TORONTO – When you’re at a crosswalk, use it. That’s the message from the police and lawyers about crossing busy, potentially fatal, intersections.
“If you’re at a crosswalk and the ‘do not walk’ sign is up, and you’re walking, that is a ticket-able offense,” said Rose Leto, a lawyer for the personal injury law firm Neinstein & Associates.
Where the law becomes a bit more ambiguous is during mid-block crossings which are legal provided that the pedestrian is not interfering with traffic.
But there’s a catch.
“Nowhere is it defined how far from a crosswalk you need to be to have to use the crosswalk. Nowhere is it defined what ‘yield right of way’ means and how far that car has to be. So it’s a very ambiguous area,” said Leto.
A car having to slow down could be interpreted as “affecting traffic” and that’s dangerous according to Dylan Reid, Co-founder of Toronto Walks, a pedestrian advocacy group. But Reid believes “jaywalking,” or mid-block crossings, aren’t necessarily a bad thing.
“People crossing in the middle of the block is something that happens in cities across the world. It’s part of the urban experience,” said Reid, who also believes it could help remind drivers that pedestrians are out there.
Even though the number of pedestrian injuries has gone down between 2010 and 2014, the number of total fatalities is up.
Though most collisions happen at intersections as vehicles are making turns, the most fatal interactions are mid-block.
You’re five times more likely to die mid-block than at a crosswalk when struck by a vehicle, according to professor Murtaza Haider of Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management.
“At mid-block vehicles are travelling faster so crossing exposes pedestrians to a greater risk,” he said.