Tips for staying alive in Toronto

Pedestrian death
Pedestrian death

Every time I read that a pedestrian in Toronto has died because they were hit by a car at an intersection, I feel bad for them, their families, and whoever else loved them. At the same time, I wonder to myself if that person had been more careful crossing the street, maybe they would still be alive right now.

Recently a woman was killed out in west Toronto near the Woodbine Shopping Centre. She was run over by a police car which was escorting a funeral procession. The police officer had sped through the procession towards the front of the pack, and at that time, the woman was crossing the street. With the car coming out of nowhere, she never had a chance. It’s so sad to see someone have their lives taken away, especially since the woman’s husband was sitting at home waiting for her to come back with his prescription glasses. Imagine his devastation when he found out what had happened. Of course, since the police ran her over, nothing will come of this tragedy except for a lot of heartaches. Whenever that man passes this intersection he will remember this horrific day where the most important person in his life perished. On the other hand, if this same woman had taken extra precaution when crossing the street, who knows? Maybe she might have survived to live another day? All it would have taken is a couple of careful steps and a turn of the head to look at traffic.

It’s so sad yet it is mostly an avoidable circumstance. The bottom line is that people, especially pedestrians and drivers need to be more careful and aware of where they are and what surrounds them. I see many people downtown with their smartphones up in their faces and walking around oblivious to the world around them. It is these people that the grim reaper loves to meet. They are just a step away from death at any point in time, yet when it hits them they’ll probably never know what happened.

Here is a list of safety tips for pedestrians and drivers that may save your life one day:

Take extra precaution when crossing the street
Trust no one! When crossing a street always be aware of your surroundings, of other cars, and how much time you have left to cross the street. Take the matter seriously. Some pedestrians are funny because they think they have complete right of way in traffic. As such they cross intersections without a care in the world and rarely bother to look around them. The problem with this approach is that they are putting their lives in the hands of others. They assume that when the signal to cross lights up, that everyone will just stop for them. While in most cases, this will happen, there is always a chance that somebody will drive through. The fatal mistake of trusting that others is your potential ticket to the afterlife. A women was killed in June while crossing the street by Adelaide and Spadina when she was hit by a truck. If you follow the link, you will see that the truck is a huge green truck. How could she have missed that one? Was she distracted? Or did she just trust that others would stop for her?

Put the phone down
It’s very hard to put the phone down these days. Especially since they have come a long way, you can do so many things on phones now. You could play games, text, visit your favorite sites, have a video chat and so much more. This extra portable convenience comes with its own dangers as well since many drivers and pedestrians have died because they were too busy trying to kill the greedy pigs in Angry Birds. If you are driving, stop texting. I-Phones are major culprits because it is very hard to text and drive on an I-Phone. Since most smartphones use the touch screen keyboard, typing while driving is even more difficult because you must look at the screen to know where to type. The Blackberry at least used a keyboard that you could feel-type without actually looking at the screen. Emy Brochu, a beautiful young woman from Quebec had her life cut short because she crashed into a truck while texting. Her last message text ever read “I love you and will try my best to make you happy Mr. Fortin”. As you can see the problem with texting and driving is that you may kill yourself and potentially others when you do such a thing.

Don’t be a tough guy
I’m not sure if these types of guys deserve what is coming to them or not. At the end of the day, I guess everyone deserves a second chance from being a dumb ass. These tough guys are a type of pedestrian that thinks that it makes them look cool and hard if they stand on the street while they’re waiting for the bus. News Flash – You never look cool and hard while waiting for the public bus! When a car approaches them, they don’t move, they expect the car to drive around them. I think this is very funny as it is possibly the dumbest thing someone could do. All it takes is someone in a hurry to come flying around the corner and launching tough guy, spinning him in the air as if trying to complete the quadruple triple axle move. This is a recipe for disaster and if you choose to stand on the side of the road because you think it makes you tough, then RIP.

Avoid Road Rage – Learn to forgive
It’s easy to get angry at someone when they cut you off. Especially if they don’t seem the least bit sorry. Naturally, your pride makes you want to stand up for yourself when insulted. If someone gives you the famous middle finger, of course, you will be angry, but just let it slide. Just move on. It takes two parties to make a scene. Maybe the other person did deserve the finger or a good old fashioned ass-kicking but try to take a deep breath and think how strong it will make you to forgive them for their ignorance. Road rage never ends well. Someone always gets hurt, shot, damaged, or even paralyzed. Even if you got into a road rage fight and you manage to beat the living daylight out of that a$$hole, how much better would you feel. You just left someone bleeding on the side of the road. Maybe this person was a father or mother to someone that thinks the world of them. Does that make you feel better now tough guy? Road rage incidents usually involve men between the ages of 16-44 who are aggressive drivers. Since the testosterone level is high in this group, it may be why road rage is committed mainly by these perpetrators. This man in BC went to the extreme in road rage. This woman accidentally killed herself when during a road rage session she tried to ram into another woman’s car.

Do bikes belong on the road with cars?
As Toronto grows and gets more crowded, it will be even harder for cars to move throughout the city. Bikes, electric bikes, and motorcycles are great alternatives to a car in a tight place. Bikes can navigate through the smallest spaces, freeing you from the traffic jam that cars are usually stuck in. Even so, there is a war going on in Toronto between bikes and cars. Bikes want to be able to move throughout the streets of Toronto, in their own lanes. Motorists hate cyclists and there have been many incidents and fatalities involving cars and bikes. Toronto mayor Rob Ford is one of the biggest critics of bikes stating that “cyclists are a pain in the ass”… “Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. Not for people on bikes”… “My heart bleeds for them when I hear someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day,” While I hate to say it, I think Rob Ford is right on this point. Bikes and cars cannot coexist without the roads getting bigger or there being a lane for bikes. The natural fact that a car will almost always kill a cyclist in a crash can’t be ignored. If you must travel by bike, be most aware and you might even want to stay on the sidewalk, at least I would. This mother and artist was killed by yet another truck. This time both were making a right turn but the truck lost sight of the cyclist and the poor lady got caught under the truck’s wheel. Remember don’t trust others with your life.

These are simple tips that are quite obvious however it’s easy to forget in the daily distractions of life. If you are of the opinion that when it’s time to go, then it’s time to go, then you could just ignore this article. For those of you who would like some control over when they say bye to this world, just remember, awareness and alertness count for a lot. And put the damn phone down for a minute!