Cycling

Vision Zero Update

2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for Toronto’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan.

Since 2015, as Chair of Public Works & Infrastructure, I’ve championed the creation of a comprehensive strategy to improve safety on our roads. Last summer, City Council unanimously adopted Toronto’s Road Safety Plan and since then, we’ve been implementing safety improvements on streets and at intersections across the entire city.

In the coming months, we’re focusing on improving safety for seniors and children, our most vulnerable road users.

Since the winter, city crews have been fast-tracking the creation of 12 Seniors Safety Zones across Toronto. These zones involve increasing walk times at traffic signals, enhancing pedestrian markings and improving signage and street lighting.

As we head into summer, our next big push is School Safety Zones, which we’re aiming to have in place for September at a number of schools to coincide with back-to-school and the shorter days of the fall season when there are typically increased rates of collisions.

We’ve also got many more safety initiatives lined up for the remainder of 2017, including:

  • Physical engineering improvements at 16 locations
  • Accessible pedestrian signal installations at 20 additional locations
  • Increased pedestrian walk times at 42 additional locations
  • Road safety audits to be conducted at 14 locations
  • Expansion of the permanent Watch Your Speed signs at 20 additional schools

Last month, I was also pleased to host Toronto’s second annual Vision Zero Summit, which brought together more than 20 stakeholder groups and road safety experts to discuss progress on the Road Safety Plan and our next steps as a city. It’s always a great discussion, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s Summit!

To learn more about the safety improvements planned for 2017, check out our website toronto.ca/VisionZeroTO.

A Road Safety Plan for Toronto

At the beginning of the last term, one of the first things I did in my new capacity as Chair of Public Works was to call for a comprehensive, city wide road safety plan.

In 2015, we had 65 road fatalities, of which 39 were pedestrians and 4 were cyclists. In addition, over 70 percent of the pedestrians were seniors, our most vulnerable road users. So far in 2016, the numbers have not improved – 20 pedestrians have died on our streets and 80 percent of them have been over the age of 65.

It’s time to take action on road safety, and I’m pleased to share that our first-ever Road Safety Plan (RSP) is complete after over a year of extensive data collection and consultation with key advocacy and community groups.

This data-driven, made-for Toronto plan recommends 40 different programs to address five key pillars:

  • Pedestrians
  • Cyclists
  • Seniors
  • School zones
  • Aggressive and Distracted Driving

As part of the plan, we’ll be creating 25 pedestrian safety corridors in areas of the city identified through geospatial and trending analysis as “hot spots” for collisions. This will involve implementing advance green lights for pedestrians, adding or enhancing line markings and implementing turning restrictions at certain times of the day.

City staff will also be conducting 14 safety audits of intersections and corridors with high numbers of collisions to determine which countermeasures would be most effective at that specific location.

From the very beginning, my goal has been to eliminate traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries.

Earlier this year, I also put forward a motion directing staff to develop a Seniors Strategy as part of the RSP. Seniors are a growing demographic in our community, and we need a targeted strategy to tactically improve their safety on our streets.

You can read the full staff report on the RSP, along with 10 appendices, here.

Many thanks to Mayor John Tory and Stephen Buckley, General Manager of Transportation Services, for joining me for the launch of the city’s proposed Road Safety Plan.

Many thanks to Mayor John Tory and Stephen Buckley, General Manager of Transportation Services, for joining me for the launch of the city’s proposed Road Safety Plan.

Staying Safe on the Roads

Every fall and winter there is an increase in the number of pedestrian and cyclist collisions on city roads due to reduced daylight hours.

It’s key that drivers, pedestrians and cyclists become more aware of other users as they travel on our streets throughout these seasons.

One of the best ways to ensure safety is to stay focused on what you’re doing – whether you’re driving, cycling or crossing an intersection by foot. Don’t talk or text on your phone. Be aware of your surroundings.

Here are some other tips from the city’s “Stay Alert – Stay Safe” safety education campaign:

Drivers

  • Always yield to pedestrians at crosswalks.

  • Note that pedestrians in dark clothing can be difficult to spot during the fall and winter months.

  • Take extra caution at nighttime and during wet or wintery weather conditions.

Pedestrians

  • Cross streets at traffic signals, intersections and crosswalks.

