Walk Toronto partnered with the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, 8 80 Cities, Friends and Families for Safe Streets, and Cycle Toronto to develop an election survey for the 2018 Toronto municipal election. The coalition released the results of their election survey, #BuildTheVisionTO, on October 18, 2018.
One third of city council candidates running in next week’s election and ten mayoral candidates (including the top two contenders) responded to the survey. Their answers were overwhelmingly positive. The survey asked candidates to commit to 15 priorities for building streets where people of all ages and abilities can get around actively, sustainably and safely.
Beyond election candidates, the 15 priorities have also drawn support from more than a dozen associations, organizations and community leaders, including academics, healthcare practitioners, road safety organizations, and advocates for people with disabilities.
The priorities with the lowest support, although still majority support, were outlawing right turns on red and reducing speeds to 30km/hr on residential streets and 40km/hr on collector and arterial roads, at 64% and 78% councillor candidate support respectively.
Right turns account for 13% of pedestrian injuries or fatalities in Toronto, and banning turns on red would increase safety significantly for many vulnerable road users. In much of Europe and the Commonwealth, including Germany, Poland, France, Russia and the Czech Republic, right turns on red are forbidden unless otherwise posted. Many of the candidates who responded “no,” stated that they would be open to banning right hand turns at some specific intersections.
Speed kills – a pedestrian struck by a vehicle travelling 50 km/h is five times more likely to die than if they are hit at 30 km/h. Vision Zero recognizes that reducing speeds is a critical component of preventing traffic fatalities, and many cities worldwide have moved to lower default speeds (for example, in Dublin earlier this year). Again, many candidates who responded “no” to this question said they would be interested in some speed reductions (for example, on residential streets), or in speed reductions paired with road re-designs and enhanced enforcement to ensure that new speed limits would actually result in lower speeds.
Responses from candidates were not evenly spread across the city. In particular, nearly all responses received from incumbents came from the downtown core. This trend is worrying, since the majority of serious injuries and deaths occur in Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough. Road safety is a pressing concern across the city, and we urge the Mayor and all elected councillors to make it a priority as they look ahead to the next four years.
“We cannot accept that people continue being killed or seriously injured in Toronto while going about their business. Everyone, regardless of age or ability, should be able to cross the street and get around safely. The responses to #BuildTheVisionTO show widespread support for changes to prevent more tragedies in our streets. It is time for politicians to make the bold decisions required to prioritize people’s lives.”
– Daniella Levy-Pinto, Spokesperson, Walk Toronto