Harbord residents take to the streets
Fifty instances of vehicles driving in the wrong direction were noted during study
Amidst a summer that has seen a number of pedestrians and cyclists critically injured or killed on the streets, the Harbord Village Residents’ Association (HVRA) has taken street safety into their own hands.
On June 12, 30 volunteers were stationed at eight different residential street corners to catch the morning and afternoon rush hour periods and recorded their findings.
During the survey period, there were 54 instances of vehicles observed driving in the wrong direction. At Harbord Street and Robert Street, the HVRA witnessed about 35 per cent of cars failing to stop at the crosswalk when it was occupied by a pedestrian.
“The crosswalk was the shocker to me,” said Sue Dexter from the HVRA. “I was out at Harbord and Robert.... I was sickened by it after about an hour.”
According to City of Toronto’s road safety initiative Vision Zero, one pedestrian is seriously injured or killed every three days on Toronto’s roads. Fifteen per cent of those incidents take place at pedestrian crosswalks.
In response to the findings, local councillor Joe Cressy introduced a motion to replace the crosswalk with a full signal. However, installing a traffic light on a major arterial such as Harbord requires full Toronto City Council approval. The proposal went through an initial review following Cressy’s motion. Although it passed the first round of votes in community council, a final round will be held at the end of July.
“If the City of Toronto was serious about Vision Zero, we would look to implement any improved safety measure quickly as opposed to a prolonged and protracted fight at city council,” said Cressy.
The study has become a call to action for other resident groups.
“[The Annex Residents’ Association] are forming their own committee along with Seaton village,” said Dexter. “The other day, councillor Mike Layton was out in Seaton village sitting with people doing a count [of illegal car actions]. And he was shocked. It is one thing to know there is a problem, it is another to see it with your eyes.”
However, Cressy is disheartened that it was up to volunteers to push the needle on this key city issue.
“The fact that you have a neighbourhood association going out on their own to identify problems, as opposed to [council] proactively addressing them, demonstrates that our approach to Vision Zero is not ambitious enough,” said Cressy.
Our approach to Vision Zero is not ambitious enough.
L-R: Sue Dexter and Carolee Orme from the Harbord Village Residents’ Association