Mayoral candidate Jennifer Keesmaat knows how to create safer Toronto streets.
During a press conference this month, Keesmaat revealed her plans for Safer Streets. She would reduce residential speed limits to 30 km/h, redesign intersections, and improve sidewalks and streets located around school zones.
However, her approach isn’t fresh. It would likely work just as well as Mayor John Tory’s Vision Zero in collaboration with police.
The one major difference seems to be the timeframe. Keesmaat’s Safer Streets is a two-year plan, while Vision Zero is a five-year plan (2017-2021).
The only thing missing from these proposals are the city and the council’s support.
The Vision Zero Road Safety Plan would use the city’s data to focus on locations where improvements are most required. It’s a decent approach. The funding is there. In fact, Vision Zero has been funded in the millions.
In June, Mayor John Tory pushed to seek an additional $13 million for Vision Zero. The move would bring the plan’s total budget to $100 million. A list of improvements would include doubling pedestrian intervals, speeding up road design, and installing speed bumps. Intersections would be repainted and bike lanes improved to give them more prominence.
City council approved Vision Zero in 2016 in hopes of completely eradicating traffic deaths. So far this year, four cyclists and 26 pedestrians have been killed. According to Toronto Police data for the past 10 years, 2011 saw the lowest count of KSI (Killed or Seriously Injured) in traffic collision deaths with 35. The highest year was 2016 with 77.
Though the city has the funding, our politicians lack the determination to follow through on the proposals.
In September 2016, Coun. Sarah Doucette pushed to reduce speed limits to 30 km/h. It was rejected by councillors.
Likewise, it was reported that a move to add sidewalks in North York’s Lawrence Park was rejected in 2017 due to homeowners’ concern that building new sidewalks would kill trees.
So, is road safety given enough priority? No. Political concern falls short.