Image from the City of Toronto
Vision Zero Comes To Toronto
By Taylor Moyle
No loss of life is acceptable. This is the mantra behind Vision Zero, an international movement started in Sweden in 1994 to eliminate traffic fatalities.
The City of Toronto’s own Vision Zero road safety plan was announced Tuesday, January 10, 2017, by Mayor John Tory and Public Works Chair, Councillor Jaye Robinson. Toronto’s road safety plan also aims for zero road deaths, which is in stark contrast to the 43 pedestrian and cyclists who were killed last year, the 65 people killed in our streets in 2015 and the 1,165 pedestrians injured in collisions.
Councillor Robinson (Ward 25) says, “No loss of life is acceptable in our city and we want to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries to zero as soon as we can – today, tomorrow, next month. We can't get to zero soon enough.”
The plan is expected to roll out over the next five years. In 2017, the City is planning on initiating nine actions across Toronto. These include plans for seniors, school children, pedestrians and cyclists. Between 2005 and 2016, there were 539 cyclists killed or seriously injured in a collision with a motor vehicle according to the City’s Vision Zero portal.
Despite these proposed changes for safer roads, some think the plan needs to be expedited more rigorously. Jared Kolb, the executive director of the city’s cyclist lobby group, Cycle Toronto, says, “We don't think that the new road safety plan is properly funded and believe it should be accelerated from five years down to two.”
Cycling is just one of the emphasis areas moving forward. Pedestrians, school children, seniors, motorcyclists and aggressive drivers are also priority emphasis areas.
Robinson also notes that Toronto’s Vision Zero will include, “implementing advance green lights for cyclists, expanding the use of dedicated traffic signals to facilitate cyclist crossings at intersections and the use of automated cyclist detection technology to allow cyclists to clear intersections before conflicting car traffic proceeds.”
In addition, Robinson cited the Ten Year Cycling Network Plan, which was announced this past summer. According to the Vision Zero plan, they will be investigating and studying high percentage areas of accidents for cyclists.
An interactive map released by the City shows where they will be investigating along with deaths and injuries on the streets.
Kolb also mentioned this in his deputation to the City Hall budget committee on Tuesday where he asked the road safety plan funding to be expanded from $12.8 million to roughly $38 million. Kolb says Cycle Toronto is concerned that the level of funding and the speed at which the project is moving will simply not be enough in order to reach its goal of zero road deaths.
During the deputation, it was also proposed that the City add more bike parking and increased bike lane maintenance during winter. Despite the money being put into cycling in Toronto we are far behind cities in Europe (especially on winter maintenance) Kolb noted.
“Councillor Layton and Councillor Cressy asked some good questions about cycling funding and winter maintenance standards in other cities,” Kolb says, adding that despite this interest, he is not sure whether or not the council will implement the changes mentioned by the group.
Significant structural changes to infrastructure for Toronto cyclists and pedestrians is not being guaranteed with this new road safety plan, although there will most likely be signage and light changes that are attempts to make the roads safer for everyone.
Toronto also plans to expand the Watch Your Speed program, which includes roadside radar that shows drivers’ speeds. The city has said that this has improved slowing down traffic on local roads. The plan does not state exactly where these radars will go, but they are adding 12 to the downtown core.
Speed limits are also set to be reduced in over two dozen locations around the city, going from 60 to 50 km/hr and 50 to 40 km/hr. These locations include:
Reduced from 60km/h to 50 km/h:
- Jane Street from Lambton Avenue to Pinehill Crescent
- Jane Street from Wilson Avenue to Steeles Ave West
- Yonge Street from Donwoods Drive to Franklin Avenue
- Bayview Avenue from Post Road to Cummer Avenue
- Bayview Avenue from River Street to Pottery Road
- Mount Pleasant Avenue from Crescent Road to Inglewood Drive
- Progress Avenue from Kennedy Road to Brimley Road
- Progress Avenue from Grangeway Ave to Markham Road
- Midland Avenue from Lawrence Avenue East to Sheppard Avenue East
- Midland Avenue from Finch Avenue East to Steeles Avenue East
- Dixon Road from Highway 427 to Royal York Road
- Belfield Road from Highway 27 to Kipling Avenue
- The East Mall from West Deane Park Drive to Eglinton Avenue West
- Bellamy Road North from Grace Street to Burnview Crescent
- Bellamy Road North from Lawrence Avenue East to Progress Avenue
Reduced from 50km/h to 40 km/h:
- Bay Street from Queens Quay West to Bloor Street West
- Queen Street East/Queen Street West from Roncesvalles Avenue to Parliament Street
- Queen Street East from River Street to Coxwell Avenue
- Spadina Avenue/Spadina Road from Queens Quay West to Davenport Road
- King Street West from Strachan Avenue to Queen Street East
- College St/Carlton Street from Dufferin Street to Parliament Street
- Gerrard Street East from Broadview Avenue to Coxwell Avenue
- Gerrard Street East from Main Street to Clonmore Drive
- University Avenue from Front Street West to Gerrard Street West
- Church Street from Conger Coal Lane to Davenport Road
- Jarvis Street/Ted Rogers Way from Queens Quay East to Bloor Street East
- York Street from Queens Quay West to Queen Street West
- Front Street West/Front Street East from Bathurst Street to 340m East of Cherry Street
- Pape Avenue from Danforth Avenue to Donlands Avenue
- Main Street from 120m North of Danforth Avenue to Gerrard Street
- Rogers Road from Weston Road to Old Weston Road
In addition, 76 new red camera lights will be implemented in various locations, which, according to the city has reduced right angle collisions, (accidents that involve a car being hit from the side at an intersection) by 60 per cent since the camera’s were introduced in 2000.
Many road safety advocates still don’t think the city is doing enough to keep its citizens safe. “Toronto is facing a crisis with pedestrian deaths increasing. There are many positive steps here and clearly the City is making a move,” says Patrick Brown, a Toronto based personal injury lawyer. “But there is always more they can do.”
Brown says that the decision to target key areas is “more reactive than proactive.” He also says that he would like to see the speed limits reduced to 30 km on all roads in order to reduce fatalities and serious injuries and for minimum maintenance to be on all bike lanes.
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