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Make this chaotic Toronto intersection all one-way

Published March 1, 2013

A story on Page 2 of Thursday’s Star, which can still be found online at wheels.ca here, could not have come along at a better time.

The report concerns a study of distracted driving conducted by researchers at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital. In a nutshell, it confirms what other studies have concluded (and that many of us have known for some time): that multitasking while driving may compromise vision and alertness, particularly when turning left and there are traffic lights, pedestrians and oncoming traffic to contend with.

Welcome to my daily afternoon rush-hour nightmare. Pay attention here.

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This involves me driving my car north on Jarvis St. across three lanes of eastbound Lake Shore Blvd., turning left across three lanes of westbound Lake Shore while trying to avoid being hit, or running into, cars and trucks coming south on Jarvis that are intent on turning left onto Lake Shore to access the ramp to the eastbound Gardiner Expressway, and all the while I’m planning to then turn right and go up the ramp onto the westbound Gardiner and hoping that I don’t hit a pedestrian in the meantime or run into traffic trying to go up the same ramp to westbound Gardiner that I’m heading for.

My head started hurting as I wrote that paragraph.

And that didn’t take into consideration the cheater traffic southbound on Jarvis that jumps the queue, as it were, by continuing south to Lake Shore, turning west and then entering the ramp going up to westbound Gardiner. By doing that, those cheaters hold me — and others — up from making a perfectly legal left-hand turn onto that ramp and they cut in front of a long line of cars playing by the rules that have been waiting patiently to take their crack at getting onto that westbound expressway ramp.

I counted up and there is potentially more than a dozen things going on at that intersection at the same time.

It is, in my opinion, the most dangerous intersection in the city and one of these days somebody is going to be killed there.

The problem, of course, is that there is just way too much going on (see my description above) for a driver’s brain to handle, never mind maybe using a cellphone or listening to whatever’s on the radio or whatever anybody else in the car is saying.

I have, of course, a solution. Although traffic and pedestrians might have to wait their turn a little longer, I think they should only allow one thing at a time to happen at that intersection.

For instance, there should be a scramble for pedestrians of the kind they have at Yonge-Bloor and Yonge-Dundas. That is when all traffic is stopped for two minutes and people on foot can cross the street any which way they want. Next, southbound Jarvis cars, northbound Jarvis, eastbound and westbound Lake Shore and the Jarvis off-ramp from the Gardiner can all take turns and whatever traffic is happening should not be impeded by any other. With the exception of the scrambles, everything happening would be one-way.

As I said, motorists might have to wait in line a bit longer to get rolling but once they do, they won’t have to worry about pedestrians or other cars getting in their way. And pedestrians won’t have to worry about being run over by stressed-out drivers.

That intersection would be much safer— and a whole lot easier on everybody’s nerves.

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