CN Tower Falling Ice – Ice Build Up Deterrent Needed: In 2007, the President of the CityPlace Residents Association, wrote an OpEd in the Toronto Star that made recommendations including a a covered walkway, extension of the path to Spadina, and using conductive film to avoid ice buildup on the CN Tower as safety measures. The article is still relevant today, as Bremner Blvd is partially closed due to falling ice from the CN Tower from the icestorm on Saturday, April 14, 2018.
A Safe Place for Pedestrians
by Gary Pieters
First published on March 10, 2007
Toronto’s sidewalks and pedestrian walkways are, for the most part, attractive, busy and walkable environments.
Pedestrian traffic flow is influenced by local activities and resources, with the highest volumes around schools, commercial hubs and recreational and civic facilities.
Many factors affect the wellness of pedestrian spaces, but of utmost importance for safety is the physical environment.
The wild snowstorm that hit the GTA on March 1 exposed risk factors that affected pedestrian safety.
One of the major issues that emerged was the dangerously harsh wind conditions that turned ice frozen to the surface of the CN Tower into dangerous projectiles that fell for days onto the streets, sidewalks and surrounding buildings.
While no injuries were reported, at least one vehicle was damaged. The danger resulted in temporary closures of Bremner Blvd. from York St. to Rees St., and the Gardiner Expressway from Yonge St. to Spadina Ave. Bremner Blvd., within the shadow of the CN Tower, was closed for more than a week. While this was a necessary safety measure, it hindered pedestrian access to Union Station by creating a large detour.
Considering that the area attracts heavy pedestrian traffic for entertainment and sports events, perhaps the time has come for an enclosed sidewalk along Bremner from the Rogers Centre to the Air Canada Centre, tying into the Toronto underground PATH system.
Another possible solution is that an ice-buildup deterrent, such as the “transparent electrically conductive film” manufactured by Ice Engineering of New Hampshire, be wrapped around the CN Tower to prevent a repeat of the ice buildup. This is an intriguing idea worthy of a feasibility study. If the results were positive, this or similar technology could be incorporated into the design and construction of new buildings and also be used to upgrade existing skyscrapers. The end result would be greater protection for pedestrians and vehicular traffic.
Another risk factor that affected pedestrian safety during the recent stormy weather was the road-crossing hazard created by frozen snowbanks at crosswalks and intersections.
The northeast corner of Spadina at Bremner had a snowbank almost a metre high blocking the sidewalk from the roadway for more than a week.
I, along with fellow pedestrians, took considerable risks as we climbed over the snowbank to make our way onto the pedestrian crossing leading to the Spadina LRT streetcar stop.
Pedestrians who chose not to climb the snowbank also took a risk by walking along the roadway in the path of cars making right turns from Bremner onto Spadina, increasing the danger of pedestrian-vehicle collisions.
The situation at this crosswalk clearly was hazardous for pedestrians trying to cross the street to catch the Spadina streetcar and should have been corrected quickly.
If we want to promote walking communities, the physical environment must be safe and pedestrian-friendly.
In Toronto, collisions involving cars and pedestrians are not infrequent. According to data provided by City of Toronto Transportation Services, from January to September 2006 there were 1,493 pedestrian injuries and 27 fatalities resulting from collisions.
A data map illustrating the worst intersections for collisions involving pedestrians is available online at http://www.toronto.ca/transportation/publications/brochures/2006_ped.pdf. The tally illustrates that pedestrian-related collisions occur with high frequency at major intersections in the downtown core on Bloor, Wellesley, College, Dundas, Queen, King and Front Sts.; and also Yonge, Bay, St. George, Spadina and Bathurst. Other areas of the city, including Danforth Ave. and Yonge St. at Steeles Ave., show a similar danger.
I believe that frequent pedestrian traffic reports provided by the print, broadcast and wireless media could be used to foster awareness or warn pedestrians of hazards at intersections that develop as a result of weather, excess pedestrian traffic, vehicular collisions, defective traffic lights and/or road damage.
Increasing pedestrian road-safety awareness would be a preventative and caring way to improve the city’s walkability by reducing the risk factors that result in collisions.
Similarly, timely maintenance of sidewalks and other walkways, quick snow clearing, appropriate signage alerting pedestrians to temporary or ongoing risks on roads and at intersections would encourage more people to walk.
The city benefits ecologically, socially, physically and economically from being pedestrian-friendly. A walkable city with safe, attractive and accessible sidewalks, street lights, traffic lights and public transportation stimulates greater pedestrian movement to places within reasonable walking distance.
As more people walk, their increased daily physical activity should result in better health. The intensification of the city core already provides greater opportunity for more Torontonians to work, study and participate in recreational activities within walking distance of their homes. Greater pedestrian traffic, in turn, improves the identity and vitality of neighbourhoods.
For these good things to happen, safety must come first.