Walking and biking are great for children’s health, are a fun way to get from place to place, and can even help students do better in school. Unfortunately, while most parents walked to school when they were kids, not as many families are walking to school today.
One of the reasons fewer kids are walking or biking is because families are worried about traffic danger. As communities, we can work with our Ward Councillors and City staff to make our neighbourhoods safer and help kids get the many health and social benefits of travelling actively to school.
Many cities around the world and here in Canada have been lowering speed limits, installing traffic calming, and improving intersections. These cities, including Toronto, are gaining the benefits of better health and safety, a cleaner environment, and a stronger local economy.
The guide explains key steps that you, as a resident, can take to be better informed about traffic safety and how you can request street improvements in your neighbourhood.
If you live outside of Toronto, many of our suggestions and approaches will still be useful, but your municipality will have its own specific policies and practices around road safety.
By working closely with your neighbours, school community, Ward Councillor, City staff and other passionate individuals, you can help build a better city.
How to Get Started
|CONNECT WITH YOUR SCHOOL COUNCIL
Get in touch with your School Council Chair and Principal. Talk to them about the Guide to Safer Streets Near Schools, and ask if it can be a topic at an upcoming meeting. Suggest creating a subcommittee that can focus on street safety, and plan a first meeting.
|WRITE YOUR VISION
At your first meeting, talk about your vision for the neighbourhood. Use the worksheet from our Toolkit to think about what a safe neighbourhood means to you, and the key pieces that create it.
|DEFINE THE PROBLEM
What are the traffic problems that are in the way of your vision? Our Toolkit worksheet asks you to think about the specific streets that have issues, and what those issues are. Is there no safe place to cross the street? Are cars travelling way too fast?
| KNOW YOUR ROAD CLASSIFICATION
Find the classification of the streets you wish to improve. Streets in Toronto are classified as one of either local roadway, collector roadway, minor arterial roadway, or major arterial roadway (see our definitions of each of these). On the City of Toronto’s website, you can search for streets by name, map, or by ward to find out how they are classified.
|LEARN ABOUT THE PATHS AND INTERVENTIONS
Compare the streets you identified on the worksheet to the potential paths that are available for street interventions in Toronto. Read about the steps of each path. You can choose a general path and start to think about which options may work well in your neighbourhood, but we recommend that you not focus too narrowly on any one idea if there are several options that can help achieve the same goal.
|CONNECT WITH YOUR WARD COUNCILLOR
If you don't already know who your Ward Councillor is, use the City of Toronto's "Find your Councillor" website. Type in your address to find your ward name and number, along with the name of your Ward Councillor. It will take you to their profile and give you their phone number and email.
Invite your Councillor to your next subcommittee or School Council meeting, and share with them the results of the worksheet you completed. You can use our Toolkit's sample template for reaching out to your Councillor. With their help, decide which of the interventions are possible and best suited to your neighbourhood. Find out if others have contacted them with similar concerns. Then you can begin to follow the specific steps for the path(s) and intervention(s) you have chosen. If you want to recruit more parents to help you move forward, you can fill in the sample outreach letter in our Toolkit and share it with your school community.
Visiting Your Councillor
We recommend having a vision, defining the problems, and thinking about possible interventions, but keeping an open mind about which ones may work best. Councillors will consult with Transportation Services, who review traffic safety concerns raised by residents, and provide technical recommendations with possible options. Working together with your Councillor and Transportation Services will allow you to direct your efforts towards the interventions that will help you reach your vision and also have the greatest chance of success.