Inclusive Design in the City of Toronto: Building Sidewalks to Remove Barriers to Accessibility

Picture of Ashtonbee Road in Scarborough before and after a sidewalk is added (Credit: City of Toronto)

Recently, the City of Toronto's Manager, Pedestrian Projects, Public Realm, Transportation Services gave a presentation to the City's Disability, Access and Inclusion Advisory Committee on "Building Sidewalks on Local Streets to Reduce Accessibility Barriers". SPH was pleased to see highlights of the presentation, demonstrating the importance of sidewalks as key infrastructure in the City, especially for inclusive design and supporting the needs of people of all ages and abilities. As identified by the City, highlights of the presentation included:

  • Safety: Sidewalks offer a protected, dedicated space for all pedestrians, especially the most vulnerable, and when visibility is poor (i.e. weather events; dark)
  • Universal accessibility: Sidewalks provide universal accessibility, regardless of ability level, including for all residents or visitors with mobility challenges and those with limited sensory or cognitive limitations
  • Physical activity: Sidewalks help counter obesity and inactivity among residents through a built environment that promote safe walking and cycling; significant public health care costs of doing nothing
  • Safe routes to school: Walking and cycling to school develops lifelong habits and improves learning
  • Aging in place: Sidewalks support access and gentle exercise for seniors and caregivers
  • Sustainable growth: As Toronto’s population grows, we can no longer accommodate more vehicles on our roads (due to the costs of congestion) or additional GHG emissions

Visit the City of Toronto's website to view the full presentation, "Building Sidewalks on Local Streets to Reduce Accessibility Barriers" (ADOBE PDF).