Pedestrians: Damned If You Do...

By Ben Bull
Published February 01, 2010

More pedestrian tomfoolery on the streets of Toronto this week. This time, despite one of the victims crossing at a green light, it appears she was still to blame for the unfortunate altercation:

Police say [the victim] was knocked to the ground around 6 a.m. while crossing the intersection on a green light. The bus was turning left and the driver, a 57-year-old woman, told police she didn't see the pedestrian.

Although the woman was crossing the street legally, Const. William Wang said she should have been more aware of her surroundings.

Quite right, Constable. How was the poor bus driver supposed to avoid her if she wasn't paying attention? Let's hope they issue her a ticket as soon as she recovers from her injuries.

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.


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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 11:00:32

The police are simply taunting pedestrians at this point.

Torontonians desperately need a pedestrian rights advocacy group.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 12:24:45

I will note that they did charge the bus driver in this case.

I definitely disagree with the fact that they blamed the pedestrian though, that's absolutely shameful, especially since they've found the bus driver at fault, there was no need to say it was her fault as well.

So as pedestrians we can't rely on drivers to respect the law? It's almost like they're suggesting we cross the street at our own risk!

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 12:37:33

In hamilton you absolutely cross the street at your own risk. The lights and signs mean nothing I always teach my kids to watch for the walking sign, and then always look to make sure cars have stopped and are actually looking at us before making their 10km an hour roll through which counts as a right on red around here.

Insult to injury:

In Hamilton there are many areas all through the city with huge gaps between stoplights, and therefore crosswalks. People are now going to get ticketed for not walking a km out of their way to cross the street at the light, even though the lights are no safer thanks to our right on red rules and stories like this one posted by Ben in which the pedestrian is still blamed anyhow.

At this point, don't be surprised to see me go out of my way to cross directly in front of one of those stupid 'pedestrians must walk way over here to the closest light to cross' signs that are popping up all over town.

I wonder if local health departments and hospital organizations are aware of our cities and their hate-on for anyone who dares try to get around other than by car??
Perhaps one of many simple solutions to unclogging clogged hospital rooms would be to encourage healthy lifestyle choices, not punish them.

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By mikeonthemountain (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 13:14:26

In a city configured this way they cannot absolutely outlaw crossing mid block any more than they could outlaw walking itself. Hopefully they are talking about only ticketing the more egregious instances of stepping out into traffic unsafely. Otherwise this is even more insane than it sounds.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted February 02, 2010 at 13:17:35

Today on the bus the driver made this announcement before letting the Mac students off:

"and just before you get off, remember the police are out doing a blitz ticketing people for not using crosswalks... they'll be making a s*load of money this month, so be careful"

(his words, or as close as I remember them... lol)

Comment edited by Meredith on 2010-02-02 12:18:28

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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 13:29:06

Regarding the Spec article:

From what I can tell, there's nothing in the HTA which specifically prohibits pedestrians from "meander[ing] through traffic in the middle of the block" (a very liberal reading of subsection 22, below, could lead to such a conclusion). Ignoring a "don't walk" signal is prohibited, however.

Pedestrian behaviour is regulated under section 144 of the Act, the relevant subsections of which are as follows:

Pedestrian crossing

(22) Where portions of a roadway are marked for pedestrian use, no pedestrian shall cross the roadway except within a portion so marked.

Pedestrian – green light

(23) Subject to subsections (24) and (27), a pedestrian approaching a traffic control signal showing a circular green indication or a straight-ahead green arrow indication and facing the indication may cross the roadway.

Pedestrian – stopping at flashing green light

(24) No pedestrian approaching a traffic control signal and facing a flashing circular green indication or a solid or a flashing left turn arrow indication in conjunction with a circular green indication shall enter the roadway.

Pedestrian – stopping at red or amber light

(25) No pedestrian approaching a traffic control signal and facing a red or amber indication shall enter the roadway.

Pedestrian control signals – walk

(26) Where pedestrian control signals are installed and show a “walk” indication, every pedestrian facing the indication may cross the roadway in the direction of the indication despite subsections (24) and (25).

Pedestrian control signals – don’t walk

(27) No pedestrian approaching pedestrian control signals and facing a solid or flashing “don’t walk” indication shall enter the roadway. R(27).

