New traffic signal at Cosburn and Cedarvale gets green light after senior fatally struck
Jae Blue, 69, was hit in the crosswalk last December, leading residents to challenge the city's policy
A new traffic signal at Cosburn and Cedarvale Avenues was given the green light by city council this week after a 69-year-old woman was fatally struck in the East York intersection last year.
Coun. Janet Davis, whose ward includes the area, tabled the motion asking city staff to replace the pedestrian crossover on Dec. 14, 2016 — two weeks after Jae Blue was hit in the crosswalk by a pickup truck that was turning left.
The former teacher was on her way to a fitness class at the local community centre around 1:30 p.m. when she was struck.
Blue's sons, Scott and Bryan, worked with Davis to add a stoplight to keep other pedestrians safe because they felt the intersection was too "dangerous" the way it was marked.
"I'm hoping that moving forward the traffic light will help in the sense that another tragedy like befell my mom won't happen again," Scott said Wednesday.
"It's upping the level of safety for pedestrians at that intersection and it's kind of a bittersweet thing for me."
The intersection — located next to a Stan Wadlow Park, a hockey arena, community centre, skatepark, outdoor pool, curling club and elementary school — is well-used by pedestrians and sees a heavy volume of vehicles, Davis noted.
The brothers, who visited the intersection two days after their mother was killed, say they experienced this first-hand.
"We pressed the crosswalk light and three steps in we had to take a step back and yell at another driver to avoid being struck ourselves," Scott said in a statement presented to Toronto and East York Community Council in June, noting the driver made an identical turn to the one that hit his mother.
"The design of this intersection is dangerous. There must be improvements to the intersection to improve the pedestrian protection for the safety of all that use it."
This is a reality that Davis had been aware of for years.
She had repeatedly tried to get a traffic light installed, but was told by staff it didn't meet the criteria because it is too close to an existing signal at Cosburn and Woodbine Avenues.
Davis asked the city to revise its safety measures at the intersection for a third time following Blue's death.
I'm hoping that moving forward the traffic light will help in the sense that another tragedy like befell my mom won't happen again.- Scott Blue
As a result, transportation services analyzed the traffic warrant system — the policies that determine which roads and intersections throughout Toronto are recommended for road safety measures, such as crosswalks, stoplights and stop signs — which included a safety audit of the intersection.
The audit, released in April, found the installation of traffic control signals "was not justified" at the intersection because it is "generally operating safely."
"It was very frustrating because over that period of time there were many people who were requesting the city take some kind of action because of the near misses that happened at that intersection every day," said Davis.
Local residents disappointed with the city's decision launched a petition for traffic lights to be installed.
In July, Davis returned to city council with some 350 signatures from community members and the approval of Toronto and East York Community Council to overturn the decision.
"It was really a community effort to say this time we want to see a tangible outcome," she said.
"If we can prevent one more death, one more accident, one more injury by installing that light then we've all done the right thing."
Phil Pothen's children take skating lessons at the East York Memorial arena located at the corner of the intersection. The community activist and lawyer volunteered to collect signatures for the petition last June. He told CBC Toronto Wednesday that he is disappointed it took the city so long to replace the existing crosswalk.
"It's a real shame that that it took a woman in the community dying to get this changed," Pothen said.
The traffic light is set to be installed next year.
"I'm glad it's going in. I hope it makes things safer," said Scott.