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Cracking down on dangerous driving

This week at City Hall, we saw the first round of Standing Committee meetings and took a day to hold our Community Councils in Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke and downtown Toronto.

Judging by Community Council agendas, regular announcements by Mayor Tory and in community policing, it seems that 2019 is all about Vision Zero Toronto. Vision Zero has been around since 1997, when the Swedish government adopted its plan to reduce traffic-related deaths to zero. They had seen a steady rise in such fatalities since 1980, even as the number of people choosing to travel by transit or bicycle was increasing.

Toronto Council adopted its own Vision Zero plan in 2017. It recommends 50 different actions and initiatives to implement across the City over five years. Toronto usually has a bad habit of developing great strategies but under-funding them when it's time to deliver – but that's not the case with Vision Zero. When pedestrian deaths spiked, Council committed to ramp up funding in the 2019 budget.

The province also just introduced heavier fines for distracted driving, which is a perfect complement to our Vision Zero initiatives. It's why you've been seeing the Mayor and Toronto Police on the news warning you to put down your phone or lipstick when driving, or you will suffer stiff fines.

Many of you will be glad to know that Tuesday morning’s Community Councils included many Vision Zero-complementary traffic recommendations, alongside all the planning and development items that have been waiting in the queue for discussion since election season.

In North York Community Council, we adopted a number of speed limit reductions on local roads. Vision Zero research from around the world shows that while accidents may happen, lower speed collisions do much less harm.

None of the speed limit reductions at this month’s meeting were in Don Valley North, but they're coming. You'll recall from an earlier e-blast that we requested traffic and speed studies in our ward on behalf of concerned residents. One of the requests has just been carried out on Pineway Blvd., between Cummer and Finch Avenue. The results of that study were conclusive – this neighbourhood shortcut is growing in popularity, and it qualifies for speed reduction to keep the students of Pineway Public School safe.

At the next North York Community Council, I’ll be seeking authorization to conduct a local poll about Pineway Blvd. A speed limit reduction to 30 km can happen quickly, but City staff must conduct a poll to determine whether to install traffic calming measures like speed humps, as well. But there is an interesting thing to consider: all speed hump installations must be accompanied by a 30 km speed limit. Sometimes the speed reduction is implemented months before the concrete speed humps, and when it's time to install them we find that the problem was already addressed by speed reduction alone. This very well may end up being the case for Pineway.

There were more than 60 fatal crashes on Toronto roads in 2018, and more than 40 pedestrians and cyclists were killed. Just this week, a homeless woman in downtown Toronto and a man crossing the street in North York were killed in collisions. We cannot have a repeat of last year's record number of fatalities, and that's why I support this crackdown on distracted driving to change behaviour in the long term.


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