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Take your life in your hands at this intersection?

The intersection causing all the discussion.

The intersection causing all the discussion. Photo by Robin Dickie

Duck you, witch!

If you’re good at anagrams, you shouldn’t have a hard time figuring out the true meaning of these three words.

That’s what two guys in their 30s driving a new Acura SUV recently called my wife as we were attempting to cross Parkhurst Blvd., walking north on Bayview to our apartment.

We had entered the street ahead of the SUV, but these two hot shots saw an opening in the backed up Sunday traffic and went for it, cutting us off to get across Bayview to Soudan Ave. before the oncoming southbound traffic would arrive.

My wife yelled out, “How about a little consideration for pedestrians?” They responded with some “witty” retort, after which my wife responded with some equally “witty” words of her own (not cool, we realize), to which they responded with those three lovely words mentioned at the beginning.

Of course, like true men, they said it while driving off west on Soudan, but loud enough for the entire world to hear.

Why am I sharing this crude example of bad behaviour?

I received a letter to the editor (see opposite page) about my September Business of Leaside column discussing the mistreatment of pedestrians at the intersection of Parkhurst and Bayview. As part of my discussion, I made the case that a traffic light needs to be installed at the intersection to keep children and adults safe from drivers more intent on crossing Bayview illegally than paying attention to the pedestrians around them.

“Given that a stoplight at Parkhurst and Bayview would drastically increase the dangers to the many children walking to and from school, Will’s contention is categorically wrong,” wrote Catherine Bertmount.

It’s good to know that the people living on Parkhurst have a “professional” traffic engineer living in their midst. Unfortunately, Bertmount provides no substantive evidence to support her claim that the children of Parkhurst face increased dangers as a result of any increase in traffic that may or may not occur if a traffic light is installed at the intersection.

Georgia Walsh died in a tragic traffic accident at the corner of McRae Dr. and Millwood Rd. in July 2014. The telephone pole at the northwest corner of that intersection is a permanent reminder of her unnecessary death. While I am not a parent, I’m certainly capable of understanding the loss felt by everyone close to Georgia.

Look, I don’t like the increased traffic that’s hit our neighbourhood in recent years due to the LRT construction and additional condo units going up in the area any more than Ms. Bertmount does, but you fight the battles you can win. Admittedly, Toronto’s a big city with plenty of neighbourhoods ill equipped or designed for this level of traffic, but you can’t turn back time or halt the drumbeat of progress.

I’m afraid if something isn’t done soon at Parkhurst and Bayview, we’ll have another Georgia Walsh on our hands. To do nothing more than what’s already been done (the turn prohibitions during rush hours) in my opinion is the ultimate act of irresponsibility.

Ms. Bertmount sees kids being safer by reducing traffic on Parkhurst when, in fact, evidence suggests nothing could be further from the truth. A traffic light or no traffic light, children face a greater danger going almost anywhere in the car than they do running around the neighbourhood.

For the sake of science, I would like to see Councillor Burnside organize an experiment with 53 Division, in conjunction with the city’s transportation department, that sends one police car driving at the designated speed limits east on Soudan from Yonge St. to Laird Dr. and south to the Husky gas station. A second car would leave at the same time travelling from Yonge east along Eglinton Ave. to Laird and south to the Husky gas station.

I would guess that the car travelling along Eglinton would get to the gas station faster most of the time. The point is that smart people understand that driving at speeds 20 kilometres slower and braking every 100 feet for stop signs is not the better way.

One of the changes implemented as a result of Walsh’s death was the elimination of right-hand turns on red lights at that fateful intersection. Anything to make pedestrians safer is a good move in my books.

The problem at Parkhurst and Bayview is less about increased traffic and more about the mindset of drivers. The sign prohibitions have done little to curb bad behaviour at the intersection.

No longer do I feel the Councillor’s solution of imposing one-way restrictions at the mouths of both Parkhurst and Soudan will stop drivers from breaking the law. With only two full-time traffic officers in 53 Division, the solution must be something that works without police supervision.

You could install concrete barriers blocking the entrance to both Parkhurst and Soudan from Bayview. While that might be acceptable to the residents of Parkhurst, it probably wouldn’t make Parkers or Remax very happy.

Which leaves us with a traffic light as the only workable solution that protects both pedestrians and drivers.
If someone is ultimately killed at the intersection of Parkhurst and Bayview, I’ll know I said and did everything I could to protect the people of Leaside. If you feel, like me, that there should be a traffic light  at the intersection, contact Councillor Burnside and tell him so: Councillor_Burnside@toronto.ca.