CAR-FREE CAMPUS AS LIKELY AS CONSTRUCTION-FREE CAMPUS

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by André Voshart

Ryerson is working to reduce or eliminate car traffic on Gould Street, but full closure isn’t likely to happen until at least 2007, when campus construction is complete.

Students and vehicles struggle to pump efficiently through the narrow street every day during rush hour. At intersections students either ignore crosswalk lights or stream endlessly in front of irate drivers. Drivers often respond by edging into intersections to slow down the flow of students.

Director of Campus Planning and Facilities Ian Hamilton sees this as a safety issue that needs to be addressed.

“Student enrollment has increased and we see this with both pedestrian traffic and vehicle traffic,” he said. “As a community member, the more pedestrianization there is the better. We’ve been working with the city to help alleviate the congestion.”

Ryerson Students’ Union president Rebecca Rose talked briefly with the city about the issue and said Gould Street can’t be closed to traffic until construction is complete.

“It’s not an option right now, but an option for the future,” she said.

A major problem is the construction of the Metropolis building beside Tim Hortons that city councillor Kyle Rae (Toronto Centre-Rosedale) said should be complete in 2007.

Hamilton is looking at various alternatives to full street closure such as traffic-calming strategies (speed bumps, signs, widening and narrowing roads) or traffic lights at Victoria and Gould streets.

Campus planning has not yet set a date to present these strategies to city hall, but Hamilton said they are working as quickly as they can.

Puri Ganasvaran, a first-year electrical engineering student, said it’s hard for him to get around campus when he’s in a hurry because of the traffic and students dodging speeding cars. He said Gould Street should be closed off to vehicles.

Salad King owner Ernest Liu said he would actually benefit from car-free streets on campus.

“I would say 99.9 per cent of my customers are pedestrians. I just need to make sure I get my delivery trucks,” he said.

“There are practical limitations to having a car-free campus,” said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy. “But I’m interested in working with the city on it. It’s all part of the master plan.”

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