Councillors Jon Burnside and Josh Matlow delivered their Christmas gifts to Bayview Avenue a few weeks early: two new signs where Soudan Avenue and Parkhurst Boulevard meet.
Back-to-back accidents occurred at the notorious intersection in mid-November, so help arrived none too soon.
The signs instruct drivers that Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., lane-crossing left-turns onto Bayview from Soudan or Parkhurst are illegal, and, even more importantly, crossing Bayview from Soudan to Parkhurst or Parkhurst to Soudan is forbidden.
According to an employee at Parkers Dry Cleaners at the northwest corner, the day after installation of the new signs, Toronto’s finest nabbed about 30 drivers for infractions at the intersection.
That sounded promising, but I thought that after giving drivers two weeks to adapt, it might be worth monitoring the situation to see if the signs were having an impact absent police traps.
Yes, it was blisteringly cold and, yes, a snowstorm had begun, but this was nothing that doubling up in the long undies, sweaters, coats, tuques and gloves department could not handle. At 3 p.m. on Thursday December 15, I discreetly plunked down my tiny observation chair behind some guy wires in a snowbank.
Good and bad news
By 3:30 p.m. two things were apparent. One, at this rate I was going to freeze to death; And, two, there would be both good news and bad news to report.
The good news was that in a half-hour stretch only four cars had made illegal left turns. The bad news was that 50 vehicles had crossed Bayview — 60 percent from Soudan to Parkhurst and 40 percent Parkhurst to Soudan.
I considered drivers were simply unprepared to restrain their sign-defying behaviour in mid-afternoon. Maybe mid-rush-hour would be different. Also, the snowstorm may have distracted drivers and obscured visibility of the signs somewhat.
By 5 p.m. the snow had stopped and Bayview was slippery, but surprisingly clear. I resumed my post, but standing now, so I could stomp my feet to combat the frigidity. Technically this was late autumn. Sheesh!
I didn’t expect to see more of what I had seen earlier: school buses (mercifully empty) making the crossing, illegal crossers nearly colliding with illegal left-turners, determined crossers blithely holding up cars behind them by the dozen while waiting for a gap in the Bayview traffic stream, veritable convoys of five or six vehicles taking advantage of such a gap in stalled traffic, hapless crossers’ summer tires spinning ineffectually in the snow, and bolting cars having to slam on the brakes to avoid pedestrians crossing Soudan or Parkhurst.
Alas, 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. was worse, far worse. Eighty vehicles bolted across Bayview and another five made an illegal left turn. Motorists did seem to acknowledge the bad weather conditions and most of the illegal left-turning and Bayview-crossing was undertaken cooperatively.
I didn’t witness any really close calls.
Then again, I monitored only an hour’s worth of action. One hour: 139 infractions. A $100 ticket for each would have netted City Hall $13,900, and that’s for only one sixth of the period on weekdays when turnings and crossings are forbidden.
The full six hours, if my one hour of monitoring was representative, would have resulted theoretically in an astounding $83,400 haul.
So, let law-abiding motorists and pedestrians on that stretch of Bayview beware. After the briefest of respites, the Soudan/Parkhurst circus is back in town. The new signs that Burnside and Matlow took so much trouble to oblige City Hall to install are being ignored.
Not surprisingly, one day’s worth of ticketing following installation could not be expected to change behaviour. More enforcement by police is required. Without that, the notoriety of this intersection will continue to be well-deserved.
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