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Toronto might make sidewalks one-way to help with social distancing

Though we're not supposed to be leaving our houses unless we're out picking up necessities right now, residents are finding that some sidewalks in Toronto are still too busy — and too narrow — to safely practice social distancing during the COVID-19 crisis.

In light of this, Mayor John Tory has now said he's considering making sidewalks one-way to make it easier for people to stay two metres apart.

Tory revealed the new idea in an interview with CP24 this morning, in which he said that the rule might be difficult to enforce, but that the city would implement signage to indicate which direction of foot travel a given sidewalk is reserved for. The opposite side of the street would be designated for the opposite direction of travel.

"I am not averse to that if it is proving to be a problem in given areas," he said to the news outlet.

Many cities across the globe have begun opening up streets to pedestrians to aid with social distancing as car traffic decreases and pedestrian traffic does the opposite, and some residents and local politicians are calling for Toronto to do the same.

But Tory said that idea could have harmful effects, in essence encouraging people to gather in certain already-busy areas when they should be staying home.

As for the directional sidewalk concept, Canadian cities like Westmount in Montreal have already asked citizens to consider sidewalks to be one-way, while Edmonton has designated some car lanes and expanded bike lanes for cyclist and pedestrian use, among other changes.

Tory has asked Torontonians to call 311 if they notice any sidewalks becoming congested enough to be an issue so that the city can evaluate whether measures such as one-way footpaths should be implemented.

As the weather warms up and people become more tempted to exercise outdoors, such steps may indeed become a necessity.

Lead photo by

Jim Cagney


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