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Signs of recognition

New road signs and universal sidewalk snow clearance are big wins for pedestrians in Toronto.

New “No Exit- Pedestrians Excepted” sign in Moore Park

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.

As part of this project, I created a map of all streets where “no exit” signs betrayed an exit for pedestrians and/or cyclists, with suggestions coming in from all over Toronto. Over 450 locations were identified.

On April 8, 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.” Only two months later, new signs are already appearing across Toronto — in Scarborough, Monarch Park, and Swansea. For a city that often takes years to adopt what may seem like simple, easy solutions, this was implemented impressively quickly. The new signs look like standard yellow “no exit” signs, but with a “pedestrians excepted” note at the bottom.

My hope is that these signs will entice Torontonians to get outside, go for a walk, and check out some new streets and parks, enticed by these signs inviting through passage.

In related news, this week Toronto Council approved the expansion of sidewalk slow clearance to all of Toronto’s streets, a service that was previously provided only to suburban areas, where unobstructed sidewalks made municipal slow clearance easy to do. With new snow equipment able to navigate narrow urban sidewalks, Toronto is now finally able to provide universal snow clearance services, a boon for full accessibility.

As public health restrictions ease and stores and restaurant patios reopen this Friday (supported by the city’s willingness to reallocate road space on streets like Yonge and Danforth), there’s never been a better time to for a walk.

2 replies on “Signs of recognition”

Huge congratulation is in order!

Hopefully this is the germ of regional and county roads doing same. One of the methods of distance cycling, and living to write about it, is avoiding major toads, urban or exurban. And going by ‘orthodox’ maps (Google is a prime example) there’s no choice but to take the highway.

Except often there’s a multiplicity of choices. Old maps are an excellent way of finding these, the old aeronautical relief + road maps of decades past were excellent, as is Google satellite, the tell-tale ‘tracks’ often still show even if the ‘map’ views show very little of anything save for the very major roads you wish to avoid.

I didn’t think City Hall would move on this issue. I was wrong. And I’m very glad I was.

Now the challenge: Drawing and publishing/detailing routes that maximize on these ‘forbidden gems’. Let the game begin!

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