A War on Parking?

Toronto’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee plans to wrestle with the problem of congestion and illegal parking/stopping on downtown streets over the coming months.  Although there is a separate study of the core area, a more general problem is the occupancy of curb lanes by vehicles that should not be there:  parked cars and delivery vehicles.

That blocked curb lane is capacity free for the taking, but the “right to park” seems has been sacrosanct for decades.  A ticket here, a ticket there, but through infrequent enforcement and low fines, motorists, especially commercial ones, shrug off the cost.

In a report to be considered on January 4, 2012, city staff recommend a variety of actions that could fundamentally change the way Toronto uses its road space.

  1. Create new offences for parking, standing or stopping in prohibited areas during rush hour periods defined as 6:00 to 10:00 am and 3:00 to 7:00 pm.  The fine for these offences would be $150, and the amount would not be negotiable in court.  (This is in keeping with a new proposed city practice that establishes set fines a judge must impose for various municipal offences.)
  2. Increase the fine for stopping in a bike lane at any time to $150.
  3. Work with the Toronto Police Service to develop a co-ordinated enforcement strategy.

Current parking fines are $40, and for standing/stopping they are $60.

City staff argue that the problem is not a lack of regulation, but a lack of respect for traffic rules already in place.  Some locations could benefit from extending the “rush hour” beyond its current two-hour window, but scofflaws will still park where they should not and stronger incentives are required to deter them.

In the context of Toronto’s budget constraints, improved enforcement of existing laws is viewed as a potential financial drain.  Rigourous ticketing or, even better, towing, might reduce fine revenue to the point where city loses more money than it gains.  I am not making this up — that is actually the argument put forward by staff.  In effect, if we can’t make money by enforcing the laws, we shouldn’t try.  The benefit of freeing up road capacity is not considered at all.

Higher fines are attractive because they would be both a stronger deterrent and a better revenue source.  However, poor enforcement has always been a problem with Toronto’s traffic policing.  It is easier to send the parking squad out to ticket cars in the Entertainment District or in residential neighbourhoods than to enforce parking and stopping rules when and where traffic effects are severe.  If this attitude does not change, the higher fines will be of little benefit.

The report claims that:

Patrol of rush hour routes on all major arterial roads is standard practice through a highly visible uniform presence, and no statistical evidence suggests that the current level of enforcement is not appropriate.  However, an integrated approach in which current enforcement protocols are augmented with directed patrols including towing and public awareness campaigns to complement the new set fine establishment is a viable option to increase compliance.

Anyone who has seen major streets fouled by vehicles illegally occupying curb lanes knows well that the “current level of enforcement” is far from appropriate.  Indeed, if the current level were working, we would not be reading this report.  On one hand, the report appears to claim that everything is just fine today, but maybe we should try harder tomorrow.  This is hardly a call to action.

The report goes on to say that towing is “common practice”, but again routine observations suggest that the amount falls well below the level needed to strike fear into the hearts of motorists.

The biggest problem, of course, is with commercial vehicles.  A companion report proposes the creation of a new licence for commercial vehicles that would allow them to use some locations not otherwise available.  In effect, this would create a new class of loading space on streets for use only by commercial vehicles.  This class of space would not exist on any streets with bike lanes, and it would be available only outside of the rush hour periods.

That’s the gigantic loophole in the whole scheme.  Unless Toronto is prepared to go after the commercial users during rush hours with frequent ticketing and towing, the burden of this new scheme will fall on only a minority of drivers.  What will the average motorist think of being towed away and heavily fined when a Fedex truck blocks a major intersection with impunity?

The ban on loading areas where bike lanes exist creates two problems.  First, it will become a powerful new argument against the creation of such lanes in any areas with commercial uses that don’t have off-street parking.  Second, in locations explicitly designed to accommodate both loading and bike lanes (such as Roncesvalles Avenue), the ban would be nonsensical.

