The sounds of screeching brakes, car horns, and occasional ambulance sirens during rush hours are the all-too frequent scene these days at the intersection of Bayview Ave. and Parkhurst Blvd., Leaside’s newest accident hot spot.
This been an increasingly fraught intersection for some time, and it’s getting worse. Drivers try to avoid the LRT construction along Eglinton by using Parkhurst. They cut straight across or block Bayview’s north- and southbound traffic lanes to drive westward into Soudan (or, vice-versa, eastward along Soudan onto Parkhurst). Other drivers attempt left turns despite limited visibility of oncoming Bayview traffic; still others try to jockey into the only northbound lane on Bayview, around parked cars.
To add to the chaos, a badly-located pedestrian-crossing at the Bayview and Parkhurst/Soudan intersection further complicates the scene. Trying to negotiate your way on foot or bicycle is not for the faint-hearted.
In recent months, the City installed traffic signs at Parkhurst to try to limit some of the more dangerous turning movements, but signage relies on frequent – and regular – enforcement to be effective, and the police cannot be on the scene all the time. Those signs are routinely ignored.
Are traffic lights the answer?
Traffic lights may seem like a simple solution, but there may be downsides. And other safety measures could be more effective.
If we think we’re seeing problems now, consider this: traffic light locations encourage drivers to accelerate to reach the corner before the light changes. This leads to more sudden braking and rear-enders. (Interestingly, the City of Toronto website offers statistics showing that the majority of accidents at cross streets occur at signalized intersections.)
Since the Leaside-area section of LRT construction began, safety at this location has worsened. Car volumes have increased on both Parkhurst and Soudan. Drivers seek alternatives to Eglinton. This trend will continue once the RioCan construction at Sunnybrook Plaza begins. It will increase if turning movements north from Eglinton onto Bayview are restricted. Also, remember that the Eglinton Connects plan will permanently reduce the width of Eglinton by one lane.
The ‘natural alternative’ to Eglinton is already Parkhurst and Soudan. Installing traffic lights where those streets meet Bayview will encourage and facilitate more turns and straight-through traffic, but formalizing these local collector roads as a quasi-arterial substitute for Eglinton, thus attracting even more cars. Soudan and Parkhurst could become the route of choice from Yonge to Laird.
Recently there’s been much debate within Leaside and Davisville Village (and in Leaside Life) arguing the pros and cons of signalizing this intersection. Petitions in opposition are being widely circulated.
Those favouring a traffic light generally rely on the traffic study done in 2014 by engineering consultants for The Brown Group, the developer behind a seven-storey mixed use building planned on the west side of Bayview between Hillsdale and Soudan.
While that report confirms increased and smoother future traffic flow along Parkhurst and Soudan, it does not deal with the key issue, which is traffic safety. Nor does it address adverse and serious longer-term effects on the immediate area and the community as a whole.
This winter we’ll present our traffic consultant’s neighbourhood-wide recommendations for a traffic-calming plan which increases safety not only at the Parkhurst-Bayview intersection but throughout Leaside. Stay tuned.
Our Annual General Meeting is on Wed., Nov. 29th (7:30 p.m. in the William Lea Room, Leaside Gardens). You are welcome to attend our regular monthly board meetings, on the first Wed. of each month (7:30 p.m. in the Trace Manes Building; the next meeting will be on Wed., Dec. 6th).