Sinkhole eats car

A car was swallowed by a sinkhole at the former Weston bakery outlet earlier this week. The sinkhole was caused by a water-main break (not recent flooding) and the car seems to have driven into it, rather than having had the sinkhole open up underneath it.

There were no injuries.

Car in sinkhole
From CTV news

Update: the sinkhole opened up underneath the car.

Bike Workshop on Saturday

This Saturday, Cycle Toronto will host a one-hour workshop on basic bike maintenance at Weston’s treasure of a library on King Street. Rain or shine – meet in the library parking lot if the weather is fine and if not, the basement will be used. All ages welcome.

Numbers are limited so registration is required and can be done in person before Saturday or by phone at 416-394-1016. As of Tuesday, there was still room for a few more people.

Now if only we had some actual bike lanes in Weston / Mount Dennis! Over to you Councillor Nunziata.

Speed limits may be lowered on 4 streets

The Etobicoke York Community Council is considering lowering the speed limits on four streets in Weston and Mount Dennis. The motion will reduce the speed limit to 30 km/hr on the following streets:

  • Wall Avenue
  • Ralph Street (near CR Marchant)
  • Guestville (near Our Lady of Victory Catholic School)
  • Dennis Avenue (near Dennis Avenue School)

A petition had been circulated to ask for speed humps on Wall Avenue, but doing so didn’t meet the technical criteria, so lowered speed limits are being asked for instead.

The motion will be considered April 4.

Why do people get hit by cars in Weston?

After the most recent accident at Weston and Lawrence, in which a woman was seriously injured, your correspondent started thinking about the reasons why people keep getting hurt—and what might be done to prevent future injuries and deaths.

Is it road design? Poor lighting? Poor intersection control? Enforcement failures? Or is it something else?

The cause of death and injury is likely banal and sad: mix many people and many cars, and some will come into conflict.

The city and police publish much data on road use and accidents. I mapped the number accidents in which pedestrians were killed or seriously injured and the data on the number of pedestrians.

Pins show the busiest pedestrian intersections (top quintile). Crossbones show intersections with more than one accident.

After quite a bit of fiddling, the answer is pretty clear:  the more pedestrians there are, the more likely it is that someone will be hurt. All of the intersections in which there has been more than one accident are among the busiest intersections in York South–Weston.

I took all the data the city gathers on pedestrian use, and removed the bottom fourth-fifths, leaving only the most frequently crossed roads. I also removed the intersections where there had been only one collision with a pedestrian. We are left with the busiest pedestrian intersections and the deadliest intersections. These overlap to a great extent: the four most dangerous intersections are the four busiest.

The intersection of Weston and Lawrence is deadly: three people have been hit there, and another six have been hit nearby. Jane and Lawrence is quite dangerous too: four have been hit, with another two nearby.

In Mount Dennis, Weston and Jane, and the intersections of Eglinton with Weston Road and Jane Street have had multiple accidents over the past decade.

But of the five deadliest intersections, four are also the most frequently foot-travelled intersections, and the fifth is in the top ten.

Of course, this does not mean that injuries and deaths are inevitable. Far from it. Many things can be done to make our intersections safe—particularly at Weston and Lawrence. We could

  • Reshape the intersection to make the crossing shorter. Three of the dangerous intersections are longer than necessary because of their oblique angle.
  • Prohibit right turns on red
  • Give pedestrians a five-second advanced walk
  • Extend the cross signal
  • Move the bus stops to discourage people from running for their ride
  • Install red-light cameras
  • Narrow the roadways
  • Brightly mark the crosswalks and move the stop line back

 

 

Toronto’s dangerous roads strike locally.

Vision Zero? – Sometimes it seems like Zero Vision in car-centric Toronto.

Terrible news on Friday afternoon: yet another pedestrian was mowed down by someone driving a vehicle near Weston Road and Lawrence. According to cbc.ca, the woman, in her 20s was in serious condition but expected to survive.

Toronto’s drivers are killing people at the rate of one a week. At this rate, another 55 Torontonians will die on our streets by year’s end.

While the Mayor and Council claim to be concerned about this, they are doing little about the deaths and injuries. For example, there are only 77 red light cameras in the whole of Toronto and only one remotely close to our area (at Keele and Lawrence). This in a city with 2300 traffic lights. Incidentally, why do we warn drivers about these cameras?

In a similar vein, Mayor Tory and his hand-selected Public Works Committee are fighting the insertion of bike lanes and wider sidewalks on Yonge near Mel Lastman Square, preferring the current 6-lane highway.

Councillors on the committee are :

Read the CBC article on the collision here.

We are all pedestrians.

Update: Hans Havermann has corrected my erroneous numbers. Read about it here.

Five things that need to change in Weston / Mount Dennis: Part 1

As we approach the year end, here are some things that seem to be holding us back in Weston / Mount Dennis. This is a five part series, the first of which begins today.

As always, your comments are welcome.

 1. Our Road System

Pedestrian and cyclist deaths in Toronto are not taken seriously enough and by extension here in Weston / Mount Dennis. Last year in Toronto, 43 pedestrians were killed by people driving cars while 40 of us were killed by people with a gun. Locally, compare the reaction to the man killed in the Shoppers Parking lot last month with the response to the woman killed on Monday 285 metres west of Weston and Eglinton; a particularly dangerous intersection because of its diagonal angle. Traffic engineers deplore diagonal intersections because they are more prone to driver error, yet Weston Road slices diagonally through Ward 11 at several major points without modification.

Weston Road’s dangerous diagonal intersections. Click to enlarge. Adapted from Google Maps.

Weston and Lawrence was the 7th worst Toronto intersection for collisions between 2009 and 2013. Diaginal intersections can be straightened by traffic engineers, often without much disruption.

From waze.com

Pedestrian light timing is too short – especially at the busy transit hub at Weston and Lawrence. There is a seniors’ building at the intersection yet priority is given to traffic rather than pedestrians. In addition, as already mentioned, intersections that are not at right angles are inherently dangerous.

We need red light cameras to stop people from endangering lives in their haste to shave a few minutes from their journey. Red light cameras more than pay for themselves through the fines that they collect. Is it too much to ask for cameras that can make such a difference at dangerous intersections? Although there are 77 red light cameras in Toronto, there is only one in our area, oddly at Jane and Bala / Emmet.

Cycle lanes – according to Councillor Nunziata, her Cycling Committee has met and will be releasing a report soon. Kudos to the councillor for this initiative and let’s hope for some good recommendations. Apart from dangerous sharrows, there is precious little resembling cycling infrastructure in our area. Paint isn’t infrastructure.

Tomorrow: The retail experience in Weston / Mount Dennis.

Parking at 4 Rosemount could become TPA lot

The Toronto Parking Authority is asking permission to make the parking lot at 4 Rosemount a city pay-and-display lot for the next year, with  fees of $1 an hour or $5 for 12 hours. Revenue will be split between the city and the lot’s owners.

 Anecdotally, your correspondent has found that lot to be quite busy, though whether that is from traffic to the local businesses or from overflow parking for the train station, I couldn’t say.

Making the lot paid-for may have the undesirable effect of spilling parked cars out onto nearby streets. The TPA says that “certain on-street parking restrictions [should] also be implemented.”

The city is asking for a pilot, which, if successful after 12 months, could be extended.