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Spatial distribution of pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions before and after pedestrian countdown signal installation in Toronto, Canada
  1. Linda Rothman1,2,
  2. Marie-Soleil Cloutier3,
  3. Alison K Macpherson2,
  4. Sarah A Richmond2,
  5. Andrew William Howard1
  1. 1 Child Health Evaluative Science, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Faculty of Health-School of Kinesiology & Health Science, York University, Norman Bethune College, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Centre Urbanisation Culture Société, Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Linda Rothman, Child Health Evaluative Science, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1X8, Canada; linda.rothman{at}


Background Pedestrian countdown signals (PCS) have been installed in many cities over the last 15 years. Few studies have evaluated the effectiveness of PCS on pedestrian motor vehicle collisions (PMVC). This exploratory study compared the spatial patterns of collisions pre and post PCS installation at PCS intersections and intersections or roadways without PCS in Toronto, and examined differences by age.

Methods PCS were installed at the majority of Toronto intersections from 2007 to 2009. Spatial patterns were compared between 4 years of police-reported PMVC prior to PCS installation to 4 years post installation at 1864 intersections. The spatial distribution of PMVC was estimated using kernel density estimates and simple point patterns examined changes in spatial patterns overall and stratified by age. Areas of higher or lower point density pre to post installation were identified.

Results There were 14 911 PMVC included in the analysis. There was an overall reduction in PMVC post PCS installation at both PCS locations and non-PCS locations, with a greater reduction at non-PCS locations (22% vs 1%). There was an increase in PMVC involving adults (5%) and older adults (9%) at PCS locations after installation, with increased adult PMVC concentrated downtown, and older adult increases occurring throughout the city following no spatial pattern. There was a reduction in children’s PMVC at both PCS and non-PCS locations, with greater reductions at non-PCS locations (35% vs 48%).

Conclusions Results suggest that the effects of PCS on PMVC may vary by age and location, illustrating the usefulness of exploratory spatial data analysis approaches in road safety. The age and location effects need to be understood in order to consistently improve pedestrian mobility and safety using PCS.

  • Environmental Modification
  • Pedestrian
  • Epidemiology
  • Geographical / Spatial Analysis
  • Community

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  • Contributors LR, AH and MSC were responsible for the conceptual framework and design, analysis and interpretation and writing and critical editing of the manuscript. AM and SR contributed to the interpretation and critical editing of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the article to be published.

  • Funding This work was supported by a CIHR Chair in Child and Youth Health Services and Policy Research RN162202-278772.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.