One option that was rejected was the use of a “Denver Boot” to lock a car in place.  Toronto Police take the position that “booting” would simply lock the traffic obstruction in place without achieving the goal of opening up the curb lane.  This is an odd stance considering the marginal effect that placing a ticket under the windshield wiper will have.  In either case, the goal is to deter people from parking illegally in the first place, and the stronger the penalty, the better the deterrent.  Either by booting or by towing, those who now regard tickets as part of their business expenses must face a much more severe penalty — the loss of their vehicle and its contents for a period of time.

Later in 2012, the Downtown Traffic Operational Study will begin to report on possible ways to improve traffic in the core including schemes such as one/two way options, longer periods for rush hour bans, turn restrictions and traffic signal changes.  This study does not have a webpage yet, and there is no information on its plans nor its public consultation efforts.

Enforcement of any new legal framework is essential, but the tone of the city’s report gives little hope that we would actually see a major change.  The debate at a very car-friendly Public Works Committee will be fascinating because the real issue here is between two sets of motorists.  Transit may benefit, but the larger question is to decide how roads will be used.

There is only so much road space.  We can use it to store vehicles or to move them.  If storage takes priority politically and economically, then congestion is an inevitable result.

33 thoughts on “A War on Parking?

  1. Hi Steve, it would be nice if we could for a 1 month period, enforce no street parking at all hours on say Queen or King. It would be a good study to determine if it is indeed the street cars that slow up traffic or if street parking (legal or not) is the culprit.


  2. Thanks for making note of/commenting on this report.

    It is a bit troubling that the staff seem to see parking infractions as a revenue source and not a means of ensuring that rules debated and agreed upon by elected officials are enforced.

    An old boss always said “effective enforcement means that when new rules start we give out many tickets but over time if we give out fewer tickets then we know the drivers have learned.” We never had ticket quotas there.


  3. Per the Downtown Traffic Operational Study reference to “one/two way options”, I think this needs to be considered. As much as one-way roads are demonized by many, the fact of the matter is they really open up narrow roads by creating uniform traffic flow (similar benefit to roundabouts – put all traffic in the same direction) & create room to widen sidewalks & introduce bike lanes & HOV/Transit lanes (& less obstructive stopping options for Fedex/etc. vehicles in off-peak periods). My experience with them in other cities that although navigating can be a bit confusing at first if you don’t know the area well, the net result is better for all.

    A loose, admittedly not-well-pondered example: Younge, could be reduced to 3 traffic lanes (one HOV on right), add a fully segregated bike lane on left curb opposite to HOV, widen both sidewalks with the balance of the “recovered” lane. If Younge was NB, do the same with Bay SB & you have a “set”. This is part of the strategy in downtown Portland, Oregon & it works brilliantly. (in some instances, they further restrict turns to left-only in order to prevent interference on HOV`s, & disallow turns on reds to protect pedestrians & bikes). What`s amazing about it is it moves cars BETTER than the old two-lanes-each-way approach, with net benefits for the other street uses.

    Of course, good luck implementing a balanced one-way approach such as above with Ford at the helm, which is unfortunate…

    Steve: One way pairs work best (to the extent that they work at all) when there are nearby streets that run for some distance in parallel. There already is the Richmond/Adelaide pair, but adding more east-west streets runs into issues with major streetcar lines not to mention access to large (and frequently blocked) public spaces like Nathan Phillips Square and Dundas Square.

    Also, it’s Yonge Street.


  4. 2 notes.

    1) Ticket and tow the illegally parked vehicle to a side street and then put the boot to the wheel.

    2) Base the price of the ticket to the owner’s income, if possible. Or the value of the vehicle.


  5. I remember a proposal that would have made Yonge and Bay one-way streets in the 1980s. If I am correct, it was all set to be implemented when a large dry cleaner on the west side of Yonge near Davenport (now a condo?) complained that customers would be inconvenienced, dropping off and picking up clothes. So the plan didn’t go through. This was a typical example of how pockets (get it?) of resistance quash innovative ideas in this city.

    We need to be bold as we test these new ideas. Roncesvalles is a good example, with its innovative transit platforms that offer useful learning for other parts of the city.

    Steve: At one point, there was a scheme to extend Bay north so that it could connect into Yonge to make an easy junction for the start of a one-way pair. However, the old City of Toronto government didn’t like the idea (this was part of the old Metro vs City wars), and approved the construction of a high rise tower right in the path of the proposed link. There was more going on here than just a dry cleaner making noise and holding up “progress”.


