Toronto: Pedestrian’s Receive Additional Time (5 Seconds to Cross a 30-Metre Intersection) to Cross Streets

Update:

Given the traffic congestion that Toronto suffers from, motorists are always in a rush to make up time they feel they have lost due to heavy traffic, getting stuck behind a streetcar or negotiating their way around construction; this inevitably leads to frustrated drivers who are almost revving their engines as a light almost turns green.  There is alot less tolerance for elderly or disabled pedestrians crossing the street, at a pace which some drivers feel is unacceptable. Toronto previously required pedestrians to walk at 1.2 metres per second to cross most intersections. That pace, long considered an international standard, is still used across the continent. Toronto and York Region have switched to a slower pace, 1 metre per second, that is preferred by advocates for the elderly and for pedestrians.
Given the traffic congestion that Toronto suffers from, motorists are always in a rush to make up time they feel they have lost due to heavy traffic, getting stuck behind a streetcar or negotiating their way around construction; this inevitably leads to frustrated drivers who are almost revving their engines as a traffic light is about to turn green. There is alot less tolerance for elderly or disabled pedestrians crossing the street, at a pace, which some drivers feel is unacceptable. Toronto previously required pedestrians to walk at 1.2 metres per second to cross most intersections. That pace, long considered an international standard, is still used across the continent. Toronto and York Region have switched to a slower pace, 1 metre per second, that is preferred by advocates for the elderly and for pedestrians.

see source

Intersection by intersection, Mayor Rob Ford’s Toronto is quietly becoming friendlier to pedestrians.

Since January 2010, nearly a year before Ford took office, city transportation workers have been modifying hundreds of traffic signals per year to give people more time to cross the street.

More and more pedestrians have mobility issues and require additional time to cross the street.
More and more pedestrians have mobility issues and require additional time to cross the street, whether it be at a traffic light (fixed time signal or semi-automated signal) or crosswalk.

Toronto previously required pedestrians to walk at 1.2 metres per second to cross most intersections. That pace, long considered an international standard, is still used across the continent. Toronto and York Region have switched to a slower pace, 1 metre per second, that is preferred by advocates for the elderly and for pedestrians.

“You frequently see older people who are walking with a cane or crutches or something of that sort, and they have panic in their eyes because they don’t want the light to change before they get to the other side,” said Norm Shulman, executive director of the Ontario Gerontology Association.

Since January 2010, nearly a year before Ford took office, city transportation workers have been modifying hundreds of traffic signals per year to give people more time to cross the street.
Since January 2010, nearly a year before Ford took office, city transportation workers have been modifying hundreds of traffic signals per year to give people more time to cross the street. Only about 475 Toronto intersections used the slower standard as of early 2010. As of this week, more than 1,500 intersections did — about 68 per cent. The rest will be converted by the end of 2014, said urban traffic control systems manager Rajnath Bissessar.

The switch means pedestrians now get at least 30 seconds instead of 25 seconds to cross a major 30-metre intersection like those common outside the downtown core. It also means drivers must wait longer at red lights.

Only about 475 Toronto intersections used the slower standard as of early 2010. As of this week, more than 1,500 intersections did — about 68 per cent. The rest will be converted by the end of 2014, said urban traffic control systems manager Rajnath Bissessar.

The switch, Bissessar said, was prompted by international studies, complaints from seniors, a similar change in the U.S traffic manual, and recognition of the needs of the city’s aging population. Pedestrians over the age of 65 are disproportionately likely to be struck by cars.

Pedestrians in wheelchairs and using mobility devices are in need of more time while crossing the street.
Pedestrians in wheelchairs and using mobility devices are in need of more time while crossing the street.

“Signal timing is always a balancing act,” Bissessar said. “We recognize that there may be an impact on congestion but our primary focus was safety for pedestrians, particularly the elderly, since they are the most vulnerable segment of the pedestrian population.”

Bissessar said longer walk times at the intersection of two major streets may not actually increase traffic congestion, since extra time is being provided in both directions. And at the intersection of a major street and a minor street, “the increase in walk time can be accommodated within the existing cycle length so the impact on main street traffic would be minimal,” he said.

Neither the Canadian Automobile Association nor Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, the public works committee chair and Ford ally who has regularly advocated for drivers, was aware of the change in Toronto until the Star told them about it. Neither offered any criticism.

“Toronto has to adapt and respond to changing demographics and encourage people to get out and walk and get exercise, especially older people who will benefit from getting out of their homes,” said Minnan-Wong, who noted the city is also working to better synchronize lights. “If the seniors can’t cross the street, they won’t come out.”

