Mid-Block Street Crossing


You may get charged here for speeding or driving without a seatbelt fastened. But it seems to me that when you strike a pedestrian with a vehicle, most often you don’t even get a traffic ticket.

   Jan 21, 2008

   London Police laid nearly 200 charges in and around school areas 
   during the two week “Back to School” traffic initiative to raise 
   awareness to motorists that pedestrians are back using the 
   sidewalks and roadways.  The majority (140) were for speeding 
   while the other violations were made up of stop sign charges, 
   seatbelt charges and document charges once the vehicles were 

   During the campaign there were 4 collisions involving students 
   walking to or from school.  The most serious one was the 
   17 yr old Saunders student who suffered a broken leg when he 
   crossed illegally at an intersection and was struck by a car with 
   the right of way.  The student was charged. Another 15 yr old 
   was slightly injured running into the side of a vehicle.  
   No charges were laid in that case. 

   Two other pedestrians were struck by cars that failed to remain 
   at the collisions and although these students didn’t suffer 
   injuries the motorists should have remained at the scene.  

   Motorists are asked to continue to watch for the unpredictable 
   behaviour of pedestrians.  “Anticipate the unexpected” might be 
   a good theme for motorists. 

   Sgt. Tom O’Brien
   Traffic Management Unit
   London Police Service

Let’s not forget Sgt. O’Brien’s proposed by-law amendment which would further erode the rights of pedestrians. Is it unfair to suggest that there may be some vested interest at play here, and that spinning vehicle-pedestrian collissions like this enhances the likelihood of the proposal’s adoption by City Council?

In “Jaywalk This Way” (NOW Magazine; 2006/07/13) author Dylan Reid asks, “why does the term ‘jaywalking’ exist, and why do we feel that crossing away from an intersection is somehow wrong?”

Although increasing numbers of “me first” drivers has given rise to a popular misconception that pedestrians are only entitled to cross the road at signalized intersections, that is simply not true. As I’ve pointed out before, walking is a natural right, whereas driving an automobile is simply a legislated priviledge which carries responsibilities with it.

The Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA) says nothing about pedestrians crossing the street in the middle of a block where there’s no traffic light, crosswalk or stop sign…” And the article attributes Constable Lee Bishop (Toronto Police Services) as saying that “if it’s not in the HTA, it’s allowed” and points out that “the only significant obligation in the HTA for those crossing mid-block is that, if there is a traffic signal or crosswalk close by, pedestrians have to use it.”

Even that last part isn’t carved in stone, since “the act doesn’t specify the distance in question.”

But more importantly, we need to examine the implied suggestion that motorists aren’t at fault because pedestrian behaviour was suspect. Even if you accept the fact that a pedestrian may have acted in a manner which led to a collission, does that mean that motorists have a ‘green light’ to run them down? Isn’t there a legal expectation that a motorist must take every reasonable action to avoid colliding with a pedestrian?

Before contemplating any further erosion of pedestrian rights, we must take an equally hard look at driver’s behaviour, enforcement & investigation by police, and even possible culpability by City Hall. And yes, I am referring once again to the complete inaction by City Hall after receiving the police report about the dangerous intersection at Commissioners & Pond Mills. Because the fact is, it’s often much safer for pedestrians to cross mid-block (provided that reasonable precaution is taken) than it is to cross at a signalized intersection.

I had the opportunity to address Councillor’s Caranci and Miller at the last meeting of the Glen Cairn & Pond Mills Community Association, and I have requested delegate status at the February meeting of CSCP. I’ll keep you posted.

Highway Traffic Act, Ontario
2001/03/ – TLC: Everybody Targets Walkers
2006/02/22 – Maisonneuve: The Truth About Jaywalking
2006/03/13 – Messy Diversity: Is jaywalking good for cities?


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