toronto pedestrian levels

Toronto pedestrian levels soared to astronomical heights and finally outpaced 2019

Rejoice, Toronto! It seems there is finally some good news to celebrate about the city coming back to life after almost three years of miserable living cloistered indoors.

Toronto's pedestrian traffic in the busy downtown core has officially rebounded, and actually surpassed pre-2019 levels over the holiday shopping season.

According to data from the Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (BIA), more than 1.7 million pedestrians were counted on the downtown stretch of the major thoroughfare between Dec. 23 2022 and  Jan. 2. 2023.

That's a 39 per cent increase from the same period the previous year, which is understandable given the public health situation at the time.

What's really surprising is that figure marks an 11 per cent jump over the foot traffic recorded in a very different-looking 2019 holiday season before our world changed forever.

Maybe it was a sprinkling of holiday joy, or perhaps people finally just felt comfortable enough to leave their homes and (presumably) do some shopping, sightseeing and dining around the city.

"People were obviously excited about shopping, entertaining and just soaking up the downtown bustle," said executive director of the BIA, Pauline Larsen, in a news release on Friday morning.

Downtown Yonge was especially busy on Boxing Day, which saw an astonishing 190,000 pedestrians milling about on Yonge from College to Queen.

That was a whopping 150 per cent leap over 2021.

And who can forget New Year's Eve?

The celebration of 2023's arrival saw some 191,000 people pass through the area on foot, which is a 62 per cent leap from the year before.

This is good news for businesses in the area, who have struggled through years of lockdowns.

Both days saw a higher number of pedestrians than seen in 2019, with 19 per cent more on Boxing Day and 23 per cent more on New Year's Eve.

"We are hopeful that the increased pedestrian traffic translated into increased spending, as local businesses really need the boost," said Larsen.

It's no doubt that people in Toronto are walking city streets, in greater numbers, a great step in the recovery of the downtown core.

For the entirety of 2022, there were 60 million pedestrians recorded, with a notable surge at the end of the year.

The city's pedestrian initiative, #OpenStreetsTO, which closed parts of Yonge to cars for pedestrians to run wild in August, undoubtedly bolstered these numbers. 

By comparison, 2020 saw less than 30 million pedestrians for the entire year, numbers that have doubled in just 24 months.

The best year since the BIA started recording traffic levels in 2010 was 2016, which saw 85 million people move through the area on foot.

Businesses in the area hope for more good news in 2023, as locals get back out and rediscover their city after a lengthy hiatus from the downtown core.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture


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