Toronto is an interesting place in general.Canada’s largest city, arguably the most multicultural in Canada, if not the world, and a big, bustling, world-class city in its own right. There are a tonne of fun things to do in the city, from fun nightlife, to CN tower platform walks, to theatres, museums and concerts. All the good things you’d expect from a city of 2.6 million. Near Toronto is Canada’s Wonderland, Niagara Falls, cottage country and the Great Lakes. Lovely things to see and do. Now with all that out of the way, how about something you may not know about good ol’ TO? As of 2001, Toronto has an up to date, comprehensive and thorough Horse Riding Safety Act. Which means that you, dear Torontonian, can legally ride your trusty steed, right down Yonge and Bloor. Just know that if you don’t in fact own your trusty steed and have to rent from the livery, you have to be 18 years of age or older. And you have to wear a helmet. Safety first.
What is Up With That?Toronto is one of Canada’s oldest city as well, and back in the original law making days, horses were the Honda Civics of the proletariat. That means that the original street laws were made to accommodate foot traffic, horse riders, horse carriages and horse-drawn carts for transporting goods. Some of Toronto’s older streets were no doubt designed with smaller and slower equine- powered transport in mind, so next time you get stuck in a traffic jam behind a Brinks truck and sandwiched between a Prius and a Chevy SUV, think of agile you’d be on your Pinto.
Design EvolutionEven though the Pinto has been around a lot longer than the Ford Pinto, we don’t tend to think of horses as technology any longer. Today, they are mostly entertainment, and the design of cities has evolved to accommodate new technology. What happens in another 100 years if/when the car is displaced as the central concern of city designers? What laws about cars will seem funny and outdated if we’re zooming about in hermetically sealed pods propelled by electromagnetic energy?
Here’s some additional food for thought – there’s a theory that the design of our cities, including Toronto, was taken over by lobby groups for the auto industry. Our streets have become the domain of the 3,000 lb steel behemoths, but did it need to be so? It’s fascinating to think of the evolution of design in things we do and see every day. Makes me think of how web design has evolved over a mere 25-30 years, with input from designers, programmers, manufacturers, hackers, government regulations, and you, the consumer/ business owner. So Toronto, what are you going to do this weekend? Perhaps take out your horse for a spin like this redoubtable lady?
Enjoy it, whatever you do.