Improved sidewalk, honestly !

I must confess that I found it easy to avoid the construction on Somerset through Chinatown during the fall. Primrose runs parallel, and is car-free for a block of it, to boot!

But I did notice a safety cone marking some sort of sidewalk obstruction, right in the middle of the sidewalk near Rochester. I figured it was covering a little hole in the new walk, like a water shut off valve or something innocuous. Unfortunately winter came and no doubt crews would be back first thing in the spring to complete the job.

But no, it was covering something much bigger and more solid. New traffic signal posts. Right smack dab in the centre of the sidewalk. Squint and you can see that the old ones are nicely pushed off to the side, right flush with the buildings. Why couldn’t we just reuse those ones? No, wouldn’t it be more fun to put in new ones. Conspicuous new ones.

Do they align with the rows of trees? Or the fire hydrants and ped lights? Do they align with anything at all? See that the sidewalk plow has already decided to go around them.

Having sat on the design review committee for this project, I distinctly recall the committee insisting, ad nauseum, that utility poles  –especially traffic signals and their control boxes– were to stay out of the sidewalk.

And in reviewing the plans, I note that poles along Somerset were kept in line with trees, signposts, and other “street furnishings”, all set similar distances back from the curb:

Public coöperation with the city only goes so far. We are not on-site supervisors. Maybe we should be.

8 thoughts on “Improved sidewalk, honestly !

  1. Another dopey example is at the SE corner of MacLaren and Bank (sorry, guess this should be on an Eastside blog). There’s a fire hydrant right in the middle of the sidewalk on MacLaren, in line with a lamp post, as seen in Google Steetview: Most of the year you just walk around, but in winter snow gets piled up on the bulb-out and so the little plow can’t get by. So this sidewalk does not get plowed at all between Bank and the end of the alleyway that runs behind Barrymore’s. If someone fell and hurt themselves due to the lack of proper sidewalk snow maintenance would they have a case against the City?

  2. Mark – it’s not so much the snow pile that stops the plow, but the fact that the route jogs so drastically that a plow can’t squeeze through. The bike rack is exactly 150cm away from the fire hydrant there, which in theory is the City’s standard, but only if taken straight on. I’ve got a photo of that spot and may blog it sometime soon.

    Eric – An accessibility issue with crosswalks is that often the buttons are too far from the traveled and snow-cleared part of the sidewalk that people in wheelchairs can’t reach them, and blind people can’t find them. I wonder if the location of this pole will, or was intended to, deal with this issue.

  3. Sometimes traffic poles are designed to go in a certain position, but when it comes time to actually installing the foundations, they basically get put wherever they fit underground. You’d be surprised how large the concrete foundations are for these things are and it is often difficult to fit them in due to conflicts with other existing underground stuff such as Hydro or Bell’s concrete-encased ducts or Enbridge’s gas lines. The contractor tries to put them as close to the layout as possible, but given that the the sidewalks have not usually been built at this point, it’s difficult for them to realize that where they’ve placed them is a less than ideal spot – that’s up to the site inspector to tell them, but unfortunately they contractor can’t be supervised 100% of the time.

  4. Or maybe the manufacturers instructions are to place them as close to the intersection as possible. That way they can act as a barrier protecting children (won’t anyone think of the children) in case of an out of control car. Oh yah, and incidentally this would also lead to more poles needing to be replaced due to accident damage.

    But seriously, Dave makes a good point. Wouldn’t it be possible to install a thick steel plate that connects the top of the base to the bottom of the pole and allows you to decouple the location of one from the other. Place the pole where you want, place the base in the closest available location (maybe even under the road) and everyone is happy.

  5. I don’t know if accessibility was a concern as Charles mentioned, but it seems possible. As a frequent passerby at this intersection, the new poles do make it easier to press the pedestrian crossing button.

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