What I learnt, observed, heard in T.O this week
By Kris Scheuer
We are all pedestrians. This is a city slogan but it’s also true.
Personally, I walk or take TTC everywhere and am also a passenger in cars, but I don’t drive.
So I am painfully aware of the ten pedestrians who were struck and killed by vehicles in the GTA in the past eight days.
I watch, each time, before I step off streetcars because often vehicles speed by the open TTC doors. And I watch before I jaywalk mid-block to make my crossing safer.
The Toronto Star’s Christopher Hume has a terrific column today on the recent pedestrian deaths (nine when he wrote it) saying, “Had the cause been gang warfare, H1N1 or car crashes, the news would be on everyone’s lips.”
The Toronto police are encouraging people to step up safety awareness by pointing them to an online resource iNavigait.
What should we do to make the streets safer?
We all have to slow down, from pedestrians to drivers and I mean not just physically but mentally as well. You are right Kris.
The more we rush, the more we jump on an opening in traffic, whether it is a jaywalker or a driver or a cyclist, we increase the chances for a fatal mistake.
I can think of three incidents over the past two weeks that pedestrians made the wrong move in front of my car and by the grace of god, my still quick reflexes and defensive approach to driving, we did not end up adding to the death total.
I can also think of about a dozen incidents with drivers over that same time, whether on the highway or city streets, where the same factors: defensive driving, quick reflexes and plain luck helped save the day.
Besides the distractions, there is a horrible sense of entitlement on our streets and sidewalks which only seems to get worse with each passing year. Pedestrians feel entitled to cross even though the big orange hand says you can’t and drivers feel entitled to make every light and simply roll through stop signs (my biggest pet peeve).
yes I especially agree about the fact we need to slow down no just physically but mentally as well.
It’s common for people to be multi-tasking and thinking about many things other than what they are doing in that moment which is navigating the streets. It means we aren’t paying attention to what is around us, other people, changes to the neighbourhood we are driving through or stopping to notice details around us. We are in our own little worlds.
You mention the sense of entitlement to the roads that drivers feel and I think that means they feel because they have somewhere to get to this takes precedent over other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. But it also means combined with being in a hurry, distracted, in our own world and having a sense of entitlement people will get killed more often. It’s a bad combination.
I totally agree. Eye contact with the driver is essential when crossing to ensure they know you are there and you and the driver figure out what each other are doing so no one gets hurt.
Running out into traffic thinking you have a guardian angel covering you or walking across the road even when you have the right of way without paying attention to vehicle traffic around you (in case the drivers are distracted, in a hurry or don’t see you) is dangerous.
Never cross unless you have eye to eye contact with the car driver.
thanks for your thoughts.
Yes I am sure there must have been a time too as a teen or kid when I did not look when crossing distracted by something or not aware of my own mortality.
Yes cars are also rushing lights, a lot. Yes education is only part of it and police enforcing the rules also part.
But too me, it’s that we are all too distracted, in too big a hurry, aren’t looking out for people around us. And also I think there are some poorly designed intersections and blind corners where it makes it hard for pedestrians and drivers to see each other.
I look out my window and I can see the intersection of Steeles and Bayview. There are 2 high schools nearby and I can see kids (teenagers so they should know better) crossing without looking. I can also see cars running red lights (mainly on left turns).
I can see the fire and ambulance’s approaching sirens blaring yet some people don’t yield or pull to the right and stop.
I can also see the police east of here hiding with the radar traps catching speeders. BTW there are no homes or stores there.
Yellow light mean stop not pick up speed and clear the intersection. I could go on and on and on.
So what can we do? Heck if I know. Education? Doe’s not seem to work. Priorities for the police? Perhaps.