Mind-boggling snowy sidewalk photos illustrate why people in Toronto keep walking on roads
It's been nearly two weeks now since Toronto was hit with a blizzard unlike anything seen in the city for years (if not decades), but you wouldn't know it by the state of our city's sidewalks right now.
Yes, it's been cold outside since the ferocious winter storm hit, and yes, we've had several big snows since then, but some paths meant for pedestrians are in a state that many say isn't acceptable at this point in time — regardless of what the weather hath wrought.
Basically if I’m not able to climb over this hill I shouldn’t leave my house this winter. There’s no excuse for these conditions when we experience winter every year! (Powerhouse and Lansdowne) #shovelTO pic.twitter.com/vHWaYHxdLe— Joan M (@jaunemilway) January 26, 2022
"Toronto's bike lanes, sidewalks, and transit stops currently covered in snow and ice are endangering vulnerable road users," wrote the advocacy group Cycle Toronto earlier this week on Twitter.
The group then put out a call to its more than 24,000 followers, asking them to share photos of "problematic spots" around the city using the hashtag #ShovelTO — and boy did the people deliver.
We continue to see trails and parks blocked for public use: Here is a path that ends abruptly at Natal Park. #shovelTO pic.twitter.com/LptpNyf2ZW— Cycle Toronto (@CycleToronto) January 26, 2022
People have been sharing images from every corner of Toronto, showing the treacherous conditions that pedestrians have been dealing with now for 12 days straight.
Bayview at Moore, southwest corner. There's a sidewalk under there somewhere! #shovelTO pic.twitter.com/lQOO4pIrsf— Holly Reid (she/her) (@Notweetin) January 26, 2022
Some sidewalks are completely impassable as we approach the second weekend after the historic blizzard of Jan. 17.
Davisville North side. West of Mount Pleasant. #ShovelTO pic.twitter.com/zoNPZiH2Ie— Carmen Jones (she/her) (@carmen_bikes) January 26, 2022
Others are kind of walkable, but only to the able-bodied and people without any sort of rolling baggage (including strollers.)
Look! You can almost see Mel Lastman Square aka NY city hall over this giant snowbank! I feel awful for anyone with mobility issues or a stroller trying to live in this city of neglect #topoli #walkto 🥶 pic.twitter.com/nbnxXK7bDM— libby roach (@libbyroach1) January 27, 2022
Others have been mushed down into narrow, icy paths by brave pedestrians...
Barrington Avenue (west side) between Coleman Avenue and Danforth Avenue. pic.twitter.com/8p0MWf3jGh— Michael Hodge (@MichaelHodge_TO) January 25, 2022
Though anyone would be wise to proceed with caution on most of these community-made snow paths.
This is 20 yards from a hospital next to Kensington. 🤷🏻 pic.twitter.com/Woa95fmLSO— 📷 🇮🇪 🇵🇸 IrishMoss (@JMorrisPhotog) January 26, 2022
Forget about getting your shoes wet — some sidewalks are straight up dangerous.
Dovercourt Road south of Bloor street. Inaccessible for many! #ShovelTO pic.twitter.com/cZonkyrlSh— Katie Babcock (@katebabcock) January 25, 2022
Others aren't quite as dangerous as they are irritating, given that snow has been cleared from adjacent roads right onto neighbourhood walking paths.
#shovelTO https://t.co/1sE0VCYYFD— john7istheman.eth (@John7Istheman) January 26, 2022
Bike paths are slightly better in some parts of the city, but many cyclists are still running into obstacles on the regular.
Danforth westbound between Coxwell and Linsmore. Bike lane is nowhere close to rideable. #shovelTO #BikeTO pic.twitter.com/WyE8CZLRKG— Billy D (@Billy_in_TO) January 28, 2022
Big, snowy, dirty obstacles.
#danforth at #jackman. Now what?@311Toronto #shovelTO pic.twitter.com/xopi1yF7AU— Tom Wright (@datateaser) January 26, 2022
This obvious lack of pedestrian infrastructure has been forcing Toronto residents onto the streets with their feet, coming within inches of vehicular traffic because what the heck else are they going to do?
there's a guardrail-protected sidewalk on the right, there— Rudy Limeback (@rudydotca) January 23, 2022
i'm not whining, because i totally realize you can't keep taxes low without prioritizing services
i mean, who walks here, anyway? pic.twitter.com/Wi01F9Rvw5
The phenomenon is being observed on quiet residential roads and busy retail stretches alike.
@BikeShareTO @Metrolinx @CycleToronto If you’re wondering why data is showing a drop in #bikeshare usage it’s cuz your 🚲 are inaccessible due to neglect. It takes Herculean effort to extract 🚲. Example @ King E @ Berkeley. #Transportation #Fail #ShovelTO pic.twitter.com/8O9PcfgokQ— Ali = Alison Stewart (@AlisonVStewart) January 26, 2022
Needless to say, locals who've had their regular walking paths replaced by snow so that cars can pass are a bit pissed.
It seems in some cases that it's only a matter of time before someone gets hurt — and you can bet that that someone won't be inside a car when it happens.
So glad that Keele st was plowed so I can walk in traffic, because they dumped all of the snow onto side streets making it impossible to walk! 👎 #Toronto #BikeTO #PlowTO #311TO pic.twitter.com/BR1kaoIiPN— Whizbang! 💥 (@jgrillo) January 25, 2022
Yes, people are annoyed to be forced onto live streets in order to get where they're going on foot...
This road in the #Bendale neighbourhood does not have sidewalks on either side. #ShovelTO @CycleToronto pic.twitter.com/7wm13mwGiw— 42 Voices (@42_voices) January 26, 2022
But, as some advocates note, this isn't about inconveniences, annoyances or even urban politics.
"I think it's important to remember that all of these complaints aren't necessarily about snow clearing as much as they are about not wanting to get killed by a driver," wrote the popular Twitter account @NotSafe4BikesTO on Thursday.
"It's not an annoyance, it's a matter of life and death."
My current nomination for worst sidewalk in my neighbourhood. NW corner of Adelaide and Niagara, across from a school. Commercial vehicles blocking sidewalk? Check. Pile of salt in lieu of shovelling? Check. Room/clean space for cars but not people? Check. #walkTO @311Toronto pic.twitter.com/k5tqoasNFo— Eric McGoey (@ericmcgoey) January 27, 2022
As for who'd be to blame if somebody did get hurt as a result of all the unplowed sidewalks, it depends on where in the city they are.
Toronto has made tremendous progress in its quest to see sidewalk hazards eliminated, vowing for two years straight to clean more than the former standard 81 per cent of city footpaths wide enough for mechanical plows to operate on in response to public demand.
Despite the acquisition of new, more slender machines meant specifically to clear narrow downtown sidewalks, the problem persists for many.
All of that said, this past storm was exceptional in terms of its volume and impact. While not perfect in their execution, it's clear that city crews are doing everything they can to clean up from the blizzard.
UPDATE: 45,000 tonnes of snow removed so far with intense focus on sidewalks— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) January 27, 2022
News release: https://t.co/YvehUKrgfE
As of Thursday afternoon, some 45,000 tonnes of snow had been removed from city roads, sidewalks and bike lanes since the blizzard struck on Jan. 17.
City officials are calling it the largest snow removal operation in Toronto history — inclusive of that time Mel Lastman called in the army — and has removed some 14,000 truckloads of diverted snow to date.
Join the conversation Load comments