Unless you live under a rock, you probably heard the latest news:  Toronto will now accept a whole lot more plastic in the Blue Bin – yay!, Bruce Jenner is absolutely smashing as Caitlyn – also yay!, and the Pan Am games are going to jam Toronto’s already tangled traffic – yay to the games but boo to the traffic.

Image credit: Panam Games
Image credit: Panam Games

We know what happens when a city fails to plan for such an event. This happened way back when in Atlanta, Georgia for the 1996 Summer Olympics (also known as an ‘unmitigated transport disaster‘ and cautionary tale to all subsequent event planners around the globe).  Take a car-loving town like Atlanta, add a massive event like the Summer Olympics, subtract any traffic planning, add a storm and the whole thing equals real Atlanta looking just like fictional Atlanta on the zombie apocalypse TV show “The Walking Dead” …  which also happens to film there.

The Olympic games in Atlanta Georgia plus a storm made real Atlanta look just like fictional Atlanta on Zombie Apocalypse TV show
The Olympic games traffic in Atlanta Georgia made real Atlanta look just like fictional Atlanta on “The Walking Dead”-Photo credit: SmartCommute Pan Am presentation

Luckily, we have a plan! Pan Am games in Toronto mean traffic changes will be in effect from June 29 – August 18. UHN’s Emergency Preparedness department even has a special Pan Am page. My favorite part is that a whole bunch of transit authorities around the GTHA united for a good cause. Anyone with tickets to any Pan Am or Parapan Am event can ride any of our surrounding transit systems for free. Yes, you can take a Go-train, transfer to the TTC all for nothing more than flashing your game event ticket.

Not only that, public transit will be enhanced for spectators during the Games. “Service will match the Games schedule to help you get to and from events, and many of the region’s public transit agencies will add and extend services during the Games.” according to the Pan Am FAQ site.

There’s more to the plan than just increased transit. Look for more temporary HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes, and HOV means 3 people, not 2. The real goal is all forms of sustainable transportation … basically anything but the dreaded SOV (single occupancy vehicle). Think carpooling, cycling, running, walking, telecommuting. Grab a pogo stick if you must.

Image credit: visualphotosdotcom
Image credit: visualphotosdotcom

UHN is working with our friends at SmartCommute Toronto to help staff practice the 4 R’s way before the games to keep everyone moving.

    • REDUCE: (if possible) Work from home, or other offices away from hotspots
    • RE-TIME:  (if possible) Shift workday earlier or later to avoid peak times. Try a compressed work week.
    • RE-MODE: (our best strategy) Promote all other modes rather than driving alone: cycling, walking, TTC, carpooling (like this here post you’re reading)
    • REROUTE: (if possible) Plan commute routes and times to avoid hotspots

Here are some helpful Pan Am Links below:


  •  Tickets to events from A – Z, or Aquatics – Wrestling (W was the closest to Z, and Zestling is not an event)
  • Traffic and temporary changes to the road network from June 29 – August 18 and how to get around during the 2015 Games
  • Downtown Toronto travel advice
  • Single event-based closures (e.g. marathon, triathalon)
  • Maps page Pan-Am (yes, it goes pretty near many UHN sites)
  • Maps page Parapan-Am

And now that we’re ready, let the games begin!

Ride on, noble unicorn.