News / Toronto

Woman hit in Toronto's Little Italy dies of injuries

The woman becomes the 38th pedestrian death this year, after a rainy morning that saw several others hit. But should we really be blaming the weather?

The rain often gets the blame when pedestrians are hit on Toronto's streets, but urban designer Ken Greenberg says we need to change how they're designed.

Torstar News Service file

The rain often gets the blame when pedestrians are hit on Toronto's streets, but urban designer Ken Greenberg says we need to change how they're designed.

A 69-year-old woman hit late Thursday in Little Italy has become the city’s 38th pedestrian death of the year.

The woman — hit by two drivers traveling in opposite directions on College near Palmerston — was one of 14 pedestrians struck

between 6 p.m. Wednesday and 8:30 a.m. Thursday, less than two weeks after 10 were injured during a dark, rainy dawn in late October.

The numbers have led to many calling for both drivers and pedestrians to be more careful, especially in wet weather.

But Ken Greenberg, a Toronto urban designer and principal at Greenberg Consultants, said it’s the design of our streets, not a few raindrops, that are the real problem.

He points to four things that could be changed to improve safety —no matter the forecast.

Crosswalks

Make crosswalks more visible in terms of colours, markings and materials used, Greenberg said.

This way, it would be easier for drivers to see pedestrians in and around them, in any kind of weather.

Kill the fat curb

Decreasing the radius on curbs gives walkers a leg up, Greenberg said.

The bigger the curb, the more time it takes pedestrians to fully cross the street, which, of course, means they’re in the intersection longer.

Smaller curbs also encourage drivers to slow down when making turns, he said.

Shine a light

Better and more lighting at intersections would also give safety a boost, said Greenberg.

Rain and darker mornings combine for a “perfect storm” that exaggerates the problem “but the problem is there all the time,” he said.

Crosswalk countdowns

Under the Highway Traffic Act, you’re not supposed to step out into the intersection when the countdown is flashing, which Greenberg said is impossible in many spots unless “you’re sprinting and you’re an agile 25-year-old.”

New York City, he noted, has already scrapped this law, as many drivers were using it as a way to defend themselves as having the right of way in court after hitting pedestrians in intersections.

If Toronto did the same it would give pedestrians more time to safely cross, he said.

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