One-way to solve congestion?

The fourth part in CBC Toronto's series: Gridlock City. Today we look at a radical idea to change major downtown streets in to one-ways to better move traffic.
Can more one-way streets solve traffic congestion? 3:02

Could one-way streets be the answer to rush-hour gridlock in the downtown core?

It's a solution University of Toronto Professor Baher Abdulhai says could work.

He says current ideas, like eliminating streetcars, or removing bike lanes miss the point

"What I personally don't like, is the war attitude, like get rid of traffic for streetcars, or get rid of transit for cars or get rid of both because everyone should cycle and bike," he says.

He's floating the idea of turning major downtown thoroughfares in to one-way streets.

For more on this story:

Read and watch stories from CBC Toronto's special series looking at the challenges facing GTA commuters.

Jan. 15: Traffic forced commuter to move, but not from his car

Jan. 15: The personal cost of commuting

Jan. 16: Programming an easier commute 

Jan. 18: Live chat replay: Solving Toronto's gridlock.

He uses King St. and Queen St as examples of streets that could be paired up, with one heading eastbound and another heading west.

The key would be how the lanes are structured.

The streetcars would only head in one direction and the tracks would move to the right-hand lane. Pedestrians would no longer have to cross a lane of traffic to board.

The centre two lanes would be for cars. The left curb lane would be for parking and a bike lane.

"Now you have space, one parking lane all the time, no restrictions. Transit is not impeded by cars, and cars are not impeded by transit and a bike lane. So everyone should be happy, everyone wins."

He says the cost to realign to the tracks would be comparable to the right-of-way on St. Clair, but this would allow traffic to flow more freely.

Queen and King run through the heart of Adam Vaughan's ward. He thinks the idea isn't practical.

"You only have to go to Hamilton to look at the dangers of turning major commercial boulevards into one-way streets," he says.

Vaughan says streets like King and Queen are destinations and shouldn't be treated like highways.

"One-way streets appear to be efficient if all you care about is the street as a thoroughfare."

He would like to see the city move in the opposite direction and convert one-way streets like Richmond and Adelaide in to two-way streets, something being considered by a downtown congestion review currently underway.

"This is not about driving highways through the downtown core or transitways through the downtown core or bikeways through the downtown core, what we need is a comprehensive plan that moves people in and out of those neighbourhoods."