Walk Toronto has a new website

We’ve moved our website over to a new platform – you can find it at walktoronto.ca. Please check it out!

All the content on this site has been moved over, so no content has been lost.


Election candidates survey results show strong support for walking policies

“Buidling a City that Moves,” the City of Toronto election candidates survey of walking, cycling and transit issues, released its findings today. The results showed strong support from council and mayoral candidates for policies that support walking, as well as cycling and transit.

The survey was a partnership between Walk Toronto and the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, Canada Walks, Cycle Toronto and the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

For the walking-related questions, the results were:

  • 97% support for “Will you work with the Toronto area school boards to develop and implement School Travel Plans that will improve the safety and integrity of school walking routes?” This was the highest level of support for any question on the survey. 100% of incumbents running again for office who completed the survey voiced support.
  • 92% support for “Do you support enabling neighbourhoods to establish “slow zones” (with a maximum speed of 30 km/hr) on residential roads?”
  • 85% support for “Do you support permanently widening sidewalks with high pedestrian activity in downtown Toronto?”
  • 73% support for “Do you support extending snow clearing to all residential sidewalks in Toronto at an estimated cost of $10M per year?” (83% of responding incumbents)

Two-thirds (63%) of the 38 councillor incumbents running for re-election responded to the survey, and 2 of the 3 leading mayoral candidates.

See the announcement and the full results on the TCAT website.

Comments on Pedestrian Crossings – Ontario Traffic Manual

Walk Toronto has submitted comments on the Ontario Traffic Manual (OTM) Book 15 – Pedestrian Crossing Treatments. The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) was seeking public input on the draft version of these revised guidelines.

The draft guidelines include many welcome new elements that bring clarity, additional flexibilty and an emphasis on accessibility. However, in its comments Walk Toronto notes some important areas where they can be improved. For example, it is very important to provide safe direct crossings for pedestrian pathways even if they are close to existing traffic signals. As well, we note that the “pedestrian scramble” section does not reflect the existing practice in Toronto.

Read our complete comments (PDF)

It is also worth noting that the OTM draft provides a clear and useful analysis of the right of pedestrians to cross mid-block in Ontario, in section 2.1. This issue has been subject to a lot of confusion over the years, so this clarity is helpful.

From Section 2.1.2, “Pedestrian’s Rights and Responsibilities”

“In the absence of statutory provisions or by-law, a pedestrian is not confined to a street crossing or intersection and is entitled to cross at any point, although greater care may then be required of him or her in crossing. However, pedestrians crossing the highway must look to ensure the crossing can be made safely or possibly be held responsible for any ensuing collision.”

Also, it clarifies the confusing Section 144 (22) of the Highway Traffic Act, reinforcing the fact that it applies specifically to when pedestrians are crossing at a signalized intersection:

“If there is a crosswalk at a signalized intersection, pedestrians have to walk within the crosswalk: [Section 144 (22) of the HTA]”

Walk Toronto at Open Streets TO

Walk Toronto at Open Streets TO

Walk Toronto was pleased to be a participant in the first round of Open Streets TO on Aug. 17, and Walk Toronto will be at Open Streets TO once again on Sunday Aug. 31. We’ll be at Matt Cohen Park (south-east corner of Bloor and Spadina) from opening at 8:00 am right through to noon. Drop by, have a chat, sign up for our mailing list, and check out the chalk drawings!

Our main event for Open Streets is a walking audit the Spadina in the vicinity of Bloor, leaving from Matt Cohen Park at 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. We’ll be rolling up our sleeves, looking at features that influence the walkability of our route, and chalking our comments on the pavement. You can download details at http://tinyurl.com/WalkToSpadinaAudit.
Our audit is being done in conjunction with Jane’s Walk, and you can find details at the web site: http://janeswalk.org/canada/toronto/walk-toronto-walk-audit/

In the meantime, have a look at a photo album by Lance Gleich of what was happening around the Walk Toronto table at the Aug. 17 Open Streets TO. The last photos were taken each hour of Open Streets TO and show how the streets filled up over the course of the morning.

