Toronto reveals 10 worst intersections for pedestrians
View Toronto’s 10 worst intersections for pedestrians, 2007-2011 in a larger map
By Daniel Dale, City Hall bureau
Running late for a doctor’s appointment, Jennifer Green and her young daughter waited at a green light for a Walk signal that never came. Then, confused, they waited a second time.
On the third green light after she arrived at Sheppard Ave. E. and Ambrose Rd. on Friday, Green finally decided to defy the unchanging Don’t Walk signal. She and her daughter ran across the street, mother muttering in the general direction of the red hand.
They made it across without incident. Between 2007 and 2011, at least nine others did not. According to a new city study, this seemingly unremarkable North York intersection near the Leslie subway station was the worst in Toronto for people on foot over that five-year period.
One of the intersections on the city’s 10-worst list has already been redesigned. In a new report to council, the city promises “immediate” improvements to the other nine.
Depending on the intersection, the transportation department will do such things as provide more crossing time, give pedestrians a brief start before cars are allowed to move, install “Yield to Pedestrians” signs, paint or repaint pedestrian markings on the road, and make left turns sharper so cars are forced to slow down.
Pedestrian advocates are pleased. Though some intersections would be better overhauled than tweaked, Dylan Reid said, small-scale changes “can make a difference.”
“People underestimate the role that bad design plays in creating collisions,” said Reid, co-founder of advocacy group http://www.walktoronto.ca/Walk TorontoEND. “People often blame pedestrians and drivers, but often they’re responding to the cues that the infrastructure is giving them.”
Only one of the 10 “priority” intersections is downtown: three are in North York, four in Scarborough, one in Etobicoke, one on the border of Etobicoke and old Toronto. While many downtown intersections had far more car-pedestrian collisions in total than the intersections on the list, the city’s analysis compared the number of collisions with the number of cars and pedestrians passing through.
“We’ve always known that it’s a somewhat more difficult environment for walking in our suburban areas, where they cross the arterials,” said pedestrian projects manager Fiona Chapman.
The “immediate” actions will cost $70,000, which will come from elsewhere in the existing 2013 transportation budget. Chapman said she could not say exactly when they will be completed.
The report also listed options for further improvements to the nine intersections. The funding for those “medium- or long-term” initiatives would have to be approved at a later date.
The city study found that by far the most car-pedestrian intersection collisions happened when cars turning left struck pedestrians crossing with the right of way: 39 per cent, or 1,864. Twenty per cent, or 951, occurred when right-turning cars struck pedestrians who had the right of way. Collisions between cars driving straight through and pedestrians crossing without the right of way accounted for 13 per cent, or 639.
There were nine collisions between cars and pedestrians at Sheppard and Ambrose over the five-year period. Eight of those, the city says, were the result of “improper driving” or drivers failing to yield to pedestrians as they turned left or right.
The intersection seems unremarkable, but cars approach downhill in three directions, and they move fast. A medical office building on one corner attracts slow-moving elderly pedestrians. Drivers leaving the McDonald’s drive-through near another corner eat burgers while turning back on to Sheppard.
Other drivers sometimes ignore the signs that prohibit driving straight through in two directions. And pedestrians only get a Walk signal, and appropriate time to cross, if they push the button Green did not.
“It’s just a whole combination of nasty little things,” said John Coulter, who works in a building nearby, as he prepared to cross.
One of the “immediate” improvements the city says it will implement: having the Walk signal activated by cars in addition to the pedestrian button.
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Toronto’s 10 worst intersections for pedestrians, 2007-2011
1. Sheppard Ave. E. and Ambrose Rd./Provost Dr.
2. St. Dennis Dr. and Deauville Lane
3. Steeles Ave. E. and Ashcott St./Fenton Rd.
4. Neilson Rd. and McLevin Ave.
5. St. Clair Ave. E. and Brimley Rd.
6. Roncesvalles Ave. and Fermanagh Ave./High Park Blvd.
7. Steeles Ave. E. and Strawberry Hills Dr./Hillcroft Dr.
8. Rexdale Blvd. and Queens Plate Dr.
9. Wilson Ave. and Allingham Gardens
10. Keele St. and Annette St.