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The City Wants To Remove the Bay-Bloor Scramble Pedestrian Priority
Traffic congestion threatens our right to dart through a car-free intersection

Photo via flickr / St-Even

There’s no better feeling than waiting at the corner of a busy intersection and getting the four-way pedestrian walk. It’s a sense of freedom and a healthy dose of fear that settles in as you move forward into the street, taking over the wide tarmac abyss where cars had been hurtling through moments before. Pedestrians love a good scramble, but the tool implemented to relieve crowds is apparently somewhat less exhilerating for drivers in their cars, who painstakingly sit drumming their fingers on the wheel as Bay-Bloor shoppers mosey leisurely across the street to the Gap. 

Whether or not the pedestrian scramble at Bay and Bloor intersection is a useful one is now up for debate. At a public meeting Wednesday, the city called to cut out the scramble due to “weak performance” and high traffic congestion. They’re arguing that there aren’t enough pedestrians commuting through the area to make the stopped car traffic worthwhile, and that we should return to the standard lights system that was replaced by the scramble three years back. 

Statistically, they might be right. The Bay-Bloor spot sees 5,000 pedestrians walking through per day, much less than the more successful Yonge-Bloor and Dundas-Yonge intersections, seeing 8,500 and 7,500 respectively. Bay and Bloor hosts nearly the same number of cars over the same period of time. That being said, Bay and Bloor is one of the most popular outdoor shopping destinations in the downtown core and sees on-foot commuters passing through the Manulife Centre and out of Bloor and Bay Subway stops on the daily. If there aren’t enough feet on the pavement, maybe a plan to modify the scramble without scrapping it entirely would be our best bet: turning off the all-way lights during peak rush hours might be a green light we can all get behind. Plus, it would still leave time for an impromptu game of intersection hockey.


Farrah Khaled is an intern at the Toronto Standard. Follow her on twitter at @farkhaly.

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