In this city, Vision Zero is a sham and people keep dying for real.
People who bike and walk in Toronto staged a "die-in" Monday evening, lying down on the concrete in front of the iconic city hall to highlight how many people are dying for real in the streets of the city. It's in advance of a vote on Tuesday about transforming Toronto's main drag, Yonge Street, from six lanes to four with improved sidewalks and bike lanes; as noted earlier on TreeHugger, this is something that the suburban car-loving Rob Ford constituency cannot abide. Or as one complained in the Toronto Star, almost filling out a Bikelash Bingo card in one paragraph:
It's so frustrating to have downtown councillors and their noisy special interest groups making decisions that do not personally affect them. We need those six lanes to access the highway. We drive 12 months of the year and pay gas taxes, licence fees and insurance. Bike riders do not contribute at all, yet they demand special lanes.
At least with crackhead misogynist mayor Rob Ford you knew what you were getting, as he fought against the war on the car. But the current Mayor John Tory pledges fealty to Vision Zero, even though he really meant nothing of the sort. So all of us downtown latte-sipping noisy special interest groups (including Walk Toronto, Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists, Doctors for Safe Cycling, and Bike Law) have to get their attention somehow, to show that somebody out there is serious about the issue. As the organizers of the event, Friends and Families for Safe Streets, noted:
It has been more than two years since City Council unanimously approved Toronto's Vision Zero Road Safety Plan: a plan to eliminate traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries. Yet our streets remain as deadly as ever. Already, drivers have killed 16 people on Toronto's streets this year. We need to see bold action from our Mayor and Council to transform our streets. Without that, Toronto's Vision Zero plan is a failure.
Vision Zero is not just about bike lanes- it is about safety for everyone. That includes people who walk, and the more vulnerable members of society who get killed in disproportionate numbers- older and younger people. I have called it a failure. As an older person who wants a safe place to ride my bike, I was proud to lie down on that very cold concrete.
I tried to get a photo of Toronto's City Hall from the ground up, and this was the best I could do.