Getting Around

collage-gettingaroundWhy is this important?

The ability to move people and goods efficiently is vital to the economic health of the city. The congestion on regional arteries may be costing the GTHA more than $6B annually in lost productivity. Focusing on building good, affordable transit and active transportation networks is also good for our health and for our environment, and ensures that all have the ability to get from A to B.

 

What are the trends?

The number of commuters who take transit, walk, or bike to work continues to increase. Still, the Toronto Region remains rare among the world’s top cities in having both long commute times and a low percentage of commuters who use something other than a car to get around.  The average Torontonian spends more time getting to work than the average commuter in any other municipality in the country.

 

 

Data refer to the city of Toronto unless otherwise noted 2012 2013 2014
1.    Percentage of commuters who take transit, walk or bike to work rather than driving  44.2%

(2006 census)

47.2%

(2011 NHS)[1]

2.    Annual TTC ridership (rate of increase over previous year) 514,007,000

(2.8% increase)

525,194,000

(2.2% increase)

534,815,000

 

(1.8% increase)[2]

3.    Pedestrian collision fatalities 18

(2011)[3]

 24

(2012)[4]

40

(2013)[5]

4.    Cyclist collision fatalities  3

 

 

 

4[6]

 

 

 

0[7]

 

*As of June 17, 2015, there were 3 cyclist killed in 2015.

5.    Number of GO Transit passengers (boardings) 61 M 65.6 M[8] 68.2 M[9]

 

What’s new?

The city’s mayor introduced a six-point strategy to fight gridlock, and in February 2015, Council approved funding to study an accelerated SmartTrack work plan. Council is also moving towards policies to reduce vehicle speeds to make active transportation safer. New analysis by Toronto Public Health shows that pedestrians and cyclists are at greater risk of injury or death in motor vehicle collisions than are people in cars or on transit, and Toronto has been named the fifth most dangerous city in Canada (out of 10) to ride a bike. Meanwhile, cycling volumes have tripled and vehicle travel times have been positively impacted on Richmond, Adelaide, and Simcoe Streets since bike lanes were installed. But barriers to getting around remain for some—and the Toronto Transit Commission is in danger of missing its deadline for full accessibility by 2025.

 

 

How congested is Toronto’s traffic and what can be done?

 

The Region remains rare among the world’s top cities in having both long commute times and a low percentage of commuters who use something other than a car to get from A to B:

  • globalTransportation continues to be one of the key weaknesses in Toronto’s labour attractiveness, the Toronto Region Board of Trade Our low percentage of commuters who take some form of transit other than the car to work again earned the Region a 14th place ranking and a “C” grade on the Board’s 2015 Scorecard on Prosperity.
    • Only 29.0% of Toronto’s employed labour force uses some form of transit other than the car to get to work. Most of the other ranked North American cities do not fare any better—only New York (in 11th with 40.6%) and Montréal (in 13th with 29.3%) bettered Toronto. Vancouver is just behind Toronto (in 15th place with 27.8%).
      • Hong Kong placed first, where 88.5% use a mode other than the automobile to get to work.
  • The Scorecard also placed Toronto 15th (unchanged from 2014) out of 22 global metropolitan cities for average round-trip commute time.
    • It found that Toronto has the longest round-trip commute time (66 minutes, earning a B grade) of any North American city in the rankings except New York (in 18th place with 69.8 minutes). Chicago is 12th with 61.9 minutes and received an A grade.
      •  Calgary took the top spot, with a shorter commute of 52 minutes.[10]
    • Increasingly longer commute times have a negative effect on health and intensify the “time crunch” that one in five Ontarians feels caught in, with less time for family, leisure, and community.[11]

The GTHA’s congestion crisis continues to threaten the economy of Canada’s largest city-region and the quality of life of its six million residents:

