The streets of Toronto can get pretty dangerous, depending where you are, especially if you're a pedestrian downtown. In the silent battle between drivers and pedestrians, there are people who suggest either side are at fault, and even both. This week, Toronto's former Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat, has re-ignited the Toronto cellphone ban debate which suggested banning pedestrians from using their cellphones while walking.
In light of the recent ban of cellphones in Ontario classrooms, the discussion of cellphone use and its appropriate times has spread like wildfire on social media.
Now, the question has moved to whether or not pedestrians are at fault for not being aware of their surroundings, or whether the blame should lie with drivers who drive recklessly.
Our council - including the Mayor - has formally asked the province to look into a ban on pedestrians using cellpho… https://t.co/cwCtuTXSqd— Jennifer Keesmaat (@Jennifer Keesmaat)1567436264.0
Keesmaat sent out a tweet on Labour Day Monday which stated that Toronto City Council has formally asked Doug Ford's Ontario government to explore the possibility of implementing a ban on pedestrians using their cellphone while walking.
That has since garnered more than 2,000 likes and hundreds of comments, and counting. And there are people coming down hard on both sides of the discussion, it seems.
@jen_keesmaat so zombies walking across the street without looking and headphones on or having a convo are in no wa… https://t.co/p81RlNOBmD— gab = @Geoff_Bernz & parler.com = @GeoffBernz (@gab = @Geoff_Bernz & parler.com = @GeoffBernz)1567480173.0
@jen_keesmaat Cities across the world should ban pedestrians using cellphones but ONLY when crossing the street.— Jereme ⚡ (@Jereme ⚡)1567436445.0
@jen_keesmaat And so they should. As a pedestrian I don’t use my phone when I’m walking. It’s safer to be aware of… https://t.co/pBhQTLy09p— Russell Ott (@Russell Ott)1567436818.0
@jen_keesmaat To deny that pedestrians walking/crossing streets on their cell + not paying attention is quite simpl… https://t.co/BrAWAIFgsw— Ron☘ (@Ron☘)1567437016.0
In contrast, some people believe that blaming pedestrians and banning the use of cellphones isn't the right approach.
Instead, they argue, the focus should be on people who are driving cars irresponsibly and aggressively. After all, as one user put it: "A pedestrian has never run over a car."
@PeebsY0 @jen_keesmaat A pedestrian has never run over a car. The car can kill someone - drivers need 100x more re… https://t.co/hrbKDtfZMY— T.O. Resident (@T.O. Resident)1567436651.0
@jen_keesmaat I was crossing at Parkside and Bloor the other day and a driver coming east looked me straight in the… https://t.co/0JGRJGlthG— Danielle O'Hanley (@Danielle O'Hanley)1567436557.0
@jen_keesmaat I assume every car at a pedestrian crossing may kill me. Even paying full attention as I legally cros… https://t.co/Ma7pAiSqUD— Dr Chris McKillop (@Dr Chris McKillop)1567443958.0
This debate goes back a long way.
Back in 2016, city councillors formally asked the province to look into a ban on pedestrians using cellphones.
According to the Toronto Star, this was approved by a vote of 26 to 15, with the support of the city's mayor, John Tory.
This motion advanced in 2016. A sustained and dangerous anti-pedestrian narrative built by politicians is the root… https://t.co/D0Q1IKv2Pg— Jennifer Keesmaat (@Jennifer Keesmaat)1567437011.0
The conversation has taken off as news of the City of Toronto's new project comes into effect.
The city's Vision Zero Road Safety Plan includes several initiatives aimed at protecting the safety and wellbeing of all students walking, cycling, or driving back to school, which was announced earlier this week.
People who use the road are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings, be courteous and share the road, stay alert, and obey the rules to ensure everyone's safety.
@TO_Resident @PeebsY0 @jen_keesmaat I've seen pedestrians doing crazy things, also drivers doing dumb things, and… https://t.co/HYe5m39I6Z— Liz🇨🇦 🐘 ❤️ (@Liz🇨🇦 🐘 ❤️)1567437442.0
@jen_keesmaat Sorry, but individuals have to take some personal responsibility. Looking both ways before you cross… https://t.co/b77CuMYtGh— Nothing to Offer (@Nothing to Offer)1567442382.0
In practice, banning the use of cellphones could and surely would be difficult to enforce with the sheer number of people who walk to and from work or leisure in the downtown area on a daily basis.
Regardless of whether or not this affects you, make sure to always pay attention when sharing the road.