City of Toronto too slow to act on ‘Spadina pedestrian trap’: Council candidate

Click to play video: 'City of Toronto too slow to act on ‘Spadina Pedestrian Trap’: council candidate' City of Toronto too slow to act on ‘Spadina Pedestrian Trap’: council candidate
WATCH ABOVE: An inability for many pedestrians to cross Lake Shore Boulevard West on the west side of Spadina Avenue forces many to jaywalk rather than take the lengthy, legal alternative. Mark Carcasole reports – Apr 27, 2018

As more and more people squeeze into Toronto’s downtown core, a greater priority has been placed on the safety of pedestrians and those using modes of transportation other than automobiles.

Over the last decade-and-a-half, the amount of people who live along the waterfront has increased significantly. What was once largely an industrial area has become a series of thriving neighbourhoods with installations like CityPlace.

With this population boom, oddball intersections like Spadina Avenue and Lake Shore Boulevard West have grown from slight inconveniences to major safety issues. This crossing is a particularly strange one.

READ MORE: Toronto police launch pedestrian safety campaign after spike in road deaths

Near the foot of the west side of Spadina, pedestrians are first forced to compete with oncoming cars to cross over the westbound Gardiner Expressway on-ramp at an uncontrolled intersection. Just south of that, they’re stopped short before they can cross Lake Shore by a sign telling them pedestrians can only cross southbound on the east side. But there’s no crossing to the east in the immediate vicinity.

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To cross southbound legally, one must walk all the way back to Bremner Boulevard near the Rogers Centre, cross to the east side of Spadina Avenue and then come back down and cross Lake Shore Boulevard West.

READ MORE: Toronto police launch 2-week road safety campaign as students return from March Break

Kevin Vuong, who said he will be a candidate for Toronto city council, called it the “Spadina pedestrian trap” or the “sidewalk to nowhere.”

“I would describe this intersection as dangerous; poorly thought out,” said Vuong as he watches pedestrians wait for a break in the line up of cars driving onto the Gardiner Expressway from Spadina Avenue so that they can cross the ramp.

Vuong’s demand for immediacy stems from the fact that the area has been the subject of complaints, but seemingly little action for over a decade.

To illustrate his point, he uploaded a video on social media Thursday night that shows him demonstrating the walk down the west side of Spadina Avenue to the Gardiner Expressway ramp, then turning around and taking the aforementioned detour.

“There’s different light cycles (along the way), so even though I walk fast it took me 15 minutes to get to the waterfront.”

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He said the video shows why most pedestrians through that stretch prefer to take their chances jaywalking across Lake Shore Boulevard’s six lanes of traffic.

Joe Cressy, who is the current councillor for the area, told Global News he is aware of the dangers, but that city staff were unable to do anything about it under the previous regime at city hall.

“This was supposed to be solved in the last administration if it wasn’t for then-Mayor Rob Ford, who put a stop to all pedestrian-oriented work on arterial roads in downtown Toronto,” he said.

READ MORE: Toronto pedestrians say temporary crosswalk near Eglinton and Avenue can be dangerous

Changes to the structures of major routes are subject to the approval of the full Toronto city council. Cressy said after fighting to get that, he is now taking steps to fix the problems on the west side of Spadina Avenue at the Gardiner Expressway on-ramp and across Lake Shore Boulevard West.

“Design work is underway for the installation of a new signal there which we expect will come in this summer,” he said.

Transportation Services staff said the plan is for a two-step signalized intersection.

The first phase would ensure pedestrians can more safely walk across the on-ramp. However it will almost certainly slow the flow of vehicles onto the westbound Gardiner Expressway at Spadina Avenue.

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The second phase would allow pedestrians to legally cross Lake Shore Boulevard on the west side of Spadina Avenue just south of the ramp.

But City staff told Global News in a written statement that they are not as optimistic as Cressy is on when installation will be completed.

“We are expecting to install this new traffic signal by 2019 at the latest,” spokesperson Cheryl San Juan told Global News.

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