Toronto’s streets have seen fewer cars during the pandemic as the city closed some major roads and expanded the cycling network. Now, there more walkers, cyclists and people sitting at café tables.
Is this what a more livable, equitable city looks like?
“Like many cities, Toronto has figured out ways to give people space to move in the outdoors while respecting physical distancing, which involve quieting down the streets to reduce traffic volume and expanding the cycling network,” says Professor Maydianne Andrade in episode nine of her podcast, The New Normal.
“ActiveTO encourages people to move in ways that used to feel vulnerable when the city streets were dense with traffic.”
In “Quiet Streets,” Andrade, a Canada Research Chair in Integrative Behavioural Ecology and the University of Toronto Scarborough’s vice-dean of faculty affairs and equity, talks with Shawn Micallef, a lecturer at University College and the co-owner and senior editor of Spacing magazine, and alumna Léa Ravensbergen. Ravensbergen, who graduated with a PhD in geography and planning in 2019, says that, for some time, “we've been thinking about using our streets differently and imagining our streets differently and having more livable, people-centred approaches to designing our cities.”
Will the pandemic help bring about that kind of change more permanently?
“Maybe our movements, our desires to move, need to be more of a central piece in how we design our city and make it a humane place to live,” Andrade says.
The New Normal is created in collaboration with a U of T Communications team led by producer Lisa Lightbourn. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify or listen on SoundCloud. You can also find it on Apple or listen on Google.