Beach residents who want a pedestrian crossing on Woodbine Avenue between Kingston Road and Queen Street East hope the sixth time is the charm.
After a unanimous vote by the Toronto and East York Community Council, a plan to install a set of pedestrian-controlled traffic lights on Woodbine just north of Norway Avenue will go to Toronto City Council in early October.
Identical to the traffic lights on Lake Shore Boulevard just west of the Donald D. Summerville pool, the new crossing would cost about $100,000 and could be installed as early as next spring.
The idea has come up before.
Residents in the Beach Triangle area have called for some kind of Woodbine crossing at least five times since 1998. But this is the first such plan to make it to city council.
“Maybe six is the magic number,” says Todd Harrison, who led a ‘Walk Across Woodbine’ campaign that collected more than 100 signatures this summer and prompted Ward 32 councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon to take up the issue.
‘Frogger’ jokes aside, Harrison said walking directly across the five-lane road at rush hour is no fun for him nor his neighbours, not to mention his three and six year-old children.
And using a light to cross means a long detour on a round trip, he said – the closest traffic lights, at Kingston Road and Queen Street, are 560 metres apart.
“It’s not reasonable to expect pedestrians to walk a kilometre out of their way to cross the street,” said Harrison.
Councillor McMahon said she does not have all the details, but it’s likely that previous attempts to get a Woodbine crossing failed because councillors were unwilling to push for it after traffic studies found few people trying to cross the road on foot.
Traffic engineers counted just 51 people walking across Woodbine between Hartford and Columbine Avenue during workday hours on June 5 – far below the 200-person minimum that is technically required for a pedestrian signal.
But given how unsafe Woodbine is for pedestrians, McMahon said those numbers are no surprise.
“It’s one of these things like bike lanes or bike racks – if you build it, they will come,” she said.
McMahon said she had originally hoped the crossing could go halfway between Kingston Road and Queen Street.
But to avoid blocking driveways or creating a full intersection that would send rush-hour traffic through the Triangle, traffic engineers said the best place for a crossing is 40 metres north of Norway Avenue.
That is a welcome compromise for Harrison and everyone else who rides the 92 bus, which has a stop nearby.
“As a resident, I’ve been astounded by the amount of complexity that goes into a decision like this,” he said.
“But ultimately good ideas will out.”