North America

One city so far: Toronto. Next 5 cities to come: Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City, Washington, and New York. Want me to talk about your city? Let me know.

1. Toronto, Canada

Population2,903,456 (2023 est.)
Population density4334.4/km2
Walk share8% (2021)
Passenger carsUnknown
Paulo’s Walk Score6

Toronto is the home of The Path, a mind-blowing network of tunnels that can be used by pedestrians, linking stations, department stores, and office buildings. It’s a great option when it’s too cold (most of the time) or too hot outside (sometimes). It does get very quiet after the shops close so it may not feel safe. And finding the way can be difficult. The maps and signs provided often confuse more than help.

Entering The Path. Toronto. © P. Anciaes

At ground level, the roads tend to be wide and dominated by private cars. The downtown area is full of skyscrapers and it feels overwhelming, as it was not designed at the scale of pedestrians. There are few pedestrianized streets, even in shopping areas.

Nice but not human scale. © P.Anciaes

On the other hand, there are quiet places to walk on, away from cars and tall buildings. Toronto islands are nice and charming areas, and they have a great view of the city.

Toronto island. © P. Anciaes

Back on the city, there are a lot of busy streets. Busy with cars, trams, cyclists, pedestrians, trees, and shopfront displays. The pedestrian infrastructure is good quality but there’s a feelign that pedestrians are not getting their fair share of space, compared to cars. And at junctions, it can be difficult for pedestrians to negotiate cars and trams at the same time.

Busy street in Toronto. © P.Anciaes
Busy junction in Toronto. © P.Anciaes

There is hope that walking conditions will improve, as that is one of the priorities of the local government. One good example is The Bentway in Toronto. It is an ongoing project to give some utility and beauty to the space underneath an elevated motorway crossing the city. It features nice environments to walk.

Conclusion: for a rich city, I was expecting better walking conditions. There are too many cars. But pedestrians are still treated with more respect than anywhere in Canada’s southern neighbour.

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