York Region adopted the slower pace in 2011 after a highly publicized — though very possibly random — series of pedestrian deaths in the summer of 2010. Steven Kemp, York’s director of traffic management, said he does not consider the switch “major.”

“To say that it’s had a direct impact on pedestrian safety I think would be a stretch,” Kemp said. “But, at the same time, we know the population is getting older, pedestrians overall are getting slower . . . so I think, intuitively, there are some safety benefits to doing it.”

Toronto is reducing crossing speeds in conjunction with an equipment upgrade. Bissessar said the cost is about $50 per intersection when done with the rest of the project, $300 when done independently.

Crossing speeds may gradually get lower across the country. A draft report from a Transportation Association of Canada project that involved several municipalities, including Toronto, recommends a standard pace of 1 metre per second and a pace of 0.9 metres per second for intersections where at least 20 per cent of pedestrians are 65 or older, Bissessar said.

 

TTC: GAP Between Subway Car and Platform Almost Took Life of 4-Year-Old Girl

Update:

 Ava Buckareff, 4, narrowly escaped a frightening incident when she fell through the gap between the subway and platform at St. Clair station Wednesday. She was briefly suspended at her upper torso before she was pulled to safety by her aunt. DAVID COOPER / TORONTO STAR

Ava Buckareff, 4, narrowly escaped a frightening incident when she fell through the gap between the subway and platform at St. Clair station Wednesday. She was briefly suspended at her upper torso before she was pulled to safety by her aunt. DAVID COOPER / TORONTO STAR

If you want to prevent a Toronto Transit Commission Subway Train’s door from closing and prevent the train from moving forward – simply stand in the doorway of the subway train preventing the doors from closing (shutting) or ask another passenger to stop the subway train’s doors from closing (shutting) and this will stop the train from moving forward and will alert the driver of the emergency.

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The subway doors opened, and for a few terrifying moments, it was as if time stopped.

Shortly before 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening, Ava Buckareff, 4, was boarding the train at St. Clair station when she slipped through the gap between the southbound platform and the subway car. As her aunt and older brother looked on in horror, the child became suspended at her upper torso, her head and arm above the platform while the rest of her body dangled below.

The gap that exists between the train and the platform.  It is larger at some of the ends of the platform. Brad Ross, Spokesperson for the TTC, came up with some pretty glib and insensitive advice and comments in response to this near death experience for a tiny little 4-year-old girl. Ross described Wednesday’s incident as “distressing.” But he said no special instructions need be given to parents about boarding the train at the far ends of the platform with small children. “Get on anywhere you like on the train, but hold your child’s hand and help them onto the train to make sure they’re OK,” Ross said.
The gap that exists between the train and the platform. It is larger at some of the ends of the platform.
Brad Ross, Spokesperson for the TTC, came up with some pretty glib and insensitive advice and comments in response to this near death experience for a tiny little 4-year-old girl.  Ross described Wednesday’s incident as “distressing.” But he said no special instructions need be given to parents about boarding the train at the far ends of the platform with small children. “Get on anywhere you like on the train, but hold your child’s hand and help them onto the train to make sure they’re OK,” Ross said.  Perhaps Mr. Ross should attempt to put himself in the place of Ava & Esther Buckareff and attempt to correct this situation and put measures in place to prevent this from happening again. Warning parents that the gap is larger at each end of train, up to 15 cm’s, may be a great start.  Will the TTC let another child fall through the cracks?

 

“She could have fallen. Blink — and she would have been down,” recalls her aunt, Esther Buckareff.

Buckareff, who was still standing on the platform, bent down and scooped up her niece, grabbing hold of the little girl beneath her armpits and hoisting her into the train.

Who would have known, as a passenger riding the TTC's subway, that the GAP is smaller in some areas and larger in other area's, until this near tragic incident occurred.  The TTC should take steps, (other than letting their spokesperson Brad Ross make glib comments) to ensure this doesn't happen again.
Who would have known, as a passenger riding the TTC’s subway, that the GAP is smaller in some areas and larger in other area’s, until this near tragic incident occurred. The TTC should take steps, (other than letting their spokesperson Brad Ross make glib comments) to ensure this doesn’t happen again. 
The TTC says it is investigating why the driver didn’t hear the commotion, but says it has no plans to change station platforms.It will, however, install another warning sign at the St. Clair station. 

