Walk Sign is on for All Crossings at Yonge and Bloor
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Walk Sign is on for All Crossings at Yonge and Bloor


Photos by Andrew Louis/Torontoist.

At 10:01 a.m. this morning, one of the five green-jacketed police officers standing on the corners of Yonge and Bloor walked confidently but carefully into the middle of the road. The traffic lights at the intersection had just been deactivated, and were now blank, and, after stopping cars in all directions, he waved one direction of cars through, then stopped it, then waved through the other. It was a brief moment of forced acclimatization for the drivers and reassurance for the pedestrians waiting on the tips of the corners: another officer a few minutes earlier had joked to pedestrians that “you don’t want to be the first one to be hit by a car.” A second later, the traffic lights were all back on, a solid red for all drivers in all directions, and the little stickmen beamed white from every pedestrian signal box. Inside a stopped van, one male driver gestured to his female passenger back and forth across the intersection in front of him, explaining what this all was, and the pedestrians followed his lead.
Bloor and Yonge is now the city’s second intersection in as many years to do the Barnes Dance (or scramble, or have a pedestrian priority crossing)—the first permanent installation was at Yonge and Dundas, last August. The news broke in the Star only this Wednesday, and on the first crossing, eager media almost outnumbered eager pedestrians: the first victims claimed by the new intersection were nearly a camera operator and journalist who lingered right in the middle well after the flashing orange hand had turned solid.
At the northwest corner, Bruce Zvaniga, Toronto’s manager of urban traffic control, explained that it may be another year before Toronto sees its third scramble intersection. “There’s no fixed timeframe or particular locations,” Zvaniga explained, “although Bay-Bloor is an intersection council asked us to consider. It would probably be a year from now because of sidewalk revitalization.”
That’s because—as Len Harper, the superintendent for the electrical contractor responsible for the traffic signals, explained on the southwest corner—of construction at ground level that prevents electrical work from being done. “The next two, from what I understand, are Bloor and Bay, and Dundas and Bay,” Harper said, “and they’re both on hold because of construction on corners. Until the condo at Dundas is done, you won’t see anything there, and Bloor and Bay down here is gonna be the same thing: they’re doing all this granite”—he gestures quickly to the ground, to the newly installed granite sidewalks—”all the way down.” But once the ground is ready to be worked with, it only takes about two weeks to install, test, and launch a crossing like this. “As far as a major modification to a signal like this,” Harper says, looking past us and into the road, “this happened very very quickly.”