Cycle Toronto meeting with Councillor Bravo
We are proud of the collaboration and co-creation that we are achieving as an integral member of the Toronto Alliance for Safe and Active Streets. Our Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, Alison is Co-chair, alongside David Simor of TCAT. On October 12th, we met with Councillor Bravo to discuss how we can leverage the objectives of the Economic Community Development Committee to support our collective goal of prioritizing road safety for vulnerable road users and active modes of transportation over the movement of vehicular traffic.
Stay tuned for updates as we collaborate with our Alliance members and members of council to achieve our 10 priority actions over the next three years.
(From left top row: Jess Spieker (FFSS), David Simor (TCAT), Pamela Gough (representing Walk Toronto’s Daniella Levy-Pinto), How-Sen Chong (TEA), August Pantitlán Puranauth (TTC Riders), Lanrick Bennett Jr (The Bicycle Mayor) From left bottom row: Alison Stewart (CycleTO), Councillor Bravo)
Improving Construction Zone Safety at the IEC
On October 12th, Cycle Toronto, Walk Toronto, Friends and Families for Safe Streets, and other community road safety stakeholders met at the Stakeholder Advisory Committee chaired by Transportation Services Director of Traffic Management to receive an update on the new initiatives, policies and programs that would be implemented to improve the safety of people who walk, bike, roll and rely on mobility devices to navigate the city’s sidewalks, streets and roads.
Our Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, Alison Stewart, was at IEC this past Wednesday to depute on the issue, but would like to thank the over 125 of you that took the time to submit your comments to IEC in response to our Action Alert. Thank you all for being part of our community of supporters.
Cycle Toronto is thankful and appreciative that city staff, as a result, have developed a range of new policies, standards and specifications around construction zones to improve the safety of people by addressing four areas of improvement:
2) Safe path of travel
3) Training staff
We support the range of new initiatives being proposed by staff, including the expansion of construction hubs, providing a higher level of construction work zone support, and the creation of a dedicated traffic event management planning team.
We are very concerned that Transportation Services is seeking to negotiate and enter into an agreement with Toronto Police for the use of callback police officers and special constables to expand the Traffic Agent Program.
The police, who are currently tasked with enforcing traffic laws, receive a significant portion of the city’s budget and are not doing their job with efficiency or transparency. The police have launched biased campaigns targeting vulnerable road users instead of prioritizing the safety of people by ensuring intersections are free from vehicles blocking the box, drivers are following the posted traffic speed, and following other traffic laws (like not texting or otherwise driving while distracted).
The most effective solution to improving road safety is to build streets that are safe by design, not by relying on police enforcement.
The Toronto Police has acknowledged they have engaged in racist practices and violence toward Black, Indigenous, and other racialized communities, so instead of directing more funds to the police, more investment towards implementing road improvements that physically force drivers to slow down should be prioritized. Besides which, the contractors and companies that are in charge of the respective construction sites should be tasked with ensuring their safety and the safe passage of people.
Additionally, it is our view that unless the movement of people is prioritized along key transit corridors, and there is sufficient staff to proactively oversee the large volume of construction zones paired with sufficient enforcement, construction sites will remain a significant barrier to the movement and safety of people. Unless these three issues are addressed, the Construction Management Plan will not succeed:
- Closing access to vehicular traffic when the public right of way is compromised on the city’s subway routes and key TTC streetcar routes during construction to ensure the safe and efficient movement of transit users, people walking, biking and using other micro mobilities as well as emergency vehicles;
- Transportation Services must have the sufficient resources and staff of Project Managers, Site Inspectors, Work Zone Coordinators and Transportation Standards Officers to oversee the proactive and reactive needs of preparing construction permits and enforcing compliance to guarantee construction zone safety at all times in both a proactive and reactive way.
- Unless there is a dedicated and properly resourced enforcement mechanism that doesn’t rely on the police that ensures the safe passage of vulnerable road users over vehicular traffic, the new initiatives and programs outlined in the Construction Management Plan 2023-2026 will not succeed in improving the safety of people around construction zones.
