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The Pokémon Law: Toronto Wants a Ban on Texting While Walking

Look up from that Mewtwo, or you could get in trouble.
July 15, 2016, 3:21pm

Your days of catching Pokémon outside could be coming to an end. Photo illustration by Ebony-Renee Baker

In a decision that's bound to infuriate Pokémon Go fanatics, aka everyone, Toronto city council asked Ontario's Ministry of Transportation if it can ban texting while walking over roads. Fortunately, common sense prevailed as the province said "nope."

Councillor Frances Nunziata, one of more conservative members of council, said in a meeting yesterday that distracted walking is a big safety issue for drivers and pedestrians. While she didn't directly mention the new Pokémon game, we're a little suspicious of the timing.

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The council voted 26 to 15 in favour of Nunziata's inquiry. She said that texting and walking across the street is just as dangerous as texting and driving, and would lobby for a fine similar to the one for distracted driving.

"People are just not watching where they're going," Nunziata said. "They're just walking across the street and not seeing if the light is red or green because they're so busy on their phones."

Since Pokémon Go was released in the US and illegally downloaded here in Canada, there have been several reports of accidents involving the game, including a car crash with a Quebec City police cruiser on Tuesday.

Toronto's streets also haven't been the safest this year. Last Monday, there were a reported 18 collisions involving 20 pedestrians that one day alone. To date this year, 22 pedestrians and one cyclist have been killed in Toronto.

In June, Toronto voted on an ambitious new road safety plan with the goal of reducing pedestrian and cyclist deaths by 20 percent over the next 10 years. Toronto Mayor John Tory later clarified the goal is to get to zero pedestrian deaths as quickly as possible.

Nunziata says this law—which would have resulted in fines—would discourage people from being on their phones while walking. (Note: The threat of fines has had little effect on the following ubiquitous Toronto activities; drinking in the park, ball hockey in the streets, and dooring cyclists.)

I mean, she does have a good point since we're all guilty of looking down at our phones while walking (though, it seems more rude than fine-worthy, imo). That said, maybe you shouldn't risk your life to catch that Zapdos across the highway.

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