bike lanes, Parkdale - High Park, Public health, Public infrastructure, Public safety, Safe streets, Toronto, Vision zero, Ward 4

Unsafe bus stops at Parkside Drive

A vigil for Fatima and Valdemar Avila will be held tonight, Tuesday, Oct. 19, from 4:30 to 5 p.m. at the corner of Parkside Dr and Spring Rd.

The Southbound bus stop at Parkside near Geoffrey St is such an infamous example of poor infrastructure design it should win some type of award for bad planning. There’s no sidewalk or crosswalk with street signals near it. It’s not near any High Park entrance. So, it would seem it was designed to encourage jaywalking in a major artery.

Dude, where’s our crosswalk?

Of course, all these problems could be solved by building a sidewalk and a crosswalk with street signals, but you know the status quo is so deeply entrenched in city hall that raising this issue will result in the usual pretexts for inaction. It takes real talent to come up with the excuses we frequently hear from the City of Toronto.

It gets worse. The intersection of Parkside and Algonquin Ave has what looks like a former or half-built bus stop on the Westside. What happened? Did the TTC get rid of a potential bus stop because the city didn’t want to build a crosswalk with street signals? No wonder TTC riders and pedestrians often feel an afterthought in T.O. a car-centric city by design.

Dude, where’s our bus stop?

And when you thought it couldn’t possibly get worse. The Southbound bus stop on Parkside just North of the Queensway has a “sidewalk” a dirt path where Google maps captured a Kodak moment of a pedestrian unsafely walking along with a dog. Imagine how much more treacherous this path gets during rain or winter.

Dude, where’s our sidewalk? ©2021 Google

Parkside needs a complete rethink, and I am not sure the folks currently in Council have the vision and initiative to undertake this work without public pressure. Often, they focus their energy on defending the status quo not on improving public safety. Otherwise, we would have seen action a long time ago.

Here are the typical status quo excuses and ways to counter them:

  • But Parkside is classified as a major artery and we cannot change this. Classifications can change or exemptions made to improve safety.
  • But infrastructure costs money. Infrastructure is an investment in safety, health, and creates jobs.
  • Enforcement should solve the problem. Temporarily maybe but not long term e.g., speedbumps are less expensive and more effective than constant policing.
  • But new sidewalks will remove parkland and affect the ecology. Not if we replace the rightmost Southbound car lane with bike lanes and a real sidewalk. Also, let’s not pretend the status quo protects the fauna frequently killed by vehicle collisions all along Parkside.
  • But more crosswalks with traffic signals will slow down traffic. When the 50km/hr. limit is not being respected, it is perfectly reasonable to build new safety infrastructure.

However, despite the excuses for inaction, I believe this time in consequence of recent fatal and serious collisions the pressure for change from the community is so strong we will see a safer Parkside. Parkside has been so unsafe it’s likely discouraged walking, taking the bus, and cycling. And now even drivers feel it’s unsafe. With adequate infrastructure (such as sidewalks, raised crosswalks with street signals, and bike lanes) we will see safety improvements for all, and more public transit users, pedestrians, and cyclists. Build it and they will come.

Further reading:

Two Wheeled Politics: It’s Time for a Safer Parkside by Robert Zaichkowski

The Parkside “sidewalk”

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