Balancing Traffic Congestion and Safety
On September 7, 2011 Toronto's Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) adopted, with amendments, two items relating to cyclist and pedestrian safety.
The first item (PW7.9) was the terms of reference for a Downtown Transportation Operations Study, previously requested at the July 12/13 meeting to include the feasibility of bike lanes on Adelaide and/or Richmond Street, and best routes for the separated bike lane network. According to the terms of reference proposed by staff to PWIC last week, the goal of the study is to address congestion concerns. During the meeting two amendments were made to the RFP:
- To include "Cycling and pedestrian demands and safety" as a key factor to consider. This amendment is important because traffic operations should not be assessed narrowly from the perspective of motor vehicle congestion only, but also by examining pedestrian safety and demand as well.
- To expand the scope of the study to include a review of the pedestrian scramble at Dundas and Yonge. This amendment received some media attention because there is a concern that the study will make recommendations to reduce motor vehicle congestion at the expense of pedestrian congestion and safety. According to Local Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam in the Toronto Sun: “There are more pedestrians through that intersection than all across the country in any intersection compared to it,” she said. “The pedestrian traffic versus vehicle traffic is 200% greater and this according to 2009 data.” Download decision history and report here.
The second item (PW7.12) on the agenda regarding pedestrian safety was the proposal to create a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan. This proposed plan was intended to improve safety at the 100 Most Dangerous Intersections identified in a Global News report earlier this year, as reported in a June 2011 TCAT News. The recommendation was amended by PWIC to remove the requirement for an action plan. Instead staff is requested to report back on the Global News findings and on any current initiatives being undertaken to improve pedestrian safety. Download decision history and report here.
City Council will vote on the PWIC recommendations on September 21, 2011.