toronto speed limit

The speed limit on many Toronto roads might soon be lowered to 40 km/h

The streets of Toronto are a dangerous place to be a pedestrian or cyclist, as injuries and fatalities affect both kinds of vulnerable road users far too often

The city of Toronto introduced its Vision Zero plan (now Vision Zero 2.0) in order to effectively bring the number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths down to zero, and many Toronto roads might soon have their speed limits lowered as a result. 

"Higher speeds contribute to higher risk of serious injuries and fatalities by reducing driver reaction time, increasing the vehicle stopping distance, and inflicting more severe blunt force trauma on victims upon impact," a report from the director of Project Design and Management from Transportation Services states. 

"Reduction of speed limits is a tool in the City's Speed Management Strategy which aims to reduce the number of road traffic crashes and the serious injury and death that can result from high vehicle speeds."

The new Vision Zero report recommends speed limit reductions from 50 km/h to 40 km/h on collector roadways in Toronto and East York Community Council area. 

It says the posted speed limit on approximately 23.4 kilometres (94 per cent) of collector roadways currently above 40 km/h in Toronto and East York District should be reduced. 

The report also explains that speed reductions on their own are not enough to curb such a prominent issue, and that the initiative would be paired with a robust public education campaign and a request for support from Toronto Police Service for targeted enforcement.

The effectiveness of speed reductions will also be evaluated in order to determine whether this should be implemented elsewhere, according to the report.

It estimates that the program of minor arterial and collector roadway speed limit reductions will be completed by the end of 2020, and it will be done using a systematic, area-by-area method.

The report explains that streets were chosen for the speed limit reduction if they were sections just off of Highway 401 (typically between on/off ramps), sections through industrial areas, sections with limited number of driveways present and/or very large boulevards with setback sidewalks or sections with wide, open streetscape.

Streets were excluded from the recommendation if "lower speed limits would be artificially low for the existing road environment and create significant speed differentials, which would be a safety concern."

Exceptions were made, however, for streets near schools where pedestrian and cyclist volumes are high, locations with a history of speed-related collisions or locations with narrow or missing sidewalks.

The cost of installing speed limit signs on all the recommended road segments is approximately $59,000, and funding would come from the 2019-2028 Capital Budget and Plan for Transportation Services.

According to city statistics, 31 pedestrians have been killed in collision-related fatalities in 2019. Last year, a whopping 41 pedestrians died on Toronto's roads.

"Even with the enhanced police enforcement and public education, speed limit reductions are just one part of the Speed Management Strategy," the report states. 

"As outlined in the Vision Zero 2.0 staff report, the holistic Speed Management Strategy also includes proactive deployment of Watch Your Speed Signs, automated speed enforcement, road design improvements, and revised speed limit setting practices as key tools in order to achieve sustained, effective speed management."

Lead photo by

Jim Cagney

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