More thoughts on distracted pedestrians

Screengrab from toronto.ctvnews.ca

I’ve often said that the most dangerous thing anyone can do in Weston is walk across the street. It’s true; 40 pedestrians in Toronto were killed last year in the second full year of Zero Vision Vision Zero. Many more suffered life altering injuries. This is the initiative designed to bring Toronto’s annual traffic-related carnage to zero fatalities by 2021.

So far, Vision Zero has been an abject failure – pedestrian fatalities rose from 37 to 40 between 2017 and 2018.

Vision Zero faces an uphill battle in our city with its woefully inadequate public transit and streets designed to favour cars. Many suburban car owners opt to drive downtown rather than suffer a longer and less comfortable time on Toronto’s poorly planned and overcrowded transit system. These drivers want clearer streets, higher speed limits and no pesky buses, cyclists or pedestrians getting in the way.

Many motor-minded folks put the blame for traffic collisions squarely on inattentive pedestrians and cyclists. They also blame them for not wearing appropriately coloured clothing. This is the school of thought that says pedestrians and cyclists should wear glow-in-the-dark fluorescent clothing while cyclists should be licensed and insured, wear bright orange and pay road tax. As Adam says, they blame the victims.

When pedestrians and cyclists are inattentive, they largely put themselves at risk. Inattentive motorists pose a risk to all road users. 1600 kilos of metal travelling at 60 km/h is far more dangerous than 100 kilos of flesh and bone walking at 6 km/h or even 26 km/h on a bike. Mathematically, the onus for care and attention should be at hundreds of times greater on the motorist than the pedestrian but somehow drivers feel the obligation is an equal one. (Mathematical purists – I understand the speed thing makes the multiple even higher but I’m on a roll here. Please feel free to calculate a better answer.)

From Toronto.com

What about pedestrians crossing the road away from a designated crossing? This is perfectly legal 30 metres or more from a crossing or intersection. Motorists should expect to see pedestrians crossing the road between intersections and drive accordingly.

What about the people being killed? The vast majority are in Scarborough where speed limits are generally higher. They are also predominantly older – not nimble enough to make it across in time. As the old saying goes; speed kills. A reduction in the speed of traffic is a big answer to traffic injuries and fatalities.

From Pressreader.com. Click to enlarge.

Finally:

  • This is clearly an equity issue (not just for seniors) and one that should have top priority.
  • Toronto Council has failed for years to build the bike lanes that it has approved. The current pace has averaged a dismal 20 km annually. There’s a fresh set of such promises for 2019 and beyond (they claim this time they mean it).
  • North America’s safest city is Montréal. We should study what they do there. For example, Montréal’s bike network exceeds 350 km compared to Toronto’s pitiful and disjointed <150 km.
  • The disturbing uptick in fatalities may be caused by drivers attending to their phones. There needs to be a solution to this problem. Perhaps technology is the answer.
  • Councillor Nunziata was responsible for establishing a committee which came up with an awesome action plan to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists (in old Ward 11). Many of the recommendations are excellent and hopefully they will be updated to include old Ward 12 and implemented asap. Ms. Nunziata is taking predictable flak for supporting bike lanes on Scarlett Road south of Eglinton. She should be applauded for this initiative.

Sidewalks are coming. Slowly.

You heard it here first: an increasingly rare urban design that is prevalent in Weston will soon be lost to history.

It’s a change you’re not likely to regret, however.

Several of the roads north of Church Street have no sidewalks, or have sidewalks on only one side of the street. The city now plans to remedy that and add sidewalks to every street in Toronto, as part of its Vision Zero plan to reduce pedestrian and cyclist deaths.

The story I’ve heard is that in the 1950s, when people expected to drive everywhere, streets in suburbs were built without sidewalks. Now that the the mania for auto-eroticism has passed, we’re regretting that decision.

The city says that sidewalks will be installed, bit by bit, when road reconstruction happens, or as a standalone project, subject to budget availability.

 

 

Mount Dennis Crosstown update

From Metrolinx. Click to enlarge.