  • Toronto is the 47th most congested city in the world, the eighth most congested in North America, and the second most congested in Canada.
  • The fifth annual traffic index from TomTom, a Dutch company that specializes in navigation and mapping products, is based on travel times across the day and for peak versus non-peak periods. Toronto ranks 47th of 146 cities around the world.
    • globalNew York, by comparison, is only two spots ahead at The three most congested cities in the world are Istanbul, Mexico City, and Rio de Janeiro in first, second, and third respectively.
  • The three most congested cities in North America are Mexico City (55%), Los Angeles (39%), and Vancouver (35%), which is the most congested city in Canada. Toronto is close behind Vancouver, however. Toronto’s congestion level is 31%, with an average morning and evening peak of 53% and 66% respectively.
  • Toronto drivers experience a 23-minute delay per half hour driven in peak period—adding up to 87 hours per year. Comparatively, commuters in the most congested city in the world, Istanbul, are delayed 110 hours per year.
    • Toronto’s most congested morning of the week is on Thursday and the most congested evening is also Thursday, when congestion nears 80%.[12]

 

gettingaround-congestion

Toronto’s Congestion and Commute-Related Delay Per Day[13]

gettingaround-congestionchart

Toronto’s Congestion and Commute Statistics, 2014[14]

 

The average Torontonian spends 32.8 minutes getting to work, more than any other municipality in the country. Soon after Toronto’s new mayor was elected, he outlined a 6-point strategy to fight gridlock:

  • “No stopping” enforcement—as of January 1, 2015, the City implemented a “zero tolerance” policy for drivers who block major routes during rush hour, and parking enforcement officers were reassigned from residential areas to major thoroughfares during peak hours.
  • Better road closure reporting—updated methods for reporting road closures to the City and to residents will be implemented to better coordinate road closures with events in Toronto.
  • Increased traffic enforcement team—members of the Toronto police traffic unit, parking enforcement, and Transportation Services have been tasked with developing a comprehensive new plan, including 40 new traffic cameras installed along major routes with another 80 to be installed in 2016.
  • Increased traffic signal re-timing—350 traffic lights will be re-timed over 2015.
  • Clampdown on private construction—Transportation Services will prepare a report for the City on how to handle lane closures caused by private construction contractors.
  • Speed-up of public construction—public construction projects will be permitted to operate from 6am to 11pm to expedite their completion, and early completion will be rewarded with cost premiums where financially feasible.[15]

 

In February 2015, Council approved $1.65M in funding to study an accelerated SmartTrack work plan.[16]

  • The SmartTrack line would provide service from the Airport Corporate Centre in the west, southeast to Union Station, and northeast to Markham in the east, with 22 new stops and five interchanges with the TTC’s rapid transit network. The original plan promised completion in seven years, with service starting in 2021.[17]
  • The plan builds on the provincial Regional Express Rail (RER) initiative and the line would operate on provincially owned GO Transit rail corridors. It will require approval from both Council and the Province.
  • Council also adopted a series of recommendations related to the public transit proposal, addressing finances, design, number of stations, frequency of service, electrification plans, and public outreach.[18]
    • In particular, it passed a motion to include additional elements on the Stouffville/Lakeshore East GO corridor from Unionville to Union Station (including seven additional stations), and on the Kitchener GO corridor from Mount Dennis to Union Station.
  • Meanwhile, Metrolinx announced it would work with the City to integrate Regional Express Rail planning with the SmartTrack plan. A tender was issued in early 2015 to expand and improve a 17 km section of the Stouffville line between Scarborough Junction and Unionville Station.
    • Metrolinx is moving forward with the construction of a second track on a 5-km stretch of the Stouffville-Union line. Double-tracking for the remainder of the 17 km and additional station upgrades on the Stouffville line are still in the planning and design phases, with construction expected to begin in 2016.[19]

 

Ideas-and-InnovationsWashington State’s “Commute Trip Reduction” program is an innovative approach to reducing drive-alone commutes.

