Saturday, February 25, 2012

Subways and suburbs

When I read comments posted by defenders of the suburban dream, I usually find some variant on space mentioned. A large back yard, a big house, a quiet street, room to breathe: these define the allure of the suburban experience. And real estate developers have used these talking points to sell suburban tracts since before the explosion of suburbia and the attendant highway building that followed the Second World War.

Subway construction requires dense development and predictable travel patterns. Subways require tens of thousands of workers leaving small houses or apartments, or parking their cars at suburban parking centers, and taking the trains to work in dense commercial or industrial centers. If subways require density, and suburbs require open space, then the suburbs, by their very nature, should not have a subway, right?

Well, at least according to Rob Ford, wrong. I do not know whether or not Mayor Ford wants to build a subway just to keep transit out of the way of private cars, or whether he agrees with Joe Warmington, the Sun columnist who seem to think that building subways to Scarboro shows we consder the people who live there important. Mr. Ford's stated position holds that we can build a subway with private money, and that if the city builds the line, the dense development will magically appear. I have one question for the people who believe this: why do you want dense development appear in a place so many people found attractive precisely because of its open space?

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