  • Always look carefully before crossing and make sure all vehicles are stopped.

  • Wear bright clothing or clothing with reflective materials if possible, especially at night. Drivers often have a difficult time seeing pedestrians in dark clothes.

Cyclists

  • Make sure you have both front and back lights for your bike and turn them on when riding at night, dusk or dawn.

  • Wear clothing and other cycling accessories with reflective materials.

Extension of the Richmond-Adelaide Cycle Tracks

Opening the extended cycle track on Richmond with Jared Kolb, Executive Director of Cycle Toronto, Alan Heisey, Vice-Chair of the TTC, Stephen Buckley, General Manager of Transportation Services, and Jacquelyn Haywood Gulati, Manager of Cycling Infrastructure and Programs.

Opening the extended cycle track on Richmond with Jared Kolb, Executive Director of Cycle Toronto, Alan Heisey, Vice-Chair of the TTC, Stephen Buckley, General Manager of Transportation Services, and Jacquelyn Haywood Gulati, Manager of Cycling Infrastructure and Programs.

In 2014, the city installed separated bike lanes (cycle tracks) on Richmond Street and Adelaide Street from Bathurst to York/Simcoe. This pilot project assessed the feasibility of separated bike lanes on these corridors.

In June 2015, the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee received a report on the pilot. Early results are promising! Cycling volumes on Adelaide have tripled while those on Richmond have more than doubled. Even better, there’s been no negative impact on congestion.

You can read highlights from the evaluation report here.

As chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, I moved a motion to extend the cycle track pilot on Richmond and Adelaide east to Parliament.

The Richmond extension is now complete, and work on Adelaide is underway and will be completed later this fall.

The 10-Year Cycling Network Plan

The City of Toronto is developing a new 10-year plan to enhance the city’s cycling network. This plan will add new routes and improve existing routes, all with the goal of making Toronto more connected and safer for cyclists while easing congestion.

The plan is in its second phase of public consultations. You can participate by offering your feedback on the draft cycle network map!

You can also get involved in the new 10-year plan by recording your cycling trips in the Toronto Cycling App, a free smartphone app for Android and iPhone.

Chair, Public Works & Infrastructure Committee

Touring our new and improved Traffic Operations Centre with the General Manager of Transportation Services Stephen Buckley

Touring our new and improved Traffic Operations Centre with the General Manager of Transportation Services Stephen Buckley

I’m honoured to serve as Chair of the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee, one of the city’s seven Standing Committees.

I asked for a substantive portfolio and Public Works is it

With a budget of more than $2 billion, Public Works oversees four of the city’s key divisions – Transportation Services, Toronto Water, Solid Waste Management and Engineering & Construction Services. It’s responsible for an incredibly diverse array of issues: congestion, gridlock, drinking water, storm sewers, roads, bridges, sidewalks, highways, speed limits, bike lanes, bike safety, waste collection, recycling and street furniture, to name a few!

Traffic, gridlock and congestion were front and centre during the campaign – in Ward 25 and across the city – and, as I told the Toronto Sun, “it’s my number one priority.”

Last week, I sat down with Stephen Buckley, the General Manager of Transportation Services, to discuss what we can do right now to improve congestion and to tour our new and improved Traffic Operations Centre.

Briefings with other key staff and divisional leads are already scheduled – it’s a big job and I can’t wait to get to work!

A Comprehensive Road Safety Plan for Toronto

In 2014, 51 Torontonians were killed and many more were seriously injured in traffic crashes. As a city, we can and must do better, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists, our most vulnerable road users.

Toronto has a number of policies and guidelines that address road safety but we’re missing an overarching framework that focuses squarely on the issue.

That’s why I brought a motion to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee this week requesting a comprehensive road safety plan.

We’re going to build on what’s worked in other jurisdictions and the plan will focus on international best practices from comparable jurisdictions, such as Vision Zero.

The plan will be fact driven and I asked for an enhanced analysis of city-wide traffic collision data. I also asked city staff to strike a Road Safety Advisory Group to engage key partners and stakeholders in the development of the plan, including the Toronto District School Board, Toronto Police Service, the Canadian Automobile Association, Cycle Toronto and Walk Toronto.

Click here for more details.

My motion goes to City Council for final approval in March and a draft plan is expected by the end of 2015.