social distancing ontario

Someone in Toronto made a social distancing machine to prove sidewalks are too narrow

While Toronto residents are encouraged to stay home as much as possible and only leave the house for essential reasons, many still have to walk through narrow downtown streets from time to time in order to shop for groceries and get exercise. 

In light of this, city councillors and residents have been pointing out just how small Toronto's downtown sidewalks are, and one person even made a video of himself using a contraption to demonstrate the impossibility of social distancing. 

Daniel Rotsztain, an artist, writer and cartographer based in Toronto, made a video of himself walking through some of the city's busiest streets while wearing a machine that ensures he stays at least two metres from others, and the level of difficulty he experiences while trying to social distance is near comical. 

"Made a Social Distance machine to show why @cityoftoronto needs to close major streets like Yonge during COVID-19," Rotsztain wrote on Twitter Monday morning.

"Our sidewalks are too narrow to keep a safe distance. Tell @JohnTory  and your local councillors: #streets4peopleTO!"

The video shows Rotsztain walking down the narrow sidewalks of downtown Yonge Street as well as through the densely populated Kensington Market, and he's forced to venture out onto the street multiple times in order to avoid physical contact with structures, cars and other people. 

"Toronto needs more space for pedestrians to stay safe," reads a speech bubble in the video. "The City needs to close streets like Yonge to cars so we can keep our 2m distance."

Another speech bubble later states that the only safe place to walk while trying to get through downtown is smack in the middle of Yonge Street. 

And Rotsztain isn't the first to recommend the closure of downtown Yonge to cars so pedestrians can spread out. City councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has been advocating for this change for weeks now, and she sent a letter to Mayor John Tory urging him to consider the move back in March. 

Several experts have echoed the idea, including former chief planner of Toronto Jennifer Keesmat. 

Other solutions are also being considered to address the issue. Speaking on CP24 this morning, Mayor John Tory said he's considering making some sidewalks one-way to make it easier for people to stay two metres apart.

But regardless of which solution Toronto chooses in the end, it's clear something needs to be done to help residents keep their distance from one another while walking through this dense city. 

Lead photo by

Daniel Rotsztain


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