Students think safety

Budding engineers tackle problem of jaywalking at Bathurst and Finch intersection

With a history of being a dangerous place for pedestrians, the intersection of Bathurst Street and Finch Avenue W. is being studied by a group of first-year engineering students from the University of Toronto who decided to look at how they could make it safer.

“Safety is the whole point of engineering,” said University of Toronto engineer design professor Jason Foster. “We encouraged our students to leave the classroom and find out what safety issues exist in the city, and then we asked them to come up with solutions.”

Although measures have been taken to prevent motorists from hitting pedestrians, such as installing medians, not much has been done to address pedestrians who jaywalk says student Masha Itkina.

“We realized that most pedestrian accidents are caused by people jaywalking,” said Itkina. “We want to create a design which will address (the problems caused by jaywalking).”

Itkina, along with classmates Ryan Brown and Mark Zijlstra, designed high-visibility pedestrian barriers to be placed along the sidewalk, making it more difficult for pedestrians to cross out of turn.

“The barriers’ bars are placed so that when a vehicle is turning (the bars) line up and the drivers have maximum visibility of pedestrians,” said Itkina.

In addition to the barriers, the group said installing diamond-shaped signs that read “Pedestrians Watch Out For Turning Vehicles” at the corners of the intersections, will prevent jaywalking.

“The signs are big enough for you to read them from (1 km) away,” said Brown.

Another group proposed to extend the medians to create a safe island for pedestrians to wait. Student April Wang said the majority of pedestrians who are hit by cars are elderly and/or disabled.

“If you extend the median … then the trip to cross the intersection can be safely done in two parts,” said Wang. “This gives pedestrians a longer time to cross.”

Foster said the issue pedestrian safety at Bathurst and Finch was selected because it was evident there was a problem and a clear external interest.

“Today a representative from the community centre of the area came to see what was proposed,” said Foster. “Whether (any of the ideas) grow and become a reality is up to the students and the interested parties.”

About this article:

By: Manuela Garay-Giraldo
Posted: May 14 2012 6:42 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto