Toronto Neighbors Calm Street Using Only Leaves and Chalk

Toronto resident Dave Meslin and his neighbors used chalk and leaves to show how a local intersection would be right-sized. Photo:  Dave Meslin/Twitter
Toronto resident Dave Meslin and his neighbors used chalk and leaves to show how a local intersection would be right-sized. Photo: Dave Meslin/Twitter

You’ve heard of the sneckdown — when traffic after a snowstorm creates patterns that reveal how much space can be claimed for pedestrians. Now a group of neighbors in Toronto has made “nature’s traffic calming” a multi-season activity.

Dave Meslin wanted to demonstrate how a local intersection could be transformed into a safer, more neighborhood-friendly space. He and some of his neighbors went to work with some leaves and chalk, Meslin wrote on Facebook:

Using only chalk and leaves (and maintaining all existing road widths at 28 feet) we revealed a surplus surface area of 2,000 square feet which could be transformed into a parkette, new sidewalks, and much shorter/safer crossings.

The “leafy neckdown” is the talk of Toronto, reports BlogTO. Meslin told the blog’s Lauren O’Neil that prior to the group’s intervention, drivers never seemed to understand where to stop, even though the intersection has three stop signs. But the chalk lines seem to have clarified what drivers are supposed to do, and it feels a lot safer.

Meslin says he’d like to see the street permanently transformed, with the excess pavement turned into grass.

  • Vooch

    Do not suggest this treatment for this intersection in San Diego. 🙂

  • You’ll see many under the #leafdown hashtag.

  • curiousKulak

    I don’t see 3 stop signs. I don’t even see two (though I see the chalk lines).

  • kastigar

    More bike lanes! More bike lanes are needed!

  • I bet they are just off camera. Right before the pavement widens out.

  • stevenz

    If I am reading this right, this is a one of kind in Toronto. If this is “the talk of Toronto”, I despair for the quality of conversation up there. I’d expect there would be more talk of The Leafs than the leaves.

  • NYCBK123

    I love everything about this!

  • Geebo Harris

    Needs roundabout.

  • laekrits

    you’re talkin about it.. and you’re not even in toronto (o;

  • Joyce Hall

    Fun idea. I noticed in a recent visit to Vancouver’s West End how much public greenspace at curbsides, roundabouts and boulevards had been cultivated into herb and flower gardens. (Some invited passersby to collect treats for their salads.) Each little treasure was well-maintained , presumably by residents as each had an individual “feel.” The overall sense of beauty added to a walk was amazing!

  • Ug! I lived in the UK they put roundabouts everywhere. They’re blenders for pedestrians, cyclists, dogs and cats. They’re great for car only super-highway interchanges but that’s about all, and at the super-highway scale the turn isn’t so tight that it makes people dizzy.

  • Neat O. Less pavement would also mean better water drainage with less run-off. It looks like the bottom of a basin, so the new triangle of park would be a nice place of a willow tree or a group of cedars. Looks like a nice ‘hood. Is that Springmount?


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