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Pedestrian crossing signal plays hide-and-seek at Queen and Bay: The Fixer


What you don’t know can’t hurt you, but the same cannot be said about things you can’t see.

It’s a lesson that applies to a pedestrian crossing signal at Queen and Bay Sts., seldom seen — at least lately — by people who need it to safely cross one of the busiest downtown intersections.

The rat race reaches its frenetic peak at Queen and Bay at 5 p.m., where a glut of people and cars converge in a singular goal: Let’s get the hell out of here.

Pedestrians dodge and scurry between gridlocked vehicles while steaming drivers honk at each other before joining in common cause to curse that bus stuck in the middle of the intersection.

It looks a lot like what happens when you run a power lawn mower across the top of a big anthill.

So it can only help when pedestrians get a clear visual cue on when to cross from one side to another, which leads us to an intriguing email from Graeme Smith.

“An experiment for The Fixer,” his note began. “Stand at the crossing at Bay and Queen,” on the southeast corner. “Look across the road towards the TD Bank,” on the southwest corner.

“What’s the crossing light telling you?”

Not being in the mood for a riddle, we told him that we “don’t go on goose chases.”

He revealed the secret in his second note: “Essentially, it says nothing. The crossing light functions, but there’s a wide, vertical steel tube embedded in the sidewalk directly in front of it that totally obscures the crossing light.”

So off we went to see it, or not. Standing on the southeast corner, we looked across to the southwest corner and could see only the edges of the pedestrian crossing signal. A shiny metal utility pole stood in front of it, obscuring the light from people crossing from the east side to the west.

The pole was recently installed, but the wires attached to the old pole next to it have yet to be moved to it. The pedestrian crossing signal is also attached to the old pole and will likely be transferred to the new one at some point.

But that’s no help to people crossing the street during the Monday rush hour.

STATUS: The pole’s not going anywhere, so we’ve asked transportation services if it can arrange for the signal to be transferred to it right away. If that’s not possible, we’ve asked it to consider putting up a temporary signal.

TORONTO STAR | YOURTORONTO