> Proposed Transit and Pedestrian Mall for Downtown Whitby | Metrolinx Engage

Proposed Transit and Pedestrian Mall for Downtown Whitby

This page contains information on the proposed transit and pedestrian mall for Downtown Whitby between Byron Street and Green Street.

Rendering of Dundas Street east of Byron Street, looking east

What is a transit and pedestrian mall?

A transit and pedestrian mall reallocates road space from cars and traffic to pedestrians, public space and transit vehicles. General traffic is restricted from using the mall. Emergency services and other specific vehicles can use the mall for garbage collection, snow clearing, and deliveries to local businesses.

This allows the business community to expand and use the space. Transit and pedestrian malls have been used in other cities across North America to increase economic activity by encouraging more people to visit the area. Transit and pedestrian malls allow people to use the public space and could include space for restaurant patios and events like markets to create a more active place for people.

In Downtown Whitby, the pedestrian mall would convert the curb lanes into sidewalks and a pedestrian plaza on Dundas Street from Brock Street west to Byron, and from Brock Street east to Green/Perry. Currently the sidewalk is 1.2 to 2.0 m wide. By converting the existing curb lanes to sidewalks, approximately 4 metres (16 feet) can be added to the public realm along both the north and south sides of Dundas Street between Byron and Green/Perry.  Brock Street would remain open to all north-south traffic.

Examples of similar streets around North America

Argyle Street in Halifax, NS

A street at night with festive, string lights and stylish streetscaping elements, including benches, street trees, and light posts. Cabs and pedestrians can be seen in the distance.

This “shared street” uses a people-focused design for the road with wide public space to support local businesses. The pedestrian-first design enhances connections and attracts residents and tourists alike. Opened in 2017.

Dundas Place in London, ON

A car-free street with street trees and stylish streetscaping elements including bike racks, public art, and unit pavers.

This “flex street” renewed one of the oldest streets in London into a vibrant place for people full of Instagram-worthy spaces and larger-scale events. Summer 2020 included “car free weekends” to create more space for the community and businesses. Opened in 2019.

Nicollet Transit and Pedestrian Mall in Minneapolis, MN

A wide sidewalk with a busy patio and vegetation separating pedestrians from the street.

The first transit mall in the USA, Nicollet Avenue is closed to automobile traffic for 8 blocks. Nicollet hosts frequent bus transit and a pedestrian-oriented design with larger sidewalks and public places. Nicollet hosts a Makers Market, Downtown Street Art Festival, and regular musical performances. Opened in 1967.

Ithaca Commons in Ithaca, NY

A car-free street featuring pedestrians, planter boxes and streetscaping.

This unique four-block pedestrian-only shopping area hosts events all year round, including the Apple Harvest Festival, the Winter Light Festival & Chowder Cook Off, and Summer Sidewalk Sales. Opened in 1975.

 

Why is a transit and pedestrian mall being recommended for Downtown Whitby as part of the Durham-Scarborough Bus Rapid Transit project?

The proposed transit and pedestrian mall would improve the public realm with wider sidewalks for pedestrians and public events in Downtown Whitby, while also improving transit priority and connections across Whitby.

There would be changes to on-street parking and traffic patterns. Deliveries, waste removal and winter maintenance vehicles would have access to the pedestrian mall.

How would traffic move through Downtown Whitby?

Analysis of 12 months of trip data (February 2019 to January 2020) found:

  • 20% of trips begin and end outside Whitby. These longer distance trips could take other regional roads instead of Dundas Street.

  • 46% of trips are medium distance trips within Whitby. These medium distance trips can take other regional and local roads within Whitby. Planned road network connections, including Manning to Adelaide at Garrard Road, and the recent Consumers Drive extension to Thornton Road, provide new route choices for drivers.

  • 34% of trips begin or end in Downtown Whitby. These local trips can take other local roads within Whitby. Planned road network connections, including the Dunlop Street extension, provide new route choices for drivers.

A map illustrating that 20% of trips begin and end outside of Whitby, 46% of trips are medium distance trips within Whitby, and 34% are trips that begin and end in Downtown Whitby.

Planned road network connections

The Town of Whitby and Durham Region have plans to make new connections in the road network. These connections will provide new route choices for drivers over the next 10 to 15 years. These connections were previously proposed by the Town and the Region and will be implemented separately from the BRT project. These connections are not required for the BRT to function but will assist traffic flow throughout Whitby.

 

A map showing planned future road connections in downtown Whitby and the surrounding area. Connections include Consumers Drive from Thickson to Oshawa boundary, Burns Street from Hopkins to Thickson, Adelaide Avenue from Garrard to Oshawa boundary, Bonacord Avenue/Manning Road from Cochrane to Brock Street.

 

Evaluation of Downtown Whitby options

After receiving feedback from the second round of public consultation, the project team looked at other options to maintain transit priority while reducing the impact of the concerns raised. The pedestrian mall was raised as one option that would benefit transit operations and provide opportunities to improve the sidewalks and public realm along Dundas Street.  The table below summarize the key differences between three options: business as usual, curbside transit lanes (as recommended at PIC2) and a pedestrian mall (current recommendation).

