Saturday, February 28, 2009

It's now a lot harder to drive into this house

Jack Lakey Staff Reporter - Toronto Star
It's a lot harder for drivers to go airborne and fire their vehicles into an Etobicoke house across the street, now that the city has put up new signs and barriers at a dangerous intersection.
We've been writing this week about the incredible bad luck of the owners of 42 South Kingslea Dr., who live right across from the spot where Park Lawn Rd., connects with their street at a T intersection.
In the space of three weeks, two drivers who failed to negotiate a curve in Park Lawn, just before it stops at South Kingslea, have launched their cars into the air, across the street and through windows of 42 South Kingslea, severely damaging the house.
Park Lawn used to curve gradually to the right to join with South Kingslea, but the city moved the intersection to the left a few years ago to slow down drivers who previously ignored the stop sign.
But the reconfiguration inadvertently created an optical illusion for some drivers, due to a driveway next to the stop sign that looks like the place to turn east on South Kingslea.
When each of the errant drivers hit a snow bank on the north side of the laneway – while going too fast – they were launched into the air, across the street and into the house.
After developing a theory about how the drivers ended up there, roads officials met with the homeowner and Peter Milczyn, the area councillor, and came up with a plan to make drivers more aware and stop more vehicles from becoming guided missiles.
Large concrete planters have been placed on each side of a sidewalk just to the right of the stop sign, at the approximate spot where the cars launched – enough to slow down anything that hits them.
One block south of the intersection, a new sign was put up yesterday to warn drivers on Park Lawn that they're approaching a stop sign. Near the curve on Park Lawn is a large, black-and-yellow sign advising drivers that the road curves to the left.
Beneath a larger stop sign that also went up this week is a black and yellow caution marker, along with a larger one to the right of the sign.
If all those signs and the two big planters don't do the trick, nothing will.

Hospitals a magnet for tickets

Statistics reveal streets around hospitals among the most heavily ticketed areas in the city
Feb 28, 2009 04:30 AM - Toronto Star

The streets and avenues around Toronto hospitals are the most heavily ticketed areas in the city.
Data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request to the city shows the address of every parking ticket issued last year.
Parking tickets are big business for Toronto. In 2007, the city collected $80 million in fees and issued 2.8 million tickets. In 2008, about 3 million tickets were tucked beneath windshield wipers.
The downtown area was heavily ticketed, with clusters near University Ave. hospitals and shopping districts. Outside the city's core, hospitals such as Sunnybrook, Toronto Western, Toronto East General and St. Joseph's recorded large numbers of parking violators.
Sunnybrook topped the list with 8,875 tickets issued – an average of one per hour for the year.
Even so, Solomon Ayeneababa, manager of parking and transportation services at the hospital, doesn't think his staff tickets heavily. But he says there are times when they "have to," especially when cars are parked in areas requiring permits, blocking fire routes, impeding TTC routes and obstructing major roads, such as those used by ambulances. His staff are licensed by the city to write tickets.
But Ayeneababa said they are understanding and will show leeway, for instance, to motorists whose time on the meter has expired.
"If they're late in the clinic or had some other kind of issue, we'll listen to their case and we'll cancel the ticket," he said. "Some people go in and end up staying more than they expected."
Second was Etobicoke's Sherway Gardens mall, which is next to Trillium Health Centre-West Toronto. Last year 7,095 tickets were issued there, nearly 20 a day.
On Murray St., near Mount Sinai Hospital, Princess Margaret Hospital, The Hospital for Sick Children and Women's College Hospital, 3,041 tickets were issued.
More than 4,400 tickets were issued to cars on Edward St., near the Atrium on Bay and the Toronto Eaton Centre and within walking distance of St. Michael's Hospital and the University Ave. hospitals.
"The focus of our parking efforts is on public safety and the smooth and safe movement of traffic," said police spokesperson Mark Pugash. "That is particularly the case in the downtown core."
Neither Pugash nor the parking enforcement unit would comment on the data.
"We don't do target enforcement at all," said an official with Toronto Police Parking Enforcement. "We just ensure the free flow of traffic."
A constant flow of traffic is what attracts parking enforcement officers to the area, according to the founder of a web service that arranges court dates for people who want to fight their tickets.
"They probably say they are not targeting, but they definitely do," said Greg Kasparian, founder of "It's so much more effective to stay around there than go to a residential street.
"There are cars constantly rolling out of there, and you are way more likely to find an expired receipt."
Kasparian said people visiting a hospital shouldn't have to worry about feeding the meter. He'd like to see temporary parking permits.
St. Joseph's hospital is opening a new parking garage this spring to deal with the challenge of more than 250,000 patient visits a year, spokesperson Michelle Tadique said in an email.
Other ticket-heavy areas were near Seneca College's Newnham Campus, the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus and the Toronto Eaton Centre. The Distillery District also seemed to get a lot of attention, as did the area near the Royal Ontario Museum, the Manulife Centre and Yorkville.
If you try to contest your parking ticket, getting your day in court might be difficult.
The Star's Jack Lakey, probing figures provided by Toronto's court services last year, found that since the beginning of 2006, about 250,000 requests had been received from drivers to contest a $30 parking ticket. But trial dates were issued for only about 4,300.
At the time the story was published last June, drivers had requested more than 37,000 trials for $30 parking tickets in 2008 – but no court dates had been issued.
The reason: Courts were backlogged and parking tickets were low priority, so many requests filed for court dates didn't go through.
The address data on parking tickets was obtained by Patrick Cain, an editor for and Map of the Week blogger.
His interactive map showing all addresses in the city where more than 1,000 parking tickets were issued last year can be found at

Friday, February 27, 2009

EB Gardiner reopens following multi-vehicle crash

EB Gardiner reopens following multi-vehicle crash

Web Staff,
A Toyota Corolla was damaged in a multi-vehicle accident on the Gardiner Expressway Friday morning. (CP24/Brian Van Binnendyk)

The eastbound Gardiner has reopened after a multi-vehicle collision sent at least three vehicles and a dump truck crashing around the highway.
No serious injuries were reported but traffic was snarled in the area.
Only one eastbound lane of Lake Shore Blvd. was open while crews worked to repair a light pole that fell from the expressway above..
Drivers are reminded to take extra caution due to wet weather and an expected drop in temperatures that will result in icy roads later

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Multi-vehicle collision closes Kennedy Road at 401

Emergency crews responded to a multi-vehicle accident during the morning rush hour on Kennedy Road near the 401.
Const. Tony Vella says a Volvo was speeding across an exit ramp just after 7:30 a.m. when it caused the collision.
He says three to four vehicles were involved and one person wasbadly injured.
Only one southbound lane was open and traffic was backed up to Sheppard Ave. The streets have since been cleared.
Investigators believe the crash may have been caused by a medical condition or a distraction. The investigation continues.

Woman hit while crossing Humber College Blvd.

Jesse McLean Staff Reporter - Toronto Star

A 21-year-old woman is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after being struck by a van in north Etobicoke.
The woman was using a pedestrian crosswalk on Humber College Blvd., near Hwy. 27 and Finch Ave. W., around 7:40 p.m. when she was hit.
"She was just about half-way across the road," said Sgt. Tim Burrows.
She was transported to hospital with serious head trauma.
Traffic services officers are investigating the crash.

Families plea for hit-run 'coward' to surrender

Tamara Cherry - Sun Media

The families of two women run down by a driver who left them for dead last week pleaded this afternoon for the "coward" who hit them to surrender.
Cecelia Chang, 59, was crossing McNicoll Ave. at Midland Ave., when a turning vehicle struck her around 6:15 a.m. Feb. 17. Cathleen Jones, 53, who was driving northbound at the time, stopped her car just south of the intersection and went to Chang's aid before a southbound car struck them both and fled the scene.
"Two women will probably never be the same physically or mentally ever again," Jim Jones, told reporters this afternoon at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, where his wife has remained since the collision. "Break a hip, break a pelvis, break a femur, five broken bones – it impacts your life."
While Jones' injuries were initially classified as life-threatening, she is now on the road – albeit a long one – to recovery, her husband said. "Emotionally, mentally and physically, she's hurt very badly," Alice Lee said of her sister, Chang, who is recovering from a broken pelvis and five broken ribs at Scarborough General hospital.
"Please, whoever the driver was, please come forward and report it to police right away," Lee said. "Please, don't be a coward. Be Brave."
"Subconsciously, I don't think he or she can live the rest of their life in peace, so please come forward and admit it so you will get peace in your life," Lee said.
Jones described the actions of his wife, who has come to be known as the Good Samaritan by the media and police, as "just natural" for a woman who has received first aid and CPR training.
"She's progressing quite well," he said. "She can communicate, yeah, but because of the trauma and shock, she lost memory of a lot of the stuff that happened."
"Your conscience must be eating away at you and we ask that you do the right thing," Toronto Police Det.-Const. Julie Mahoney said in a plea to the suspect. "We're asking that person to turn yourself in now before we get you, and we will."
The suspect's vehicle is likely a black, 1994-1997 Honda Accord with after-market blue headlights. The front right hub cap was left behind at the scene, and the car likely suffered damage to its front, right end.
"The vehicle may be fixed," Mahoney said. "We're asking anybody who knows somebody who owns a Honda Accord – maybe it's your neighbour, maybe it's your friend, maybe it's a family member – just go have a look at it. Just walk around nonchalantly, have a look at it, see if there's any damage there consistent with hitting a pedestrian."
"We have indication that it's traveling between 50 and 60 km/h, which is not outrageous considering that the speed limit is around there, but I mean, it is horrific when it makes contact with a human being," Mahoney said.
"We want to help, that's our nature to help. and when someone leaves somebody dead in the road or badly injured, it's always very shocking to the police."
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-1900 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-8477,, or by texting TOR and your message to 274637

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Car crashes into furniture store

Andrew Palamarchuk - Scarborough Mirror

A woman was shaken up after the car she was driving crashed through a Scarborough furniture store Wednesday afternoon.
The mishap occurred at Arrow Furniture on Kennedy Road south of Ellesmere Road at about 2 p.m.
"I thought furniture fell because it was a big, big noise," said employee Alex Burdo.
"I see a car inside. I was shocked for a second. ... Then I started screaming to the guys: call the ambulance right away."
Burdo said he and others then helped the motorist out of the car.
"I feel sorry for this woman obviously. It's unfortunate for her," he said. "It's a crazy situation. I've never seen anything like that, ever."
Police believe the driver of the four-door Toyota Echo hit the gas instead of the brakes.
She was treated at the scene by paramedics. There were no other injuries.

Driver, 15, takes out traffic light in crash

Andrew Palamarchuk - Scarborough Mirror

Police are investigating after a 15-year-old allegedly took his grandfather's truck for a joyride and crashed it at a north Scarborough intersection Tuesday, Feb. 24.
"It looks like his windshield was frosted up, and he hit the traffic light in the median at Warden and Finch," said Sgt. Andrew Raney of the 42 Division traffic unit.
"It's very lucky he wasn't hurt or he didn't kill anybody."
The accident occurred at about 5:40 a.m.
"No charges have been laid at this time, but it is under investigation," Raney said.
"He (teen driver) was released to his mom."

Woman Suffers Minor Injuries in Hit and Run

Andrew Palamarchuk - Scarborough Mirror

A 38-year-old woman is recovering after being struck by a car in a hit-and-run accident while crossing Eglinton Avenue near Brimley Road Wednesday morning.
"For a short distance she was carried on the hood," said Sgt. Tim Burrows of the traffic services unit.
"She was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries."
The suspect vehicle is a small four-door dark-coloured car, possibly a Honda. It sustained a bit of damage to its front driver's side.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 416-808-4100.
Meanwhile, police continue to search for a 1994 to 1997 black Honda Accord that was involved in a hit and run at Midland and McNicoll avenues on Feb. 17. A 53-year-old woman was seriously injured when she was struck by the vehicle while tending to the victim of an earlier pedestrian-struck collision.

What caued 2 cars to crash into this house

Jack Lakey
Once may be an accident, but when two vehicles sail through an intersection and slam into the same house in three weeks, there's a bigger problem than poor eyesight or too much to drink.
It was good news-bad news early Sunday for the residents of 42 South Kingslea Dr.: A vehicle crashed through a front window of their bungalow and stopped in the master bedroom. But the couple had moved out after the same thing happened 20 days earlier, so they were in no danger of being struck by a car while in bed.
A 25-year-old man driving north on Park Lawn Rd. failed to come to a stop where the street ends at South Kingslea, soared through the intersection and ended up in the house, police said. He has been charged with impaired driving.
The occupants, a couple in their 40s, were forced to move after structural damage was caused Feb. 2 when a car driven by a man in his late 80s also hurtled past the stop sign and crashed through a window just after the homeowner had walked out the front door.
Area residents say the accidents have a lot to do with a reconfiguration of the intersection of Park Lawn and South Kingslea a few years ago.
Sandra Girasoli, who lives beside the intersection at 351 Park Lawn, said vehicles have often knocked over the stop sign just north of her laneway since the spot where Park Lawn meets South Kingslea was moved several metres to the west. Standing at the intersection and looking across at the battered house, it seems impossible to steer a vehicle into it, unless it was deliberately targeted.
Park Lawn descends a hill as it approaches South Kingslea, then curves to the right just before the intersection. Even if a driver didn't stop, he'd have to make a 90-degree right turn onto South Kingslea, proceed a few metres east, then crank the wheel hard to the left to run a vehicle at the house.
It would require a level of precision beyond all but a stunt driver, never mind the elderly or drunk.
Curving the north end of Park Lawn more to the west would seem to make it harder for drivers to collide with houses on South Kingslea, which makes two such accidents in a few weeks even more baffling.
Toronto transportation services officials are no less flummoxed, so much so that Allan Smithies, manager of traffic planning in that area, met with us at the scene to figure out why it's happening.
Until the reconfiguration, Park Lawn curved gradually to the east where it met South Kingslea, said Smithies, allowing drivers who blew the stop sign to cross the street more directly, making it easier to crash into the house.
The reconfiguration made it more of a T intersection, he said, but the construction also lengthened the Girasolis' driveway.
We accompanied Smithies part way up the hill on Park Lawn, so we could look down toward the intersection from the same vantage point as drivers approaching it, where he worked out a theory about the cause of the accidents.
"It's nighttime, it's dark and you're probably coming down the hill towards the stop sign too fast," he explained. "You look and see a stop sign with a big patch of asphalt to the right of it," which is the Girasolis' driveway but could easily be mistaken for South Kingslea.
To a driver who believes the driveway is actually South Kingslea, they might also conclude the stop sign is in a traffic island in the middle of the intersection and swing to the left of it – towards the driveway – when they're supposed to come to a stop with the stop sign on their right, said Smithies.
It makes sense, and squares with Sandra Girasoli's observation that other drivers have mowed down the stop sign by crossing the end of her laneway instead of curving to the left, as they're supposed to.
For now, cement barriers will be put up on in front of the house, but Smithies said the intersection will be re-examined with a mind to making it more visible to drivers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

TTC bus crashes on Lawrence at Allen Rd.

Thandiwe Vela Staff Reporter - Toronto Star
A TTC bus driver is in hospital with an "undisclosed medical issue" after crashing his bus early this morning with five passengers on board.
Police were called to the Lawrence Ave. W. and Allen Rd. single vehicle collision at about 2:30 a.m., Toronto police traffic services Sgt. Tim Burrows said.
The bus was travelling west on Lawrence Ave. W. approaching the northbound ramp to Allen Rd., when, for a reason yet to be determined, it went off the roadway onto the sidewalk, ploughing through two light standard poles, Burrows said.
The bus travelled about 50 metres off the roadway.
Neither the passengers nor the driver reported injuries, Burrows said.
Police are awaiting information from the hospital to determine what caused the driver to lose control of the bus, but do not suspect alcohol to be a factor.
"Like all our investigations we will look at every possible avenue, including alcohol, fatigue and driver distraction," Burrows said.
City workers are at the scene repairing damaged light signals. The bus sustained an estimated $20,000 in damage.
Lawrence Ave. W. has been reopened both ways but the ramp from eastbound Lawrence Ave. W. to northbound Allen Rd. may be closed for several hours yet, Burrows said.

