Pedestrian Spadina

The Mayor of the  City of Toronto  is now talking about  instituting 30 kilometer per hour speed limits in the city.  I have written about the road carnage that is happening in Toronto where 46 pedestrians and cyclists were killed on city streets in 2018. That number increased by ten percent from 2017. Imagine~almost four people a month dying walking or cycling in the City of Toronto. The quickest way to alleviate this carnage is to slow vehicular speeds and enforce them~being crashed into by a vehicle at 50 km/h a pedestrian has a 10 percent chance of survival. Survival odds increase to 90 percent if a pedestrian is crashed into at 30 km/h.

In Oliver Moore’s article in the National Post, fingers have been pointing at Toronto Mayor John Tory who has been very conservative about addressing this road carnage. The City also instituted Vision Zero, a road safety program that should be focused on eliminating all traffic related deaths and serious injuries according to its creed. But no, in the City of Toronto they decided to only try to achieve a percentage lowering of deaths, not the complete elimination of carnage, and received much bad press about that.

The Toronto Mayor has become more proactive now looking at reducing speed limits on roads and adding more red-light cameras. He is even working on provincial acceptance of speed enforcement cameras. There is no surprise that data is showing that speeding is the culture on Toronto roads, with 20 percent of drivers travelling 10 kilometers or more over posted speeds, with some motorists driving five times faster than the limit.

With the unfortunate moniker of “Vision Zero 2.0” the mayor  has stated  “We simply have to do a better job of catching and penalizing those drivers who clearly disregard pedestrian safety and endanger others.”

Toronto, especially in Scarborough has long wide super blocks of street network that facilitates vehicular speeding and impede pedestrians from making easy crossings. As Ward Vanlaar with the Traffic Injury Research Foundation in Ottawa observed road safety used to be thought of as a transportation issue, with deaths perceived as the price to pay for “mobility”. It has been the shift towards a public health approach and the alarm raised by reports like the B.C.’s Medical Health Officer’s Report “Where the Rubber Meets the Road” that have shown that vehicular crashes are a major cause of death. And those deaths are preventable by changing road design, controlling speed, and influencing driver behaviour.

Monica Campbell, a spokesperson for Toronto Public Health, said traffic safety falls within the realm of her department.“If you invest in safer roads, safer streets, better infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians – does that reduce the burden on the healthcare system? Absolutely it does.”




    1. It makes sense everywhere. It’s just not going to be complied with or appropriately enforced. Nor will any actual design enhancements be added to reduce speeds in most cases; just 30km/hr signs lazily slapped up.

      Still, it’s at least an imperfect step to build on. Perhaps Toronto’s next mayor will possess either the brains or courage to enact meaningful change – someone whose qualifications extend to a last name not being Ford.

      1. It is better to move slowly on enforcing lower limits——-The over the top enforcement of B C photo radar during the late 1990 s created a backlash electing the B C Liberals on promise to abolish it— One of the reasons for ICBC s financial problems.

      2. It is RIDICULOUS to ask for 30km/h on major throughfares, often 4 or even 6 lanes in many cities incl Metro Toronto area. Toronto area is HUGE .. over 100 km across. 80km/h is some areas work rather than 50 km/h actually.

        Of course in many areas it makes sense to go 30 km/h or even slower, say major shopping districts with many pedestrians, school zones, or residential streets.

        One size does NOT fit all !

        Ditto in Vancouver area. Why is Taylor Way in W Van 50 km/h ? Or Granville Street south of 16th Ave (or Granville Bridge)? Ought to be 75-80 km/h, for example. Certainly 30 km/h is appropriate a block off the major throughfares ie residential neighborhoods, school zones or shopping areas like Robson Street, Granville South from 6th to 16th Ave etc

        1. No doubt there are idiots willing to beat their car and its parts to death accelerating to 80 kph and back down to zero every few blocks along Granville, but no reason to encourage them. 80 kph versus 50 over 10 km is a difference of 5 min. Plan your day better instead of thinking it’s OK to hold the world hostage to dangerous driving in urban areas because you have to get to somewhere in a hurry.

          1. Urban doesn’t mean slow. Not all roads are the same. Many easily can accommodate 80 km/h in an urban setting. In some areas 30 km/h is too fast ..

