People Who Walk and Bike in Toronto Are Fed Up

CC BY 2.0. Memorial to Dalia/ Lloyd Alter

A recent cluster of deaths has people getting angry and taking action.

There is a ghost ride this evening for Dalia, who was killed last week while riding in a bike lane. Eighteen pedestrians and 4 cyclists have been killed this year, and almost a hundred since the Mayor, John Tory, declared that Toronto was working toward Vision Zero.

Now, in advance of the upcoming Toronto municipal elections, there is a new campaign #BuildTheVisionTO: Safe and Active Streets for All, a set of 15 municipal election priorities for building streets where people of all ages and abilities can get around actively, sustainably and safely.

Build the vision TO cover

Build the Vision TO cover/Public Domain

“For too long our streets in Toronto have been measured using one priority- the movement of cars. We must break free of this thinking. Our streets belong to all of us, no matter your age, ability or socioeconomic status, they should be safe and active places that improve our quality of life, not places where lives are taken away.” Amanda O’Rourke, Executive Director, 8 80 Cities says in their press release.

The Mayor just came up with a few bucks to advance Vision Zero, but it's little compared to the $1 billion he is spending to keep an elevated expressway and the multi-billions to build a one-stop subway because the late Rob Ford hated surface transport. (And his brother Doug just won the election to lead the Province! We will have imaginary subways everywhere!)

Build the vision TO 1

Build the Vision TO/Public Domain

The demands are not unreasonable, and the Mayor has not been totally dismissive. But he is just one vote on a Council full of suburban drivists who really hate bikes and don't like reduced speed limits. Their comments from a recent debate on bike lanes are included here. These are the people who get elected again and again, no matter how inane they are.

Build the vision TO 6-10

Build the Vision TO/Public Domain

The most significant demands are that the speed limits be reduced across the city, a safe and connected network of bike routes be installed, that right turns on red lights be banned (like they are in New York City and Montreal) and that red light cameras and photo radar be installed all over the city.

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Build the Vision TO/Public Domain

After the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David McKeown suggested that lives could be saved by reducing speed limits a few years ago, then-Councillor and now Premier Doug Ford asked, "Why does he still have a job?" and suggested he be fired. Current Deputy Mayor Minnan-Wong suggested that he should either apply to become head of transportation or "He should stick to his knitting." This is the level of understanding about speed limits and safety, and these are the people who now run the Province and the City, which is why nothing will ever happen.

toronto is open

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

"Street Festivals" is probably referring to the last recommendation, that "Open Streets" be expanded. It is a program we have covered on TreeHugger, where the streets are closed to cars on Sunday mornings. However, Minnan-Wong doesn't like marathons or bike rides either because it is so hard for drivers to get around on early Sunday mornings.

TCAT, in partnership with 8 80 Cities, Cycle Toronto, Friends and Families for Safe Streets, and Walk Toronto, have presented a list of reasonable priority actions that could save lives and make the city better for everyone. They are surveying candidates in the upcoming election. Will it make any difference? Or will Doug Ford just use his new (and almost unlimited when it comes to regulating cities) powers to shut it all down? Hang on, because this is going to be a bumpy ride.