Midtown Toronto has grown into a wonderful part of the city where single-family homes, highrise and lowrise apartments, and commercial enterprises co-exist in cohesive communities.
We have it all in the centre of the city. The neighbourhoods to live in. The stores to shop in. The offices and other businesses to work in. The cafés, restaurants and nightlife to have fun in. Everything we inhabitants and — increasingly — visitors could want.
We also have the traffic.
Accordingly, we have many of the same transit-related issues as other congested parts of the city. As with the rest of Toronto, our political discourse runs along two sets of parallel tracks: the subway-vs.-surface transit debate and the cars-vs.-bikes confrontation.
But the most common method of getting from one place to another is usually ignored by our pundits and politicians.
It’s the cheapest, easiest and healthiest form of transit, and experts list its availability as an indication of how livable a city is. Yet we seldom hear about it.
It’s called walking.
Downtown Toronto is at least partway conducive to walking everywhere. And whenever its streets are closed to traffic for special events, pedestrians flock to the area to enjoy the freedom of moving around on their own feet without fear of being run down.
As midtown becomes more intensified we face some of the same issues. Now is the time, while we still can, to plan our continued growth giving priority to pedestrian traffic.
We want our areas to encourage walking — browsing the shops, strolling the parks, running into neighbours along the way, slipping out for dining or entertainment, or just hanging out with friends.
The proposed street-level enhancements to Eglinton Avenue above the underground LRT lines are several steps in the right direction.
But we need more of this kind of thinking — not just as a one-off reaction to a major transit project.
We need to talk the walk.