            The private vehicle will be with us FOREVER. With more and more electrification though it will take more and more shapes, a blend/hybrid between skateboard/scooter/car/bike/e-bike/trike/golf cart/car/pick-up truck/SUV and anything in between etc .. like roads one size doesn’t fit all.

            Ever been to Tel Aviv, Israel ? Loads of e-bikes, e-scooters and e-skateboards there. Probably 1/3 the traffic volume. Gas at $2.50/liter is one reason. Weather is another. Terrain a third. Parking a 4th reason. Why not in Vancouver. It doesn’t have to be a Ford F350 with 12 cylinders or an SUV with 8, but for some that is the right choice and for others an e-scooter and for yet others a covered e-trike. Its a function of speed, # of passengers, cargo, weather, price one is willing to pay for comfort, comfort level, terrain and distance.

          2. FOREVER is a really really long time.

            Understand that the pickup truck and SUV have existed for less than 50 years ( if one is generous about the definition) or about 0.5% of civilization.

            For somebody, Beyer, who is so resistant to change I can imagine that 50 years seems like FOREVER.

            I’ll wager that new gas powered vehicles will be an anomaly by 2030.


          3. And as cities urbanize the need for private transport will diminish as well. Only for the uber-rich.

          4. Hard to believe we need 80 kph limit on Granville if the future is LEVs that can’t even go that fast.

          5. The private “vehicle” used to be a horse. Later if you had money a carriage or a bicycle even. Later, a car.

            As such, I insist on the term FOREVER as the desire to move about is human. Walking or even running gets you only so far, so fast. For anything else you need a vehicle. Many will share it, but many prefer to own the vehicle, be it a horse, a bicycle or an auto-mobile. It may be electric, or small, or big, or 2 wheeled, or 6 wheeled, for 1 person or for 7 .. but indeed humans will FOREVER want to move about in a vehicle !

            Like a house or condo, some folks prefer to own, and some prefer to rent. Both options as such will co-exist forever, too !

            If I say “car” I do not mean a gasoline car. Maybe the term vehicle or auto-mobile is indeed better !

            Since batteries are so expensive, so limited in range and as we discover now, so environmentally impactful in production it is fantasy to believe that even 2040 is doable for every new car to be electric. Hydrogen is a viable option, as is LNG or likely for quite some time, a hybrid.

          6. Thomas, I suggest you start doing some research on the progress of battery technology. They are getting environmentally cleaner and faster to charge and the advent of ultracapacitor/battery hybrids make them much more responsive to power load and more durable as well. Range is no longer an issue – for a price. That price is falling fast. Within five years E vehicles will outperform gas in every category. In ten it will be nonsensical to buy fossil fuel vehicles for almost any purpose.

            It’s such a simple thing to install charging stations compared to gas stations. It’s also far far simpler to get the energy to them. And they don’t need attendants. The land that gas stations sit on is way to expensive in urban areas and that urbanization is accelerating. It’s already much easier to charge your car downtown than to gas up. In addition people can take charge (pun intended) of their power needs by installing solar panels. Nobody drills and refines oil on their own urban properties.

            The current growth in EV sales would capture 100% market share by 2030 and that’s with today’s technology and relatively high cost. Layer fuels cells on top of that and a steady decline in price and improvement in performance and the days of gas vehicles are numbered.

            But the answer isn’t E vehicles which come with most of the same flaws as fossil vehicles in cities. As cities get denser and suburbs re-invent themselves with urban nodes and better transit people will gravitate to walking/cycling/transit/ride-sharing/car-sharing and away from private cars. VKT is falling in most of the developed world and that is likely to accelerate as more people move to cities. That latter trend is clear. AVs in a decade or two will further reduce the desire to own one’s own private vehicle.

            I wouldn’t use “forever” in any context. No doubt there will be private vehicles for a long time, but their existence will shrink into something for businesses (tools and equipment) and for the rich. You need only look at the world’s largest cities to see that this is already the case. Also, young people are delaying getting licenses and especially buying cars.

            There are multiple trend lines that are converging to threaten the private vehicle as a normal part of our cultural. Who knows what a hundred years will bring – or even fifty. Looking back at the last hundred I wouldn’t want to call it. “Forever” is way way too long to see changes you’d have never imagined.

