Guide to getting around Toronto

Tips and tricks to avoid Toronto traffic

Toronto is a pretty wild city that’s always seeming to buzz with excitement, which seems great, but sometimes it can be the city’s downfall.

From rush hour to Blue Jays games to awesome concerts, there are tons of factors in this city that might slow you down when you’re trying to make your way across town. Luckily for you, we’ve put together a guide full of tips and tricks that will speed up your trek through the city, even if you find yourself driving during rush hour.

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Watch your timing and avoid rush hour

 

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Toronto driving is all about timing. If you can avoid travelling during rush hour, avoid it with everything you can. Try not to travel between 8:00 and 9:00 AM or 5:00 and 6:00 pm, especially if you’re heading into the Entertainment or Financial District. If you’re heading out between 3:00 and 4:30 pm, try to avoid any school zones, as it’s sure to be flooded with parents picking up their kids at the end of the day. Of course, this isn’t always possible, so when that’s the case, make sure to think about the route you’re taking.

 

Your route is everything, so take the road less traveled

 

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If you have to be out during rush hour, make sure to plan ahead. We have a few secret routes that might help you out if you find yourself sitting in traffic, but the best way to avoid it is to plan ahead. Keep your GPS up so you can find hidden routes with less traffic, and check out these roads that are often less traveled than major routes like the Don Valley Parkway or streetcar streets:

  • Never ever use the Gardiner Expressway or Lakeshore Avenue if there’s a game at the Rogers Centre or Scotiabank Arena
  • If you do find yourself traveling along Lakeshore, when going eastbound use the furthest south lane, and when going westbound use the furthest north lane. This avoids slowed down traffic caused by right turns or onramps
  • Avoid streetcar streets (Queen, Dundas, King, Gerrard, College), as they always slow down traffic
  • Use The Bayview Extension instead of the Don Valley Parkway or Yonge Street
  • If you find yourself at Yonge and Dundas square, it’s game over. Avoid it like the plague
  • Try to drive along city streets that enforce no stopping from 3:30 – 6:00 pm to take advantage of an extra lane

 

Be selective of the lane you’re using

 

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Which lane you are in can often save hours in your journey through Toronto. Here are a couple of tips when it comes to selecting a lane:

  • Following cab drivers can be beneficial, because they know how to weave through traffic, but they can stop at any moment, so always be looking 100 metres ahead of you
  • As soon as someone flicks on their four way flashers, get into the other lane
  • Get around streetcars that are sure to stop every few minutes
  • If there’s traffic on the DVP, stay in the middle lane. Mergers are coming in on the far right, and eager, wreckless drivers who want to move fast are in the left lane

 

Think about the size of your vehicle

 

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Driving a big car won’t do well in the city, especially when you’ll likely have to be weaving between lanes to get wherever you want to go. Compact cars not only make it easier to maneuver through heavy traffic, but it will also save you money on gas on your daily treks.

 

Prepare for the unexpected

 

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The city is always buzzing, and with so much going on, you’ve got to be prepared for the unexpected. With taxis weaving in and out of traffic, and drivers turning left without signalling, you’ve got to keep your eyes peeled when you’re driving through the streets of Toronto. Watch for cyclists, and whenever you’re heading through an intersection of changing lanes make sure to check your blind spot. These little tricks will end up saving you time when you can predict that someone is going to jaywalk in front of you or a car is going to pull over to grab a cup of coffee.

Stay calm

 

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The more calm you are during your drive, the less daunting and faster it will seem. Put together a rad playlist full of some of your favourite indie tunes to make the time go by faster. Keep a coffee beside you so you stay focused, and grab a couple of snacks if you know it’s going to be a long trek. Lastly, don’t let the weather get you down, so keep sunglasses and a snow shovel in your car for the bright or snowy days that are sure to make your travel that much more difficult.

Use the TTC or cycle when you can

 

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The TTC is the easiest way to save time in Toronto, with regular schedules and pretty elaborate routes, you should avoid driving whenever you can. If you can take the subway, that’s definitely the best option because not only will you get to forget about driving, but you’ll even avoid traffic altogether by making your way across town underground.

Alternatively, you can cycle. Many of Toronto’s major roadways have dedicated bike lanes and there’s also bike trails you can use to get around the city.