  6. Zero tolerance … with forklifts

    I don’t know about you, but the sight of a car being carried away by a forklift would certainly put the fear of the authorities into my heart and discourage me from parking illegally.

    Leave the tow trucks for the delivery trucks.

    Cheers, Moaz


  7. While I’m the first to suggest raising rates for on-street and permit parking; and equally supportive of longer rush-hour parking restrictions (3 hours min. )

    I have some issue w/the proposed fines.

    Fines in excess of $100.00 would exceed those for most speeding offenses and indeed many other serious traffic offenses.

    There needs to be a logic to laws and justice and the penalty for aggravated assault can not be less than that for trespassing.

    Similarly, it follows that if we hiked parking fines to such a level; we would necessarily have to hike other fines so as not to send some very strange messages on which offenses are taken most seriously.

    I would also be concerned that in the absence of income-contingent fines, as was suggested above, that you end up with a fine that is a devastating hardship to some, and remains barely consequential to others.


    Nonetheless, I will agree that current fines are low, particularly with regard to major routes in/near the downtown or other high-traffic areas.

    Were we to differentiate in law between tow-away zone fines vs regular over-stayed the meter fines that would make this more sale-able to me.

    My preferences are as follows though:

    1) For perfectly legal parking, charge fair-market value (this serves to free up spaces for those that really want/need them, but also serves to generate revenues which can subsidize transit).

    2) Extend rush hour restrictions in core areas to 3 hours, 6:30-9:30am, 3:30-6:30pm.

    3) Make core-area, major streets tow-away zones, current fine stays if the vehicle is towed to impound, and towing/impound charges apply. If you are ticketed but arrive to claim your vehicle before its towed, the fine could be set at $60.00 (still a 50% increase over today)

    4) Commercial vehicles should be assessed the same was as any other with the express proviso that there fines are not to be forgiven, and that ‘standing’ as opposed to parking would carry the same penalties (including towing) if occurring during rush hours.

    Just my 2 cents….


  8. No point doing anything if the Toronto Police Service (TPS) isn’t on board to actually enforce things properly.

    So why not first get the law changed, so that TPS would take the revenue from this. Then we’d see them interested in enforcing it!


  9. “Current parking fines are $40, and for standing/stopping they are $60.”

    Surely that’s the wrong way round… otherwise, if you’re stopping somewhere illegally, and an officer shows up, the correct thing would be to turn off your engine and insist you were parking, not just stopping.

    Steve: Parking is the least serious offence, but if you are in a no standing or stopping zone, parking is illegal. The ruse only works the other way around — if you are “parked”, but actually in the act of taking on or discharging goods or passengers, you are only “standing” and can do so in a no parking area. If it’s no stopping, well, you shouldn’t except to avoid hitting something or obeying a traffic signal.


  10. Perhaps we should borrow some signs from Britain that are found near public buildings, train stations and aeroports.

    “Cars left here unattended will be towed away and blown up by the Royal Army Core of Mechanical and Electrical Engineers”

    I saw one of these signs at an aeroport near Blackpool and in the far corner of the field were a few blown up and burnt hulks and an armoured car with a big claw for towing and a large cannon for blowing up the towed vehicles. Mind you this was during the height of the IRA bombing but it seemed to keep people from parking illegally.


  11. The reports are blindingly simplistic and naysaying in some respects. For example, see table 1 in the companion report. It lists out back-of-envelope figures for permits sold, tickets not issued etc. It lists per permit income at the marginal rate for the 10th and subsequent license sold, the estimate of tickets issued per vehicle per year and the net revenue loss.

    This is what some councillors will focus on, and yet there are three important caveats in the report, one of which is noted below in a separate but easily glossed over paragraph rather than a note to the table and two not at all. First: the net saving from the City having fewer ticket trials elected by courier companies and their representatives on tickets NOT written. Second: it is laughable to list tickets issued x face value as “revenue” when a huge portion of those tickets will be written off – but unlike the permit fees, this is not marked down. Third: they do not indicate how their 10 tickets per year per permitted vehicle, because for some companies delivery during peak will continue to be a hard requirement and those those vehicles will continue to receive some tickets.

