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Our outdated main streets are 50-year-old designs: too wide, encouraging speeding and poor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