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(In)Equity in Active Transportation Planning: Toronto’s Overlooked Inner Suburbs

(In)Equity in Active Transportation Planning: Toronto’s Overlooked Inner Suburbs

Written by: Mohameed Mohith
Published in: Outstanding Papers - Year: 2019
Book Line: Vol. 25 No. 7 ISSN 1702-3548


Active transportation modes in North America are often accounted as ‘white strips of gentrification’ as advocacy for walking and bicycle infrastructure is characterized as a manifestation of privilege (Mirk, 2009). Such concerns usually arise from complex cultural, historical and political currents influencing urban politics and policies. Policies and investments make the urban amenities and facilities easier or harder to access and have a huge impact on the lives of the city’s population depending on their social and spatial status. Unequal distribution of transportation investments due to lack of fair access to participate in the planning process is not uncommon in Canadian cities — and in almost all cases lead to inequality in mobility benefits. Decisions of transit infrastructure priorities in Toronto historically and politically tend to favour affluent and influential communities. The goals, preferences and strategies of active transportation planning for Toronto, therefore, is worth a critical discussion and engagement. If the benefits of active transportation investments are to be fairly distributed across the city and among all users, equity will have to be comprehensively addressed in the planning process. The goal of this research paper is to evaluate Toronto’s current initiatives in active transportation planning in terms of social and spatial equities and to bring forward discrepancies in practices to outline relevant strategic directions. The study area compares Toronto’s downtown and inner suburbs.