    The main report refers to transit only three times and makes no reference to the financial benefit the TTC would receive from clearer streets downtown. It seems Transportation Services are really primarily concerned with their budget impacts only. Faster vehicles will attract additional custom from those who currently consider surface transit too slow or too subject to congestion related short turns.


  12. James:

    For perfectly legal parking, charge fair-market value (this serves to free up spaces for those that really want/need them…

    Actually, this just frees up spaces for those who can really afford them. Regardless of how badly they want or need parking, some people will be quietly priced out of the market. (The traditional handwave is that they will “pursue alternatives,” but we all know that those alternatives may not exist: it’s a bit of a stretch to say that driving and parking downtown is most people’s first preference.)


  13. This is a problem in many of the older neighbourhoods in Toronto. One bad example is Bayview between Eglinton and Davisville. Elsewhere Bayview tends to be one of the least congested roads into downtown, but this short section has a lot of retail and the BIAs tend to absolutely insist on having street parking here, effectively reducing the road to 2 lanes from 4. This delays car and bus traffic severely at times. If the city would crack down and remove all on street parking on main roads in this city, requiring car drivers to park in off street garages instead, traffic congestion and bus delays would be significantly reduced.


  14. Of course, more traffic enforcement will make it difficult for businesses in buildings without off-street loading zones to operate – perhaps hastening their demise and the redevelopment of the property (especially those without rear laneways).


  15. I used to work in the area of Yonge & Bloor so I got to witness first hand one of the Parking Enforcement officers’ favourite towing spots. It’s Asquith Ave between Yonge St and Park Rd.
    Parking is banned on the north side of the street between 4pm and 6pm. Every weekday you’d see somebody get dropped off at 4 and ticket everybody there. They’d also have to wait for a tow truck to arrive to supervise the hook up for every car.

    Asquith is not a busy street, there’s actually plenty of room for driving cars to pass parked ones, all of this towing really has no effect on traffic at all.

    Yet every day, this happens, at the same time cars and taxis are blocking driving lanes on nearby Yonge, Bloor and Church with impunity. For the officers to have to wait for the tow truck seems crazy. I wish the setup was more like Philadelphia – there they place a sticker on a car’s back windshield that simply says TOW. When tow drivers see this, they can nab it if an officer is nearby or not. Even if a tow truck driver doesn’t get there in time, the sticker shows that you were at risk of being towed away, something I think many drivers don’t know they were even in danger of.

    Steve: There is a myth perpetuated by the Toronto Police, I believe, that to tow without police authority is not permitted under the Criminal Code. This does note explain how tow trucks in BC manage to operate simply by showing up, taking a timestamped photo of an offender and making off with their car. The tow operators have a big incentive to bag as many as possible. This is a legal issue that needs to be sorted out. The simpler and more ruthless enforcement can be, the better.

    As for Asquith, yes, that’s an excellent example of a waste of enforcement resources.


  16. Income-contingent traffic fines are used in some European countries, and would make sense here as well.

    Plus, the fines should increase for vehicles that offend repeatedly within a set time. That can deter commercial violators who can otherwise report low after-tax income and write off their parking tickets as a business expense.


  17. Indeed, Steve, major arteries will not see much improvement until commercial vehicles are equally prohibited from breaking the law.

    Councilors Matlow and Layton’s original proposal to have a $500 fine for illegal stopping and parking at rush hour is, in my view, what Council should stick with. $150 is the fine that should be imposed on pedestrians who start crossing an intersection once the hand starts flashing. 4 seconds green light lost at Dundas and Yonge is a 20% reduction of traffic right-of-way in both directions. To say nothing of the long lines of cars and trucks waiting to turn right or left at other intersections. These seriously affect surface transit when we need it most.

    More than the daily manifested paucity of civic virtue on Toronto’s streets, I am saddened by Council’s lack of spine. Millions of dollars are at stake annually. 6000 deaths in the GTA due to poor air quality, the majority of which results from transportation. Burning a finite resource to support gridlock rather than movement of goods and people. The impression left that laws exist to be broken. If I were mayor . . .

    If I were mayor, police would ride with the tow-truck drivers at rush hour, officers would enforce pedestrian signals, and repeat offenders would take a course in traffic dynamics or face still steeper fines.

    Steve: I cannot agree with you on the pedestrian signals. Almost everyone believes that a flashing hand is a warning about being able to clear the intersection in the time available, much as a yellow signal. If we want to be fair we need to say that any person or vehicle can only enter an intersection on a green or “walk” signal. Yes, I know the Highway Traffic Act doesn’t work like that, and I think it’s wrong.

    A related problem is the inconsistency in the length of the “walk” phase from intersection to intersection. In some cases it lasts very briefly before starting a long countdown on the assumption that it will take a long time for people to get all the way across. There are proposals to change the calculation of time needed to cross to allow for slower-moving seniors, and this will only make the length of the flashing hand longer.

    Just as Council must decide whether road lanes are to store cars or to move them, it must decide whether pedestrians deserve better treatment, or should be fenced off in time, if not in space, to make room for cars.

    I’m not very impressed with the all-walk cycle at Yonge and Dundas because it appears to have been implemented without looking at the larger context of nearby intersections and the operation of Dundas Street.


  18. @Andrew:

    Amen, street parking is the bane of our existence in this city. Toronto really doesn’t have enough road space to generously donate it to parked motorists (and I am a frequent driver!) Building more parking decks to replace the street spots is certainly doable, and they don’t have to be the Brutalist concrete hulks everyone has come to expect. Take a look at in Santa Barbara or in Miami.

    Free/subsidized parking is something that belongs in suburban or rural areas, not dense urban ones. Unfortunately the same rife NIMBYism that saved Toronto from the Spadina Expressway is a double-edged sword and now stands in the way of solving our congestion problems as people cling to ideas like the ‘necessity’ of ubiquitous street parking and that subways are ALWAYS better than and preferable to any alternatives.


  19. Hi Steve:-
    I recall the attitude of a Salesman who regularly called in at our Queen Street store. Although he didn’t scofflaw by illegally parking at rush hours, he would never put a dime in the meter. That dime would go into his ash tray. At the end of the year, the dimes were counted, all fines he received paid, and invariably he came out ahead.



  20. I saw a streetcar stopped on Dufferin during a short turn layover and an ambulance stopped in the opposite direction dealing with an unrelated emergency of some sort, and the traffic was completely blocked in both directions because none thought they could pass (I was a pedestrian on the sidewalk otherwise I might not have known what the holdup was). Now the ambulance maybe had to stop right there, but the streetcar didn’t, ether way neither cared that the traffic was blocked both directions and onto King and Queen at rush hour. But let the city raise fines for citizens blocking traffic even while not even linking traffic lights up to keep traffic moving and making walk signals confusing and even dysfunctionally useless.

    I think the first step is that the city should show that it is making attempts to keep traffic flowing before handing out bigger tickets. The first step would be to link up traffic lights for transit, pedestrians and/or autos, but NOT neither. The second step is for city employees and authorities to have some respect to keep traffic moving, maybe if they did others would too. I see it done better in other cities and apparently it is not rocket science or expensive.

    But maybe it is really easier for the city to just give people bigger fines, then even bigger fines yet in the future when the first round of big fines didn’t work while not improving gridlock.


  21. Steve wrote,

    “There is a myth perpetuated by the Toronto Police, I believe, that to tow without police authority is not permitted under the Criminal Code. This does note explain how tow trucks in BC manage to operate simply by showing up, taking a timestamped photo of an offender and making off with their car. The tow operators have a big incentive to bag as many as possible. This is a legal issue that needs to be sorted out.”

    I don’t know how much of this is perpetuated by the Toronto Police, but I knew someone who had driven a tow truck for a number of years and he was under the belief that he could be charged with theft if he so much as touches a vehicle before an officer places a ticket on its window.


