Say a little prayer for people who must regularly cross Lake Shore Blvd. at Bathurst St. on foot.

The city says it’s done just about all it can to make a traffic island near the middle of the intersection safe for pedestrians, and that “one or two bollards” will be put up at the east end of the island to protect people standing on it.

The city says not much can be done to improve safety for pedestrians who get stuck between green lights on a traffic island in the intersection of Lake Shore Blvd. and Bathurst St. People standing on the island will be sitting ducks if a vehicle speeding through the intersection loses control, which happened when these orange-and-black barriers were mowed down. (JACK LAKEY / Toronto Star)

How much of a shield would one or two bollards offer if a westbound car speeding through the intersection in the curb lane went out of control and crashed into the island?

Not enough.

Toronto Star’s “The Fixer” reported last Saturday on the concerns of reader Beth French about pedestrians who end up marooned on the island and are vulnerable to fast-moving traffic in the westbound curb lane of Lake Shore.

She described it as a “fatal accident waiting to happen,” noting that “flimsy” metal barriers at the east end of the island, no more than half a metre from the spot where people stand, have twice been mowed down since July.

The Fixer raised the safety issues with the city and got a reply from spokesperson Eric Holmes, who said the pedestrian crossing is “complex,” and that it was designed for people to stand on the island until a green light allows them to safely get to the other side.

“It’s based on a two-stage crossing (one for Lake Shore and one for Fleet St., at Bathurst), whereby pedestrians normally cross to the median on the first signal, then continue to cross when the next signal indicates it is safe to do so,” said Holmes.

In other words, the pedestrian component of the intersection was set up for people to stand on the island, since the “walk” signal isn’t long enough for people to get from one side to the other on just one green light.

He goes on to list “improvements that support pedestrian safety,” including signs that say the intersection “is a two-stage pedestrian crossing,” and that the length of the walk signal was increased in 2016, to give people more time to get across.

“Staff are currently looking to install a hazard marker and one or two bollards (depending on available space) at the tip of the median.

“Hazard markers would better advise and give warning to westbound motorists to stay to the left of the median,” and “bollards would improve protection for pedestrians who are on the median waiting to cross,” Holmes said.

Hazard markers will not deter a distracted driver fiddling with a cell phone or radio, while bollards are no more effective at protecting pedestrians from an out-of-control vehicle than a cigarette paper used to roll a joint.

French got the same note that The Fixer did, and said “I am stunned that anyone would write such a fatalistic assessment of this ‘complex’ crossing,” adding, “why can’t the island be fitted with cement barriers? Lives are at stake here.”

The Fixer team think the island is one of the most dangerous places in the entire city, and that designing the pedestrian component to strand people deliberately on the island is a colossal error.

If somebody gets killed, the city will have a lot of explaining to do.

And it will have to fork over a lot of cash if it gets sued.

Source: The Toronto Star