As the former Chair of Public Works and Infrastructure, I launched Toronto's first-ever, comprehensive Road Safety Plan (RSP) in 2017, based on the international standard, Vision Zero. The RSP focuses on six key emphasis areas – pedestrians, school children, older adults, cyclists, motorcyclists, and aggressive driving and distraction.
While we've made important progress in the two years since the RSP was introduced, it's clear that we need to expand the scope of Vision Zero to encompass the impacts of heavy construction vehicles. Our City is growing at a rapid pace and we are starting to see more and more trucks travelling through our neighbourhoods en route to major development sites and construction projects.
In Ward 15, our streets have seen a significant influx of construction vehicles as a result of the Crosstown LRT unfolding along Eglinton Avenue and the development projects underway in Yonge-Eglinton and surrounding neighbourhoods. This September, a woman was tragically struck and killed by a cement truck turning onto Erskine Avenue from Yonge Street – steps from the John Fisher Public School Safety Zone, at an intersection marked by a "no trucks" sign and a posted speed limit of 30km/h. This devastating incident shook the Yonge-Eglinton community to its core, and I joined several groups to rally against the unprecedented pace of development and major construction in the neighbourhood.
In the wake of this tragic incident, I have arranged for a Paid Duty Officer to be stationed at the Yonge-Erskine intersection during peak daytime hours to manage traffic flow. In addition, I've also worked with Transportation staff to assign a dedicated Transportation Standards Officer (TSO) to the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood. While the TSO is not able to issue tickets for traffic offences, he will ensure that developers engaged in local projects are adhering to approved construction and traffic management plans.
While traffic and pedestrian safety are issues in many areas of Ward 15 and across the City, communities in proximity to active construction sites can face critical road safety challenges. This is partially due to the resulting increase in heavy truck activity and lane occupancy – a common development practice that permits hoarding, vehicles, and other construction materials in the public right-of-way.
Earlier this month, I met with the Mayor, my fellow Yonge-Eglinton Councillors, and leaders in the construction industry to lay the framework for a strategy to better coordinate major construction and development projects in Toronto.
At the September City Council meeting, I also advanced several important initiatives to improve road safety in the Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhood and across the City.
In addition to requesting a comprehensive review of the Yonge-Erskine intersection, I am calling for an audit of all streets in Yonge-Eglinton to determine any short and long-term measures we can implement to improve road safety in this neighbourhood. In tandem, I have requested a report on the feasibility of prohibiting developers from occupying the public right-of-way and an improved traffic enforcement strategy across the City.
I also moved a motion directing Transportation staff to develop a new emphasis area in the Road Safety Plan that will specifically target heavy trucks and active construction sites. A recent analysis conducted by the University of Windsor found that between 2007 and 2017 in Toronto, 37.6% of pedestrian collisions with trucks were fatal in contrast with 15.9% of pedestrian collisions involving non-trucks, and concluded that pedestrians are far more likely to suffer fatal injuries in collisions with trucks. As our City continues to grow, it is imperative that we ensure large construction vehicles are not re-routing through our local neighbourhoods and endangering vulnerable road users.
Road Safety – Get Involved in Your Neighbourhood!
To request a lawn sign from our "Slow Down" fall safety campaign, please email my office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also request a mobile Watch Your Speed Program sign on your street by filling out a short online form.
To report ongoing local traffic issues to Toronto Police Services (TPS) and request enforcement in your neighbourhood, visit the TPS website.