Pedestrian right of way

(28) Every pedestrian who lawfully enters a roadway in order to cross may continue the crossing as quickly as reasonably possible despite a change in the indication he or she is facing and, for purposes of the crossing, has the right of way over vehicles.

There is no specific offence for violating any of the above subsections. Rather, such violations are deemed to be offences only by operation of the "General Penalty" provision under section 214, which provides as follows:

General penalty

214. (1) Every person who contravenes this Act or any regulation is guilty of an offence and on conviction, where a penalty for the contravention is not otherwise provided for herein, is liable to a fine of not less than $60 and not more than $500.

for pedestrian offences

(2) Despite subsection (1), every person, while a pedestrian or a person in a wheelchair, who contravenes Part X [Rules of the Road] or any regulation made thereunder, is guilty of an offence and on conviction, where a penalty for the contravention is not otherwise provided for herein, is liable to a fine of not more than $50

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 13:51:02

we've had critical mass bike rides for years in this city. maybe it's time to start a critical mass walking circuit too.
pretty bad when you have to demonstrate your right to.... walk.

Comment edited by jason on 2010-02-02 12:51:17

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted February 02, 2010 at 16:29:21

I'm in for critical mass walk. First destination: the endless stretches of Main, King, Wilson, and Cannon that don't have a single streetlight to allow pedestrians to cross. Did anyone else know that pedestrians are not legally required to obey street signs?

When and where?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 03, 2010 at 09:26:54

Are pedestrians allowed to cross Main at Ferguson? This is a pedestrian/cycling "corridor" with no control signal at Main - and just one example of hundreds of places where you'd have to walk a significant distance out of your way in order to "legally" cross.

I would encourage every single ticket recipient to take it to court. Play the game their way. If they want to spend an hour in front of the judge for every pedestrian ticket they dish out, then let them.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 03, 2010 at 09:46:52

Here are the Hamilton Bylaws specific to Pedestrians:


38. Where there is a sidewalk on either side of the roadway, no pedestrian shall walk along the roadway.

39. Where sidewalks are not provided on a highway, a pedestrian walking along the highway shall walk on the left side thereof facing oncoming traffic and, when walking along the roadway, shall walk as close to the left edge thereof as possible.

40. A pedestrian shall not cross a roadway by other than by the shortest route, except within a crosswalk.

41. No pedestrian shall proceed over or under a railing or other such barrier permanently installed along the edge of a sidewalk.

42. Where suitably worded signs are displayed, no pedestrian shall cross or enter any highway named in Column 1 of Schedule 24, in the direction or directions set out opposite thereto in Column 2, at that side of the intersection shown opposite thereto in Column 3.

43. No person shall walk or stand together with one or more other persons in such a manner as to impede pedestrians or vehicular traffic.

44. No person shall play or take part in any game or sport upon a roadway, and, where there is a sidewalk, no person upon roller skates, roller blades, inline skates or riding in or upon any coaster, scooter, skate board, toy vehicle or similar device, shall go upon a roadway except for the purpose of crossing the road, and when so crossing such person shall have the rights and be subject to the obligations of a pedestrian.

45. (1) Notwithstanding the other provisions of Part 4 of this By-law, no pedestrian, cyclist or person riding upon, leading or driving an animal, shall travel upon or along or cross any highway or part of a highway set out in Schedule 25, save and except that this prohibition shall not apply to:

(a) Police Officers, Fire Fighters, Ambulance DriversIAttendants, Municipal Law Enforcement Officers, Tow Truck Operators or other emergency workers, in the performance of their duty; or

(b) Employees of The City of Hamilton in the performance of their duties; or,

(c) Persons making use of the highway where such use is necessary because of an emergency or vehicle breakdown.

(2) Schedule 25 describes the following:

(a) in column 1 thereof, the name of the highway or part of a highway; (b) in column 2 thereof, the point at which the prohibition commences; and,

(c) in column 3 thereof, the point at which the prohibition terminates.

[edit to fix numbering on seancb's request]

Comment edited by administrator seancb on 2010-02-03 12:01:31

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 03, 2010 at 09:49:14

markdown renumbered the laws but it seems to still make sense. FYI, 1 through 8 should actually be 38 through 45

Comment edited by seancb on 2010-02-03 08:53:56

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 03, 2010 at 09:55:56

This morning yet another pedestrian was struck at Main and Dundurn by a turning vehicle.

