The November 7, 2022 event Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto, co-presented by Mobility Network and Suburban Mobilities, featured presentations and discussions centered around Dr. Bruce Appleyard's recent book "Livable Streets 2.0" and Toronto’s situation vis-à-vis livable streets.
Mobility Network Director, Professor Eric Miller, welcomed everyone warmly and gave a quick outline of the program before introducing moderator Paul Hess, professor at U of T's department of geography & planning, who then introduced speakers in turn and later moderated discussions and Q & A.
Dr. Bruce Appleyard, an associate professor of city planning and urban design at San Diego State University, gave the keynote presentation, "The Conflict, Power, and Promise of Our Streets: Street Reimagination, Redesign, and Joy."
The book "Livable Streets 2.0" (2020) by Bruce and Donald Appleyard builds on Bruce's father Donald Appleyard's book "Livable Streets" (1981), updating the topic with the latest research, new case studies, and best human-centered practices for creating more livable streets for all.
Dr. Appleyard opened by sharing some personal photos and stories before turning the audience's attention to the increasing dangers of our streets.
We've got a serious problem right now. We've got rising traffic violence. In the U.S., 38,000 people die each year. So that's about 104 people each day. That's about equivalent to a jet plane crash every day. Yet we rarely hear about it.Dr. Bruce Appleyard, Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto, November 7, 2022
He explained why "roads and cars are damaging to your health," and discussed a number of his research projects and initiatives, sharing his many findings on ways to make streets safer for everyone.
We need to think about how the streets are for people and are the hearts of our cities.Dr. Bruce Appleyard, Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto, November 7, 2022
In his presentation, Appleyard discussed the conflict, power, and promise of our streets. In his closing slide, "The Promise of Our Streets," he elaborated on one of his favourite quotes from his father.
We should raise our sights for a moment ---
What could a street ---
- a street on which our children are brought up, adults live, and the elderly spend their last days;
- where all people can move naturally with dignity and freedom under their own power;
- and where we are all able to celebrate our humanity together?
What could such a street be like?Donald Appleyard, with italicized additions from Dr. Bruce Appleyard
Nancy Smith Lea
Nancy Smith Lea, a senior advisor and former director of The Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT), added bit of Toronto context to the conversation, focusing on the role of advocacy, the divides of the city, how decisions are made, and TCAT's goals.
Tragedy due to traffic violence affects many people, like Bruce and his and his father, and that's often an impetus for advocacy.Nancy Smith Lea, Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto, November 7, 2022
One divide in Toronto is the safety of those in cars compared to those walking and cycling, said Smith Lea. "It's getting more unsafe for people who are walking and cycling," she stated.
Another divide is between the numbers of urban and suburban cyclists. "Cycling in Toronto's downtown is on the rise. But in the inner suburbs, cycling rates are lower today than they were in 1996," said Smith Lea.
Looking at Toronto's bike network, Smith Lea noted another divide, saying, "There are almost no bike lanes in the suburban areas, especially Scarborough where many racialized people live."
Smith Lea also talked about TCAT's work:
We work to advance knowledge and evidence to build support for safe and inclusive streets for cycling and walking. There are three main strategic areas that TCAT works on. The first is to support informed decision making. Second, to engage communities about the potential of complete streets and to address barriers to walking and cycling. And third, to facilitate knowledge exchange and break down some of the silos that exist between the different communities of practice.Nancy Smith Lea, Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto, November 7, 2022
Dr. André Sorensen
Dr. André Sorensen, a professor of human geography at University of Toronto Scarborough, opened by thanking both Bruce and Donald Appleyard for their contributions to "helping us see streets as places where people live."
They [Bruce and Donald Appleyard] inspire us to question street design that is driven primarily or even entirely by the goal of moving and parking automobiles. The idea that streets can and must be a lot more than that is now widely shared - in good part thanks to their research.Dr. André Sorensen, Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto, November 7, 2022
He also acknowledged "Bruce's contributions to the development of a grammar and a detailed vocabulary of street design ideas," which he said are now very important tools for city-builders.
Sorensen said that the transformation of suburban, automobile-dependent places into livable streets is critically important. "The key to making our suburbs more healthy, safe, sustainable, socially equitable, and economically dynamic," he said, "is to make them more walkable and bikeable, and less automobile-dependent."
He stressed the transformative power of livable streets.
I believe that it's incredibly important right now, in a time of political and economic uncertainty ... that we, and especially our students, are able to share concrete, common-sense, and solidly researched approaches to making the world a better, more livable and sustainable place starting with streets and active transportation in our own neighborhoods.Dr. André Sorensen, Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto, November 7, 2022
Smith Lea and Sorensen joined Appleyard in a panel discussion before taking audience questions.
Dr. Paul Hess moderated, and occasionally took part in, the panel's discussion of:
- understanding and envisioning what good safe streets can look like;
- the implementation of livable streets;
- the particular difficulties but also opportunities in Scarborough where such a large part of the population is dependent on auto travel;
- how streets can accommodate changing technologies, e.g, sidewalk delivery robots;
- the need to update laws regulating who can use the roads;
- how the argument that people need to drive cars in winter is used against planning and supporting active transportation, and how the argument can be rebutted.
Watch the event video recording
- Livable Streets 2.0, Bruce and Donald Appleyard, Elsevier, 2021. Purchase discount code: SOCSC30.
- Access chapters of the book through University of Toronto Libraries.
Speaker presentation slides (PDF)
- The Conflict, Power, and Promise of Our Streets: Street Reimagination, Redesign, and Joy - Dr. Bruce Appleyard
- Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto - Nancy Smith Lea
- Towards Livable Streets in the GTA - Dr. André Sorensen
Articles, reports and publications
- Bruce Appleyard (2022), Livable streets for schoolchildren: a human-centred understanding of the cognitive benefits of Safe Routes to School, Journal of Urban Design, 27:6, 692-716. DOI: 10.1080/13574809.2022.2070145.
- Bruce Appleyard (2017), The meaning of livable streets to schoolchildren: An image mapping study of the effects of traffic on children's cognitive development of spatial knowledge, Journal of Transport & Health, Vol. 5, June, 27-41. DOI: 10.1016/j.jth.2016.08.002.
- Hess, Paul, Michael Piper and André Sorensen (2022), Can We Retrofit Suburban Arterials? Journal of the American Planning Association. DOI: 10.1080/01944363.2022.2033637.
- Hess, Paul Mitchell & André Sorensen (2015), Compact, concurrent, and contiguous: smart growth and 50 years of residential planning in the Toronto region, Urban Geography, 36:1, 127-151. DOI: 10.1080/02723638.2014.947859.
- Sorensen, André , et al. (2022), The Scarborough Greenway Network: Building an outstanding offroad trail network.
- Sorensen, André , et al. (2021), The Scarborough Opportunity: A Comprehensive Walking and Cycling Network.
- Sorensen, André and Paul Hess (2015), Choices for Scarborough: Transit, walking, and intensification in Toronto’s Inner Suburbs. Toronto, The Cities Lab, University of Toronto Scarborough.
- Sorensen, André and Paul Hess (2015), Building suburbs, Toronto-style: Land development regimes, institutions, critical junctures and path dependence. Town Planning Review. 86. 411-436.
- Revisiting Donald Appleyard's Livable Streets, Streetfilms.