Making it safer for pedestrians in Toronto's busy Entertainment District
As the former nightclub district transforms into a residential neighbourhood, Grace Ki is fighting for more pedestrian infrastructure.
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Like her neighbours in Toronto’s bustling Entertainment District, Grace Ki likes to walk.
She just wishes she could do so safely.
“There’s thousands of people using these streets every day,” the 26-year-old says. “You don’t feel safe when cars are screeching to a stop, or if they’re not respecting the crosswalks – or worse, when there’s no crosswalk to respect.”
As the vice-president of her condo board, Ki is working with the city to improve pedestrian safety in her neighbourhood. Thousands of residents have moved in to the Entertainment District in recent years, and she thinks it’s time for the roads to catch up.
“When people are crossing mid-block or jaywalking, it doesn’t mean they’re breaking the law, it means the infrastructure hasn’t developed to reflect usage,” she said.
Ki believes the neighbourhood needs more pedestrian crosswalks. In particular, she’s pushing for a crossing to be installed at Richmond and Simcoe streets.
“Even with the fully signalized crossing at University, people are still crossing at Simcoe,” she said. “But there’s no zebra crossing, no crossover, nothing.”
Ki has recently recruited Coun. Joe Cressy to the cause. The Ward 20 councillor represents the Entertainment District and says the area needs “streets designed for the people who live there, not just cars flying through.”
Fortunately, the city has identified both Richmond and Adelaide streets as pedestrian priority corridors under the new road safety plan. The speeds have already been lowered to 40 km/h on both streets, and Cressy said the city is looking at ways to “expedite” the installation of a traffic light at Richmond and Simcoe.
“If streets are about moving people and moving people safely, you need to look at them as a grid,” Cressy said. “So, if there’s a fault in the grid, you identify it and fix it.”
Did you know?
Upwards of 50 per cent of residents in Toronto’s downtown core walk to work, according to data from Statistics Canada.