Looking at a map, Toronto and Barcelona are much the same shape.

Cities, sprawling over flat plains, contained by two rivers: one to the east, the other to the west. A hook like protrusion (the Port Lands and Islands in Toronto, Barceloneta in Barcelona) into a large body of water to the south.

torontoToronto, and its subway

Travelling around Barcelona recently, I couldn’t help but think of home every time I looked at a map.

barcelonaBarcelona, and its extensive metro

There are differences of course, given that they are not the same place. Barcelona is contained by a mountain range to its north. The mountain range cups the city and keeps it dense. Toronto has no such boundary and sprawls northward indefinitely. Indeed, a northern boundary had to be artificially created, with Ontario’s Greenbelt.

The on-paper cartographic similarity of Toronto and Barcelona had me day dreaming of a Toronto with more developed transportation infrastructure.

The skeleton of Barcelona’s metro is reminiscent of Toronto’s – a large U line that loops north to central-south and back up again. A line that cuts east to west. There are even small off shoot lines in the periphery a la the Scarborough RT and Sheppard line. Barcelona’s subway system, however, is extensively developed and covers the entire city in ways Toronto could never dream of. Another case of cartographic-deficiency was the coverage of Barcelona’s “Bicing” service vs Toronto’s Bixis. The equivalent to Toronto’s Bixi’s, Barcelona’s “Bicing” city-bikes cover the entire city at a very high frequency.

toronto bixi

Toronto’s limited Bixi range

barcelona bicing

Versus Barcelona’s extensive Bicing network

The comparison is somewhat absurd, but this is what was going through my head every time I consulted a map of Barcelona. I thought, naturally, of home.

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