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Group Letter on Street Safety in Midtown & Uptown Toronto

6 Nov 2019 1:50 PM | David McMahon (Administrator)

THIS LETTER IS TO BE CIRCULATED TO ALL LOCAL MUNICIPAL, PROVINCIAL , FEDERAL POLITICIANS AS WELL AS LOCAL SCHOOL TRUSTEES

The recent senseless and entirely preventable death of a pedestrian at Yonge & Eglinton has finally

brought street safety in midtown into the public conversation. Councillors Colle, Matlow and

Robinson have proposed a number of short-term fixes and longer-term studies , and the City

continuing its Vision Zero 2.0 initiative . In addition to these, to make people safer in the long term,

we ask for three concrete courses of action: build safer streets, increase enforcement, and

require safer vehicles. These have been proven in Toronto and other cities around the world to

meaningfully improve safety for people on our streets.

1. Build safer streets.

Our outdated main streets are 50-year-old designs: too wide, encouraging speeding and poor

driving, and optimized for vehicle volume instead of safety. We need to modernize our streets,

making safety the priority from the start.

Fortunately, we know what improves safety for people: simple tweaks to street design that include

signalized crossings, protected bicycle lanes, narrowed vehicle lanes, improved visibility/sightlines,

reduced turn radii, shorter crossing distances, and lit crosswalks.

New York and other cities around the world have halved the number of street fatalities by building

these kinds of safer, complete streets.

In Toronto, City Council has endorsed a ‘Complete Streets’ policy for all new planned and road

reconstruction. We need to begin implementing this policy, such as by following the

recommendations outlined in the Yonge-Eglinton Secondary Plan , including providing “direct and

continuous walking and cycling routes” on Major and Primary Streets - which includes Yonge,

Eglinton and Mount Pleasant - and providing “additional, fine-grained walking and cycling routes” on

Priority Local Streets.

Similar designs are already in Toronto! The Eglinton Connects streetscape redesign was approved

in 2014, and includes wider sidewalks, reduced crossing distances, slower speeds, and bicycle

lanes.

We ask the City for:

a) A study and implementation of a “complete streets” approach to Yonge St and a review

of street safety on connecting side streets.

b) Fully funded and accelerated construction of the safer Eglinton Connects street layout.

Left: Approved design for Eglinton Connects: safe for all users (credit City of Toronto). Right: Existing unsafe

design at Yonge & Erskine: no crossings, cars blocking sightlines, no bike lanes, narrow sidewalks (credit

Michael Black)

2. Increase enforcement.

Enforcement of basic traffic laws has dramatically decreased over the past 50 years; today there are

only two traffic enforcement police in the entire 53 Division, which extends from Bloor to Lawrence.

Motorists, including heavy vehicle drivers, regularly drive recklessly and aggressively: speeding,

running red lights, driving while distracted, and ignoring vulnerable road users.

The solution is modern approaches to enforcement: automated speeding cameras and red light

cameras ( as implemented successfully in New York City and in Vancouver ), traffic wardens at key

hotspots, and increased penalties to law breakers. Drivers of heavy trucks who ignore basic safety

regulations should be targeted, and penalties should be increased to align with increased potential

harm to vulnerable users.

Revenue from traffic fines should be channeled to municipalities that do the enforcement, not to the

province, where it currently goes. These funds would incentivize municipalities to increase

enforcement. Provincial support is still required to enable automated enforcement tools like speeding

cameras; this is currently under consultation .

We ask the provincial and City government for:

a) Effective immediately, triple the number of traffic police/traffic wardens enforcing traffic

laws.

b) Increased automated enforcement, including more red light cameras, automated

speeding cameras, and higher penalties.

c) Redirection of traffic fine revenue from the province to street safety projects in the

municipalities who do the enforcement.

Speeding Cameras in B.C. (credit Jennifer Gauthier); Traffic Warden in Toronto (blogto.com)

3. Require safer trucks and vehicles.

An outsized percentage of street fatalities are caused by heavy vehicles and trucks ; the most

dangerous ones, like the cement truck that killed a pedestrian at Yonge & Erskine, have enormous

blind spots, poor handling, and negligible safety technology and equipment. Although many safety

features are now mandatory for large vehicles in European jurisdictions, truck design in Canada has

barely changed in 50 years; the heaviest and most dangerous vehicles are virtually identical to

vehicles from the 1960s.

Fortunately, modern technology exists to dramatically improve safety of these vehicles: side guards

to prevent people from being sucked under rear wheels, cameras and sensor systems, and high

visibility cabs that eliminate blind spots.

Requiring safer trucks can be implemented federally, provincially and municipally. For example,

London UK has banned the least safe heavy trucks from the city , and in coming years will

increasingly raise standards so only heavy trucks with moderate or better safety ratings can enter.

Several cities in the US, including Washington DC, now require side guards on heavy duty trucks .

And European vehicle standards require all vehicles to be designed for pedestrian and cyclist safety .

We ask the federal, provincial and municipal governments for:

a) A ban on unsafe heavy vehicles in Toronto, only permitting modern safe vehicles

b) Safety features designed to protect vulnerable road users be the required standard for

all vehicles

Left: 1970s cement truck. Middle: Typical late 2010s low-visibility truck, soon to be banned in London UK.

Right: Modern truck with high-visibility cabin, camera sensor systems, & side guards.

Letter Signatories

The following organizations have endorsed this position statement

FoNTRA , Lytton Park Resident's Association, Eglinton Park Resident's Association,

Cycle Toronto Midtown , Cycle Toronto Don Valley /Midtown


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