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Toronto’s Walkability, Analyzed and Illustrated

10:33 AM PDT on April 17, 2013

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The new wealth of finely-grained information on cities -- culled from Google Maps, open government data, and other sources -- continues to deepen our understanding of the places where we live at a breathtaking pace.

The software developers at Walkonomics recently released a walkability analysis for Toronto, examining 42,000 street segments on factors like traffic levels, number of pedestrian collisions, crime stats, and presence of street trees. The findings attempt to highlight the best places to walk in Canada's largest city, and the places that need some improvement. The developers explain:

Unsurprisingly many of Toronto’s walkways and trails gained the highest ratings of over 4 stars, including the Waterfront Trail and Highland Creek Trail.  Yonge-Dundas Square was rated as pedestrian-friendly and other streets rated as walkable include Nina Street and Woodfield Road.

Some of the least pedestrian-friendly streets included Ellesmere Road, which has 6 lanes of traffic and very few pedestrian crossings, Kingston Road and Lawrence Avenue East which has over seven lanes of traffic (Highways aren’t included as they are not designed for pedestrian use at all).

Walkable streets and neighbourhoods bring many benefits to cities and urban areas including reducing obesity: a recent study found that teenagers who live in walkable areas are less likely to be obese.  Walkable streets also help to boost the economy, increasing retail sales by up to 80% and adding up to $45,000 to the value of a home.  With the new Walkonomics app and data, residents and visitors to Toronto can find and rate the cities most walkable streets.

Imagine what a powerful tool this could be to advocate for change in Toronto and other cities.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Vibrant Bay Area looks at how to mitigate the health hazards of living by a freeway. And Bike Portland shares an infographic explaining the business benefits of bike corrals.

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