As result of our advocacy, motions were made by members of IEC that will contribute to ensuring the safety of vulnerable road users during construction as well as assessing the success of the Congestion Management Plan 2023-2026:
- That all reasonable measures to recruit and train Traffic Agents will be taken to expand the Traffic Agent Program so as not to rely on police;
- In Q1 2024, a fee increase for road encroachment permits on TTC bus routes, which will support measures necessary to overcome their adverse travel impacts as well as on the safety of vulnerable road users;
- Traffic Agents will be trained and instructed throughout the course of their duties on giving priority emphasis to vulnerable road users, with specific focus on accessibility needs;.
A a supplementary report will be presented at the next City Council meeting on Nov 8 covering:
- An update on MM5.26 "Don't Block the Box," requesting increased fines and best practices for solutions including the feasibility of expanding the red light camera program;
- The structure of the dedicated event management team and construction coordination teams; and
- The relationship with the Province of Ontario around events coordination and congestion management.
- The General Manager, Transportation Services, will report to the IEC semi-annually, beginning on January 9, 2024, on the status of congestion.
As this item head’s to City Council on Nov 8th, and as the city enters into 2024 Budget discussions, Cycle Toronto will be calling on Council to consider additional revenue tools that will contribute to incentivizing car drivers to active modes of transportation such as bringing back to the car registration fee (that is linked to size and weight of vehicles), and negotiating with the province to implement congestion tolls so that investment can be made in expediting the cycling network plan, Bike Share Toronto and improving TTC service and reliability.
(Various construction zone signage seen around Toronto.)
Vision Zero Update on Safety Initiatives
Cycle Toronto supports the initiatives outlined in IE7.4 Updates on Vision Zero Road Safety Initiatives. City staff should be commended on advancing initiatives that will contribute to continuing the downward trend of fatalities and serious road injuries on our streets and roads.
This said, we are concerned that the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan isn’t given the priority it deserves, and should be embedded in Toronto Public Health’s mandate, as well as TransformTO, and other city strategies and plans. Protecting and promoting the health of Toronto residents by preventing the spread of disease, promoting healthy living and advocating for conditions that improve health for Toronto residents should surely include reducing the number of preventable fatalities and serious injury linked to traffic collisions.
The data used to track the success of Vision Zero doesn’t reflect the high incidence of near misses, all injuries linked to collisions and the increasing conflict taking place on Toronto’s streets, roads, sidewalks and bike lanes on a daily basis. It is for this reason that we recommend that the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan be more integrated to Toronto Public Health outcomes.
Many of the deaths and serious road injuries that have been sustained on Toronto’s streets over the past few years would not have been prevented even if the safety initiatives outlined in this report were implemented. Until arterials are redesigned within the Complete Streets Guidelines and intersections are designed to include raised crosswalks along with other traffic calming treatments, people outside of cars will remain incredibly vulnerable along arterials.
Cycle Toronto Recommends:
Improve the data used to capture the number and impact of collisions (not all of which are included in the data collected by the police) by:
- Reporting public health data linked to ER records linked to collisions;
Including the direct cost savings and economic benefits linked to prioritizing the movement of people walking and biking as outlined in the 2012 Public Health Report: Road to Health: Improving Walking and Cycling in Toronto which outlined the following figures:
- Reduced health care spending of $110 to $160 million for keeping Toronto residents active by walking or cycling and averting chronic illness.
- Costs associated with pedestrian-vehicle collisions cost over $53 million and cyclist-vehicle collisions are over $9 million. By improving safety for pedestrians and cyclists in Toronto the direct costs associated with vehicle collisions with pedestrians and cyclists could be reduced by over $62 million.
- The total economic benefits of active transportation in Toronto range from $130 million to $478 million.
Improve the effectiveness of the Vision Zero Safety Plan by implementing a process similar to the investigation of all Workplace fatalities:
- When a driver kills someone as a result of a collision, a third party investigator (not the police) hired by Vision Zero team complete an investigation that results in safety improvements that will be implemented immediately to prevent a similar collision from happening again);
- Expand implementation of mid-block crossings to locations that include transit stops;
- Ensure the implementation of an Administrative Penalty System (APS) that supports the Red Light Cameras (RLC) and Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) is done with an equity impact assessment, in order to ensure it does not disproportionately affect equity deserving communities while minimizing repeat offenders.
