Walkers: Let there be street lights

With pedestrian fatalities on the rise, what will it take to make streets safer? Installing additional traffic signals is one idea.

But wait, they require fatal accidents to take place first.

Perhaps Toronto should focus on prevention instead.

Traffic signals were recently installed at the intersection of Finch Avenue and Blackbird Gate after a fatal accident last year. But apparently the recommendation for the new traffic signals was deemed “unnecessary” because there had not been a precedent set. In other words, this isolated incident wasn’t enough to warrant a new traffic signal.

But it’s a wonder that precedence isn’t set, since Toronto began the year with 11 pedestrian fatalities in the first 11 days. And while most of the blame for these accidents usually falls on the injured parties, it’s irrelevant because any safety measure used to prevent accidents should not be deemed unnecessary. After all, pedestrian fatalities are the ones who don’t get to walk away.

Toronto police launched a safety campaign Nov. 8 to protect pedestrians against the dangers of the road, revealing that pedestrian deaths make up about 50 per cent of traffic fatalities. At least that program is one step in the right direction.

Now, there don’t seem to be a lot of obstacles that prevent installing these necessary traffic signals. The typical cost is between $2,500 and $3,500. It’s safe to say that many of the parties involved in these pedestrian fatalities paid city taxes so that services like traffic signals would be available for safer streets.

To add insult to injury, the new traffic signal at Finch Avenue and Blackbird Gate is still waiting for hydro to connect it. Could it be that this “unnecessary” installation is being used to cool resident complaints instead of providing safer streets?

Perhaps it’s time the city took a better look at how to prevent pedestrian fatalities. The easiest way to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities is to lower speed limits, narrow streets so that it won’t take long to cross, and install lights to help pedestrians and drivers navigate more efficiently.

For now, a traffic signal stands at the intersection of Finch Avenue and Blackbird Gate, waiting to be given the green light. Hopefully it will increase safety in the area so that further unfortunate accidents will be prevented.