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