There are police officers in the photo. I would hope they now realize that the problem is not jaywalking pedestrians (the victim was not jaywalking), but aggressive and inattentive drivers.

Why are they cracking down on pedestrians and not on drivers not yielding to or avoiding hitting pedestrians?

This whole "blame the pedestrians" spiel is a replay of the "war on cars" "blame the cyclists" furore of last summer.

The world really is upside down!

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2010-02-03 08:56:54

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By turner (registered) | Posted February 03, 2010 at 10:05:57

I was nearly hit yesterday crossing Wentworth at Stinson with a green light. The car was making a right-hand turn onto Wentworth. I actually watched him trying to squeeze past the line of cars waiting to turn left onto Wentworth.

I walk about 45 minutes to work everyday and 45 minutes home and see this kind of thing several times a day.

The safest place to cross most streets in Hamilton is mid block. Especially our one-way freeways.

Comment edited by turner on 2010-02-03 09:06:17

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 03, 2010 at 10:30:21

Also, from the definitions section:

"crosswalk" means: (i) that part of a highway at an intersection that is included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the roadway; or,

(ii) any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by signs or by lines or other markings on the surface;

My interpretation of (i) is that any intersection has an assumed "crosswalk" whether it is painted or not. If there is a sidewalk perpendicular to the road you want to cross, you can keep walking as if the sidewalk is extended and it's considered a "crosswalk". If the street intersecting the one you want to cross does not have a sidewalk, you can walk across as if you are "walking on the left edge of the street" as set out in #2 in my previous post (#39 in the actual document). So ferguson is OK.

For completeness:

Schedule 25 (pedestrian entry/crossing prohibited): - The Linc (no entry or crossing) - Sherman Cut (no entry or crossing)

Schedule 25 amendment 05-285 on sept 28 2005 - No crossing of James along the North side of st joseph's drive - No crossing of James along the South side of Herkimer - No crossing James along the South side of Charlton - No crossing John along the North side of St. Joseph's drive - No crossing John along the North nor South sides of Haymarket

Schedule 26 (pedestrians, animals and cyclists prohibited) - The Linc in Ancaster

Schedule 26 amendment 07-309 on Oct 24 2007 - The Linc from 403 to RHVP - Red Hill Valley Parkway

Comment edited by seancb on 2010-02-03 09:38:36

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 03, 2010 at 10:38:06

The safety issue at intersections is intensified in Hamilton because of the one-way streets.

Despite the fact that motorists, for safety and legality sake, must make a shoulder check before turning, and look both ways, many get into the habit of only looking AWAY form the direction they are turning because they know that they are turning onto a one way street, and they are lulled into a sense of safety from the knowledge that, in theory, vehicular traffic will only be coming from one direction.

I would agree that it is safer to cross mid block.

Perhaps someone can take a look through recent pedestrian incidents and count up how many happened at intersections versus how many happened mid block... I would, but my brain still hurts from reading all of the pedestrian bylaws and amendments!

(ryan, perhaps you can clean up my lists above... my 15 minute timeframe has passed)

Comment edited by seancb on 2010-02-03 09:40:32

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By turner (registered) | Posted February 03, 2010 at 10:55:18

True many drivers only look away from the direction they are turning when turning onto a one way street. But many do it on two way streets as well. They're just waiting for that break in traffic so they can quickly get on their way.

It's not only with drivers turning from a street to a street that this is a problem. It happens with cars pulling out of parking lots and driveways. If I'm approaching a car trying to turn on onto a street into the direction I'm coming from, more often than not the driver is only lookingthe opposite direction for a break in traffic so they can turn. Additionay those cars are often blocking the sidewalk or crosswalk and I can't pass anyway, so I sometimes I will give a little knock on the hood to let them I know I'm passing. Either that or begrudgingly wait and stare at them or walk behind, though that doesn't feel safe either.

seancb - wouldn't it have been nice if the Spec had done their job and reported on the stats of those 28 predestrian incidents last year or questioned the Police on the HTA and bylaws they claim prohibit jaywalking?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted February 03, 2010 at 11:07:03

well, if they were areal "NEWS"paper, we might get that sort of treatment.

but no need for actual reporting - just skim the articles and quickly turn to the homes and cars sections plea$e!

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By John Neary (registered) | Posted February 03, 2010 at 14:35:51

If our streets were Toyotas, they'd all have been recalled by now.

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