  1. Yesterday, had I not been alert and in possession of a loud bell, I’d have been right hooked by a motorat that was quacking with her passenger and smoking while executing the turn. Odds are the radio was on as well. Didn’t notice snacks and beverages, but they were probably close at hand.
    So cavalier and careless an attitude about driving …
    Wasn’t it in Huxley’s ‘Island’ that parrots kept repeating: “Attention!”
    Yes, paying attention would do more good than a 30 km speed limit – death by a thousand cuts.
    How to educate?
    People can’t even drive and park their bloody shopping carts properly.
    Seriously, drives me nuts.
    Phones must be treated like open liquor – turned off and inaccessible.
    No eating. It’s dangerous and not good for the digestion either.
    Drinking only from an approved bottle and only while stopped.
    No smoking. No vaping. Holy mother, from my bicycle vantage I see motorats sparking up all the time.
    When I’m driving, I’m as keyed up as a crow. If I’m merging, or getting on to a bridge, or parallel parking, my passengers must shut up unless it’s to warn of something.
    Peds and fellow cyclists, yes, it’s a pain to wear something visible at night – just do it. And if you’re quacking and texting while walking or cycling, if you get whacked in an intersection, well, tant pis, Darwin at work.

    1. It’s a foolish and slippery slope to let motorists dictate what others must wear. Anyway, if high viz is so effective, why don’t we see motorists hopping out of their cars and putting on a safety vest?

      Not going to happen, and not a solution anyway. It won’t address inattention, and will be fodder for victim blamers.

      The answer is to move past the private automobile as fast as possible, to a more sane existence. This IS an achievable goal.

        1. Never is a really really long time.

          The only reason I have hope for the future is because the things that were never going to happen are actually happening.

  2. Where I grew up, in the sticks, we were taught to walk on the gravel sidewalk, facing traffic. Those were the days of leaded gasoline. Life is better now.
    A lot of the yokels there enjoyed hunting. I recall one neighbour, a body shop owner missing a couple of fingers, standing on his veranda, wearing a full set of greying longjohns, firing repeatedly into the air, for the sheer joy of it.
    Go into the woods without wearing orange? Not a good idea.
    Motorats don’t dictate to me to wear high viz. It’s a rational decision – like wearing a toque if it’s cold. In Finland, it’s law. Is that a hardship? Not as much as being turned into a quad because a motorat can’t see you.

    1. It’s not that rational, because it doesn’t really work.

      A blinky light is a smarter response to idiot motorists. They are trained to respond to those.

      “Wearing visible clothing or a helmet, or having more cycling experience did not reduce the risk of being involved in an accident. Better cyclist-driver awareness and more interaction between car driver and cyclists, and well maintained bicycle-specific infrastructure should improve bicycle safety.”

  3. Kingsway could use sharrow markings; as well as a lot of other places. Let the motorats know which space a cyclist can occupy.
    A Mercedes motorat honked at me yesterday, though I was in my legitimate space and not riding the gutter/parked car/bus lane. The gutter lane is not nicely paved. It is rough and tiring. I caught up to him a couple of blocks later, at the light; rang loudly; and called him an a..ho..
    Infantile, yes, and bad behaviour, but satisfying.
    I’ve been taking the whole lane more and more – sick of motorats passing and squeezing me out, esp. at roundabouts and speed bumps where bicycles fly faster.
    On the Drive the other day, a cyclist got caught behind a bus. She was timid and looking for a way around. To go around a bus is one of the scariest maneuvers. Having taken the lane, I motioned her out, which she appreciated.
    I hate buses. Thoroughly. And UPS, FEDEX, Purolater, and those ffing Canada Post trucks. Find proper parking; take your little trolley; then deliver your crap.

    1. Cyclists on major roads (like Granville, Kingsway or Broadway) should be illegal and ticketed. Far too dangerous, far too much car and bus traffic, or vehicles parking and turning.

      Certainly cyclists ought to know that by now. It drives me nuts when they take a whole lane on a busy throughfare although they could far safer, and likely faster, cycle along a parallel route. Former Mayor Gregor Robertson’s biggest accomplishment in ten years: major functioning bike network. Let’s not only encourage but force bikes onto these dedicated roads.

      There are many alternative routes a block or 2 away in Vancouver to NOT use these major throughfares !!