 Business as UsualCurbside BRTPedestrian Mall RECOMMENDED
Description
  • Continue to run buses in mixed traffic
  • No opportunity for improved public realm
  • Business deliveries and on-street parking remain
  • Traffic congestion is expected to increase over time, also increasing delays to transit
  • Convert curb lanes to transit-only lanes
  • Parking relocated to side streets
  • Restrictions to curbside loading and unloading
  • Transit delays due to turning vehicles and curbside activities
  • Increases capacity for traffic in the downtown
  • Convert centre lanes to transit-only lanes; convert curb lanes to improved public realm
  • Parking relocated to side streets
  • Deliveries maintained
  • Transit priority across Whitby
  • Planned road network connections provide new route choices for drivers.
Public Realm

-

No potential to improve the public realm

-

Perception that curbside bus lanes reduce walkability. No potential to improve the public realm.

✔✔

Potential to reimagine the street, increase pedestrian amenities and provide space for events and activities

Parking

No change to on-street parking

-

31 spaces moved from Dundas Street to local side streets

-

31 spaces moved from Dundas Street to local side streets

Business Access

✔✔

No change

-

Storefront deliveries impacted (limited hours, service from rear or side streets)

Deliveries allowed using public realm space

Traffic and Moving People

-

Congestion and delays will continue to increase. Does not increase the people-carrying capacity of Dundas Street.

Removal of parking and vehicle segregation will improve local traffic flows. Some increase to the people-carrying capacity of Dundas Street.

-

Longer distance trips could take other regional roads. Planned road network connections provide new route choices for medium and local trips.

Transit Priority

-

No improvement in this segment of the corridor. Would result in a gap in the transit priority measures in Whitby, increasing delays and conflicts, and limiting improvements to transit reliability

Some improvement but conflicts with right turns and deliveries is challenging. Would result in curbside transit lanes in central Whitby

✔✔

High degree of priority for transit users, encouraging greater transit usage. Supports centre-running transit lanes across Whitby improving transit reliability

Summary

No impacts to parking or access. No improvement to public realm, traffic congestion or transit operations. Does not increase capacity to move people or encourage increased transit use.

Impacts to parking and deliveries. No improvement to public realm. Some reduction of traffic congestion and some improvement to transit operations. Some increase in the capacity to move people and encourage transit use.

Impacts to parking. Deliveries allowed using public realm space. Improvement to public realm. Changes to traffic patterns. Improvement to transit priority across Whitby. Increases capacity to move people and encourages increased transit use.

 

Why the change from Curbside (4 lanes) to a pedestrian mall for Downtown Whitby?

In Fall 2019, at Public Information Centre 2, the technically preferred solution was Curbside (4 Lanes). The solution:

  • Converted the two curbside general traffic lanes to exclusive transit use,

  • Relocated on-street parking from Dundas Street to side streets or municipal parking facilities,

  • Did not change or improve the existing sidewalks,

  • Had no impact on the adjacent buildings, minimizing impacts to cultural heritage resources and property, and

  • Reduced capacity for general traffic and goods movement. Business deliveries would be restricted to either rear access, side street access or off-hour access.

We heard several concerns about the Curbside (4 Lanes) solution, including:

  • Lack of improvement to the public realm in Downtown Whitby, particularly the lack of opportunity to widen sidewalks, with concerns for accessibility, pedestrian safety, and walkability,

  • Loss of parking along Dundas Street is a major concern to local businesses,

  • Restrictions to curbside loading and unloading,

  • Reduced road capacity for cars and goods movement, and

  • Delays to transit from right-turning traffic and curbside operations (waste removal, deliveries) reduces the overall benefit of transit investments through all of Whitby.

Why can’t we keep Dundas Street the way it is today?

The introduction of PULSE saw an immediate increase in transit ridership, demonstrating that higher order transit will be successful in encouraging more people to choose public transit for more of their trips. While no transit service will suit every trip for every person, the planned improvements will build on existing successes and help reduce the pressure on the corridor to carry more trips. The Durham-Scarborough BRT is not a new project, it builds on the existing Durham Region Transit (DRT) PULSE service and existing bus lanes. This transit service currently connects major destinations and communities across Durham Region and into the City of Toronto.

As Durham Region continues to grow over the next 20 years, dedicated bus lanes are required to maintain reliability of transit services and reduce conflicts and congestion with motor vehicles across the corridor. Today traffic congestion delays all road users but affects transit riders disproportionately.Transit trips are two to three times longer than equivalent car trips. Transit trips are also subject to much greater variability as minor delays become magnified by the very nature how public transit operates and often results in “bus bunching”.

DRT and other transit agencies use various techniques to minimize these delays but cannot eliminate them unless the buses run on dedicated lanes where the impacts of traffic congestion can be removed.

Is the transit mall design final?

The project is currently in the preliminary design stage. There will be more opportunities for consultation and design refinements before the preliminary design is completed, as well as during the detail design phase prior to construction. Metrolinx will continue to consult with stakeholders, including residents and business owners, to understand their needs and concerns.

What is “bus bunching”?

When a bus is delayed, more people arrive at the downstream bus stops, increasing the amount of time needed to board those passengers. As the number of people on the bus increases, additional time is also needed for passengers to get to the doors to get off the bus, further increasing the delay. The delayed bus also slows down but the bus behind it does not. The reduced interval, or headway, between buses means that the second bus sees fewer passengers and has fewer delays from crowding on the bus. This variability causes buses to bunch together and requires that transit riders plan extra time into their schedules to account for the potential delays along the corridor.

We want to hear from you.

Let us know your thoughts on the preliminary design for the Town of Whitby by filling out the online survey. The survey will remain open until Sunday, January 10, 2021.

You can also review the proposed design and leave comments using the interactive map.