pedestrian traffic toronto

Toronto is seeing way more pedestrian traffic than it used to

Perhaps it's the crowded TTC buses or gym closures, but more people in Toronto seem to be walking during the pandemic — and, in fact, walking has been on the rise over the past few decades.

Last summer, Statistics Canada noted an increase in people out walking or riding bicycles. But pedestrian traffic has increased over the past few decades, according to City of Toronto data gathered by Matt Elliott of City Hall Watcher.

Elliott gathered and compared pedestrian counts from Toronto intersections in the 1980s, 1990s, the 2000s (2000 to 2009) and the 2010s. The busiest pedestrian intersections changes over the years but overall more people are out walking.

He notes in the 2010s, all top five busiest intersections had more than 3,000 people counted walking but in the 1980s, the numbers were closer to 2,500 people.

This is likely due to population increases — in 1986 the population of the GTA was about 3 million, and by 2016 it had doubled to over six million.

There has been a shift in the city's top five busiest intersections over the years and the time of day when the most pedestrians are out.

In the 1980s, the busiest intersection was the heart of Yorkville at Bay and Bloor in the early afternoon with 2,591 pedestrians counted between 1 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. on June 21, 1984.

In the 90s, pedestrian traffic was highest at Bathurst and Harbord (June 25, 1991, from 11:45 a.m. to noon with 4,393 pedestrians), but Elliott suggests there could be something skewing the data.

"The Bathurst & Harbord number here is a bit puzzling, as that's a whole lot of pedestrians crossing a street that isn't known to see such massive pedestrian volumes typically," Elliot writes. "Most of the activity was northbound crossing. It could be some sort of parade or protest. Or it could be a data error."

The second busiest was King and University with 3,226 pedestrians on June 20, 1991, from 2:45 to 3 p.m. and then Yonge and Bloor in the early afternoon.

In the early 2000s, Toronto's busiest pedestrian traffic shifts to the financial district at Bay and Front at about 8 a.m.

"This seems to reflect growing transit ridership on GO and the TTC after the doldrums of the 1990s."

Two events seem to impact the numbers in the 2010s. A Toronto Blue Jays game on April 18, 2015 put more people on the street at Front and John, and Halloween had numbers up at Dundas and Yonge in 2011.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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