Becoming Doris

rweait's picture
Kenneth Avenue road sign where Kenneth used to intersect Finch Avenue East

Kenneth is becoming Doris. This is something of an upset for those of us who know and love Kenneth but perhaps it is for the best. Let me explain.

This is what the area looked like from let's say 1980 to late 2008. Typical Toronto. Rectilinear. Predictable almost.

mapnik rendering of Kenneth Avenue before construction

In December 2008, Kenneth Avenue was closed south of Finch Avenue East and lots of mysterious digging commenced. Finch Avenue East was restricted to one lane each way, from two lanes each way plus a shared left hand turn lane, for several weeks.

turns were restricted
The digging continued through the slushy winter and cool spring. Turns were restricted. No southbound traffic on Kenneth Avenue and no left turn to northbound Kenneth Avenue.

Then a magical thing happened. A Friday afternoon in June with nice weather. The construction crews repositioned several barriers for the next stage of their project. The sun came out and revealed Kenneth's transformation. I had to have a look, so I grabbed a camera, a GPS and went for a walk through the construction site. The workers were just finishing up and most had a wave and a smile for me as I enjoyed the product of their full-size diggers. What kid doesn't want their toy trucks to work on this real-life scale?

I wasn't the only one enjoying a walk through the construction site. I met about a dozen others, seemingly doing the same thing; gawking, peeking, trying to figure out how this road work will affect them. The freshly poured curbs revealed their stark white truth. Kenneth is becoming Doris.

The former path of Kenneth Avenue was straight southbound, shown here in yellow, from north of Finch Avenue. That portion of Kenneth immediately south of Finch is now gone, and curbs for the new Doris Avenue extension are in place. Doris Avenue will curve to the right (south-west) as shown in green.

old Kenneth; the new Doris

I walked the length of the Doris Avenue extension to the corner of Byng Avenue and the current Doris Avenue and saved that GPS track file to use in updating OpenStreetMap. This is one of the huge benefits of OpenStreetMap, more than 100,000 contributors around the world, ready to update and improve the map of their collective neighbourhoods. The commercial mapping companies cannot compete with the enthusiasm, capability and range of OpenStreetMap. They can't afford to compete.

I updated OpenStreetMap to show the construction area as I observed it. Kenneth Avenue now stops at the driveway north of Olive Avenue. Olive and Holmes Avenue are under construction and provide local service only. It appears that they will no longer be through streets, but the end point locations are not yet apparent. The Doris Avenue extension is not yet open to traffic. So all of this is shown correctly as under construction, and reveals the future location of the Doris Avenue extension.
mapnik rendering of Kenneth Avenue during construction

As construction continues OpenStreetMap contributors will update the map until eventually, OSM will show the newly opened road, perhaps years before the commercial mapping companies are able to update their maps for their paying clients. If you care about location. If you care about accurate, up-to-date maps, why are you paying commercial mapping companies for out-of-date, incorrect maps? Obviously you need to learn more about OpenStreetMap.

How did I update this map? I took a walk through the neighbourhood to satisfy my curiosity. I took some photos for you, and the GPS for the position data. And I took less than ten minutes to edit and upload the changes to the OpenStreetMap server once I got back to my computer. The one thing I spent the greatest amount of time on? Chatting with a home owner about his experience with the construction, and whether he'll have a new park beside his house, or a new condominium. This is a fun way to learn more about neighbourhoods that interest you.

OpenStreetMap. It's fun. It's free. You can help. Have roads in your neighbourhood changed? Do you want to learn how to update the map? Learn to be a mapper and learn how to help create the most complete, most accurate, most up-to-date map of the world.


Map images and data © 2009 CC-By-SA OpenStreetMap and contributors.


This article was originally published on Sat, 06/20/2009 - 23:45.