How to Avoid Toronto Traffic Jams

Red Light Capture by Michael Gil
Red Light Capture by Michael Gil

Only a few people in Toronto have the luck to live within walking distance from their workplace. For the rest of us, commuting is a rather unpleasant daily necessity. As I wrote in one of my earlier posts, commuting in Toronto can be a nightmare. It takes thirty-three minutes on average to travel to or from work in GTA if you’re driving a car. And it doesn’t even help to use the public transit. The average travel time for a public transit commuter averages forty-four minutes, depending on your Toronto neighbourhood’s public transit accessibility. The situation is no different in other big Canadian cities. Montreal and Vancouver have similar job-related travel stats. Parking in Toronto is another issue that can cause severe headaches to many Torontonians, as it takes thirteen minutes on average to find a parking space in Toronto.

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So how do you avoid a traffic jam in Toronto? You can do it the old traditional way and listen to one of the radio stations that give regular updates about the traffic situation in Toronto’s streets, or you can do it the new way and get the Augmented Traffic Views mobile app that supplies you with real-time traffic data from traffic cameras alongside a map of the city. ILoveToronto regularly reviews mobile applications including traffic monitoring ones.

Seeing the big picture of Toronto’s traffic and knowing when and where condensed traffic occurs is a must. From my own experience, there are situations where a quick decision can help you make it in time for an event or a meeting. That’s why we prepared three short videos showing the overall traffic situation in Toronto from dawn to night. With help from Google Maps, where you can watch the live traffic density all over the world and average traffic data based on past conditions, we were able to provide you with traffic maps for a typical Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Let’s have a look at what we can see and what the difference is in terms of traffic on different weekdays.

Traffic starts to pile up as early as 6:30 a.m. along the Highway of Heroes portion of the Highway 401 as businesses start to wake up early in the morning. After that, the morning jams start to appear slowly; first at the King’s Highway 400/401 junction and on a portion of Highway 401 along Mississauga.

Highway 401 by Steve Harris
Highway 401 by Steve Harris

The worst situation appears to be from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., when traffic seems to stop at the Highway 401/Don Valley Parkway junction as it is full of people off to their nine-to-five jobs. Traffic eases between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. with an occasional hot-spot on Allen road. The afternoon traffic jam starts as early as 3:30 p.m., mainly along the Don Valley Parkway, Highway 401, and Gardiner Expressway. The Don Valley Parkway is completely jammed between 5:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and traffic is generally very slow throughout all of the city between 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. After 7:00 p.m., the traffic is quite fast in all areas.

Wednesday is generally a little more relaxed than Monday with a bit less traffic, so the traffic jams start later, at 7:00 a.m., mainly along Highway 401. The heaviest morning traffic jams occur from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. along the Don Valley Parkway, Highway 401, and Gardiner Expressway. The period from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. is quite relaxed, but the traffic on Allen Road is slowed down at 12:30 p.m., particularly due to lunch-goers. Afternoon jams start later than on Monday, at 4:30 p.m., and continue until 7:30 p.m. Many people tend to stay longer hours at work on Wednesdays, I guess.

Friday traffic in Toronto is quite fast in the early morning, with only a few hot spots showing up at the major junctions at 7:00 a.m. The morning traffic jam starts light at 7:30 and the traffic gradually slows down to reach a breaking point at 8:30, when the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway seems overwhelmed with people tying to get to work. The roads are quite free afterwards, only Allen Road tends to be jammed around lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. It comes as no surprise that Friday afternoon brings heavy traffic as early as 1:00 a.m., mainly on the Don Valley Parkway. You won’t have a good time getting away from the city from 4:00 p.m to 6:30, as there is a considerable chance to get caught in a traffic jam. The traffic in Toronto is quite dense on a Friday night — not to mention Allen road’s heavy traffic between 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. I hope you will have a nice Friday night in the city and a safe journey home this Friday!

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