Kingston Road Village residents raise traffic concerns

Kingston Road residents want to get a move on side street speeding and getting kids safely to school.

Speaking at a Feb. 26 traffic meeting for fellow residents of Kingston Road Village, Aaron McIntosh said too many drivers speed along Kingswood Road and Swanwick Avenue – side streets with family homes and several schools nearby.

“I live on the corner of Swanwick Speedway and Kingswood, and we want anything to avoid the near-misses we have once a week with screeching tires and people getting their kids out of the way,” said McIntosh.

“I see it, and I hear the arguments from my window with parents screaming at the drivers.”

Kingswood Road is the only local side street that connects busy Gerrard Street and Kingston Road without speed bumps or other traffic calming measures.

However, a city traffic study of Kingswood done in October recorded speeding that was two km/h short of the 50 km/h threshold for such measures. The limit on that part of Kingswood is 40 km/h.

Likewise, despite many complaints to police and a local petition, a recent police traffic survey found the crosswalk at Gerrard and Scarborough Road fails the criteria for a school crossing guard.

Sergeant Gary Olson of the local 55 Division said crossing guard requests are high-priority calls, but in this case, an officer logged just 16 elementary students using the Scarborough Road crosswalk on a school-day morning, and 15 had adults to guide them.

Olson also said a recent speeding patrol along that stretch of Gerrard turned up just two speeding tickets in six hours.

Across 55 Division, which extends from Victoria Park to the Don River, Danforth Avenue to Lake Ontario, police are looking at more than 50 intersections where residents have made traffic complaints.

“We’re inundated,” said Olson.

Of all the options, Olson said physical measures like adding speed bumps or narrowing streets with staggered parking spaces on either side seem most effective.

Ticketing campaigns often provoke angry reactions, he said, especially for parking, adding that such blitzes rarely change driver behaviour overall.

“I’ve come so close to actually having to arrest people for doing really stupid things when they get a ticket,” said Olson.

Local city councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon said her office can help residents start a petition on local traffic issues. If it gets 60 per cent support, city staff will do a traffic study, she said, noting that city council has a final say on many traffic measures.

Of all the traffic complaints in the Beach, McMahon said her office gets endless calls about speeding and drop-off jams in front of elementary schools such as Kew Beach and Bowmore.

“Unfortunately, some of the time, the same mom or dad who is asking for traffic calming on their street is the same one whipping around to get Betty from dance class and Johnny to soccer,” she said.

McMahon pointed to a recent TEDx video by Toronto’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, who cited US data showing that while most kids walked to school in 1969, just 12 per cent did by 2009.

McMahon said one answer is a “walking school bus.” On every block, she said, parents can find at least one older student or adult who can act as a street captain and lead younger kids to school.

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