parkside drive toronto

People call for change after fatal crash on Parkside Drive in Toronto

A tragic crash that claimed the lives of two people on Parkside Drive has renewed calls to improve safety on the busy thoroughfare.

The multi-vehicle collision around 4:40 p.m. on Oct 12 at Spring Road and Parkside Drive left two people dead, according to Toronto Police Services.

A 38-year-old man driving a 2013 BMW 320i southbound on Parkside Drive near Spring Road at a high rate of speed collided with a 2003 Toyota Matrix which then created a chain reaction multi-vehicle crash with three other motor vehicles, police said.

The driver of the Toyota Matrix, a 71-year-old man and a passenger, a 69-year-old woman, both died after the collision. The driver of the BMW 320i was transported to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

People who live in the area have long known how many speed through the area, many looking for a fast route to the highway.

While the posted speed limit is 50 km/h, drivers regularly travel at 70 km/hr or higher, area resident Robert Zaichkowski says.

"I know that whenever I take my dog to High Park, I feel...the risk being run over so I have to hold the leash real tight."

Tuesday's accident added a sense of urgency to the issue that people have been talking about for many months, he says.

A Facebook group, Safe Parkside, was created this spring to address safety concerns on Parkside Drive.

One of the founders of the group, Genevieve Lacroix, says residents have been working for years for changes to Parkside Drive but when bike lanes were recently installed along Bloor Street they wondered why nothing was being done for Parkside.

"We saw the neighborhood changing where they were adding bike lanes, pretty much overnight, on streets such as Bloor and turning those into almost just one-lane traffic," Lacroix tells blogTO.

When Lacroix moved to the area 18 years ago, Parkside was a fairly quiet street but a roundabout was added to Windermere Avenue, Colborne Lodge was closed and Lansdowne added street parking.

"All the traffic flow got redirected to Parkside because it has an access point to the Lakeshore," Lacroix says.

She understands that the community is changing, but says Parkside is not the place for fast traffic.

"This is a street that borders one of the largest parks… cyclists go there, pedestrians go there, it has a dog park," she says. "And right now it's actually a barrier to the community because people are afraid to cross it."

For cyclists, Parkside is dangerous, says The Biking Lawyer LLP, David Shellnutt.

"In July August I had three cyclists contact and retain me who suffered serious injuries at that intersection (Bloor and Parkside) people driving dangerously, ignoring the bike lanes, failing to yield, it's a high-speed area people are trying are trying to get to the highway bad things are happening," he says.

In a statement released Oct. 13, Toronto Councillor Gord Perks said the fatal crash on Oct. 12 "is a stark reminder that the work we are doing together to create safer roads is crucial."

He said the city has worked over the years to combat the dangerous speeding on Parkside. The city has installed pedestrian protection barriers at the underpass on the south end of Parkside; a right-turn channel at the northeast corner of Parkside Drive and Howard Park was eliminated to improve pedestrian crossing; and the rush hour evening parking prohibition on the east side of Parkside Drive was removed.

In 2022, the city will begin installing a temporary sidewalk on the west side of the southern portion of Parkside. A permanent sidewalk will be installed as part of other capital projects in coming years.

"Some parts of our plan have run into hurdles," Perks added. "Efforts to get speeds reduced on Parkside have run up against the city's antiquated road classification system which says that 'major arterial' roads cannot be reduced below 50 kph."

Automated speed enforcement cameras on Parkside have been held up by provincial regulations which limit speed enforcement cameras to streets around schools.

He has also been advocating to install metered parking on the west side of the street as a traffic calming measure, but have been unable to get that achieved, yet.

For residents, the changes can come soon enough.

"It's just not feasible to think that this can continue to go on as the city keeps growing," says Lacroix. "We need to have awareness, we need to be upset, we need to be enraged at the fact that people are losing their lives over this when measures can be implemented."

Lead photo by

Genevieve Lacroix

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