The highly anticipated Pan Am Games are officially underway. Throughout the summer, over 7,500 top athletes from the Americas and the Caribbean will compete at more than 30 venues across southern Ontario, drawing an estimated 300,000 visitors into Toronto and the surrounding area. The 1.5 million tickets released for the Games projects serious traffic congestion on city streets and highways in the upcoming months.
With this in mind, it is important that if traveling in the Greater Toronto Area you plan to keep moving (by carpooling, public transit, or alternative methods of transportation) and consider the impact that such a large volume of people has on your safety.
The increased volume of traffic in and around the city of Toronto will have an effect on normal commuting time and will also reduce efficiency while traveling on city streets. In attempt to increase traffic flow, a 235km high occupancy vehicle network has been established, with temporary HOV lanes on the following roads and highways:
- Highway 427
- Highway 404 (using existing HOV lanes)
- Don Valley Parkway
- Lakeshore Boulevard (Toronto)
- Highway 401
- Queen Elizabeth Way
- Gardiner Expressway
- Jane Street (York Region)
These lanes will be open to accredited Games vehicles, cars with 3 or more occupants from June 29-July 27, cars with 2 or more occupants from July 28-August 18, public transit, taxis, electric vehicles and motorcycles. Smart Commute, a program operated by Metrolinx, has urged commuters to organize carpooling in order to use these lanes, or to consider other ways to get into the city. This can include biking, walking, and taking public transportation.
How will the Pan Am Games affect the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and drivers?
The increased volume of visitors this summer raises a significant safety concern for both drivers and pedestrians. Drivers should plan ahead and leave plenty of time to get to their destination, as traffic delays can be expected throughout the Pan Am Games. Drivers must also be mindful of an increased number of pedestrians on the streets. Slow down, and stay aware to ensure a safe commute.
Pedestrians and cyclists should consider the additional drivers on the road, many of who may not be familiar with the city. Always stay visible to drivers, and pay attention while on the road, crossing the street, or stopped at an intersection.
Those utilizing public transit should also keep safety in mind this summer. In just one hour on a typical weekday morning, around 200,000 passengers arrive at Union Station by Go Transit. During rush hour, trains carry approximately 1,500 people. With the arrival of the Pan Am Games, there will be more people relying on the Go Train and the TTC for transportation. Be aware of your surroundings and personal belongings when standing on the train or subway platform, and while waiting on the road for the bus or streetcar. Always stay a safe distance away from train or subway tracks, behind the designated waiting area.
Visit the following links for additional safety resources, and more information about the Pan Am Games: