The view from the cat bird seat.

We sit in the cat bird seat.  It is a million dollar view.  From this desk, the view is to the hills on the south.  Highway 400 rises to the west and Yonge Street is on the east.  Both run south from Babel to Toronto.  Directly in front, looking over the computer screen, there is a view of the worst of engineers’ planning.  It is the intersection of Bradford, Essa, Lakeshore and Tiffin.  It is likely it competes with Highway 400 to contribute the most in accidents for the area.

Looking down at an accident the other day, there was a sadness that stemmed from the sure knowledge that most of the accidents at that intersection are caused by bad planning.  The obligatory police cars, fire vehicles and EMS ambulance, all with flashing lights tell you someone is hurt—hopefully not too seriously.

There is no doubt that the planners tried very hard to make the intersection safe.  At one point we honestly thought they were trying out different lane arrangements to try to figure out which was safest.  When they had three lanes coming off Bradford to become one lane on Essa, we knew there would be trouble.  They finally resolved that confusion by having one right-turn lane from Bradford and two through lanes continuing from Bradford to two through lanes on Essa.  The basic problem is that the planners tried to do too much with the intersection design.

The idea is to get some of the downtown traffic off the Lakeshore and on to Bradford for a faster but less picturesque drive downtown.  It gives drivers the choice of a hard-right turn onto the Lakeshore (for a shorter and more interesting drive downtown) and a straight through to a Yield sign onto Bradford, and hence, downtown.

What causes many to stop for that Yield sign is that some planner did not consider the sight line for drivers using that lane of traffic.  Drivers coming off the Lakeshore to go north on Bradford cannot see the traffic coming northbound on Bradford until they get to the Yield sign.  It is not only a bit late for them to yield but the angle (beside and behind you) that you have to check for traffic is a blind spot for many drivers.

That is probably just one of the reasons that Babel drivers get into fender benders in that intersection.  Babel drivers are certainly not among the best in the world but the city planners who designed the intersection might not be world beaters either!

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