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'Streets are for people and are the hearts of our cities,' says Appleyard

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.

Seated audience in foreground, speaker at podium, presentation slide display
Dr. Bruce Appleyard at podium, Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto, November 7, 2022 (Photo: Meixi Xiong)

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. Bruce Appleyard speaks at Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto, November 7, 2022
Dr. Bruce Appleyard speaks at Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto, November 7, 2022 (Photo: Pat Doherty)

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

speaker gestures while speaking into podium microphone
Nancy Smith Lea, Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto, November 7, 2022 (Photo: Pat Doherty)

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

speaker stands at podium
Professor Andre Sorensen, Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto, November 7, 2022 (Photo: Pat Doherty)

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

The panel

three panelists in discussion at table
(L-R) Nancy Smith Lea, Dr. Andre Sorensen and Dr. Bruce Appleyard in discussion, Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto, November 7, 2022. (Photo: Pat Doherty)

Smith Lea and Sorensen joined Appleyard in a panel discussion before taking audience questions.

Dr. Paul Hess moderates discussion, November 7, 2022
Dr. Paul Hess moderates discussion at Livable Streets 2.0 in Toronto, November 7, 2022 (Photo: Pat Doherty)

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

Posted on YouTube.


Speaker presentation slides (PDF)

Articles, reports and publications



This report presents an ambitious vision for a connected Greenways network of off-road multi-use trails (greenways) in publicly owned corridors throughout Scarborough. Scarborough is fortunate in having major opportunities to build Greenways in existing public rights of way with no need for land purchase or expropriation. The Greenway network presented here sets out a vision for a connected network that reaches to every corner of Scarborough, with 93% of Scarborough residents living within 1km of the proposed network. Some off-road paths currently exist, but most are in parks, and are very narrow. Crucially, they don’t connect together to form a network and are therefore almost useless to get around Scarborough. The total network we propose is 133.3km in length, of which 51% already exists as paths and trails. This is a significant head start, but we argue that it should be a major City of Toronto priority to improve these paths and connect them together. A major Toronto policy priority is to facilitate the shift to a mobility culture in which active transportation plays a meaningful part. But the reasonable fear of dangerous roadways is an important obstacle to a greater share of active transportation for mobility in Scarborough.

A Greenway network can make a major contribution to building a walking and cycling culture for everyday mobility. This Greenway network will transform Scarborough from an active transportation desert to the place with one of the best urban off-road active transportation networks in the world. Plans for active transportation including Greenway network plans must be in place before large-scale intensification redevelopment of Scarborough accelerates. No further public land corridors should be privatized before a plan for a complete network of off-road multi-use trails is agreed and established as City policy.

Access the report

THE SCARBOROUGH GREENWAY NETWORK: Building an outstanding offroad trail network, by André Sorensen, Amaan Jabbar, Karen Khan, Allison Oki, and Anastasiia Ostrovskaia. October 2022.

About the UTSC Suburban Mobilities Research Cluster

This report is part of Project 7 - Scarborough Greenways Network (Principal Investigator: André Sorensen) of the Suburban Mobilities Research Cluster at UTSC. The project aims to develop an ambitious vision for a complete network of off-road multi-use trails in Scarborough.

Learn more about this and other projects of the UTSC Suburban Mobilities Research Cluster.

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