Cross Where You Want

Pedestrians in Toronto have the right to cross the street wherever they want (with a few restrictions).

We tend to think of crossing the street mid-block as “jaywalking,” and assume there’s something wrong with it. After all, when we were kids our parents told us to cross at the corner (well, at least mine did).

But in fact, it’s perfectly legal to cross the street wherever you want. There are only two legal restrictions: 1) you have to yield to motorized traffic, and 2) if you’re near a marked traffic control (lights, crosswalk, stop sign), you have to use it.

If you follow these rules, crossing in the middle of the street is also pretty safe — City of Toronto stats show that far more people are hit crossing at intersections than mid-block. Plus, it’s good for the city — seeing pedestrians crossing anywhere on the road pushes drivers to drive more slowly and be more constantly aware.

I’ve written more details about this issue in an article in NOW magazine today.


  1. I liked your article in NOW. I’m interested in seeing Front Street after it’s finished. Will it happen for sure? When will it be done?

  2. At the moment, it’s just one aspect of a proposal. Council will have to approve the funding – that process is underway at the moment. And then they have to go for the concept itself. The final result may not be as innovative as the original proposal, and, to be honest, I’m not entirely convinced yet that the whole low-boundaries concept would work on Front. But it’s good to see people thinking outside the current box. And at least, whatever the final details, Front St. would be narrowed and easy to cross.

  3. If you have to use any “marked traffic light”, how near do you have to be before the law applies?

    Also, don’t you think that more people get hit crossing at intersections has something to do with the fact that way more people cross at them?

  4. About 7 times as many people get hit crossing at intersections as crossing mid-block, so even assuming a lot more people cross at intersections, I don’t think there’s a significant difference in the likelihood of getting hit.

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