A Closer Look at the Ideas for the 'Smart City' of Toronto's Future

Sidewalk Labs' proposals for the Toronto neighborhood of Quayside reveals a preference for ride hailing over public transit.

February 12, 2018, 6:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Toronto Skyline B&W

Madeline / Toronto skyline

Paris Marx has read the response to the Request for Proposals for a high-profile "smart city" project in the Toronto neighborhood of Quayside, and what he found will not be welcome among transit advocates.

Marx points to page 133 of the proposal, finding a graph that reveals the transportation priorities of Sidewalk Labs. According to Mark, if Sidewalk Labs pursues its vision, "[t]ransit use would only increase by a single percentage point, while automobile use would be reduced to 15 percent by a larger uptake of walking and cycling (35 percent) and the use of driverless vehicles, ride hailing, and car share services (10 percent)."

There are several specific sections of the proposal that Marx reads as giving priority to ride hailing and driverless vehicles—even potentially over pedestrians and cyclists. The proposals calls for "non-hierarchical streets," for instance, would abandon the complete streets layout that most benefits alternative transportation, according to Marx. The most troubling section of the report, to Marx, is the call for shared ride zones, "where Quayside residents would get subsidized shared-ride trips instead of taking transit."

The article does highlight some portions of the proposal that provide more positives for alternative transportation modes and technological advancements that could potentially benefit every mode but eh automobile. The proposal would extend transit lines to better connect Quayside to the rest of the city's transit infrastructure. Marx is also careful to note the small scale of the project—the neighborhood only covers 12 acres, but Sidewalk Labs does have larger plans to parlay its work in Quayside to the entire East Waterfront neighborhood.

Thursday, February 8, 2018 in Medium

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