Photo Credit: City of Toronto – Proposal Plan
Traffic signals to be constructed by the end of 2020
Isabel Armiento, Editor-in-Chief
In an ongoing effort to improve pedestrian safety across the University of Toronto (U of T) campus, three new traffic signals and corresponding pedestrian crossovers will be constructed on Queen’s Park Crescent by the end of 2020, adding to the current six crossing sites. This will improve student and pedestrian safety at this popular jaywalking site which links St. Michael’s College and Victoria College to Queen’s Park, the gateway to the rest of the U of T campus. The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) has previously announced its support of the project.
Emily Wong, Advisor of Constituency and Special Projects in Councillor Mike Layton’s office, told The Mike, “We’re hoping that the signals can be installed by the end of the year, though to my knowledge there is currently an installation backlog.” The Toronto City Council approved the proposed traffic signals in December 2019, and the cost of construction is estimated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) at a potential $360,000.
The speed limit of Queen’s Park Crescent West — the space between the northern and southern legs of Queen’s Park — is 50 km/hour. Nonetheless, researchers from CBC Toronto found that most cars on the road were exceeding this limit, some driving as fast as 76 km/hour. According to the TTC, Queen’s Park Crescent West is crossed by approximately 28,000 vehicles daily, making it a potentially dangerous area for pedestrians.
The traffic lights, which have been approved, will be established in three places along the road: 66 metres north of the southern edge of Queen’s Park Crescent, 140 metres south of Hoskin Avenue crossing Queen’s Park Crescent, and crossing Queen’s Park Crescent’s northern edge. The lights are expected to be constructed come the end of 2020.
A study by the TTC found these three points to have the highest pedestrian crossover volume on Queen’s Park Crescent West, in part because of the influx of pedestrians crossing from St. Michael’s College and Victoria College. Transportation Services recommended the implementation of these proposed pedestrian crossovers and traffic lights at these locations, both because of the surrounding U of T campus and because of the Ontario Legislative Building located on Queen’s Park — both of which have large volumes of pedestrian traffic.
Councillor Mike Layton announced that plans for the traffic lights include a manual triggering system, in which the traffic light will not switch at regular intervals, but only when a pedestrian is waiting to cross. The proposed pedestrian crossovers would offer a way around Queen’s Park, rather than through it, which would work to improve student safety by providing this alternate route for students crossing Queen’s Park at night. This would be a relief to students, many of whom have expressed feeling unsafe in Queen’s Park at night or have reported episodes of threatened violence.
This project aligns with the U of T St. George (UTSG) Campus Secondary Plan, which aims to emphasize pedestrian environments and student safety on campus. This includes other efforts to pedestrianize the U of T campus within the scope of the UTSG Campus Secondary Plan, as well as more specifically to pedestrianize the St. Mike’s campus. This change will not only improve student and pedestrian safety, it will also encourage more sustainable campus practices through supporting pedestrianization movements.
The 95 Action Group, a local resident group supportive of the project, is also petitioning to pedestrianize St. Joseph Street. St. Joseph Street is home to St. Mike’s residences, St. Basil’s parish, the Kelly Library, and other classroom buildings. This is part of a greater movement to improve student safety and cultivate community growth and culture. Sign the petition here to turn the St. Mike’s community into a fully pedestrianized, motor vehicle-free, safe space.
The Mike reached out to UTSU for comment.