 

According to Buckareff, concerned passengers were banging on the glass to alert the driver, but those efforts went unnoticed. She said it was by a stroke of luck that when the chimes sounded and the doors slid shut, she was safely inside with both kids.

The TTC acknowledged The size of the gap between subway and platform vary depending on the station and section of the platform, from as small as 2.5 cm (roughly one inch) to as wide as 10 to 15 cm at the ends of certain platforms, where there is a “curvature of the track,” he said.
The TTC acknowledged that the size of the gap between subway and platform vary depending on the station and section of the platform, from as small as 2.5 cm (roughly one inch) to as wide as 10 to 15 cm at the ends of certain platforms, where there is a “curvature of the track,”. It will be interesting to see what steps, if any, the TTC will take in response to this very serious situation.

Although her niece is uninjured, she said the incident should serve as a warning.

“It was a near-horrible thing,” she said. “I’d like the gap repaired, because if Ava fell through, other kids could fall through.”

Brad Ross, spokesman for the TTC, said an investigation into the incident, which Buckareff detailed in an online complaint, is underway, but he acknowledged “it is plausible.”

The size of the gap between subway and platform vary depending on the station and section of the platform, from as small as 2.5 cm (roughly one inch) to as wide as 10 to 15 cm at the ends of certain platforms, where there is a “curvature of the track,” he said.

None of the signage that TTC has erected speaks to more danger of a child or pet falling through the gap at the ends of the trains, given that the "gap" is larger and therefore more dangerous in those areas.
None of the signage that TTC has erected speaks to more danger of a child or pet falling through the gap at the ends of the trains, where there is a “curvature of the track,” given that the “gap” is larger and therefore more dangerous in those areas. TTC’s Brad Ross had this to say “.. no special instructions need be given to parents about boarding the train at the far ends of the platform with small children. Mr. Ross may feel and react totally differently if it was his nephew which he snatched from the jaws of death.

 

The far end of the southbound platform at St. Clair station, where the incident occurred, is one of those places.

Although Ross said he didn’t know the exact measurement, he said, “It is bigger than average. There’s no doubt about it.”

The Star measured the gap on several different trains at that location on Thursday. It was between 10 cm and just over 15 cm.

Ross said the TTC has tried to narrow these gaps as much as possible, but these efforts are limited by the “tail swing” of the train.

“Building out a platform lip, while static, makes sense, but when a train is actually moving, we wouldn’t be able to achieve too much without the train clipping that build-out,” he said.

Ross said the TTC has installed emergency buttons inside trains and on the platform, and uses signs on every car to remind riders to “Mind the Gap.”

“Subway platforms do pose significant dangers and that’s why we have a number of safety features in the system,” he said.

Ross described Wednesday’s incident as “distressing.” But he said no special instructions need be given to parents about boarding the train at the far ends of the platform with small children.

“Get on anywhere you like on the train, but hold your child’s hand and help them onto the train to make sure they’re OK,” Ross said.

However, that’s not good enough for Buckareff, who said it’s unrealistic to expect that parents are “shackled to the wrist” of their children at all times.

When boarding the train on Wednesday evening, she said her niece and nephew sprinted ahead, anxious to get a spot at the very front of the car, so they could watch the tunnel out the window.

“If I were holding her hand, she either would have tripped into that hole, or she still may have fallen into it,” she said. “You don’t hold your child’s hand like you’re going to lose them for life.”

 

Toronto: City Councillor Wants “Made-in-Toronto” 3-Foot Rule to Protect Cyclists from Vehicles

Update:

The three (3) foot rule is by no means new, but it would definitely introduce the idea to motorists in Toronto, that cyclists need space to feel and be safe.  Chances are, that if this catches on with motorists and they accept it, it may reduce the number of cyclists on large bicycles from riding on the sidewalks in Toronto, endangering pedestrians.
The three (3) foot rule is by no means new, but it would definitely introduce the idea to motorists in Toronto, that cyclists need space to feel and be safe. Chances are, that if this catches on with motorists and they accept it, it may reduce the number of cyclists on large bicycles from riding on the sidewalks in Toronto, endangering pedestrians.

A Toronto city councillor wants drivers to give a mandatory three feet of space when passing a cyclist, or be fined.

see source

A pool of blood, a crumpled bicycle and the loss of two lives.

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam was affected by Jenna Morrison’s death last November. The 38-year-old woman was killed when her bicycle tire was clipped by a truck passing too closely. She was pregnant with her second child.

Now, the city councillor is seeking a provincial law requiring drivers to give cyclists three feet of space when passing them.

