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The solution to go back to our normal lives - ActiveTO

With COVID-19 safety measures slowly starting to ease up, cities are looking for ways to carefully allow for people to go back to their normal lives without causing a too great risk of community exposure.

Presenting ActiveTO, a program that is “making sure people have space to get around while respective physical distancing”.

ActiveTO is a set of initiatives that have been implemented across the different areas of the busy metropolis of Toronto. The initiatives are backed by data and statistics, and aims to support essential trips, front-line workers, and vulnerable road users.

There are three main areas of focus as part of this project:

  • Creating Quiet Streets

  • Closing Major Roads

  • Expanding the Cycling Network

The first initiative of creating quiet streets aims to create shared spaces where local residents are able to maintain physical distancing within their respective communities. This is through the installation of signage and the use of temporary barricades to encourage slower, local vehicle traffic.

The second initiative of closing major roads entails having recurring short-term closures to decrease the overcrowdedness on city Trails, especially in light of the recent warm weather. These closures will not affect the Trails themselves, but rather the major streets surrounding them, in order to decrease vehicle traffic, allowing for more space for walking and cycling and the practice of physical distancing for Trail users.

The final initiative of expanding the cycling network focuses on increasing the ability of people to move around safely around the city on bikes. That year, the City Council of Toronto approved the largest one-year expansion plan of on-street bike lanes ever implemented in Toronto, which consisted of approximately 25 kilometres of new bikeaways, especially in the Downtown core.

The initiatives are perhaps an example to other similar cities which are in line of also easing their own quarantine measures.

What are the best ways to limit traffic, of both vehicles and pedestrians, to ensure that physical distancing measures are still followed? How can we maintain the safety of individuals, while still allowing them to continue with their daily activities? How will the world emerge into a new “normal” after this pandemic?

While these questions are all still under question, one thing is for certain: cities will have to come up with innovative solutions, just like ActiveTO, to remain in the best interest of its communities.

Interested in learning more about the logistics of these initiatives? Check out the official ActiveTo page on the City of Toronto website.

Contributors: Risha Shah, Asima Hudani