For immediate release: October 18, 2018Toronto, ON – Today, the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, in partnership with 8 80 Cities, Friends and Families for Safe Streets, Cycle Toronto and Walk Toronto, released the results of their election survey, #BuildTheVisionTO.
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.
Nearly 100% of responses from councillor and mayoral candidates indicated commitment to implementing traffic calming in all elementary school zones by 2022, and to streamlining the process for neighbourhood traffic calming. The Cycling Network Plan also enjoyed widespread support, with nearly 100% of mayoral and councillor candidates responding that they were committed to seeing it built. Moreover, 90% of respondents were also in favour of building the Cycling Network Plan in the next four years instead of eight.
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.
“The candidates who completed the #BuildTheVisionTO survey understand that road safety is an important issue for the entire city. We know the proven solutions. It’s time to build the vision. We are calling on the next term of Council to step up and take immediate action. No loss of life on public roads is acceptable.”
– Nancy Smith Lea, Director, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, Clean Air Partnership
“Torontonians are riding bicycles for transportation like never before and yet City Hall is already falling behind on its own 2016 bike plan. Considering that 82% of Torontonians support building a network of protected bike lanes, it’s encouraging to see so many candidates supporting the acceleration of the plan to have it built by 2022. We need to translate that intention into action and #BuildTheGrid.”
– Jared Kolb, Executive Director, Cycle Toronto
“Road safety is an urgent concern not only for those directly and already impacted by crashes. It matters to all of us who want safe and active transportation choices for ourselves and our families. That’s why it was so important for Friends and Families for Safe Streets to ask our future council and mayoral candidates whether they support the measures in the #BuildTheVisionTO survey.”
– Kasia Briegmann-Samson, Spokesperson, Friends and Families for Safe Streets
“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