Parkdale parent says parked cars are problematic on street where child was hit
Safety concerns growing on Macdonell Avenue over reduced visibility for drivers
This fall, CBC Toronto is examining the city's riskiest roadways and searching for solutions. If there's an unsafe street, intersection, or sidewalk in your neighbourhood, tell us about it by e-mailing: email@example.com
Macdonell Avenue isn't exactly a main thoroughfare.
The north-south street in Parkdale, which runs parallel to Lansdowne Avenue, is quiet compared to its neighbouring street to the east. But the family-filled stretch is bustling during the morning school drop-offs, the lunch time pick-ups, and evening rush home — which means a lot of drivers and pedestrians, including kids, often fill the one-way street.
It was also the scene of one traumatic incident earlier this year. In early March, a four-year-old girl was hit and injured, when neighbours say a vehicle was turning onto Macdonell Avenue from Pearson Avenue, an east-west side street.
The incident happened around midday, and the driver remained on scene. Police have not said if any charges are warranted.
It's not clear what caused that crash — but some residents have long warned the cars parked along the same side of the road where traffic flows from the side streets makes it tricky for drivers to spot pedestrians.
So is a new parking arrangement the fix?
For close to nine years, Sara Krynitzky — a mother of three — has been living on Macdonell Avenue and walking with her family around the neighbourhood.
She says it was "terrifying" to find out a child was hit by a car earlier this year. "It could've well been one of my kids riding their bike to a friend's house," she adds.
Krynitzky's home is on the west side of the street, which features a row of parked cars. It's also the same side of the street where side streets flow in and out, bringing traffic and pedestrians.
That combo got her wondering: Why are parked cars blocking the line of sight for all the drivers and pedestrians criss-crossing from those side streets?
"It's getting more and more dangerous," she said.
In this map, the yellow flags denote areas of concern flagged by readers. The red symbols indicate places where pedestrians have been struck and killed in 2019.
Road safety advocate and environmental lawyer Albert Koehl says the decades-old decision to allow parking on a certain side of the street didn't take into account the size of many popular modern vehicles like pick-up trucks and SUVs — which block pedestrians far more than older, smaller sedans.
Walking around Macdonell Avenue, he points out other issues as well: A speed sign, outlining the latest change to 30 km/h, is totally blocked from drivers' view by a tree. And, he notes, several intersections along the street don't have stop signs, which could help slow traffic down.
"Over the last 70 years we've designed our streets to move as many cars as possible, and now we're seeing the consequences of that," Koehl says.
Koehl says the city should consider implementing some design changes, like more stop signs to slow traffic and, at the very least, trim trees to make sure speed signs are visible.
But the long-standing battle over how to fix the street has been primarily about parking spots.
Krynitzky has launched a petition, calling on her neighbours to back moving the parked cars from the west side of the street to the east side, where there are no side streets connecting to Macdonell Avenue.
"It just means that when kids and adults are walking... they will have better view of the traffic," Krynitzky says. Drivers will also have an easier time spotting people walking without cars blocking their view, she adds.
"I feel like there are simple solutions that can be done, like moving parking from one side of the street to the other to improve visibility, that can be done for free," she says.
However, over the last decade, other neighbours tried — and failed — to gain enough community support from more than half of the street's residents, a bar city hall requires before making this kind of change.
The ward's councillor, Gord Perks, says people on Macdonell Avenue "overwhelmingly" rebuffed the idea at least twice.
The city does design parking rules to make sure sight lines are clear, and reduced speeds in downtown areas to 30 km/hour, he says. Having on-street parking can also slow down drivers further by forcing them to navigate a tighter roadway, Perks continues.
"We should go and take another look, if we're on the right side and that helps," he adds. "But I would be absolutely opposed to removing any of the parking there."
Krynitzky, who doesn't back removing street parking entirely, is baffled by the resistance and red tape.
"It's a simple, administrative change," she says. "It's low hanging fruit that doesn't cost any money."