However, Wong-Tam doesn’t want to wait for the province to make it law and is requesting the city implement its own three-foot rule until the traffic act is changed and driver education and testing requirements updated.

“The issues around road safety they’ve been coming to a boil point,” she said of tensions on the roads. “We need to learn how to share the roads.”

While there is no three-foot rule in Canada, it’s the law in 39 states — Pennsylvania has a four-foot rule — and it comes with a fine in a number of them. Colorado motorists face a $110 penalty, while in Arizona drivers are fined only when they injure a cyclist (up to $500, $1,000 for a death).

Such a law would improve the relationship between motorists and cyclists, said Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle Toronto.

“We’ve got some cycling infrastructure and some fast streets that motorists and cyclists share,” he said. “It’s a low-cost method to send a fairly strong signal that motorists need to have caution when passing cyclists.”

Despite some success, a number of states have failed to pass similar legislation. And police don’t always pay attention to the law. In Florida, only 337 tickets were issued between 2006 and 2010, with police arguing the law is impossible to enforce.

The 3 foot idea will proceed to City Council on May 7, 2013
The 3 foot idea will proceed to City Council on May 7, 2013, where is will be tabled.

Last September, the three-foot rule garnered attention in California after Gov. Edmund Brown Jr. vetoed a proposed bill for a second time, citing liability issues if a driver must cross a double-solid line to pass a cyclist.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a similar bill in 2009, but nine cities have since implemented the distance rule. Houston is currently debating the issue; motorists there would be fined $500.

Vaguely written, Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act mandates that cyclists pull to the right and drivers to the left “so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision.”

In his 2012 review of 129 cycling deaths between 2006 and 2010, Ontario’s chief coroner said more than 26,000 people provincially visited an emergency room for cycling injuries in 2009 alone. Insufficient passing room was responsible for the majority of cycling deaths reviewed.

The coroner’s report has fallen by the wayside, said Wong-Tam.

“When the review came out in 2012, everyone made announcements and statements were made and then we haven’t heard anything else.”

Wong-Tam’s notice of motion needs a two-thirds vote from council to avoid referral to Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee where it would likely not survive. “This is an issue around public safety and I hope they can rally around it,” she said.

The motion will be tabled at the May 7 council meeting.

Toronto: Bike Station at Toronto City Hall Parking Lot Shelved After $650,000 Already Spent

Update:

Entrance to Parking Lot Under Nathan Phillips Square.
Entrance to Parking Lot Under Nathan Phillips Square.

see source

Underground parking located under Nathan Phillips Square. A bike station is supposed to be built in the City Hall parking garage, but plans hit a road bump when it was learned that the station would take up 24 parking spaces that would have potential revenue of $70,000 annually. The city spent $650,000 on a bike station under Nathan Phillips Square before the project was quietly shelved by staff in 2011, a decision some councillors say should have come back to council for approval. “That seems very strange,” said Councillor Paula Fletcher. “The scope of work for the Nathan Phillips Square revitalization is part of a pretty public restoration. That should have been reported out.” The station, with secure parking for 380 bikes, was a signature element in the revitalization and would have been one of the biggest in North America.
Underground parking located under Nathan Phillips Square.
A bike station is supposed to be built in the City Hall parking garage, but plans hit a road bump when it was learned that the station would take up 24 parking spaces that would have potential revenue of $70,000 annually.
The city spent $650,000 on a bike station under Nathan Phillips Square before the project was quietly shelved by staff in 2011, a decision some councillors say should have come back to council for approval.The station, with secure parking for 380 bikes, was a signature element in the revitalization and would have been one of the biggest in North America.

Designs for the City Hall bike station were complete and ready to be tendered when the project was quietly shelved by staff in 2011.

A bike station is supposed to be built in the City Hall parking garage, but plans hit a road bump when it was learned that the station would take up 24 parking spaces that would have potential revenue of $70,000 annually.

The city spent $650,000 on a bike station under Nathan Phillips Square before the project was quietly shelved by staff in 2011, a decision some councillors say should have come back to council for approval.

“That seems very strange,” said Councillor Paula Fletcher. “The scope of work for the Nathan Phillips Square revitalization is part of a pretty public restoration. That should have been reported out.”

The station, with secure parking for 380 bikes, was a signature element in the revitalization and would have been one of the biggest in North America.

Council approved $1.2 million in funding for the station in 2010. The $650,000 was spent on design as well as electrical and mechanical servicing. The remaining money, $550,000, is still sitting in the budget, said city spokesperson Natasha Hinds Fitzsimmins.

