Complete Streets: An open letter to candidates in Toronto’s 2010 election

Dear candidates,

The individuals who have signed this letter met recently to discuss the theme of transportation in our city. We are a diverse group of people involved in all aspects of this issue who came together to help build a constructive consensus on this critical issue. We believe in transforming our city’s streets into livable spaces that function both as sustainable transportation routes as well as vibrant destinations. Complete Streets would bring us closer to Toronto’s stated goals of being green, clean, competitive & diverse.

We do not believe that there is a “war on the car”. The Complete Streets model strives to provide room for everyone including drivers, cyclists, transit riders and pedestrians. It’s simply about offering choice, and ensuring that everyone can travel safely. If there is a war, it’s just a war on old thinking. A war on inefficiency. A war on traffic. A war on pollution. Cities around the world are making this shift with great success, improving the quality of life for all of their citizens and their competitiveness as places to live, work and invest.

To describe transportation issues in Toronto as a conflict between drivers and cyclists is a divisive approach that does our city a disservice and misses the whole point. There are not two Torontos, comprised of cyclists or drivers. In fact, statistics show us that those who own bicycles are more likely to own cars than those who do not. We are one Toronto. We drive, we ride and we walk. The goal of Complete Streets is to ensure that our streets are designed to safely accommodate all users.

This goal can be achieved by attracting more citizens into the process, turning neighbours into engaged informed advocates, and we are committed to working together collectively towards this goal.

We encourage all candidates to embrace this comprehensive and democratic approach to transportation, rather than perpetuating or encouraging a divisive framing that unnecessarily pits Torontonians against each other. We can only build a green Toronto if we all work together.

Signed,

Jehad Aliweiwi • Executive Director, Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office
Yvonne Bambrick • Executive Director, Toronto Cyclists Union
Rahul Bhardwaj • President and CEO, Toronto Community Foundation
Matthew Blackett • Publisher and Creative Director, Spacing Magazine
David Crombie • Chair, Toronto Lands Corp.
David Crowley • Vice President, Halcrow Consulting Inc.
Julia Deans • CEO, Toronto City Summit Alliance
Susan Eng • Vice-President, Advocacy, CARP
Jane Farrow • Executive Director, Jane’s Walk
Luigi Ferrara • Director, School of Design at George Brown College
Adam Goddard • Composer
Eti Greenberg • Wellington Place Neighhbourhood Association
Ken Greenberg • Architect and urban designer
Paul Hess • Professor, Geography and Planning, U of T
Ed Levy • Senior Transportation Consultant and Transportation Engineer
Roberto Martella • Owner/operator, Grano Restaurant
Dave Meslin • Founder, Toronto Cyclists Union
Shawn Micallef • Senior Editor, Spacing Magazine
Eric Miller • Director, Cities Centre, U of T
Steve Munro • Transit Advocate
Gil Peñalosa • Executive Director, 8-80 cities
Dylan Reid • Co-chair, Toronto Pedestrian Committee
Nancy Smith Lea • Director, Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation, Clean Air Partnership
Adam Vaughan • City Councillor, Ward 20

NOTE: There is an excellent opportunity coming up to learn more about the Complete Streets approach on April 23rdClick here for details

9 responses to “Complete Streets: An open letter to candidates in Toronto’s 2010 election

  1. Dear Abovesigned,

    After attending numerous sessions at the U.N.’s World Urban Forum5 in Rio de Janeiro three weeks ago on the question of and related to Complete Streets coupled with countless conversations with Mayors, urban planners, NGOs there, ‘Complete Streets’ as understood in Toronto apparently is still not enough by itself.

    We still have within our DNA as a city, a growing institutional gap between ‘stated principles’ (viz. being green, clean, competitive & diverse) and ‘permitted practice’ (viz. appealing to an archaic OMB or Yonge Eglinton non-public public space plus countless tired examples.)

    I learned at WUF that Cities the World over are indeed making a shift, but it is less because of a ‘complete streets’ approach and more of a ‘complete citizen’ approach, if you will allow me that.

    Rather than typing more here within this comment box, you will find intelligent proven answers in the campaign platform I’ll have ready within a few weeks.

    HiMY SYeD
    Toronto City Council Candidate.

  2. Good. We’ve got the avenues, now let’s use ’em intelligently. We’ve got a few existing modes of transport, now let’s have them all work together intelligently by improving their interactions wherever necessary to ensure a safe, fluid flow of traffic.
    This is a great group, and they’ve said in plain English that they want lots of people to get on board with this.

    Count me in.

    Mark State
    2010 Mayoralty Candidate

  3. HiMY SYeD:

    I tried to bring up your website, but it’s infected with a virus. Please clean it up so I can read it. Thx.

  4. One of course applauds the diplomatic tone, though the letter could have been half as long and not as stilted. Nonetheless, there very much is and should be a war on the car, in Toronto as elsewhere, and I would appreciate it if people could be honest about that. This is a zero-sum game and what we’re taking away from is space for cars.

  5. Pingback: Your weekend reading list « BikingInLA

  6. Seems to me that the “Complete Streets” concept still requires a lot of discussion, debate and analysis with a view on adapting it to Canadian climates. It is not and should not be a short term thing, but a revolutionary long term vision and plan implementation fo r the next several decades.

    Infrastruture redesign is terribly expensive and disruptive while being implemented, so we must be sure of where we are headed.

    The focus needs to be on how do we travel in this city and the GTA. It’s not just about bicycles, cars, public transit and pedestrians. It should be about INTERCONNECTIVITY and the availability of options.

    Yes, debate and educate now during the election campaign, but we need much more input from all sectors. Not just planner, academics and single mode lobbyists, but from everyone.

    I can sign on to this – tentatively, provided we have fulsome debate and sensible planning.

    Ken Wood
    Candidate for city council, Ward 18, Davenport

  7. I find the inclusion of the very fringe mayoral candidate Himy Syed laughable.

    This http://himysyed.tyo.ca/about/islamic-banker/ is the link to this self-professed Islamic banker, but not a banker under Canadian Law.

    Or how about his advice http://groups.google.ca/group/can.general/browse_thread/thread/29f25bda5a40e928/c03c054074e4eb4?q=immigration+canada+%22how+to+get%22+OR+%22getting+into%22+abuse on how to Get Into Canada a guide to abusing Canada’s immigration system?

    Nobody in their right minds would believe this clearly corrupt candidate!

  8. For the record, “Me” isn’t me.

  9. For the record,

    The comments attributed in my name in the middle of the 1990s on usenet and now archived on google groups (which is referenced & linked to above by an anonymous commenter) are not my comments, nor are their contents even remotely similar to anything I would state.

    They were posted by a someone from my high school days who during their time at Ryerson decided to use my name instead of their own to place such comments.

    ALL comments on usenet groups in the 1990s in my name were placed by someone else.

    That person has since apologized to myself for his 90s version of identity theft and google being google, neither of us are able to remove those archived comments.

    Thank You.

    HiMY SYeD

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