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The Place

The stretch of Bloor that's west of Lansdowne Avenue and east of Dundas is a somewhat forlorn transition zone featuring a dodgy strip club, two rail underpasses and some heavy-handed urban infill. Almost in the middle, Symington Avenue - a well-trafficked north-south throughway running through vibrant working-class neighbourhoods - T-bones Bloor, then jogs over to southbound Sterling Road, a few metres west. The result is a cock-eyed crossing, one of many along Bloor and elsewhere in the older city, where some streets are actually former farm lot lines.

See Toronto's worst intersection: Bloor and Symington

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The Problem

The elongated traffic signal zone at that point of Bloor stretches from Sterling and Symington, and is frequently clogged with drivers who, despite signs exhorting vehicles not to block the intersection, end up stopping in no-man's land nonetheless.

Ian Kinney, a facility manager in Mississauga who used to live just north of there, often watched the antics from the laundromat on the corner. Cars turning left from Sterling onto Bloor were forced to bob and weave their way through the eastbound vehicles littering the middle of the intersection. "You're turning around cars, there's people everywhere, it's chaos," he recalls. "Every time the light changed, you'd hear honking and people not knowing what to do." For traffic cops, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. "A cop can literally sit there and write tickets all day."

The Solution

Mr. Kinney's suggestion for the city is better and clearer signage, to discourage drivers from stopping in the intersection, and possibly an advance green on Symington, as a kind of decongestant. He's most interested in an idea that was popularized in Manhattan as a gridlock buster and is used in only a few locations downtown: painted cross-hatchings covering the entire intersection, to unambiguously show drivers where they're not supposed to be once the light turns.

The Shortcut

The trick is getting across the two north-south rail corridors that traverse the area. For those coming from the northwest, one approach is Perth or Symington south to Wallace, then east to Lansdowne and south to Bloor. Much more locally, if Mr. Kinney wanted to avoid that intersection heading west, he'd duck south on a cul-de-sac called Ruttan Street, just east of Symington, and zip through an industrial parking lot to Sterling and Perth.

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