      1. And what if the cyclist’s destination is on the arterial? They are, after-all, where almost all our businesses are. Cyclists are part of the economy – not just out riding for fun.

        Stop going nuts. The obvious solution is protected lanes on the arterials.

        1. True in theory, but only if enough space / width is available. Bikes have a place, of course, but when space is limited and usage is low they do not play first, but maybe only 5th or 6th fiddle !

          The solution is to cycle along the dedicated bike lane 1-2 blocks away and push the bike for 1/2 block on the sidewalk.

          Many roads canNOT accommodate bus traffic, car traffic, parking, bike lanes AND wide sidewalks. Something has to give, and it ought to be the least used mode. Along Granville from 6th to 16th Ave, for example, sidewalks are already too narrow. Many roads also far too dangerous for bikes, esp given bus traffic and cars weaving in and out. Bikers don’t understand that ?

          1. You note that people driving cars are speeding and weaving in and out, and your solution is to ticket people riding bikes? How about ticketing those driving unsafely?

            Instead of prioritizing the least efficient mode of what may be scarce road space, how about encouraging more efficient modes? Transit, walking, and cycling are all more efficient users of road space than cars.

            I ride on Broadway and Granville when my destination is on those streets. Makes perfect sense. And once the Broadway subway is built there will be an opportunity to greatly calm the street, improving it for people using active modes.

          2. Sadly, Broadway will likely remain the car sewer it currently is. The opportunity to ensure a great new street environment was lost with LRT.

            In theory a subway provides an even better opportunity than LRT to reallocate road space for higher uses. In practice it also provides an even better opportunity to maintain MV capacity. This city is far too timid when it comes to taming the car. I’m not hopeful.

  4. Overall, Vancouver cycling is nirvana – nothing like driving. Driving sucks.
    If motorats experienced how great cycling is, there would be a lot of converts. As it stands, during my travels of 20-40 kms/day, I see very few people cycling.
    I spoke with three individuals recently about their bicycles. One, bought a fine bicycle in 1986 for his daughter – a Biopace SG 21 speed ATB in shocking pink. Cost him $500. way back then. Pink, unfortunately, did not mean it was a girl’s bike; unless she was a big girl with really large hands. Bike was garaged for 32 years. Never even went through the gears. Daughter is probably close to 50.
    A second guy bought his wife a 3 speed Dutch-style cruiser for $1,000. It became a garage wall ornament. Never used.
    A third guy, just today, was inquiring about my saddle. It looked comfortable to him. He blew $1,800. on his bike. Didn’t know what make. Didn’t know bikes. Just knew that the bike didn’t work for him – a thin-tired garage ornament. Useless.
    I have ten bikes – six that I rotate. The others sit and will be sold when I get around to it. The six that I use, with alacrity, are all ATBs – no stupid suspensions, or silly hydraulic discs. They have shopping capacity ranging from baskets on racks to a full touring set up. I carry everything from groceries to small furniture. All have fenders
    These types of bikes are what will get motorats out of their airbagged cocoons. Practical.
    Don’t know how to educate people on what to buy, but what they’re buying … I couldn’t use. 90% of the time I’m hauling something: books, beer, groceries.
    Basic education on maintenance would help too: oiling derailleur pivot points and chain; the headset …
    Setting up a bicycle to fit properly … it’s a hands-on thing that takes time. You can’t expect a bike tech to have the time to do that.

  5. The BBC has been airing a podcast: Where are you going?
    The reporter stops people in the street and asks them.
    This should be done with motorats. Where are they going?
    What % are commuterats? My guess is 80%. Could be higher.
    The follow-up question should be: Why?
    What would it take to get marauding commuterats to stop?
    Working near where they live.
    How to achieve that? Make employers pay for commuting time. Billionaire company owners, because of their billions, can afford it. That’s not rocket science, or advanced traffic engineering.
    But they don’t want to pay. The billionaires like their wage slaves to commute on their own time. If the repulsively rich had to pay for the commute, they’d hire locally. That would take a battalion of SUVs off the streets.
    What do marauding commuterats contribute to the areas they are rampaging through? Pollution and mayhem. They are not shopping.
    Cyclists shop locally.