231 km/h? 'Ridiculous'

Scott Goodyear, one of Canada's -- and Toronto's -- greatest racing drivers, is on the phone from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
There's disbelief in his voice as he asks for clarification about the message I left on his phone.
"How fast?" asks Goodyear incredulously, who is now a racing analyst for ABC Sports and ESPN.
"Police clocked him at 231 km/h on the Don Valley Parkway," I respond.
"That's ridiculous," he says.
Goodyear notes at that speed -- 141 km/h over the limit -- the man Toronto Police accuse of speeding in a 475-horsepower, pearl-white, Mercedes Benz CLK 63 AMG (starting at $115,000) at 2 a.m. on a recent Wednesday, would cover the length of a football field in little more than a second. Yes, one second.
The guy must have had a death wish, figures Goodyear.
I called him because he's one of the few people in North America who have ever gone that fast, without being in a plane (or on an out-of-control toboggan).
Goodyear, a member of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame, twice finished second in the Indy 500 -- once by 0.043 seconds.
He's gone 300 km/h on the streets of Toronto, but only for a brief moment on Lakeshore Blvd., during Toronto's Indy (now Grand Prix) car race.
Ironically, Goodyear, who grew up in Toronto, said he often dreamt of racing up and down the Don Valley, legally. It's one of the great driving roads in this part of the world, with all of its banked turns and straightaways. That is, when it's not a parking lot.
"It would be a great place to do a chase run," he says.
As a driver for Team Porsche in Europe, Goodyear said he took cars up to 241 km/h (150 mph) on the Autobhan, but there -- at that time -- people knew it was the speed in the passing lane.
Goodyear tries to go through all the reasons this is one of the stupidest driving moves he's ever heard of.
First, there would be almost no time to react. Period.
Second, in professional racing, unlike a joy ride, everyone is going about the same speed. Everyone is a professional. Everyone's paying 110% attention. No one has a Tim Hortons coffee in one hand and a cellphone in the other.
Racers also have helmets, fire-retardent suits, six-point harnesses and cars with cockpits specially built to absorb almost any crash.
Plus, races are run on pavement designed for those speeds and not at 2 a.m. in the dark.
Goodyear also notes in racing there is a safety crew no more than 10 seconds away, equipped with everything needed to help a driver in a crash. There's a hospital at the track and a helicopter on site if needed.
When Goodyear crashed at the Indy 500 in 2001, the race doctor knew he'd previously broken his back. Goodyear never raced again. But he lived to tell the story.
"There are so many opportunities for catastrophe," Goodyear says. "If he's on the road all by himself, he's got a lack of respect for himself."
If the driver, at the speed police allege he was going had crashed into anything, how long would it have been before help even arrived?
The cop who caught the alleged speedster (police have charged John Kowal) didn't even see the car coming, he heard it, said Sgt. Tim Burrows. Veteran traffic officer, Const. Mike Thompson, started accelerating to try and catch the speeder.
"He could hear the engine," Burrows added. "When the car went by it was like a rush of a tornado. It rocked the police car substantially."
Thompson is the same officer who caught the driver clocked at the highest speed in Toronto Police records -- 242 km/h in 2001, driving what Burrows believes was an American car tuned for racing.
Burrows said at 231 km/h, it would take more than three football fields to stop the car -- in perfect braking conditions.
"I'm trained. I drive nice cars," Goodyear says. "And I don't go that fast."
And that's all before I tell Goodyear police have also charged the driver with being impaired, with a blood alcohol level over 80 mgs.
"You have to be kidding," Goodyear says.

Woman, 53, seriously injured - Police Seek Hit and Run Driver

The hit and run vehicle involved in a pedestrian-struck accident Tuesday has been identified as a 1994 to 1997 black Honda Accord.
The vehicle sustained damage to its front passenger side when it hit and seriously injured a 53-year-old woman.
The woman was helping the victim of an earlier accident in which a pedestrian was struck by a car on Midland Avenue at McNicoll Avenue around 6:15 a.m. The vehicle involved in the earlier incident had remained at the scene.
The hit-and-run victim was taken to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre with life-threatening injuries.
"She's sustained multiple fractures throughout her body plus her head injury." said Sgt. Tim Burrows of the Toronto police traffic services unit.
The victim of the earlier collision, a 64-year-old woman, was taken to The Scarborough Hospital's General Division for treatment of a non-life-threatening hip injury.
Burrows said police have security video from a business that shows the suspect vehicle and he urged the driver to turn himself in.
Anyone with information is asked to call traffic services at 416-808-1900 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477).