In November, we posted an article on the commuting habits of those of us who work on the Rostie Group floor. All of the people interviewed took various transportation modes; almost all said their commute included a walk from Union Station. At the time of the interview, the pedestrian bridge wasn’t completed, yet. The only option for walking down from Union to the office at time was on Bay Street. With the bridge completed now, we wanted to know how many people used it. We surveyed 30 people on our floor. This is what we found out from 28 of them. Out of those surveyed, 46% said they used it everyday, 50% sometimes, and 4% never.
We like to think the above data is fairly representative of every floor in both office towers at the WaterPark Place. If our data is any indication, people who work in these buildings have found it useful. In a larger context though, what use does the new pedestrian bridge have to the South Core in particular and to downtown in general?
The south end of the bridge in the WaterPark Place building
Walkability is a desired feature in contemporary urban theories. It is the measure of the “health” of an urban area. Moreover, in terms of real estate market, a neighborhood’s value is a function of its walkability as it has health, safety, and economic benefits for residents. By cutting down on gas emission, it also contributes to a healthier environment. Walk Score, a website dedicated to rating neighborhoods’ walkability, gives our area 93%. Any neighborhood with that score according to the website is considered “Walker’s Paradise”, meaning amenities in this area are in a reasonable walking distance. From our experience, too, we found this to be true.
However, the walk in this area is less than appealing. The unattractive sidewalks, traffic noise, construction, long traffic light stops, and unpleasant weather take the fun out of it. Enter the new pedestrian bridge. No one would have to contend with all that unpleasantness. The new bridge adds friendliness and comfort to mere walkability.
A section of the bridge above Harbour Street
Designed by WZMH Architects, the bridge extends from the Air Canada Center, crosses the Harbour Plaza, which is under construction, and ends in the lobby of WaterPark Place. Between the ACC and Harbour Plaza, the bridge is sandwiched between Lake Shore Boulevard West from below and the Gardiner Expressway from above. The extension from the Plaza is suspended above Harbour Street.
The bridge is constructed of concrete, metal, and glass. Unlike the rest of the PATH system which is burried underground, it is filled with natural light and views of the outside. Aesthetically, it possesses a Modernistic character. It also introduces variety to the concrete and asphalt of the highway. With its lights on, its aesthetic appeal is more pronounced at night.
The bridge provides a more convenient connectivity to and within the South Core, which includes the waterfront, major cultural centers, a transportation-hub, mixed use buildings, condos, as well as office towers. It also serves as an extension of the downtown underground pedestrian walkway, PATH system, that starts at the intersection of College and Yonge Streets. In a weather like today, to be able to walk from College and Yonge Streets to Bay and Queens Quay sheltered from the elements and while enjoying the walk is not an easy feat.
The bridge at night
We would be curious to see any change in traffic in warm weather. Out of the 30 people we surveyed, 43% said they would use the pedestrian bridge in all weathers, while the rest 57% said no.
By Mahtot Gebresselassie (www.outlierplan.com)