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People in Toronto are tired of drivers constantly blocking intersections



During rush hour in Toronto, motorists are known to make some pretty questionable — and at times, totally illegal — moves in an effort to get home just a little bit earlier. 

One of the most common traffic violations is “blocking the box,” also known as when drivers proceed to enter an intersection even when it is beyond clear that doing so will put them in the middle of the road, effectively blocking pedestrian crossings or other traffic. 

In a recent video sent to blogTO by a reader, drivers are seen blocking the King Street West and Spadina Avenue intersection as other vehicles honk repeatedly and two streetcars come to a standstill. 

“The intersection is clogged daily,” the reader, who wished to remain anonymous, said. 

“It is never policed despite ‘blocking the box’ ticket threats. Drivers carelessly block the intersection without any regard or awareness they’re disrupting transit. It costs the city hours of productivity and can easily be ticketing people — but they don’t. Nobody wins, except these people who just enter the intersection.” 

Blocking the box has become such a major issue in Toronto that one local citizen took it upon himself last summer to dress in a soccer referee uniform and issue red and yellow cards to careless drivers blocking downtown intersections. 

Created by local artist Martin Reis, the performance art piece dubbed Crosswalk Referee stumped drivers at the intersection of Richmond and Pearl Streets during the 2023 Women’s Football World Cup. 

Reis described the performance as work “based in interventionist practice which uses the universal languages of football and humour to address pedestrian safety, privilege and social interaction in dense urban settings.”

The intersection is one of many hot spots in the downtown core for “blocking the box,” and drivers could potentially face even greater fines for committing the offence. 

Last month, Toronto’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee recommended that the standard penalty for the offence should be hiked more than four-fold, from $90 to $450. 

The motion, which City Council voted in favour of during a March 20 meeting, highlights the “blockage of signalized intersections and illegal blockage of bike lanes” as a great cause for concern, as they “not only create a safety issue for vulnerable road users, but also have a negative impact on transit and other vehicles congested on the road.”

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