Photo by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country
Are car-free liveable communities the way of the future?
On Friday I posted a video highlighting how most Toronto Cyclists are considerate of others and are just trying to get to their destination in an imperfect city with streets and laws that were designed for automobiles.
A common criticism from commenters has been that I had edited out the video footage of the lawless bandits that apparently terrorize the streets of Toronto.
I decided to address this critique by showing the video footage in high speed from that same morning while I was pedaling about Toronto.
You will see in the video that the vast majority of cyclists are considerate of others:
Of course, anyone could go into a residential neighbourhood and take video footage of cyclists rolling through empty 4-way stops. But so what? 4-way stops were installed to calm motor vehicle traffic in residential neighbourhoods. Most motorists don’t even bother coming to a complete stop either. As long as people aren’t being inconsiderate to others or putting someone else in danger, then why get angry at it?
In fact, if not for motor vehicles, we wouldn’t need traffic signals or stop signs at all.
A quick ferry ride over to Toronto’s islands is evidence of this. The Toronto islands boast North America’s largest car-free urban community. Bicycles, wheelchairs, and feet are virtually the only way of getting around, and only emergency and maintenance vehicles are allowed to drive on the islands.
The islands are comprised of roads that resemble any other roads that you might see in the city, except there are three things missing: automobiles, traffic signals and traffic fatalities.
Zero deaths. None. Zilch. Nadda. Nil. Nashi. Nej.
There are plenty of junctions with hundreds of bicyclists crossing paths with hundreds and sometimes thousands of pedestrians. Yet there isn’t a single stop sign or traffic signal that I could find.
Sometimes we forget the reason we have traffic signals and strict rules in the first place: because we needed to control automobiles and prevent them from causing more deaths.
The Toronto islands are truly the most serene place in the city to live. Kids can roam freely on the streets without worrying about dodging cars. It’s quiet, beautiful and only a 10-minute ferry ride from the city.
This type of car-free community should be a model for new developments in both urban and suburban areas. If we can slightly detach ourselves from our automobiles, we could build more of these car-free zones and liveable communities that would put our current residential developments to shame.
Below are a few photos I snapped on my phone early this morning while visiting the Toronto islands:
All photos by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country
Stay tuned for an in-depth follow-up post on the Toronto Islands and the opportunity for future liveable communities that use the car-free model embraced by Island residents.
- Toronto Cyclists Are Selfish And Rude? (June 2011)
- Responsibility & Accountability On Our Streets (Apr 2011)
- Bicyclists Must Obey Laws If They Want to Share the Roads (Feb 2011)
- Enough Excuses: Cars Cause Death (Dec 2010)