SETAC – South Etobicoke Transit Action Committee

Poles frustrate wheelchair users at Kipling and Lake Shore

The Toronto Star
Wed., Jan. 3, 2018

Link to the article and photo

A recently installed pole for streetcar wires and two poles for pedestrian crossing buttons make it difficult if not impossible for people who use a wheelchair or motorized scooter to navigate a busy Etobicoke street corner, The Fixer writes.

Three poles in a confined space at a busy Etobicoke street corner is one too many for people who use a wheelchair or motorized scooter.

We wrote last month about the TTC’s ongoing replacement of the 6,000 poles used to suspend streetcar wires, and how removal of the old poles can be a lot slower than it should be.

For every old pole taken down, a new one goes up. And sometimes, positioning of the new pole doesn’t take into account the effect it might have on people and things.

Case in point: A new pole for streetcar wires was installed last year at the northwest corner of Kipling Ave. and Lake Shore Blvd., right across the street from the busy Lakeshore campus of Humber College.

Humber student Briton Van Weeren emailed to say that she took notice when the new streetcar pole was put in last fall, due to its proximity to two other poles.

“The northwest corner has so many poles now that anyone with a wheelchair/power scooter/walker/other assistive device quite literally cannot go round the corner,” said Van Weeren.

“And if they come from the north, they likely won’t even be able to access the part of the curb that goes down to meet the roadway.”

She tried to draw attention to the problem, but had no luck.

“I called the city, as they own the two posts that have the pedestrian walk buttons attached to them. They said it would take weeks before anyone could go look.”

She next called Toronto Hydro, which is responsible for the vast majority of utility poles on city streets, but was told it isn’t theirs.

“I then called the TTC, but they seem to be of the opinion that because their post is next to the sidewalk rather than on it, it isn’t a problem.”

We went there and saw that the location of the new pole is just close enough to one of the poles with a pedestrian crossing button on it that there’s not enough space for a person using a mobility device to squeeze past.

STATUS: A transportation services spokesperson sent us a note saying, “this issue was brought to our attention through 311 on Nov. 30. We initiated our electrical contractor at that time to do some underground locate work, which takes several weeks and we expect to install a new pole behind the sidewalk, remove two poles, and relocate the accessible pedestrian pushbutton by the end of January to make the area more accessible.”

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