  22. The issue of illegal parking is only part of the problem, and its elimination won’t magically double road capacity. It will open up 2 lanes consistently mid-block, but at intersections there will often be a car waiting to turn left or right that will reduce capacity to one lane through the intersection. Combine that with the inevitable taxis stopping at the curb, and couriers who will accept the fines as a cost of doing business, and the theoretical 2 lane capacity becomes more and more difficult to achieve.

    I think we’d be better off to re-stripe roads where possible to provide a single through lane, with curb bays for parking, loading, turns, etc. By having a predictable travel lane, all the weaving in and out of the curb lane is eliminated, and traffic just flows without being blocked.

    We need to be realistic about the potential capacity of a road network that’s undersized, and has to serve the commuting function and support local business activities at the same time, even during rush hours.


  23. “The biggest problem, of course, is with commercial vehicles.”

    We need to be clear about what the problem with commercial vehicles is. The article makes it sound like the problem is that they park on the road to unload goods. Point taken – they do that all the time. However, the *real* problem is that in many of the dense urban commercial areas of the city, there is no other place to park a 24′ FedEx truck, a 40′ tandem delivery truck, or 60′ tractor trailer.

    So either there needs to be dedicated commercial delivery zones (with strict penalties for cars who park there), or some initiative has to be taken to promote the use of smaller delivery vehicles in the urban core — a tough sell these days given our need to have things delivered right to our door same-day/next-day.


  24. I worked on Queen Street East in the early 90s. Every afternoon there would be five or six tow trucks parked on Mutual. At 3:30 a police officer would show up to ticket all the cars parked on Queen, and the tow trucks would cart them away – by 3:40 the street would be completely clear. It was ballet-level choreography – beautiful to watch.

    I haven’t seen them do this in T.O. in about a decade. I seem to recall a recent report claiming that no action was required because towing rates have dropped – anyone on the streets can tell you that this may be true, but it is because illegally parked cars are simply left alone.

    The bottom line, as mentioned several times in comments above – the incentives are in the wrong places. “revenue” indeed…


  25. I used to work Parking Enforcement at the University of Waterloo. Our policy there was to wait for the tow truck, but no need to wait for the hook-up. There was no “police authority” involved other than radioing in to request a tow. We could only tow on the third or more offense. The tickets were unenforcable before that point, but once we had your car scofflaws would have to pay up.


  26. The towing of vehicles is regulated by the Highway Traffic Act as per below. British Columbia could have different regulations.

    Powers of officer to remove vehicle

    (15) A police officer, police cadet, municipal law enforcement officer or an officer appointed for carrying out the provisions of this Act, upon discovery of any vehicle parked or standing in contravention of subsection (12), of a regulation made under subsection 26 (3) of the Public Transportation and Highway Improvement Act or of a municipal by-law, may cause it to be moved or taken to and placed or stored in a suitable place and all costs and charges for the removal, care and storage of the vehicle, if any, are a lien upon the vehicle, which may be enforced in the manner provided by the Repair and Storage Liens Act. 2005, c. 26, Sched. A, s. 28 (2).

    As to “booting” I recall a story (don’t know how true) that they used to boot cars in Montreal until a boot was cut off by the owner (I think he was a welder). The city sued for damages but it was dismissed because the judge ruled that the owner could remove the boot from his property.

    Steve: The section you cite makes it clear that a police officer, per se, is not required to authorize a tow. Thanks for digging this out.


  27. The heading of this topic, “A War on Parking” had me thinking…

    Rob Ford made the announcement that the “War on the Car” was over when he cancelled Transit City citing that there would be no more new “streetcars” to get in the way of traffic. Oddly, and by extension, ANY vehicle that gets in the way of traffic flow is a contributor to that war effort.

    So, if Ford is truly against a “War on the Car” (and that is a big ‘if’), he should be fully in favour of a “War on Parking”, at least in favour of coming down hard on vehicles that are actually blocking a main street and not over-staying their time in a metered spot by a few minutes.

    What occurs to me is that there is an ironic aspect to this that almost seems that Ford will have to act in a way that is a kin to some dictator ordering troops to fire on his own people. 😉


  28. John said: I think we’d be better off to re-stripe roads where possible to provide a single through lane, with curb bays for parking, loading, turns, etc. By having a predictable travel lane, all the weaving in and out of the curb lane is eliminated, and traffic just flows without being blocked.

