Traffic is a hot topic in Leaside – and for good reason. Traffic volume and speed, distracted drivers and walkers, icy roads and sidewalks all make for a dangerous mix for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers sharing the roadways.
In 1997, Claes Tingvall of the Swedish National Road Administration, authored The Zero Vision: A Road Transport System Free from Serious Health Losses. Since those early days, the Vision Zero concept has spread internationally.
According to the Vision Zero Toronto website (www.Toronto.ca/visionzeroTO), the program influences how we design our streets, enforce traffic laws and educate our road users to reduce and eliminate fatalities and serious injuries on our roads. The six focus areas are pedestrians, school children, older adults, cyclists, motorcyclists, aggressive driving, and distraction. The plan relies on new and existing engineering, education, enforcement and technology safety measures.
Councillor Jaye Robinson was an early adopter of road safety in the city. “When I became the new chair of public works and infrastructure in 2014, I was committed to developing a city-wide strategy to reduce traffic fatalities. A year later, I introduced Toronto’s first road safety plan based on the international standard – Vision Zero.” Councillor Robinson continued, “I think the enhanced school safety zones are succeeding throughout the city. I’m pushing for every school in Leaside to have a safety zone implemented within the next two years. We’ve also seen great results from the mobile Watch Your Speed Program in Ward 15. The driver feedback signs are reducing average vehicle speeds by 34 per cent.”
She also reported that, in Leaside, “As part of the City’s Vision Zero Road Safety Initiative, there are two School Safety Zones scheduled to be implemented in Leaside this year at Bessborough Drive Elementary and Middle School and Northlea Elementary and Middle School. School Safety Zones feature measures like signs with flashing beacons, pavement stencils, ‘Watch Your Speed’ driver feedback signs and zebra markings at school crosswalks.” For more from Councillor Robinson, see her column this month.
As reported by Carol Burtin Fripp in a January 1st Leaside Life online article, the Leaside Property Owners’ Association presented their proposed Leaside Traffic Calming Plan at the December 10th Annual General Meeting, held at the Leaside Arena. (Read more about the LPOA’s Traffic Calming Plan at https://lpoa.ca/leaside-traffic-calming-plan-next-steps/.) The Plan’s five objectives are to make streets safer for vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists), discourage traffic infiltration, avoid displacing through traffic to adjacent streets, encourage and facilitate other travel modes (transit, cycling, walking), and maintain and enhance neighbourhood character and quality of life. The proposed plan includes road cushions (modified speed bumps which allow unimpeded passage by emergency vehicles), bike lanes, crosswalk improvements, raised crosswalks, red light camera/photo radar and gateway feature/curb radius reduction.
Sergeant Brett Moore of Toronto’s Traffic Safety Program and a staunch advocate of Vision Zero has a simple yet powerful message: “We all need to work together for road safety. Pay attention, avoid distractions and slow down to ensure you and everyone sharing the roadways gets safely to their destination.” He appreciates that his job is made easier because “the police, public health, transportation, the school boards, school and community organizations are all working together for road safety.”
Are you a Vision Zero champion? We want to hear your safety ideas.