With left-turn collisions accounting for nearly one-fifth of all traffic-related fatalities in Toronto, municipal officials have unveiled a pilot project involving rubberized bumps being installed at select priority intersections in an effort to address the issue as part of the Vision Zero strategy.
“By putting these rubber bumps in that kind of direct the nature of the turn that the driver is making and to some extent control the speed at which that turn is made because of the angle, it slows things down,” Mayor John Tory told reporters on Thursday during an unrelated news conference.
“It makes things more careful and deliberate, and that will help to keep people safe and to save lives. It won’t interfere with people making left turns. It will just cause them to be made on a more careful basis.”
Officials said by adding a harder barrier in the centre line of the intersection, it forces drivers to turn closer to a 90-degree angle and cut down on the turning radius, leaving less of an exposure risk for pedestrians and cyclists that can be compounded by a blind spot created by a vehicle’s windshield frame.
City staff said the bumps are being installed at intersections with higher histories of collisions and collision severity as well as in areas based on previous safety reviews.
So far, the devices have been installed at two intersections: Sandhurst Circle and Finch Avenue East (just west of McCowan Road), and Kennedy Road and Sheppard Avenue East.
During the month of August, the bumps will be added at the following six intersections: Brimley Road and Eglinton Avenue East, Victoria Park Avenue and Sheppard Avenue East, Victoria Park Avenue and Lawrence Avenue East, Curlew Drive and Lawrence Avenue East (west of Victoria Park Avenue), Don Mills Road and Steeles Avenue East, and Mount Pleasant Road and Merton Street (south of Davisville Avenue).
Looking at information from New York City, staff said in more than 300 areas where left-turn calming “treatments” were installed there was a reduction in turning speeds by up to 20 per cent and a reduction in instances of serious injury by 20 per cent. They also noted there were reductions in speeds and incidents in Washington, D.C.
According to statistics provided by the City of Toronto, 18 per cent of pedestrians and cyclists who died on local streets were struck by vehicles turning left while eight per cent of all those seriously injured were struck during left turns.
Data posted on the City’s website in the early part of July said so far in 2021 14 people have died in traffic-related collisions (seven of whom were pedestrians) while 100 people have been seriously injured (40 of whom were pedestrians and 36 were motorists).
Municipal staff said they would be analyzing data over the period of a year. It wasn’t immediately clear what specific metrics will be assessed to determine if the devices will be here to stay and/or expanded to other locations.