For some strange reason, WestonWeb wasn’t invited to the recent press tour of the Eglinton Crosstown facilities. The tour was to show off the latest construction milestones of the mammoth project. The storage and maintenance facility being built on the old Kodak Lands will be ‘ready to receive trains’ in just six weeks. Don’t get your hopes up. There will be no passengers on the line until October 2021 at the earliest.

There are some good reports of the event, one of which can be read in Urban Toronto here.

1916 Weston and Mount Dennis map detail

There is a huge and detailed map of Toronto, printed in 1916 that shows the various townships that make up the Toronto of today. It’s interesting to see the land holders of that time whose names now adorn our streets.

The map has been digitized and is currently hosted on the University of Toronto Library website. Below is a small section of that map showing our locale and with the folds digitally removed for clarity. It’s a fascinating look at the Weston, Mount Dennis and Lambton Mills of a century ago. The concentric circles on the map radiate from the intersection of Bloor and Yonge.

In Weston Village, Pine and Elm streets can be seen but Maria, Elizabeth and Beech streets are no more. Further south, West Park Hospital now occupies the site of the National Sanitarium where many tuberculosis patients were treated. A Janes Walk a couple of years ago toured the site of the old piggery that fed patients. West Park now specializes in many areas but treats TB patients to this day although thanks to antibiotics, not in such large numbers.

For the complete map (and many hours of browsing) grab a coffee and click  here.

From University of Toronto Library. Click to enlarge.

MacDonald Avenue to get 19th Century upgrade.

A tree on MacDonald Avenue weakened by utility pruning. (Google.ca July 2017)

Here is a notice from Toronto Hydro:

MacDonald Avenue

  • Project ID: W18159
  • Activity: Overhead Civil and Electrical
  • Timeline: October 2017 – December 2018
  • Status: Current

Toronto Hydro is planning to rebuild the aging overhead electrical system in the community to help improve service reliability. The rebuild includes upgrading overhead electrical cables and replacing hydro poles within the City of Toronto’s public property allowance in front of or adjacent to the lot. Throughout this project, planned outages may be necessary to switch from the old to the new electrical system and we intend to provide advance notice. Toronto Hydro crews and contractors will take extra care and precautions around the property. Please be advised that as a result of the project, our contractor may be trimming a number of the overgrown trees on the public road allowance in order to accommodate new hydro infrastructure. Upon project completion, affected areas will be restored.

So, instead of replacing MacDonald Avenue’s overhead wiring with underground cables, Toronto Hydro will continue to use a 19th Century method of bringing power to homes and businesses. This will ensure a continuing vulnerability of the power supply to ice storms, lightning strikes, vehicle collisions and falling trees. Speaking of trees; pruning them to make room for wiring is harmful and our trees would last far longer if they weren’t weakened by being trimmed.

The average life of a hydro pole is about 35 years so the MacDonald Avenue installation should last until 2053. Oh, and don’t hold your breath expecting that all of the old poles will be completely removed.

It seems that Toronto Hydro would rather spend its money on executive remuneration than on upgrading infrastructure, preserving trees and improving our streetscape. Yes, it would be initially more expensive to bury power lines but it would be an investment in the future and save money (repairs from the 2013 ice storm cost over $170 million) and inconvenience in the long run.

Crosstown posts drone footage

This video was posted at the end of January but shows the work going on at the old Kodak site very clearly including the new Crosstown Line Mount Dennis Station, the Kodak building, the new vehicle maintenance building and the train storage facility.

The size of the project is quite astonishing.

Thanks to Henry Rientsma for posting the video to facebook.

Crosstown update and open house tomorrow

Metrolinx is holding an open house to showcase its Eglinton Crosstown project tomorrow, Tuesday, between 6:30 and 8:00pm. The project is set to open in 2021 and provide rapid transit and connections along and (mainly) under Eglinton between Mount Dennis and Kennedy Road. On display will be images of construction progress, construction timelines and details of likely impacts that future construction will bring in terms of noise and inconvenience.

Location: York Recreation Centre at 115 Black Creek Drive.