By prioritizing the safety of people of all ages, abilities and incomes across the city by prioritizing their safety over the movement of vehicular traffic Toronto is poised to meet its TransformTO target of moving more people by active modes of transportation while improving the public health of its residents while achieving significant cost savings in reducing the high cost of traffic collisions.
As a result of our advocacy efforts and productive conversations with IEC members and city staff, the following motions were approved and will be discussed at the next City Council meeting on Nov 8th:
- Leverage an initiative implemented in Montreal and Calgary, and to implement mobile automated license plate readers for use, as a pilot project, to enforce parking offences that endanger vulnerable road users, such as obstructing bike lanes and blocking intersections. If approved, an evaluation of the effectiveness of this pilot project will be included in the city-wide parking strategy report scheduled for 2024.
- Earmark the revenue collected from parking tickets to fund the automated licence plate reader project to the pilot project;
- Transportation Services to report, at least once a year, on how Toronto’s lack of safe infrastructure for vulnerable road users is affecting Toronto’s air quality, climate, public health and congestion goals.
City Council affirm the importance of safety in construction zones whereby staff:
- Manage construction zones with priority emphasis to emergency vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, while also ensuring worker safety;
- Ensure safe, accessible and well-marked paths of travel for pedestrians in all construction zones; and
- Maintain protected cyclist infrastructure to the greatest extent possible with well-marked signage and leveraging best practices from other jurisdictions.
Advocacy matters! Progress may take more time than we would like, but we have much to be hopeful about under the Chow regime. Stay tuned for updates as we continue our advocacy work in advance of the next City Council meeting on Nov 8th.
(Jameson Avenue in Parkdale is one street with an Automated Speed Enforcement camera.)
2025-2027 Near-Term Cycling Network Plan: Stakeholder Consultations
Get excited! While city staff continue to work on completing the 100km of new cycling infrastructure outlined in the current 2022-2024 Near-Term Cycling Network Plan, they have begun planning for the future with the 2025-2027 Near-Term Cycling Network Plan. City staff are taking a more equitable approach to how the consultations will take place and are reaching out to these three important stakeholder groups:
- Cycling and Safety Advocacy Organizations
- Schools, Youth, and Community Groups
- Food Delivery Bike Couriers
When the now Mayor Chow campaigned in the 2014 Toronto Municipal Election, part of her campaign platform included implementing 200 km of new cycling infrastructure. We look forward to advancing cycling in our wonderful city and to continue building the momentum that has been achieved over the past few years. We can’t wait to see what can be achieved under a progressive Mayor that is a cyclist like us.
Some of the things we are considering advocating for are:
- Ensure Transportation Services has the sufficient resources and staff to complete the 2022-2024 Cycling Network Plan on schedule
- Accelerate the Cycling Network Plan by implementing 100km of new cycling infrastructure connecting the inner suburbs to the core by improving arterials as well as implementing connections within the inner-suburbs as well as 100km of upgrades to existing cycling network that will see painted bike lanes upgraded to cycle tracks as well as the necessary maintenance to ensure that the cycling network is well maintained all year.
- Direct any and all revenue collected from ASE and RLC programs to fund Vision Zero initiatives that include making infrastructure improvements to intersections and arterials where fatalities and serious road injury takes place
- Make the implementation of Complete Streets mandatory for all road reconstruction and road upgrades. The inclusion of cycle tracks and pedestrian improvements must be made, even when curbside parking and/or vehicle lane reduction is needed (inspired by the passing of an ordinance city law to mandate to add protected bike lanes when building or updating roads (inspired by Cambridge Massachusetts in 2019)
- To support TransformTO goal of moving majority of trips by active transportation - bring back car registration fee (by weight and type) and implement a congestion toll (the active transportation network has long hinged on the backs of user fares but not equitable fares directed at vehicular traffic)
Create a Toronto Micro Mobility & Cycling Advisory Committee that is consulted alongside the Accessibility Advisory Committee and the Climate Advisory Group