Walk Toronto has submitted comments on the Ontario Traffic Manual (OTM) Book 15 – Pedestrian Crossing Treatments. The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) was seeking public input on the draft version of these revised guidelines.
The draft guidelines include many welcome new elements that bring clarity, additional flexibilty and an emphasis on accessibility. However, in its comments Walk Toronto notes some important areas where they can be improved. For example, it is very important to provide safe direct crossings for pedestrian pathways even if they are close to existing traffic signals. As well, we note that the “pedestrian scramble” section does not reflect the existing practice in Toronto.
It is also worth noting that the OTM draft provides a clear and useful analysis of the right of pedestrians to cross mid-block in Ontario, in section 2.1. This issue has been subject to a lot of confusion over the years, so this clarity is helpful.
From Section 2.1.2, “Pedestrian’s Rights and Responsibilities”
“In the absence of statutory provisions or by-law, a pedestrian is not confined to a street crossing or intersection and is entitled to cross at any point, although greater care may then be required of him or her in crossing. However, pedestrians crossing the highway must look to ensure the crossing can be made safely or possibly be held responsible for any ensuing collision.”
Also, it clarifies the confusing Section 144 (22) of the Highway Traffic Act, reinforcing the fact that it applies specifically to when pedestrians are crossing at a signalized intersection:
“If there is a crosswalk at a signalized intersection, pedestrians have to walk within the crosswalk: [Section 144 (22) of the HTA]“