Improving accessibility on the Lower Don Trail

An opportunity for a major accessibility improvement for the Lower Don Trail will be coming up at tomorrow’s Parks Committee meeting. The City is planning to install two staircases linking the bridges at Gerrard and Dundas Streets to the Lower Don Trail. While this will provide welcome additional access points for able trail users, people using wheelchairs, strollers, bike trailers and other wheeled devices will not be accommodated. They will continue to have no accessible entry points to the Lower Don anywhere on the 4.5 km. stretch of the Lower Don Trail between Corktown Common and Pottery Road.

Walk Toronto is proposing that an accessible ramp be installed at Gerrard, Dundas (or perhaps at Riverdale Park, though this involves hillier terrain). When the TTC brings new accessible streetcars to its Carlton, Dundas and King lines, people with disabilities will be able to take transit to stops close to the bridge. We want them to be able to use a ramp and not face stairs, which can be a barrier. The same applies to patients at the large Bridgepoint rehab facility, which overlooks the trail.

Thanks to contributions from condo developers in Toronto’s three downtown wards, the City has accumulated $37 million in alternative rate reserves that can be used to improve existing parks. Let’s tap these funds in order to improve access to one of the largest body of green space in the city’s inner core. Toronto doesn’t have a big downtown park like Mt. Royal or Central Park. Instead, we are known for our ravine systems and river valleys. We must ensure that all Torontonians have access to them.

Councillor Fletcher has kindly added this item to the agenda of the Parks & Environment Committee’s meeting on Aug. 15. If you act quickly, you can send a letter of support to the committee before the deadline of 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 14. Click on “Submit Comments” at:

To view Walk Toronto’s “Lower Don Trail Accessibility” report, see:

You can help get candidates talking about walking

There’s a city election coming up, and with your help, Walk Toronto is working to make sure all municipal candidates talk about walking as a key part of making a great city.

What Walk Toronto is doing

Walk Toronto has teamed up with other sustainable transportation groups to come up with a platform and election survey, “Building a Toronto that Moves,” that will ask every candidate where they stand on making Toronto a better city for walking.

It wasn’t easy to choose just 4 yes/no questions to ask about pedestrian issues, but, working with Canada Walks, we focused on “slow zones,”  widening Yonge St. sidewalks, sidewalk snow clearing, and safe walking to school.

You can see the complete platform on the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation website: http://www.tcat.ca/election_surveys_2014

Every candidate will receive a survey, and we’ll be publishing their answers in early October, so that voters can use them to help make a decision on election day.

What you can do

To get candidates talking about walking issues, one thing you can do is ask them a question when you see them campaigning on the street, at your doorstep, or at an all-candidates’ meeting.

One question you could ask is:

 “Last year, 40 pedestrians were killed by vehicles on Toronto’s streets, a 10-year high. What will you do to improve pedestrian safety in Toronto?”

Or ask them a question about any other walking issue that is close to your heart – the key is to get candidates talking about walking!

Thanks for helping to make walking better in Toronto,

“Building a Toronto that Moves” city election survey

Walk Toronto has teamed up with the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT), Canada Walks, Cycle Toronto and the Toronto Environmental Alliance (TEA) to create an election survey for council and mayoral candidates in the upcoming civic elections.

The survey, called “Building a Toronto that Moves,” includes 4 questions each about walking, cycling and transit.

The survey was launched at a press conference this morning (Tuesday June 3) at City Hall.

The full document and the election questions can be found on the TCAT website. The survey results will be published in the fall close to the date of the election, to help Toronto voters make their decision about which candidates to support.

It was challenging to choose just 4 questions to ask, but here are the ones we came up with for walking:

1. Do you support enabling neighbourhoods to establish “slow zones” (with a maximum speed of 30 km/hr) on residential roads?

2. Do you support permanently widening sidewalks with high pedestrian activity in downtown Toronto, such as Yonge Street?

3. Do you support extending snow clearing to all residential sidewalks in Toronto, at an estimated cost of $10M per year?

4. Will you work with the Toronto area school boards to develop and implement School Travel Plans that will improve the safety and integrity of school walking routes?

More detailed background about each issue can be found in the full document.


