Getting Dufferin straightened out
The most car-friendly measure approved in yesterday’s capital-budget vote:the little-talked-about elimination of the Dufferin Street Jog, which willstraighten out the convoluted mess where Dufferin intersects with both QueenStreet West and the railroad tracks, putting in its place a normal,unremarkable, boring intersection on the border that separates AdamGiambrone’s and Gord Perks’ wards.
Though it’s not in his district, Adam Vaughan, for what it’s worth, is not afan of the idea. “Congestion is good,” he told me not long ago, meaning themore difficult it is for cars to navigate the grid, the more people willconsider alternatives like walking or transit. It’s also true that odditieslike the Dufferin Jog act as natural traffic-calming devices, and theyprovide incentive for drivers to disperse throughout the grid in search ofalternative routes. But there’s also the fact that irregularities in thegrid are what give any city its character. Believe me: I lived for manyyears in Edmonton, where the grid is so reliably predictable that it’s bothincredibly convenient and monumentally boring. The truly memorableintersections are the ones that force drivers to snap out of their stuporand pay attention. Everyone who drives in the city knows the Dufferin Jog.There’s not much that’s beautiful about it, and a great deal that’smemorable, which makes it, for better or worse, a landmark, and that’s whatthe city is losing.
Edmonton, by the way, also proves the axiom that predictable grids lead toarterial-strip retail developments, i.e. big-box stores. A sign of things tocome?