Mayor John Tory says that he has been asked to consider the idea of reserving sidewalks for a particular direction of travel amid continuing concerns about high levels of pedestrian traffic on some major arteries during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tory made the comment during an interview with CP24 on Monday morning, though he admitted he wasn’t sure how such a measure could be enforced.
“There is an idea that has been put to me of one-way sidewalks, meaning that northbound would be on one side and southbound on the other side. The thing is I don’t know how you police that but maybe you can put up some signage. I am not adverse to that if it is proving to be a problem in given areas,” he said. “If there are places in the city where there is real congestion on sidewalks, I would ask people to call 311 because we need that information in order to make a decision about something like one-way sidewalks.”
There have been some calls to close lanes of traffic in some busy pedestrian areas in order to give pedestrians more room to space themselves out.
Tory, however, told CP24 that he isn’t supportive of that idea because it could have the unintended effect of attracting more pedestrians to busy areas, something the city is actively trying to discourage right now.
He said that he is also hopeful that residents may be starting to understand the importance of physical distancing on their own, which would reduce the need for bylaws and other formal measures.
The number of complaints to the city’s 311 service about people accessing shuttered amenities and not practicing physical distancing in parks was down roughly 40 per cent over the long weekend, Tory said.
“I think the enforcement efforts had a positive effect as people knew that the police were going to be showing less leeway on this but secondly I think people are getting the message,” he said. “I think people now know lives are at stake because they have seen about 25 people dying over the course of the holiday weekend in Toronto, right in our own city.”