Torontonians Can't Read the Signs

The Star recently posted a story about how difficult it is to cross streets where pedestrians have to wait for the white walk signal to appear. A specific intersection is named and local resident Barbara McNamara describes crossing said intersection "a scary experience."

It's also noted that the experience is only scary when pedestrians attempt to cross the street when the pedestrian "big red hand" signal is illuminated. You know, the signal that means don't cross the damn street. The dangerous-ish intersection in question has buttons on the poles that will give pedestrians the walk signal they so desire so long as they simply press it once. The Star even noted that "most people know enough to do that."

Barbara obviously hasn't figured it out yet. Is there a solution to this problem, or is "the hand" more than enough to keep you from becoming road meat?

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It was once brought up in a Montreal rag that pedestrian-specific signals made crossing streets confusing and dangerous. In some ways I can agree with the thought; green means go and red means stop, so a big green light would ideally mean that anyone facing it could cross. Drivers, ideally, would look around and choose not to run you over, even though you both had the green light. Multiple signals could confuse matters. Green light = go = simplicity, right?

This doesn't take varying car traffic signals into account, though, wherein different lanes are granted access to turn and move before others. Some intersections, like Lakeshore and Bay, are so busy that pedestrians are specifically instructed to cross over only from one side of the street. Add right-turns on reds into the mix, something that doesn't even exist in Montreal, and I can only think that pedestrians specific lights would both help keep the roads safer by keeping things as straight-forward as possible.

Jack Lakey, the article's scribe, seems to be siding with the dim pedestrians on this one. He's trying to get in touch with someone from the city so they can look into the "issue." With clearly defined signals designed with the public's safety in mind, as well as the buttons to trigger the pedestrian signals readily accessible (even for the shortest of people) I ask you, just what is the issue? You might as well let me know, as it seems the city's media go-to guy isn't quick to get Lakey his answer.

Until then, press the button and wait for your signal before crossing. You wouldn't like it if a car decided to drive through its red light.

Photo by BlogTO Flickr pooler viviloob


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