It’s a War Zone in our City Streets

That’s right.

Car against car, cyclist against cyclist, pedestrian against pedestrian and all of them against each other.

As our city continues to burst at the seams with more people moving here every day, we are struggling as citizens to maneuver through road and subway construction. City Officials are struggling to solve our congestion problems with increased mass transit infrastructure and having enough dollars in the public coffers to repair or replace (or decide) on massive infrastructure projects such as the Gardiner Expressway. However, much of the congestion that exists in the downtown could be reduced or avoided simply by us Torontonians becoming more mindful of our surroundings and respectful of each other.

I like to call this “mindful pedestrianism”.

As I drive these city streets on a daily basis, I am amazed and shocked at the lack of consideration we have for one another when it comes to sharing our streets and sidewalks. Everyone is busy with some place to go and we all seem to be in a rush. We are distracted by either being deep in thought, thinking about that next meeting or staring at a smartphone screen and walking at the same time. With the frenzied need to get somewhere in a hurry, we are completely ignoring common courtesy and the rules of the road.

I am guilty of this too. But sometimes, I simply do not know what to do.

Case in point – those countdown clocks located at all signalized intersections. Once the signal permitting you to cross begins its countdown, we tend to see this as an invitation to cross the street. Instead, the countdown clock is there to give those people already navigating through the intersection (motorists, pedestrians and cyclists) the opportunity to safely clear the street.

I think most of us feel it’s an opportunity to enter the intersection. Pedestrians seem to think that if they see that there is still time on the clock as they approach an intersection that they can continue to cross. How many times have I been walking with my wife and when we get to the intersection with ten seconds on the clock we always say, “let’s make a run for it”.

(Buzzer sound) “WRONG!”

What we should be doing is stopping and waiting for our turn when the light turns green again. There are already cars waiting for people to cross so they can turn right or left and adding more people to that equation will only increase the delay of successfully getting through an intersection.

An intersection empty of all people, cars and bikes will allow for a more steady flow of traffic and pedestrians…period. I am not a Rocket Scientist…but just someone who is practicing common sense.

Would it really kill someone to wait 2 minutes until they can cross the next time, instead of subjecting themselves to getting killed because they were in such a hurry to cross in the first place that a motorist might inadvertently hit them?

When I was a kid, these countdown clocks didn’t exist. The sign was either showing a little stick figure identifying that you could cross or the two words, “DON’T WALK”. If it begun to flash, then you knew you had to run for it.

Then, the City decided to complicate things by adding the countdown clock. City Officials never really explained to us how to effectively use it – instead, we tried to figure it out on our own and I don’t think we have!

I am sick and tired of sitting in traffic in the downtown inching my way up the street, all because pedestrians are entering the crosswalk during the countdown, not allowing cars who are attempting to turn right or left hand turn the chance to do so.

While the need for additions to our mass transit infrastructure are still vitally essential to ensure the efficient flow of human beings around the city, an awareness of how we can co-exist in the busy intersections of our downtown core might make a huge difference to the congestion that is pervasive showing no signs of easing up.

Stephen_Gosewich_Head Shot“Stephen Gosewich is a long-time resident of the Bathurst and St. Clair area.

By day, he is a working stiff. When he isn’t at work, he enjoys hanging with his beautiful wife and two awesome teenaged daughters.

He enjoys walking, spinning, playing guitar and observing life around him.”

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