North York over­looked for se­nior safety zones?

Last year, four out of five pedes­trian fa­tal­i­ties in the area were se­niors by Court­ney Green­berg

Bayview Post - - News -

The City of Toronto has promised im­me­di­ate changes fol­low­ing a deadly year of road vi­o­lence — with se­niors mak­ing up the ma­jor­ity of 43 pedes­trian fa­tal­i­ties. But some ar­eas may have been over­looked as the new safety mea­sures start to roll out this month.

As part of Vi­sion Zero, Toronto’s road safety plan, the city has cre­ated 12 se­nior safety zones at var­i­ous in­ter­sec­tions to heighten aware­ness for road users. Dozens of other mea­sures, such as longer cross­walk times and lower speed lim­its, were also in­tro­duced in Jan­uary.

How­ever, there was a lack of se­nior safety zones set up in North York, an area where four out of the five fa­tal­i­ties in 2016 were se­niors. The only zone is lo­cated at Bathurst Street and Stee­les Av­enue West. Lena Kasi­mova has been work­ing at the Jewish Rus­sian Com­mu­nity Cen­tre of On­tario in that neigh­bour­hood for 20 years. She said there are many se­niors in the area, and she of­ten hears of them get­ting se­ri­ously in­jured or killed while walk­ing on the street.

Most re­cently, an 87-year-old woman was fa­tally hit by a ve­hi­cle on Dec. 6. Kasi­mova said it was painful for the com­mu­nity.

There were three pedes­trian fa­tal­i­ties around the Yonge Street and Finch Av­enue area as well, but no se­nior safety zones have been put into place at those lo­ca­tions.

“It is dis­con­cert­ing,” Ward 10 coun­cil­lor James Paster­nak said. “We ap­pre­ci­ate be­ing on part of the orig­i­nal 12 pi­lot in­ter­sec­tions (at Bathurst and Stee­les), but we re­ally have to look at Bathurst and Finch and Bathurst and Shep­pard. We have one of the high­est con­cen­tra­tions of se­niors in the city, and they’re at risk for ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dents when cross­ing streets.”

The se­nior safety zones were based on de­tailed anal­y­sis of pedes­trian deaths and in­juries across the city, ac­cord­ing to City of Toronto Trans­porta­tion Ser­vices di­rec­tor Myles Cur­rie.

He said he added a layer of de­mo­graphic in­for­ma­tion, where se­niors live and com­mute, to the data to fig­ure out where each lo­ca­tion should be.

The zones are meant to re­mind “peo­ple to drive and act more cau­tiously, re­duce their speed, be more aware of the en­vi­ron­ment and drive care­fully,” Cur­rie said. The fact that there are fewer se­nior safety zones in North York might be a “good thing,” Cur­rie said.“Not that we don’t have fa­tal­i­ties or se­ri­ous in­juries in North York … [but] there hasn’t been as many deaths or se­ri­ous in­juries in­volv­ing se­niors.”

“We have one of the high­est con­cen­tra­tions of se­niors, and they’re at risk.”

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