Coalition takes fight for traffic safety to City Hall

Published On June 19, 2018 | By anamkhan | Life, News, Politics

From left, Liz Sutherland with Cycle Toronto, Amanda O’Rourke with 8 80 Cities, and Daniella Levy-Pinto with Walk Toronto, present 15 recommendations for traffic safety in City Hall on June 19. (Twitter/ BikeLawCanada)

Anam Khan

Six organizations came together to fight for traffic safety in City Hall today.

The coalition — consisting of Cycle Toronto, Friends & Families for Safe Streets, Walk Toronto, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, Clean Air Partnership and 8 80 Cities — presented a call to action that includes 15 recommendations that the city needs to work on to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Three of the recommendations include reducing speed limits on the streets in all elementary school zones by using traffic calming techniques, such as speed bumps, by 2022. Enhancing Toronto’s infrastructure falls under Build The Grid, which has three recommendations.

A coalition of cyclists and pedestrian safety groups presented 15 recommendations to Toronto City Hall. (Toronto Centre for Active Transportation)

Since the unveiling of Vision Zero in 2016, a city plan that aimed to reduce pedestrian and cyclist deaths to zero by year 2021, traffic deaths in Toronto has increased to 94 casualties this year.

Toronto council approved the 10-Year Cycling Network Plan in June 2016 to improve the city’s infrastructure and to better accommodate cyclists and pedestrians, but it is two years behind schedule.

“There seem to be a lot of hurdles in order for us to be protected,” said Director of Advocacy and Government Relations Liz Sutherland from Cycle Toronto, a non-profit organization that advocates to make Toronto a healthy city for everyone. “We think there needs to be a greater sense of urgency at the political level, particularly at the public works committee.”

The 10-Year Cycling Network Plan proposes 280 km of bicycle lanes, 190 km of cycling routes and 55 km of sidewalk trails.

“So far, they indicated that they installed only 1.4 km of bidirectional bike lanes on Lakeshore Blvd West,” Sutherland said.

“The bike plan was approved but then the major corridors studies were taken out,” she said. “We need political leadership to make sure that those corridors including Yonge, Danforth and the rest of Bloor get put back in the bike plan and get implementation underway faster.”

The coalition initiated a campaign called #BuildTheVisionTO that encourages advocates for what it says are necessary changes needed to reach the goals of Vision Zero in making Toronto a safe place for all bikers and pedestrians.

Sutherland said it intends on launching a survey to all the municipal candidates running for council office to determine whether or not they will commit to the 15 recommendations. The results will be released ahead of the municipal election this fall.

But there are notable opponents who appear they don’t want to make Toronto more cycle and pedestrian friendly.

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, a member of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee in Etobicoke,  has been very vocal about his opposition of bike lanes in many areas of Toronto.

He was heard calling a female cyclist a “loony” at a June 12 Public Works and Infrastructure meeting.

“I was just waiting for this woman to get hit by a car” and he later described her as a “woman who was going to get killed because of her choice on how she was riding her bicycle.”

“We’ve designed this city around cars,” Mammoliti said.

Cycle Toronto doesn’t agree that Toronto was designed solely for vehicles. Three out of four people in Toronto either bike, use public transit or walk.

“We tend to say that we need to design for safety and not necessarily put the blame on individuals,” Sutherland said. “A lot of people are frustrated on our streets and we need to see that culture drift (away from vehicles) but ultimately a lot of those conflicts are created by poor infrastructure that puts people in harms way.”

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