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'Impatient' pedestrians to blame at downtown intersections: Toronto Police

Toronto police spokesman suggets leaving for work earlier rather than stepping on the street during countdown.

A Toronto police officer argues with pedestrians Tuesday after they were told not to cross Front and Simcoe streets as the walk signal counted down to zero.

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A Toronto police officer argues with pedestrians Tuesday after they were told not to cross Front and Simcoe streets as the walk signal counted down to zero.

People walking to work, not drivers, are proving the biggest problem at several downtown intersections targeted for a pilot project to curb traffic congestion, police say.

Officers will be at eight key intersections during morning and afternoon rush hours for the next four weeks in a bid to stop illegal turns and ease blocked lanes.

Police spokesman Const. Clint Stibbe said many people at Front and Simcoe streets and Front and University — two of the intersections being monitored — have been stepping off the curb during the pedestrian crossing signal countdown, something that's prohibited under the Highway Traffic Act.

“The car is not the one committing the offences, it’s the pedestrians,” Stibbe told Metro Tuesday, the day after the pilot project launched. “Unfortunately, individuals who are impatient, for lack of a better description, are finding that they’re going to take that chance and step on to the roadway.”

For Stibbe, it’s an issue of commuters not leaving enough time to get to their offices in the morning.

“A lot of people are running so tight on the clock that, now that we start having these types of rules being monitored and enforced and we’re stopping individuals from crossing, they’re getting frustrated,” he said.

Stibbe said each intersection is different and in other parts of the city, such as Yonge and Sheppard, drivers are more of a problem. Police have also noticed construction companies blocking lanes during rush hour, which they are not supposed to do, he added.

Maureen Coyle of the pedestrian advocacy group Walk Toronto called Stibbe’s comments “victim blaming.”

“The fact is that pedestrians are not responsible for killing pedestrians, it is the drivers who are killing people,” she said.

Michael Back, a cofounder of the group, said the police are setting a double standard.

“Why aren’t they advising motorists to give themselves a little extra time in getting to the office in the morning?” he asked.

“Why don’t we start actually looking at the design of our streets, how they could be changed to make pedestrian crossing safer?”

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