For all intents and purposes, Toronto’s King Street Pilot Project has been a major success.
Launched on Sunday, November 12, 2017, the project was designed to ease the flow of streetcar traffic along downtown’s busiest route. All of King Street between Jarvis and Bathurst streets underwent a shuffle that saw aggressive restrictions on parking and non-streetcar traffic.
The result has been fantastic for congestion: streetcars are arriving almost three minutes faster during rush hour times than before. Unfortunately, business along King Street has also suffered. According to Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association President and CEO Tony Elenis, some businesses have seen revenues decline up to 52 per cent since the project kicked off. Business owners claim the damage is so severe that they’re even considering legal action.
In response, Mayor John Tory has called on Toronto’s creative community to help his government get people back on King Street. In creating the ‘Everyone is King’ competition, the city is looking to “create a series of attractive curb lane public spaces on King Street for all to enjoy.”
“I want to make sure that King Street remains a great place to eat, shop, gather and be entertained during this pilot,” said Tory. “This program will encourage people to continue to come out to King Street.”
Warming stations, fire performers, light projections, art installations, and a “reflexology infinity meditation path” are just some of the ideas that have thrown out there for inspiration. Another popular proposal is erecting temporary Destination Parklets (DPs), which are seating areas or green spaces placed adjacent to sidewalks in the curb lanes. Something similar to what’s currently on Elm Street:
In need of some inspiration? The City of Toronto has looked to outdoor yoga in Minneapolis, a giant scrabble board in Seattle, and human foosball in Perth as potential lifelines.
Whether or not any of these gimmicks will motivate pedestrians to spend money in stores remains to be seen.