works and is beautiful. I also don't really care for bike lanes here either.

I also really like the Trillium Town idea. We should really make Toronto feel more like the capital of Ontario (before they kick us out ;))
 

the_yellow_dart

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I'm kind of torn on Wylie's proposal.

The center median makes the street prettier for the drivers, and overall more asthetically pleasing.

Moving it to the side makes it much more likely to be used by pedestrians.
 

MetroMan

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^ I'm in the same boat. I like how the centre median separates traffic and breaks up the expanse of road. Moving it to one side would definitely get more pedestrian use. It's a tough choice.

I think the principal purpose of the median though is to make the crossing 8 lanes of traffic feasible in short intervals without leaving slower pedestrians stranded in the middle of a busy street. Therefore, I think it should stay in the centre to continue to serve that purpose.

Perhaps the median can be narrowed and that space transferred to one side for bike lanes.
 

Pfloyd

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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 seems like comments like these stem from lack of awareness and exposure to what a main "boulevard" in a major world city really looks like: The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, North Michigan Avenue, Fifth Avenue, La Gran Via (Madrid), Avenida 9 de Julio (Buenos Aires), Avenida Paulista (Sao Paulo).
University Avenue is not terrible, but far from memorable. It is almost an afterthought, as opposed to a well planned avenue designed with a good sense of aesthetics and urban vision. Even details such as the choice of tree species are executed poorly; they are fairly unatractive and lacking in size. In addition they are not even continuous along the whole length of the avenue (something unthinkable in streets like the Champs-Élysées). Since University Avenue is our only major "boulervard" in this city, I do believe it requires and overhaul since it's potential is far from realized.
 
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MisterF

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University will never be like Champs Elysees or Gran Via. It's too institutional and many of the buildings offer nothing to pedestrians at street level. We have other streets to compare it tol. One I can think of is Paseo del Prado, Madrid's main institutional and museum street. Its median is more like a park: green, much less cluttered, full of large trees, and wider. It doesn't have a lot of people in it, but it does make the street feel smaller and more humane, something the median on University doesn't do. One thing for sure is that if the median is to be kept, it needs to be de-cluttered. Nobody's going to use it as a place to stroll no matter how many random planter boxes and fountains are there, so move the fountains to other locations and keep the median here simple.

Or eliminate the median altogether and add that space to the sidewalks. Redesign the sidewalks with plenty of greenery and large trees to buffer pedestrians from traffic, and granite or ceramic paving instead of concrete. Have special street furniture and light standards and new subway entrances. Make the monuments the centrepieces of public squares in other locations. Redesign pedestrian access to Queen's Park.
 

TrickyRicky

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I think more large mature trees would be great and act to humanize the scale of the street at the pedestrial level.

I think some of these discussions are funny because say you wanted more cafes on the street. Cafes are run and owned by people! If the people with direct interests in the private property the street services do not have cafes within the scope of their vision there will be no cafes. Furthermore, have you ever tried to open a patio in this city, let alone one that may deviate by three letters from the bible-sized documents and procedure that the city tries to defend itself with from such a dastardly concept? Having a civic culture that encourages innovation and nurtures initiative must be at the root of change. Without this any physcial change is a shallow act even if it is based on suond conceptual ideas.
 

TorPronto

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The articles does not inquire with the city about the condition of the islands. It's unfortunate, I want some answers. Time to ask the councillor.
 

DSC

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The articles does not inquire with the city about the condition of the islands. It's unfortunate, I want some answers. Time to ask the councillor.
Let us know if Wong-Tam (whose Ward covers 90% of them) responds. I wrote to her in the spring about the terrible state of the area in front of Old City Hall and it has recently been smartened up, a little. The islands are, I think, not classified as 'parks' so are under the 'loving care' of Transportation - you could also copy Barbara Gray.
 

junctionist

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The islands should be well maintained for the time being, but I think that so much more could be done with University Avenue if we started from a blank slate. It could be turned into a combination of a linear park and roadway. A linear park could have pavilions with restaurants and cafes, a bike path, benches, larger formal gardens and trees, and ornamental street and path lighting.

While you can visit the islands, they're disconnected from each other. You have to go out of your way on foot to enjoy them, and you can only enjoy one at a time before crossing the road back to the sidewalk. Pedestrians walking along University Avenue through the linear park would be surrounded by gardens and landscaping and would have dedicated crossings at every street.
 

adma

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Technically, I think you *can* (or at least should be able to) hop from island to island. (Which'd be useful if you're caught mid-median at a traffic light and already intend to cross over to the other side--sort of like a jerky zigzag scramble/Barnes Dance.)
 

junctionist

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Technically, I think you *can* (or at least should be able to) hop from island to island. (Which'd be useful if you're caught mid-median at a traffic light and already intend to cross over to the other side--sort of like a jerky zigzag scramble/Barnes Dance.)
It's still jaywalking since you're not crossing the street in the designated pedestrian crossing areas on the east and west sides of University at intersections.
 

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