Walk Toronto Jane’s Walks

Jane’s Walk weekend is fast approaching, and members of the Walk Toronto steering committee are presenting some of the walks.

Dylan Reid, Vivien Leong and Mike Jones are leading the Walkability Scavenger Hunt – Ward 30 on Sat. May 3 at 2:00 pm, with help from Sean Marshall.  The walk will test out the Jane’s Walk “Walkability Checklist” tool, looking for the elements that contribute to creating a good or bad walking environment.

Denise Pinto, who is Global Director of Jane’s Walk, will also be testing out the “Walkability Checklist” tool on Curb Cuts and Desire Lines: A Christie-Harbord Scavenger Hunt! on Fri. May 2 at 4:00 pm. The walk will lead in to the Jane’s Walk launch party that evening.

Further west, Lance Gleich will be leading Swansea, Past and Present on Sat. May 3 at 6:30 pm, on behalf of the Swansea Historical Society.

Geoff Kettel will be co-leading Layers of Thorncliffe Park on Fri. May 2 at 6:30 pm and Sat. May 3 at 10:00 am.

And of course there are many more walks being held across the city by all kinds of enthusiastic walk leaders. Be sure to get out and walk!

LEADING THE WAY: Understanding the World of Wayfinding

Leading the Way event

Walk Toronto is pleased to co-sponsor a talk about wayfinding with Phil Berczuk, who is leading the development of Toronto’s wayfinding strategy.

WHAT: Leading the Way: Understanding the World of Wayfinding
WHEN: Monday, May 5th, 6:30-9:00pm
WHERE: Eaton Lecture Theatre (RCC204), Ryerson University / 80 Gould St.
COST: free!
RSVP: You must RSVP at our Eventbrite page. Limited rush seating available night of event
FACEBOOK: Please share our event listing on Facebook

Many cities such as London, New York, Bogota and Vancouver have developed wayfinding strategies in response to significant transportation challenges and/or major events such as the Olympics. The City of Toronto is planning on rolling out a limited wayfinding system in time for the 2015 Pan/ParaPan Am Games.

At the “Leading the Way: Understanding the World of Wayfinding” event, you will get a global tour of what other cities are implementing on their streets, led by Phil Berczuk, the director of design at Steer Davies Gleave, who is also leading the design of Toronto’s wayfinding system. Berczuk’s presentation will be followed by a Q&A session with Spacing’s Matthew Blackett.

Walk Toronto calls on the City of Toronto to extend snow clearing to every sidewalk in the city

Walk Toronto is calling on the City of Toronto to commit to clearing the snow from every sidewalk in the City.

While the City ploughs sidewalks in suburban areas, 1,100 km of sidewalk in the parts of Toronto most heavily used by pedestrians are not cleared of snow by the City. Instead, in this “No-plough zone” residents are required to do so, with inconsistent results. As a consequence, ice and snow makes sidewalks throughout a large part of the City dangerous during the winter, especially for seniors and the disabled. Some may be unable to leave their house, and others may suffer life-threatening injuries. Meanwhile, the City pays out millions of dollars in insurance claims and struggles to enforce its own sidewalk clearance bylaws. The current policy simply does not meet the basic standards for creating a fully accessible city.

The full consequences of this City policy are laid out in a comprehensive report by Walk Toronto, “Keeping Sidewalks Safe in Winter” (PDF).

A new report from City of Toronto Transportation Services (PDF) claims that it is impossible for the City to clear narrow sidewalks in the “No-plough zone.” However, the Walk Toronto report demonstrates that in fact many cities already clear narrow sidewalks, and shows the kind of equipment that the city could purchase or contract to do so. Doing so is affordable as well – while Ottawa and Montreal’s budget for snow clearing comes to $0.44 per capita for every centimetre of snowfall they receive, Toronto only spends $0.27 per centimetre of snowfall per capita. Even the most expensive option would only bring that up to $0.30, and the cost should be much less.

The Transportation Services report will be discussed by the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday April 9. Walk Toronto is calling on the committee to direct Transportation Services staff to come up with a plan and a realistic budget to clear every sidewalk in the city. It is important for the City to act now, as the contracts for snow clearing will be coming up for renewal in 2015.