In the wake of a number of recent deaths on Toronto roads, the city has approved $22 million for road safety actions on top of the $13 million council approved for Vision Zero earlier in June.
Vision Zero was aimed at knocking pedestrian deaths down to zero by 2021, but since 2016 when the program was implemented, 93 pedestrians have been killed on Toronto’s roads.
Cycling advocate Liz Sutherland said those numbers show the program has failed.
“We’ve seen limited success in terms of reducing the number of collisions that result in death or serious injury,” she told Global News on Thursday.
Over the last couple of years, money has gone towards safer street initiatives, such as stop signs and school zones. But Coun. Joe Cressy said the small adjustments aren’t good enough.
“We need to redesign our streets to move people safer,” Cressy said.
He added the new money will go towards bigger things such as, “traffic lights … road reconfiguration and the redesign of key intersections.”
Richard Florida, the University of Toronto’s director of cities, is one of many experts who said the changes can’t come soon enough.
“We do not have anything approaching Vision Zero in Toronto,” he told Global News in a written statement.
“We have a poor and tragically deadly version of it. Vision Zero is about designing a fail-safe system to eliminate cycling and pedestrian deaths.
“This is not about cars versus bikes, nor is (it) about pedestrians or cyclists or drivers being more alert. It is about designing a system that protects each and every one of us.”
Toronto Police Const. Clint Stibbe said everyone has a part to play in our safety, including city officials.
“There are some confusing intersections,” he told Global News, standing at the corner of John Street and Richmond St. W. “This is one of them.”
To demonstrate the point, Stibbe stopped the first cyclist he saw and asked her, “did you know cars are allowed to pull up here,” motioning to the curb just past the end of the bike lane.
“No I didn’t,” the biker replied.
“It’s confusing for people if you have three different sets of rules at three different intersections within three blocks. When not everyone knows or follows the rules … that is when things can turn fatal out here.”
The new money more than doubles the 2018 budget for Vision Zero which was $21.3 million.