accessibility ontario

This is why Toronto's new pedestrian signals are covered in cardboard

Have you ever walked around Toronto and found strange little boxes covering posts at random intersections of the city — turns out they are helping increase accessibility.

According to the City of Toronto, those taped up boxes are signs of ongoing Accessible Pedestrian Signal (APS) installations.

Jasmine Patrick, a communications advisor for the city, told blogTO that the push buttons are boxed up or bagged before activating the signals.

“This is so that the city does not receive false calls to the intersection for APS not working,” she wrote in an email.

Previously called audible pedestrian signals, APS systems are used to help pedestrians who are visually impaired to safely cross an intersection and let them know which direction to go using distinct chirping, chiming or cuckoo sounds.

Since 1994, Toronto has installed 999 APS systems at intersections.

The current installations come as part of the City’s Vision Zero Safety Plan — a five-year action plan from the years 2017 to 2021 focused on reducing traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries in the city. The project aims to make roads safer for the City’s most vulnerable populations including pedestrians, children, seniors and cyclists.

Since 2016, Toronto has strived to increase the number of APS systems installed at intersections. 

However, their goals have slowed down following a peak in 2018 — when they installed 85 systems. Their 2020 installation target is now only 66 systems.

As of May 4, 2020, there have been 19 installations across the city and it seems like more on the way.

Toronto has previously come under fire for not being an accessible space for vulnerable populations despite being a major tourist hub for the country. In fact, someone even created a TTC subway map with only accessible stations in place.

Lead photo by

Tim Shore


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