The project was revived last month at a government management committee meeting.

Both Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Doug Ford have said they will try to kill it when it comes up for approval at city council this month. They say the facility — complete with four shower stalls — is a waste of money and deprives the city of revenue-drawing parking spots. (The staffed station would charge fees for users but not earn a profit.)

“The Ford brothers should actually look at the drawings,” says Andrew Frontini, a member of the architectural team who won a design competition for the square.

The showers are made of concrete blocks and finished inside with the “most economical porcelain tile you can get but that you can still clean,” said Frontini. As well, the storage area for the bikes is basically a metal cage.

“We had more expensive versions,” he says, but the final design was “certainly not a cathedral to cycling. It’s basic infrastructure.”

Initial plans called for the station, which would accommodate 150 bikes, to be located underground on the east side of the square, but it was decided that getting bikes up and down using an elevator was too unwieldy for users.

It took months to draw up a new plan so that the facility, now with secure parking for 380 bikes, would be closer to the Queen St. W. entrance ramp into the parking garage.

The design was complete and drawings were ready to be tendered when transportation services became aware of a road bump in 2011.

The station would take up 24 parking spaces in the Toronto Parking Authority garage below City Hall, which would otherwise have potential revenue of $70,000 annually. All city departments had been told to cut 10 per cent from their budgets, and transportation services decided to defer the station until it could justify paying the parking authority the lost revenue, according to city staff.

A report from the city manager’s office done in 2012 at the request of Councillor Joe Mihevc says transportation services felt the bike station could be reinitiated if it was economically viable. But the department would wait to see how new bike stations coming online in the next two years fared before making a decision.

Mihevc said he only became aware the bike station wasn’t being built after talking to construction workers on the revitalization project.

“Everyone assumed (the station) was going in, and to find out how it somehow got cut is totally unsettling,” Mihevc says. “When I pursued the questions with staff, that’s when I found out it was cut.”

The division head “had the authority to defer this project to a future year without requiring city council approval,” city spokesperson Steve Johnston wrote in an email. “The project was not cancelled, just deferred and plans for the revitalization do not preclude the implementation of the bike station in the future.”

The bike station came back into play Monday after the committee passed a motion to waive the $70,000 potential revenue loss and direct transportation services to begin building the project.

The decision goes to council for approval on May 7.

T.T.C.: Wireless Network In The TTC Subway System (Yonge and Bloor & St. George Stations) By End of 2013

Update:

The TTC will introduce technology into the subway system which will allow passengers to use their cellphones.  The first two subway stations which will test this new technology will be Yonge and Bloor and St. George subway stations.
The TTC will introduce technology into the subway system which will allow passengers to use their cellphones. The first two subway stations which will test this new technology will be Yonge and Bloor and St. George subway stations.  Broadcast Australia will pay the TTC $25 million over a 20 year period to install this new technology in all 61 subway stations.

 

The TTC announced its Customer Charter on February 28, 2013.  The Charter was in the works for about a year before it was rolled out.

Under the TTC’s Charter, this is the first part out of six(6) parts – “Our Commitment – We will deliver”:

Our 2013 Charter commitment

  • In the fourth quarter, two subway stations will be Wi-Fi and cellular capable as prototype locations.

The TTC announced that at the end of 2013 that Wi-Fi and celluar capability will take place at the Yonge & Bloor station platform and St. George subway station platform and will eventually be rolled out in all 61 subway stations over a two year period.

The TTC is not sure that all phones will necessarily work in the subway tunnels, but believe that a signal could bleed into certain tunnels, allowing a signal to continue to work.
The TTC is not sure that all phones will necessarily work in the subway tunnels, but believe that a signal could bleed into certain tunnels, allowing a signal to continue to work.  They are sure that phones will be able to be used on subway platforms.

The TTC still believes that there will be “dead zones” where there will be no WiFi or cellular capability.

The TTC believes that customers will be able to talk on their cellphones on the station platforms, which may not extend to subway tunnels.  Some tunnels may have access to the signal, especially where the subway station tunnels aren’t very distant from the next subway station.

In October, 2012 the TTC accepted an offer from Broadcast Australia Pty. Ltd. (BA) to provide the cellphone service.  Broadcast Australia will provide the TTC with $25 million, over 20 years and $8,000 per station to access the needs of each particular station.

The TTC wants to ensure that the cellphone service installed in the Yonge/Bloor and St. George subway stations by year’s end will not interfere with the subway’s radio-based signaling system.