TORONTO - I grew up on cars and even drove one of my own for a year. Then I moved from city to city where public transportation ruled. I took subways and buses to get around or I walked. I zipped through the streets of Chicago on a bicycle - even in the winter - and zoomed around Europe on the high speed Eurail. I’ve experienced so many modes of transportation that I can’t even begin to imagine how transportation is going to evolve. (Of course, I’ve always thought it could use improvement, but I never knew where to start.)
So when I had the chance to attend the grand opening of a new transportation expo at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto, I had to check it out.
The expo, MOVE: The Transportation Expo, looks at the past, present and future of transportation around the world and explores innovative modes of transportation to help us manage a future with more people and fewer resources.
The show’s creators, Evergreen Brick Works and the Institute without Borders at George Brown College, challenged artists to design sustainable transportation systems and durable infrastructure that did not compromise public health.
This was an important task, especially for the city of Toronto, where the average commute time by car is 80 minutes. Experts predict that the entire city will be gridlocked by 2031 if a solution isn’t found: a problem that can be found in other parts of the world, too.
Designers tackled these challenges from a variety of different angles. A section titled Beyond the Car showed design proposals on how to keep people moving in a growing metropolis. One proposal, “P.A.T.” (People and Things), is a driverless vehicle that runs on a smart grid that tracks all vehicles on the road to eliminate congestion and reduce travel times.
Low Car(b) Diet proposals looked at active transportation for people living in the Toronto suburbs where 68 percent of children don’t walk to school. One idea encouraged kids to exercise by creating a “walking school bus.” How does it work? A volunteer parent collects children from their houses and walks them to the school just like a school bus. Except they get exercise.
Another design proposal called “Energywave,” called for a highway that creates electricity from the cars that move on it. The idea will make the most of highway networks to reduce energy consumption and power transportation more efficiently.
The Ontario Auto Recycling Association also participated in the expo by installing auto recycling designs to show viewers just how much of a car can be recycled: 80 percent to be exact. Recycling car parts diverts waste from landfills and reduces the need to manufacture new parts.
As intriguing as all of the futuristic designs were, the location of the expo offered its own degree of fascination. Evergreen Brick Works was an abandoned industrial site that was bought by a non-profit organization and turned into a cultural center that focuses on the environment. The center houses a farmer’s market on weekends and a garden that is maintained by neighborhood children. It is also an incubator for sustainable ideas.
MOVE runs through October 28th as part of a series of five expos to be held at Evergreen Brick Works on the topic of sustainable city building.