Toronto looks to improve pedestrian safety in Coxwell-Gerrard area

Transportation Services to conduct a review of the area

Beach Mirror
Joanna Lavoie

Megan Sheremata feels it’s just a matter of time before someone is killed while trying to cross Coxwell Avenue between Upper Gerrard Street East and The Danforth.

Sheremata didn’t realize this stretch was so dangerous until she started walking her three-year-old son, Hugo, to Le Chaperon Rouge daycare just south of the CN Rail bridge. Cars regularly speed up and down the busy thoroughfare. The two pedestrian crossings on the route are often ignored. And sight lines are terrible, she said.

“I just moved here a few years ago and this traffic thing makes me want to leave. It’s frightening,” she said.

“There are real problems. I’m 100 per cent positive that someone’s going to die.”

‘It’s great that people want to walk to school and the city should be supporting that’
– Councillor Paula Fletcher

Late last year, Sheremata contacted her local councillor, Paula Fletcher to discuss her concerns.

On Thursday, Jan. 19, a staff member from Fletcher’s office and an engineer from Transportation Services attended a walkabout along that stretch of Coxwell Avenue, which is flanked by several schools and daycare centres.

Neighbouring Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon, who couldn’t make it to the walkabout, said pedestrian safety is a top priority and she’ll work with Fletcher to address concerns on Coxwell Avenue.

“I’m happy to support any road safety issues, especially kids walking to school,” she said.

On Monday, Fletcher penned a letter to Dave Twaddle, the city’s Director of Transportation for Toronto and East York.

In the note, she pointed to some of the solutions discussed during the recent walkabout: lowering the height of the lights at the Coxwell/Rail Bridge crosswalk to make them more visible, increasing signage on the north side of the rail bridge, and moving the crossing further south.

Fletcher also asked Twaddle to have a “Watch Your Speed” trailer installed as a temporary safety measure.

“It’s great that people want to walk to school and the city should be supporting that,” Fletcher said, adding a big part of the solution is driver awareness.

Anne Khan, the city’s manager of traffic operations for Toronto and East York District, agreed.

“At the end of the day, there’s no silver bullet. There is a lot that engineering can do but a lot of it is driver behaviour,” she said.

Transportation Services will also be doing a review of the area, looking at drivers’ speed, as well as the volume of motorists on Coxwell.

“Our goal is to keep traffic moving at a decent speed,” she said.

Ward 15 TDSB Trustee Jennifer Story is also concerned about the traffic “chaos” on Coxwell Avenue.

“Something has to be done and we need the police service’s help,” she said Monday night.

 “I have received many letters and telephone calls from worried parents concerned about the unsafe conditions and potential for serious incidents as their children travel to and from school,” she wrote in a letter to Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders, pointing to two recent collisions involving students from Earl Haig Junior Public School.

Const. Jon Morrice of 55 Division said despite concerns from the public, that stretch of Coxwell Avenue doesn’t have a high number of collisions, but did say complaints have started to come in about drivers speeding on Coxwell Avenue.