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Tower of Power or Tower of Babel? Making Active Transportation Work in a Big City


The so-called “Mirvish Project”, comprised of two 90-storey twin towers located on King Street West in downtown Toronto, represents a unique opportunity to showcase how Active Transportation (AT) can change travel behaviour and public perceptions about “big development” in an urban core. This paper focuses on all of the non-single occupant vehicle (SOV) modes that will be key to the success of this redevelopment project, with a particular emphasis on the tiny amount of motor vehicle parking, but the huge amount of bike parking to compensate.
Detailed below is a compelling story of how a 2,000 unit condominium with retail, an art gallery and a College campus can function successfully in a congested environment with virtually no available roadway capacity for motor vehicles. To make it all work, however, over 2,000 dedicated, indoor bike parking spaces are provided, together with an aggressive Travel Demand Management (TDM) Plan plus high capacity transit, carshare, bikeshare and pedestrian facilities. This infill project balances the preservation of designated heritage buildings with stunning architecture by the world-renowned Canadian architect, Frank Gehry.
The project has numerous unique design and operational features that are highlighted in this paper and corresponding presentation, to elaborate on how City policies and creative infrastructure can attract residents to cycle for both commuting and recreational purposes. Recent City initiatives to construct cycle tracks along major arterials, as well as to retrofit bike lanes on a multitude of City streets in the vicinity of this mega-project, provide strong incentives for “ordinary folk” to bike to work. A major emphasis is also placed on the pedestrian, who can connect to the City’s PATH system for both exercise and utilitarian trips.
In conclusion, this paper has broad appeal for both large and small municipalities since it offers valuable insights into how to make a big project on a small footprint really “work”. The density is enormous, the cost is staggering, the challenges are daunting but the transportation impacts will be negligible. All of this will be accomplished by placing a significant emphasis on the cycling mode, with help from transit, pedestrian and TDM measures all working in harmony to make a development that is a shining example of high quality, sustainable city building. 

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Cycling in Canadian Communities: From Planning to Implementation
Richardson, D.
Active transportation, Mobility management