    I strongly agree with the principle you are driving at here. There’s a huge lack of understanding of how random lane changes contribute to congestion exasperation, and as far as I know, engineers haven’t actually been able to agree on a mathematical expression for measuring this phenomenon.

    This is an advanced topic that would be quite difficult to educate the broader public on. That in turn creates political challenges.


  29. I recently contested a parking ticket.

    While I waited in court for my turn, a paralegal appeared as agent for a host of the major courier companies, pleaded guilty to all tickets, and a pre-arranged reduced $10 fine was imposed on each of the many tickets she appeared on.

    This reduced amount becomes a modest cost of doing business, rather than fine sufficient to act as a disincentive to park where prohibited.

    It is also a significant loss to the City’s revenues.

    I asked a friend, who is a justice of the peace. I was told that that’s the way it is, and nothing can be done. In fact, the reduced fine is available, I was told, to anyone who contests their parking ticket.

    I suspect something can be done, and should be done.

    I’ve raised this with Councillor Paul Ainslie, Chair, Government Management Committee to no effect.

    I’ve also written to Councillor Josh Matlow, who seems to be spearheading this new initiative to increase fines, telling him this:

    If the present practice of City prosecutors allowing major offenders to plea bargain down their parking fines to a nominal amount continues, theses increases will have little effect on the couriers and other delivery trucks that are the biggest offenders.

    Steve: Actually the City has already proposed having the fines set as non-negotiable by judges, but I don’t think this has made its way through all necessary approvals yet. The new $150 fine is proposed to be non-negotiable. The idea is to eliminate the bargaining that mocks the purpose of the fines.


  30. A couple of comments….

    1) Courier vehicles, the fact that they park illegally is because there are not enough spaces for them to park legally close enough to the delivery/pickup points. The courier business works on volume, a driver may have 100 deliveries to make, and 4.5 hours to make them all. Because he then is scheduled to spend 3 hours on pickups. It’s also not uncommon for the driver to work through his scheduled break to make it. Making him park 3 blocks away isn’t going to cut it.

    2) The big question is whether the city can afford to have any on-street car parking in the first place. The whole idea of street parking is as a convenience, when you need more space for lanes,


  31. John wrote:

    “I think we’d be better off to re-stripe roads where possible to provide a single through lane, with curb bays for parking, loading, turns, etc. By having a predictable travel lane, all the weaving in and out of the curb lane is eliminated, and traffic just flows without being blocked. “

    Absolutely. As far as I can tell, multiple through driving lanes cause nothing but trouble on streets with intersections.

    And Matt Emmerton wrote:

    “The article makes it sound like the problem is that they park on the road to unload goods. Point taken – they do that all the time. However, the *real* problem is that in many of the dense urban commercial areas of the city, there is no other place to park a 24′ FedEx truck, a 40′ tandem delivery truck, or 60′ tractor trailer.

    So either there needs to be dedicated commercial delivery zones (with strict penalties for cars who park there),”

    Absolutely right as well. The way local streets work, you need to have places for loading/unloading and pickup/dropoff. Otherwise, why have a street at all? The only reason to allow motor vehicles onto a street is for local access.

    When there’s room for two lanes in the same direction, in a busy downtown like Toronto, the entire right lane should consist of loading zones for trucks and couriers, pickup/dropoff points for taxis and private cars, the occasional right turn lane, and a few handicapped parking spaces. It should have no general parking, no parking for more than 15 minutes apart from handicapped spaces, and absolutely no through traffic.

    There was a long essay on this issue as it relates to New York City, not long ago. Trucks routinely double park in NYC because there are *not enough loading zones*. Instead, there are masses and masses and masses of through traffic lanes, which are of little or no benefit, and general parking, which is also of little or no benefit. Blaming the trucks rather misses the point; they don’t have much of an alternative, while the private car drivers *do* have alternatives.

    Save the curbside for the traffic which most needs to be at the curbside; the trucks which are loading, the taxis which are dropping people off, etc.


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