We hear the phrase “the War on the Car” every now and then, and I believe it is safe to say that the casualties of this war is the lost time due to gridlock. Anything that is seen to slow down a car is an attack in this war. I should note that since the main component of our transit network is buses, gridlock is just as much a problem for transit as it is for private vehicles.
Median-located LRT lines are attacked as slowing down traffic as they will “take away space for cars”, even if this is not the case or, in the case of Sheppard East, will actually provide additional space for cars on the road. LRT is denigrated with the use of the term ’streetcars’ partly because people see how both lanes of traffic must stop when a streetcar stops to take on or discharge passengers where there is no loading island.
I am not saying that transit plays no part in gridlock. Though the effect of those streetcars on downtown streets are nothing compared to the greater number of buses that would be required on the same streets to replace the streetcars - the streets with on-street parking that would cause a bus to have to stick out in the traffic lane when it ‘pulls over’ to a stop. I am saying that transit plays a very minor role in the cause of gridlock, and some would argue that transit plays a less than zero role because of the number of vehicles it is potentially taking off the street.
What I am getting at, and this is not due to any official study or look at data, is that the majority of the gridlock in the GTHA is due to what I call “friendly fire”. That is, other cars or the road infrastructure itself.
Based purely on anecdotal observation, mostly as a driver but also as a transit user, I am left to conclude that a full third of all gridlock is caused by badly designed road infrastructure. I am also left to conclude that another full third of all gridlock is caused by ass-dragging, navel-gazing drivers who have no concept of the notion that there are other people who need to get somewhere, and possibly more urgently than they need to. The remaining third is made up of numerous “other reasons”, some due to unique situations (e.g.: accidents, construction, etc.), and some due to regular occurrences.