Mid Block Crossings Kill

The death of a 79 year old pedestrian, crossing Sheppard Avenue ‘mid block’, and who would have to have walked at least 500m to use a controlled crossing, and 500m back, as reported in Metro newspaper Jan 19, 2016, highlights a major problem for pedestrians all over the city: Pedestrian crossings exist only where traffic needs them; to hell with pedestrians.

Mid block can refer to cross roads and tee intersections without lights, or plain road. Signals, whether traffic lights or cross-walks, should be installed so as to provide crossing opportunities at a maximum interval. That interval, such as 100m or less, must consider that users will include both sprightly young adults as well as older, slower, less alert pedestrians. And it must consider that the longer the interval the more likely is a pedestrian to cross ‘mid block’.

All citizens have a right to safe roads. Blaming the victim justifies the killing, but killing no less. To the pedestrian, every car is a weapon, usually holstered, but all too often half-cocked.

Speed kills! A first step is to lower and enforce speed.

Crosswalks, with the hanging yellow warning lights are the ready-made solution, but are rarely used anymore. Why?

The absence of controlled crossing opportunities occurs in many places, and while this death might now prompt the City to install a crossing at that particular place on Sheppard Avenue, there are dozens or hundreds of others, places just waiting to witness vulnerable pedestrians in accidents.

While Sheppard Avenue is a major road, this problem is not confined to such roads. Try crossing King St E when walking down Victoria Street, an environ with thousands of pedestrians; there is no crossing!

And what about pedestrian crossings on our brand new Queens Quay, installed only last year. There is no less than 300m between signaled pedestrian crossings at Rees and Lower Simcoe. Predictability, many cross ‘mid block’, even more dangerous given the extra hazard of the streetcars.

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