East York woman's death prompts action on Toronto crosswalk rules
Policies about installing traffic lights at dangerous intersections called into question
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Two weeks after his mother was killed crossing the road in East York, Scott Blue is struggling to process the grief.
“I’m still crying daily,” he said. “We loved our mother to the ends of the Earth. We’re devastated.”
Jae Blue, 69, was walking to a fitness class Dec. 1 when she was hit and killed by a left-turning pickup truck driver in the crosswalk at Cosburn and Cedarvale avenues.
“We’ve been told the driver just didn’t see our mother,” said Scott’s brother, Brian.
The brothers have since met with their local councillor, Ward 31’s Janet Davis, and inquired about installing a traffic light at the intersection to prevent future tragedies.
However, in a bid to avoid slowing down cars, city rules restrict the distance between traffic lights and the brothers have been told the intersection where their mother died is too close to an existing signal at Cosburn and Woodbine.
Brian and Scott visited the intersection this week, and said they saw left-turning drivers focused on traffic rather than pedestrians in the crosswalk. In one case, they said they were almost hit while crossing the street.
“We understand the city has bylaws and whatnot, but they should investigate these situations on a case-by-case basis,” Brian said. “That intersection is dangerous; it’s not a safe place to cross.
“If the driver didn’t see our mother, then there’s a good chance they wouldn’t have seen a child.”
Davis described the intersection as “busy” and said constituents have frequently reported crashes or near misses to her office. She’s tried repeatedly to get a traffic light installed but to no avail.
City rules “bias traffic flow over safety,” Davis said, something she’s learned over her 13 years as a councillor.
“Safety concerns don’t get addressed,” she said. “The assumption is that you don’t want to hold up traffic on busy streets.”
Davis wants to change that.
She submitted a motion Wednesday asking staff to re-examine the criteria for installing crosswalks and traffic lights. The plan was approved by council and a report is expected in the first quarter of 2017.
In the meantime, the Blue brothers will continue to fight for a light at the intersection so that no one else dies there.
“I don’t want anyone else or their family to go through this. It sucks,” Scott said.
"She never stopped teaching"
Jae Blue was a retired teacher, but according to her sons “she never stopped teaching.”
She had started a small garden-tending business and taught gardening classes. She also tutored local children.
“She was really just getting into the groove and enjoying retirement. She was constantly busy,” said her son, Scott.
Scott, 38, and his brother Brian, 34, say they’ve been “overwhelmed” by the amount of support shown by their mother’s neighbours since her Dec. 1 death.
“We knew she was a caring woman, but it’s nice to know that she was cared for and that she’ll be missed by a lot more people than just our immediate family,” Brian said.