Josh Matlow · VIEWS December 2nd, 2014

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We can take steps right now to speed up our commutes

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Most of us are aware that long commutes and snarled traffic has a negative impact on our economy, but this issue also has a personal cost. In our increasingly busy lives, an extra half hour with our families is more important than ever. That’s why I initiated several efforts aimed at relieving traffic congestion during the last term of council and am determined to see them enacted as soon as possible.

Of course, the long-term solutions to this problem include building a more accessible, affordable, extensive and efficient public transportation system, including a relief subway line. But there are steps we can take right away to help ensure a faster commute.

The practice of allowing developers to block lanes of traffic for construction negatively impacts motorists, surface transit users, pedestrians and cyclists. This causes bottlenecks, backing up traffic for several blocks on major arterial roads, and can lead to inconvenient and, in some cases, unsafe conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.

In August I asked city staff to look at the feasibility of increasing the upfront fee for blocking a lane, to encourage developers to look for alternate solutions that do not negatively impact residents, as well as implementing escalating monthly fees for blocking a street lane, to encourage developers to use a lane for the least amount of time.

The long-term goal is to eliminate this practice altogether. Developers in New York are able to construct buildings without taking up traffic lanes or sidewalks. We should demand the same.

New York has also banned delivery trucks from operating during rush hour. Far too often I see these vehicles parked in the curbed lane with their flashers on, causing backed-up traffic for blocks. In 2012 I asked the city to develop a system that restricts deliveries to off-peak hours only. The previous administration had little interest in acting on this recommendation.

I am pleased that new mayor John Tory has made fighting gridlock a top priority. I will assist him in any way I can to help get Toronto moving again.