  6. I was just reading about how Marco Muzzo applied for parole – two years into serving a ten year sentence for killing three children: David, 9; Harrison, 5; Milly, 2; and their grandad Gary, as well as seriously injuring two others with his Jeep, while criminally drunk; after having flown in by private jet from his bachelor party in Miami.
    He had hoped to waltz away from prison to live in luxury and suffer the indignity of being chauffeured around while his license was suspended. Wonder how much Muzzo paid his mouthpieces to get an easy sentence.
    Fortunately, the parole board denied his request. He’ll request again real soon.
    It was not so long ago that driving drunk was an excuse for road violence. Mothers against drunk driving were ridiculed for impinging on motorats god-given right to drink and drive. MADD has done good work.
    A family destroyed. I wish I believed in hell – for Muzzo.

  7. The speed limit along East Hastings is 30km/h in part because pedestrians randomly wander into the streets at all hours of the day and night. Neither of those facts seems to stop some people from driving along Hastings at double the posted limit or more. I watched in horror one day as a black sports car raced along Hastings at more than 70km/h dodging pedestrians like they were traffic cones. I counted 7 near misses in just two blocks before the car was finally stopped by a red light.
    The same disregard for the law and public safety can be seen on most of our roads today. An alien looking down at earth might conclude that a speed limit is, in fact, the minimum speed expected rather than a maximum.

  8. There are some intersections in Toronto, where there is literally a crash sign right at the intersection for a 4 lane streets intersecting….it’s pretty scary stuff. It’s a visible warning to everyone… pedestrians, car drivers and buses. For sure in the suburban areas.

    Yes, Scarborough it is true, sadly. I had home there …near subway. I would bike only 1/2 km. to cross a 4 lane road to into the ravine park pathway system to get myself to work… Toronto’s downtown financial district. I did it nearly daily….. ( I would encourage every VAncouverite bike their pathway system …it is extensive. You can bike 100 km. north and west-east. )

    Clearly cycling Toronto’s pathway system avoided a ton of traffic intersections and….injury.

  9. A motorat yelled at me today: “Where’s your signal!”
    I was cycling with my son. We were in a left-turning lane.
    I yelled back something obscene.
    Where else would we be going when we are in the left-turning lane? Isn’t that signal enough for an airbagged motorat in a truck? Was he terrified, or annoyed.
    The safest place to keep our hands is on the handlebars.
    And, re. some motorat in a Mercedes money pit, or Break My Wallet going nuts because a cyclist legally takes a lane, because they don’t want to be killed in the gutter, well, that’s a Muzzo mentality. Arrogant bully dominator motordom.

    1. Well, my friend, traffic laws do extend to bikers, too. That includes signalling, stop signs AND traffic lights, frequently ignored by bikers.

      Yelling car driver utterly warranted, I’d say ..

      1. And it was discovered that, in Vancouver at least, over 90% of serious car-bike collisions are the fault of the driver. How is that possible with all those saintly drivers and scofflaw cyclists?

        Road rules were written by and for motorists at the expense of everybody else. It’s time those rules were changed to reflect that motorists are now a minority in this city. If a car driver can’t figure out that a cyclist in a left turn lane is making a left turn s/he shouldn’t actually be on the road. But it wasn’t really about the lack of a turn signal was it?

      2. Was it OK to yell at the driver who almost hit me in a marked crossing today as I road across Boundary? Mostly because she was too busy checking her phone at the stop light and then, without due care and attention made a left turn without looking?

        Cause I’d hate to think I hurt her feelings. Poor baby.

        Pay attention Beyer. A bunch of people hit by motorists this week alone. The problem isn’t a lack of indicative hand waving during a turn by bikers.

    2. Thomas, it is more nuanced than that. Yes, it is important to signal a turn. But a person riding a bike must also ride safely. Especially in consideration of the fact that the left hand brake lever provides 80% of your stopping power, and you can’t use it and signal with your left hand at the same time. From BikeSense BC:

      “The proper turning sequence is: first shoulder check, then a hand signal, and then, with both hands on the handlebars, shoulder check again before making the turn or the stop. In the case of an emergency manoeuvre, the need for the cyclist to keep both hands on the handlebars may sometimes outweigh their need to signal. In such cases, it is accepted that safety should prevail and the cyclist’s discretion and skills must be relied upon to avoid incidents or injuries.”

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