Safety concerns abound at 'chaotic' spot where Eglinton meets Allen Road
Intersection 'designed to be dangerous,' says road safety advocate calling for a fix
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There's a lot going on where Eglinton Avenue West hits Allen Road.
The area marks the spot where two main thoroughfares meet. It's been the scene of years-long construction for the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit line. And it's home to the bustling Eglinton West subway station.
Even on a good day, many residents wind up snarled in traffic while driving — or feeling anxious trying to cross the road as pedestrians.
So what's the fix? Is it merely waiting until construction dies down, or could something be done sooner to boost safety?
When you talk to pedestrians making their way to the Eglinton West subway station during the morning rush hour, many have noticed safety issues, be it a confusing signal system at the intersection or a high number of drivers speeding through a right turn from the Allen onto Eglinton Avenue.
And those turns are happening constantly at the T-shaped intersection, where visibility for both the drivers and pedestrians is low.
"A little bit of concern is that blind spot when people are turning right," says resident Danielle Kelly. "A lot of drivers aren't paying attention."
It's thanks to construction work happening for the Crosstown, which means the north-west corner of the intersection, where large numbers of pedestrians often wait to cross over to the subway station, is surrounded by fencing and concrete barriers.
Coun. Josh Matlow, whose ward stretches north to Eglinton Avenue West, says based on what he's heard from residents — and his own experiences at the intersection — it's a "chaotic and dangerous" place.
Close calls are a "daily occurrence," echoes Patricia Wood, a road safety advocate and geography professor at York University, who lives in the neighbourhood and walks to the intersection's subway access point every weekday morning.
"It's unpredictable," she says. "There are poor sight lines, the signalling prioritizes drivers ... It really sets things up so that pedestrians are not seen, and not safe."
Wood says a few simple design changes could boost pedestrian safety at the bustling crossing.
A pedestrian signal that starts before a green light for cars, or a "scramble" crossing where pedestrians are given exclusive access to the intersection from all corners, are both options to reduce the conflict between people and cars, she explains.
She also recommends building out the walkway area with concrete barriers where cars are zooming around the low-visibility north-west corner.
To Matlow, what's needed most are off-duty police officers or traffic wardens at the site "on a continuous basis" to keep traffic moving smoothly and safely.
"It's not set up in a reasonable way that can go unsupervised," he says.
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.
CBC Toronto brought the concerns to Metrolinx, the provincial agency tasked with building the Crosstown through its contractor, Crosslinx. Metrolinx responded that safety is a priority.
A detailed traffic and transit management plan — which includes a focus on pedestrians — was prepared to ensure road safety, and it's continually monitored and adjusted as needed, according to spokesperson Jamie Robinson in a statement.
In this case, the plan is not to deter pedestrians, but rather to provide safe alternative routes, which may be less convenient than normal because of the construction setup, he continued.
Already, Robinson said efforts have been made to address concerns, including painting lines to better show pedestrian crossings and placing barrels at the north-west corner to "corral pedestrians."
He also says Crosslinx "regularly" hires paid-duty officers for disruptive work like lane or sidewalk closures. "However, it is difficult to secure [them]," he added, because often the officers aren't available or don't show up.
But Wood says the barrels don't protect anyone when compared to a solid barrier, and Matlow says without supervision on the site, safety problems could pop up.
More, both agree, needs to be done.
"The way the crossing is signalled and set up, it's actually designed to be dangerous," Wood says.