Toronto desperately wants major roads to go car-free more than once a year
This year's Open Streets TO was majorly successfully, with Toronto residents enjoying the freedom of opening Yonge and Bloor Streets to pedestrians and cyclists without cars.
Resident reaction from this event shows just how much some locals want these days to occur more often, and for longer.
Pretty great to see all of the people out & enjoying @OpenStreetsTO along #Bloor today. Cities that prioritize the way people like to move make for more livable and enjoyable places to be. #safestreets pic.twitter.com/XsXPOn3wMi— Dana Rose (@DanaRoseOBorn) August 21, 2022
For 2022, Open Streets happened on Sunday, Aug. 22 and saw the closure of Yonge Street from Bloor to Queen, and on Bloor, from Montrose to Yonge.
Though this once-a-year event saw the roads closed for a measly four hours, tons of residents flocked to the open streets for a rare car-free morning and early afternoon.
It was such a fun day at #OpenStreetsTO and even better that the rain held off!— Kristyn Wong-Tam (@kristynwongtam) August 21, 2022
Big thanks to the organizers, volunteers, community groups, merchants, residents & sponsors for making it all happen. Special thanks to @Penalosa_G for the kick-off ride to get us all going! pic.twitter.com/j1mLTqTpC7
Lion dancing performances, roller skating and even dancing classes were held in spots that usually resemble parking lots on busy weekends.
A make-shift faux park clad with astroturf was even assembled in the middle of the street.
But just as soon as the event started it quickly finished, leaving many residents with a hankering for more pedestrian-friendly roadways.
Toronto is opening it's two major streets to human beings today!— Sean K (@seankillackey) August 21, 2022
For 4 hours.
4 hours out of the 8760 hours in a year. 0.046%.
That's all we could spare. 99.954% of the year with cars. 0.046% without. Politicians will celebrate this especially "progressives".#OpenStreetsTO
Some have called on Toronto City Council to introduce more of these events and have them last longer than half of a good night's sleep.
We all know how to do this more often— Bicycle Mayor of Toronto (@BicycleMayorTO) August 21, 2022
We need a progressive champion outside of the downtown core to support & #Amplify why #OpenStreetsTO is such an important aspect of both #TransformTO & #ActiveTO
The @tdndp’s elected municipal rep has been silent since 2016!
Why is that? https://t.co/z5ch0xLKNo pic.twitter.com/olWB3x9YbM
Others have pointed out that prior to 2019, Open Streets was basically a monthly-event, but that Toronto seems to have moved towards a more car-loving city.
Open Streets TO was the idea of @kristynwongtam. It was almost a monthly thing before COVID. Now it's only a few hours on a Sunday. This city is sadly about the cars.— André Darmanin, MPA (he/him) (@andredarmanin) August 21, 2022
A Montréalais once said that Toronto is American like. This is true. Most times we can't have nice things. https://t.co/bfXCNUnU9p
The event drew major comparisons to similar happenings in New York and Montreal, where car-dependency seems to be less favourable.
New Yorkers can enjoy more Summer Streets than ever before! We extended the route from Foley Square all the way to 109th St. Enjoy car-free streets with tons of activities, events and fun for everyone.— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) July 22, 2022
Come out August 6, 13 and 20 from 7 AM to 1 PM — https://t.co/27D9Xth8KS pic.twitter.com/VLTyViEQg4
Montreal's bustling Avenue Mont-Royal has recently opted to remove vehicles and traffic for open streets reclaimed for pedestrians, which drew sad comparisons to our city.
Toronto: we'll give you 4 hours on a Sunday morning.— MWCC (@midweekcycling) August 21, 2022
Toronto mayoral candidate Gil Penalosa said that if he were to be elected, he would introduce a new initiative called Streets For Everyone. It would provide 22-kilometres of public space along Bloor and Yonge Streets every Sunday for five hours, from Victoria Day to Labour Day.
#Streets4Everyone. They are 1/4 area of city, PUBLIC space. Can have different uses, according to time, day, season. Let’s have amazing place to walk, bike, run, shop, enjoying presence of each other. Weekly. Bloor & Yonge. “Read my proposal: https://t.co/XpJjE6P49e" pic.twitter.com/rE0flA8JP8— Gil Penalosa for Mayor (@Penalosa_G) August 21, 2022
Of course, not everyone was onboard with shutting out cars for Sunday morning, with some even saying it contributed to more traffic on smaller arteries.
Despite the seemingly small number of naysayers, there's no doubt thousands of Toronto residents want to redesign streets for more pedestrian-friendly options.
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