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Infrastructure Maps Roads Toronto Walking

No exit? I’m walking here!

After I created a map showing where pedestrians can continue past a “no exit” sign in January, the City of Toronto is going to make changes for the better.

Misleading “no exit” signs, like these on Maitland Place at Jarvis Street, will soon be changed by the City of Toronto to indicate that indeed, pedestrians can continue through

Back in January, inspired by a Twitter thread that expressed the frustration of getting around the city by foot, my Walk Toronto colleague Dylan Reid suggested that we could create an inventory of all instances in the city where “No Exit” signs do not apply to all road users.

Though these signs are required under traffic codes and regulations, they do not reflect that in many cases, there is an exit for pedestrians. 

I quickly created a Google map of all locations in the City of Toronto marking such locations. Through a social media campaign led by Walk Toronto, we were quickly able to map over 450 locations where a pathway, sidewalk, or staircase allows a pedestrian to continue their way where motor vehicles are forced to turn around.

Happily, this is about to change.

Yesterday, by a simple show of hands, Toronto City Council approved a motion brought forward by Councillor Paula Fletcher to change that. Councillor Fletcher’s motion was titled “I’m Walking Here.”

The motion, which was amended to strengthen the wording, requests city staff to develop a new signage standard to indicate where “no exit” signage betrays a pedestrian passage, and to begin installing these new signs this year.

The map that I created based on Dylan’s initial suggestion will be used to help identify these locations.

Given the ongoing pandemic, where we are all subjected to yet another lockdown, walking is one of the few permitted ways for each of us to get outside, enjoy the fresh spring air, and get much needed exercise. Knowing where one can walk, especially away from heavy traffic or busy sidewalks and paths, will only help unlock the city for more Torontonians.

I want to thank everyone who submitted locations for the map to Walk Toronto or to myself via Twitter or directly to me on this website. This couldn’t have happened without the help of fellow Torontonians.

One reply on “No exit? I’m walking here!”

Excellent work!

And it’s not just in the City. Many county roads also have ‘No Exit’ signs where vehicles can no longer pass, but bikes, horses and pedestrians certainly can.

One of my favourites is the west end of Limestone Rd:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Milton,+ON/@43.4747728,-79.973922,150m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x882b6fa34a2371d5:0x60f4dd8775707432!8m2!3d43.5182991!4d-79.8774042

The trail goes all the way to Sd Rd 3, and one can plot a magnificent bike ride from Milton Pkwy (Hwy 401) GO station avoiding major roads save for short stretches by utilizing backroads connecting through.

Pickering/Uxbridge Townline Rd is another one of many where if you believe the posted signage, you miss some of the most valuable and wonderful ways to doing relaxing and interesting distance cycling:

In this case, the track is marked in dotted green, but it’s nowhere as straight as it appears on the map:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Townline+Rd,+Ontario/@44.0016389,-79.082823,15.17z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x89d51802d73d623f:0xb7a2a7756248ae90!8m2!3d44.0181846!4d-79.006999

Btw: If it hasn’t rained, you can continue east past “Three Rocks” (Sideline 4, Glen Major Rd), it’s windy, and you’ll have to walk up the hill if you’re using a road bike, but it’s supreme.

In a lot of these cases, these were once ‘assumed roads’ but now ‘unassumed’. Google satellite view is extremely valuable in scouting these out, as their plain maps don’t show these details.

I’ve tripped across many of these back routes over the years, doing anything possible to get off of the main roads.

I’m not a great fan of insecticide, but many of these ‘unassumed’ roads can’t work without bug spray.

One of the few upsides to the Covid Calamity is people and biking…and dogs! These are also great hikes on foot to take with dogs, but again, you don’t have to love insecticide to realize the very needed protection it offers along country tracks, especially wet ones.

That being said, the last two summers have been surprisingly light for bugs. Don’t use it if you don’t have to, but carry it with you.

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