With the City of Toronto looking to upgrade the Belt Line Trail, St. Paul’s Councillor Josh Matlow is looking to ensure road crossings along busy roads are made safer.
Matlow has requested a report from Toronto’s transportation staff examining the impacts of installing traffic signals where the trail meets arterial roads in certain locations.
The councillor wants the crossings to be synchronized with existing traffic lights near major intersections.
“This is the outcome of conversations with residents around Oriole Park, Avenue Road and Bathurst Street, and they all have similar situations,” he said. “The Belt Line stops at one side of the street and continues on the other side, but the crossing is several metres away from the (existing) stop light.”
While trail users would ideally take a slight detour to walk to the existing traffic light, Matlow noted many do not do so. Many will jaywalk, putting themselves at greater risk of being hit by a moving vehicle.
“It’s a safety concern for me and it’s one that I think would be diminished if the Belt Line was genuinely contiguous,” he said.
In a request for a report submitted to the city, Matlow noted he and fellow Councillor Joe Mihevc would like to see synchronized crossing near where Chaplin Crescent meets Oriole Parkway, Chaplin Crescent meets Avenue Road and Roselawn Avenue meets Bathurst Street.
“I’ve been hearing (concerns from residents) since I came into office, mostly from bicyclists and young moms and dads,” Matlow said.
He is asking for any crossings that are installed to be synchronized with existing traffic signals to ensure traffic continues to flow rather than forcing drivers to stop at a crossing only to have to stop at an intersection a short while later.
While the city has placed a priority on improving the Belt Line Trail, looking at crossings has only been one element staffers have looked at. Much of the focus has been on improving the trail itself, with the public weighing in on ways to protect the surrounding area from harm from trail users, installing lighting in certain areas and other elements.
“I wanted to make (crossings) more of a priority so I decided to bring a motion to council to get it done,” Matlow said.
Matlow’s request for a report from transportation staff on the matter was adopted at Toronto and East York Community Council’s Tuesday, Jan. 23 meeting. Staff have been asked to submit the report in time for the March 2013 meeting of Toronto and East York Community Council.