Road safety group challenges Toronto over cyclist and pedestrian deaths
It was just over two years ago that Mayor John Tory announced his version of 'Vision Zero' for Toronto.
The plan, modelled after a global initiative with roots in Sweden, was meant to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities in the city by 2021 through such measures as reducing speed limits, boosting cycling infrastructure and cracking down on drivers who jeopardize the safety of pedestrians.
Needless to say, it hasn't been working.
At least 93 cyclists and pedestrians have been killed by cars on the streets of Toronto since Vision Zero came into play, and experts say we're currently on track for one of the deadliest years in history.
"When it comes to safety, our streets are failing," reads a call to action from six local advocacy groups who, together, are challenging city officials this week to step up and take action.
"This year (2018) Toronto has seen a surge in deaths of vulnerable road users," the coalition continued. "Each and every one of these deaths was preventable. We know the proven solutions now. We know how to build streets that are safe and accessible — streets that can save lives."
To prove this point, the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation has partnered with 8 80 Cities, Cycle Toronto, Friends and Families for Safe Streets and Walk Toronto to compile what they're calling #BuildTheVisionTO: Safe and Active Streets for All.
The plan details 15 "priority actions" that road safety advocates say will help build "streets where people of all ages and abilities can get around actively, sustainability and safely."
It's got some bold ideas, such as implementing a city-wide speed limit of 30 km/h on residential streets and outlawing right turns on red lights completely.
Bolder still is that the group has sent out a survey to all of Toronto's mayoral and city council candidates, asking where they stand on all 15 issues.
The responses they get from candidates will be published online well ahead of the October 22 municipal election — and, judging by the conversation surrounding Toronto's (lack of) road safety in recent weeks, those responses could prove quite powerful in terms of influencing how citizens vote.
#BuildTheVisionTO We have made the commitment now let's make the changes in order to make our streets accessible for people of all ages, of all modes of transportation. #VisionZero is a large undertaking, @JohnTory has promised us ZERO deaths on our streets, make it happen! pic.twitter.com/TectzYhLmo— Bike Law Canada (@BikeLawCanada) June 19, 2018
"#BuildTheVisionTO will provide information for voters to assess if those who aspire to lead our City are committed to make road safety their priority and to protect the lives of vulnerable road users," said Walk Toronto spokesperson Daniella Levy-Pinto in a press release announcing the survey on Tuesday.
"For too long our streets in Toronto have been measured using one priority - the movement of cars," said 8 80 Cities executive director Amanda O'Rourke similarly.
"We must break free of this thinking. Our streets belong to all of us, no matter your age, ability or socioeconomic status, they should be safe and active places that improve our quality of life, not places where lives are taken away."
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