Traffic and pedestrian safety are important issues for residents in Leaside and across Ward 15. As you may know, I introduced Toronto’s first-ever comprehensive Road Safety Plan (RSP) based on the international standard, Vision Zero, as the former Chair of Public Works and Infrastructure.
On July 16-17, City Council considered an update to the RSP – branded as Vision Zero 2.0 – with new initiatives and accelerated timelines. This month’s agenda also includes an update on the City’s efforts to implement Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) technology on priority streets throughout Toronto in an effort to reduce speeding.
The RSP is a five-year (from 2017) action plan focused on reducing traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries on Toronto’s streets. The latest Vision Zero 2.0 staff report builds on the work we have completed to date and identifies new, accelerated measures to make Toronto’s roads safer for all road users. The major focus actions include: prioritizing speed management; implementing road design improvements; improving mid-block crossings; and educating and engaging the public.
A key element of the Vision Zero RSP is the implementation of School Safety Zones across the city. This year, I fast-tracked the implementation of new School Safety Zones at three Leaside schools – Northlea Elementary and Middle School, Bessborough Drive Elementary and Middle School, and St. Anselm Elementary School. School Safety Zones feature:
• New school zone safety signs with flashing beacons
• School zone pavement stencils
• “Watch your speed” driver feedback signs and
• Zebra markings at school crosswalks.
In 2017, the Government of Ontario passed the Safer School Zones Act, however, legislation for the adoption of ASE technology has yet to come into effect. Despite the delay, City staff are laying the groundwork to implement an ASE program in Toronto in anticipation of provincial approval.
In 2018, I moved a motion to lift the moratorium on the creation of new Community Safety Zones (CSZs). Rolling out ASE technology in our CSZs will better equip law enforcement to reduce speeding in key areas of the city, as drivers caught disobeying the posted speed limits in CSZs can be fined at double the standard rate. I also moved a motion directing staff to further enhance road safety by doubling the number of red-light cameras and increasing the number of future ASE locations.
Excessive speeds have been identified as one of the leading contributing factors to traffic-related injuries, and ASE has had a positive impact reducing average speeds in other municipalities. For example, New York City reported that traffic fatalities near schools with ASE were reduced by more than 50%, and speeding was reduced by more than 60%, while Edmonton found that its ASE program reduced severe collisions by 32% and speed-related collisions by 27%.
I look forward to working with the Leaside community to improve road safety in our Ward 15 neighbourhoods. Along with implementing the updated Vision Zero 2.0 Road Safety Program and Automated Speed Enforcement technology, Toronto is moving forward with important initiatives to improve safety for all road users.