A tip for GTA pedestrians in that surging metal jungle out there
At the risk of making the Decoder sound like Pollyanna, I'd like to pass on an idea that occurred during a personal experience a couple of days ago. The news on the streets of Toronto (and the GTA) has been tragic this year, and we've even had a story suggesting jaywalking is part of the Toronto culture. In the past month, 14 pedestrians have been killed trying to cross streets around the GTA.
Here's what happened to me: At dusk, I was waiting for the light to change to cross Danforth at a light, heading south. An elderly couple stood beside me, he with a cane, she with a fur collar and cheery little hat. I pushed the button to hurry the green light along (you know, the one that doesn't do anything) and, some time later, the light began the countdown, 9,8, 7, etc. When it got to 0, I slid by foot forward awaiting the imminent "Walk" sign. At that moment, the man threw his arm around my shoulder and the woman croaked, "Stop, stop, you'll be KILLED!"
Now, I wasn't going to cross on a red but they didn't know that. What had happened was the light counted down to 0, but instead of turning amber, then red, went green again to allow more east-west traffic. There are no streetcar tracks on the Danforth, so it couldn't have been a TTC driver changing the light back. We had to wait through an entirely new cycle of traffic. Thanks a lot, TTC.
Meanwhile, the couple talked about how horrible the pedestrian deaths have been until the light finally changed and we headed across. I heard them calling after me, "Now, be careful."
Here's a thought: Maybe we could keep an eye out for each other. Now, nobody wants some strange alien grabbing at them at crosswalks. This isn't an invitation for safety vigilantes to roll up their sleeves and go to work. But if you see someone you think is about to head into traffic against the light or preparing for a dangerous dash without crosswalk or light, perhaps a fast, loud word of warning would be helpful. If you're wrong, no harm done. It was sweet of old couple to be so solicitous; I didn't mind at all.