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Eglinton Avenue is Toronto's deadliest street

Eight pedestrians have been killed along or near Eglinton this year. No other roadway's death tally comes close.

Eglinton Avenue East and Midland Avenue, where two pedestrians were killed in 2016.

Eduardo Lima/Metro

Eglinton Avenue East and Midland Avenue, where two pedestrians were killed in 2016.

Eglinton Avenue is officially Toronto’s deadliest street.

This year, eight pedestrians have been killed on, or adjacent to the east-west artery. No other roadway’s tally comes close.

The trail of pedestrian deaths extends as far west as Dufferin Street, but the majority of fatalities along Eglinton occurred in the east, where the road widens to as many as six lanes.

The victims include 63-year-old Grace Fryfogel, killed Oct. 20 at Eglinton and Hanna Road, as well as a construction worker run down Oct. 12 near Midland Avenue and an 81-year-old man in a mobility scooter, killed Oct. 5 at Eglinton and Winter Avenue.

Sadly, the stats didn’t come as a surprise to residents who live along the busy – but deadly – roadway.

“Scarborough is growing. There’s more homes, but somehow our roads haven’t kept up,” said Joy Robertson, president of the Scarborough Residents Unite neighbourhood association.

Robertson said there are too few pedestrian crossings along Eglinton Avenue East, forcing residents to walk long distances to cross safely, or risk crossing mid-block.

She’s particularly concerned about the area near Midland, where two pedestrians have been killed this year. The neighbourhood is home to a busy strip mall and a high school, “with kids rushing back and forth,” she said.

Robertson wants more crosswalks installed along Eglinton and called for automated enforcement cameras to stop “drivers turning hastily while people are crossing.”

Further west, Meghan Sherwin, a Leaside resident and founder of the Slow Down, Kids at Play organization, believes the ongoing construction of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT has made the road less safe.

“You’ve got a high volume of traffic and impatient drivers in really narrow lanes,” she said. “It’s confusing from a driver’s standpoint, and extremely complicated for cyclists and pedestrians to navigate.”

Two people have died along the stretch of Eglinton that runs through Leaside this year, including Fryfogel, as well as 85-year-old woman hit while crossing Bayview Jan. 15.

Sherwin said the two deaths should serve as a “call to arms” to Metrolinx to step up safety in their construction zones and ensure no more pedestrians perish.

Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins told Metro that neither the city nor police have found evidence that Crosstown construction contributed to any fatalities in 2016. 

“Safety is always our first priority,” Aikins wrote in an email. “Like any construction zone, people should take particular care when driving through the area; drivers are encouraged to slow down and watch for people on bikes and walking. We also encourage pedestrians to cross only at signalized intersections or crosswalks.”

Although the number of deaths on Eglinton stands out, the problems associated with the roadway are not new. Every year, dozens of pedestrians in Toronto are killed on major suburban arteries with wide lanes, high speeds, and few safe places to cross.

However, the city’s road safety plan largely ignores Eglinton. Save for a small portion in Etobicoke, speed limits on the road remain untouched, and it’s not included in the city’s list of pedestrian safety corridors, most of which are located downtown.

That may change as the safety plan gets reviewed in the new year, said Toronto’s manager of traffic safety, Roger Browne. He says the city is in talks with Metrolinx about folding safety improvements in to the ongoing LRT construction.

As well, the road safety plan’s emphasis on senior citizens could result in major changes on Eglinton, where the average age of this year’s victims was 75. The road, especially in the east, is home to some senior care facilities, and if the data shows they’re at risk, then Browne said speed limits could be lowered and additional pedestrian infrastructure built.

“The biggest challenge area we’re going to dive into is with respect to seniors,” Browne said. 

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