Rules to using Toronto’s PATH system

As the streets get icier and the wind chill gets chillier Toronto’s series of underground walkways and shopping areas get busier, mostly people getting to work from the subway or their downtown apartment buildings. It’s convenient and warm and just like up above, there is a Starbucks every 200 metres.

However, there are some people who do not understand how PATH works. They treat it like a mall or a gathering place or just their own personal shortcut to work.

1. Do not walk more than two across in a line

This should be a general walking in public rule, but it is even more important underground where the paths are narrow, serve people going both directions and where a subway arriving in one stop can affect people in an entirely different part of the system. You and your three colleagues might have lots to talk about but spreading across the space like a gaggle of teens at the mall actually puts you at serious risk of a Hulk Rage attack from someone stuck behind you.

1a) This should go without saying, but don’t stop suddenly. You will get run into/over or at least sworn at. If you need to stop, look behind you, then look around for an out of the way spot. For example, a corner that is off the direct pathway.

2. Watch where you’re going

This list was inspired by an incident this morning when I almost got run over by a guy who thought he’d do a clever little u-turn into the Tim Hortons line, but didn’t look before executing the move. Unfortunately for both of us I was using the door he intended to duck through and we almost collided. I’ve also been on the running-over end of this scenario by cutting corners too closely (in my head leaving more than 10cm between me and the wall is tantamount to losing the Indy 500 by half a car length). Just try to be aware of where the people around you are and apologize if/when you run someone over.

3. Do hit the wheelchair door buttons

It’s the most coveted door of all. The One Door. The Magic Door.

Every set of doors throughout the path has one door that has a disabled access button to open it automatically. If you’re in an empty space, it’s actually much slower to use the button than it is to just open the heavy door, but during rush hour other people ahead of you hitting the button means these Magic Doors stay open and no one has to lose precious seconds pulling or pushing heavy doors (shut up, they are actually quite heavy, okay! They’re all fire doors or something…) They did you a favour, do the guy behind you a favour and hit the button on your way through. They’re usually on the wall immediately to the right of the door, both before and after the door so you have two opportunities to get it right.

Also, if you see someone with an actual disability coming give way. We’re all in a hurry to get to our destinations, that’s not an excuse to be a jerk.

4. Respect the right of way

Majority rules underground. If you’re fighting against the flow of foot traffic get all the way over to your side (same as the road – walk right) and consider that your “lane”. In the mornings, this is most commonly seen around subway stations. For example, heading west from First Canadian Place to Metro Hall, you’ll be fighting against the flow through to the Sun Life Centre, then it’s a matter of battling through the mayhem in the actual station, and finally you’ll be one of the many salmon swimming the same direction once you get through to the other side towards Roy Thomson Hall. Understanding the patterns makes it easier to navigate your own commute, but it also reduces how much you get in other commuters way.

These are Caitlin’s Cardinal Rules of PATH Use. What are yours?

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