  • The program targets big employers in heavily populated areas, requiring them to incentivise reducing single-occupant vehicle commuting at major worksites. The program was adopted into law in 1991.
  • Specific incentives that have been offered by Seattle corporations and organizations have included flexible work hours, the option to work from home, mortgage discounts to move closer, transit pass programs, and cash to use transportation modes other than driving.[20]

Ideas-and-InnovationsLaunched in September 2015, StudentMoveTO is a student-led initiative out of four of Toronto’s universities (OCADU, University of Toronto, York University, and Ryerson University) that is collecting data and surveying students about their commutes. Participants from across the GTHA will provide evidence to compel decision makers that students need improved transportation options to get to, and from, school and that long-commute times have major ramifications on quality of life and educational outcomes.

 

 

How are Torontonians experiencing our public transportation system?

The number of commuters who take public transit continues to increase:

  • Over 534 million passenger trips were made on all TTC vehicles in 2014—approximately 9 million more than in 2013.[21]
    • GO Transit boardings numbered 68.2 million in 2014, up from 65.6 million the previous year.[22]

 

globalThe number of public transit trips per capita in the city of Toronto is less than half that of London, and substantially lower than many other world cities:

  • As reported to the World Council on City Data (WCCD) in 2014, Torontonians take almost four times as many public transit trips per capita than people who live in LA—201.11 vs. 53.07. However, Toronto’s public transit usage pales in comparison to several other international cities: 217.00 trips per capita were reported in Boston, 294.64 in Rotterdam, 374.80 in Helsinki, and 490.17 in London.[23]

 

 

Annual Number of Public Transport Trips per Capita, as reported to the WCCD in 2014[24]

 

 

The Toronto Transit Commission is in danger of missing its deadline for full accessibility by 2025. In the meantime, those with mobility issues are not getting equal access:

  • The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires full accessibility on transit systems across the province by 2025. But as of March 2015,
    • all TTC buses are fully accessible but 20% of the stops are not;
    • only four of the 204 low-floor, accessible streetcars on order from Bombardier have been delivered (all are slated to be delivered by 2019[25]) and put in service, all on the 510 Spadina route—nearly 50 should have been in service on this route and on the 509 Harbourfront and 511 Bathurst routes[26]; and
    • 34 subway and Scarborough Rapid Transit (SRT) stations are equipped with elevators from platform to street level, but 35 are not.[27]
      • The number of stations requiring accessibility improvements jumps to 39 when considering needs in addition to elevators (such as easier-access fare gates, automatic sliding doors, and signage improvements).[28]
  • The TTC says that without additional funding, a $165M funding shortfall for accessibility and competing capital priorities to ensure the system’s “state of good repair” and safety requirements of the existing ageing system may compromise its ability to meet the costly AODA requirements.[29]
  • Meanwhile, passengers unable to board streetcars or use stairs or elevators at subway stations must find other ways to reach their destinations or use Wheel-Trans service.
  • Torontoist has mapped what the system looks like to a person with accessibility needs.[30]

 

gettingaround-ttcwithoutelevators

What the TTC Looks Like to Those Able to Use Stairs and Escalators, 2015[31]

 

 

gettingaround-ttcwithelevators

What the TTC Looks Like to Those Unable to Use Stairs and Escalators, 2015[32]

Map by Sean Marshall

 

 

 gettingaround-rolloutaccessibility

Timelines for Full Rollout of Accessibility Standards[33]

 

 

  • The TTC is not the only entity falling behind on AODA compliance. A legislative review of AODA in February 2015, the half-way mark to the 2025 commitment, warned of “slow and challenging implementation to date.”[34]
  • The review has prompted the Province to improve its compliance and enforcement measures with a 10-year action plan that includes an annual compliance review report including information on complaints and fines.
    • Non-compliance fines range from $200 to $2,000 for individuals and $500 to $15,000 for corporations.[35]

 

Station improvements and service improvements are making transit more comfortable and more reliable:

  • The TTC is working to not only increase the aesthetics but also the accessibility of a number of subway stations throughout the system. Enhancements include:
    • new elevators and improved signage at Runnymede station;
    • automatic sliding doors, an accessible fare gate, and bicycle parking at Dufferin Station;
    • elevators, improved signage, and CCTV security cameras at St. Clair West Station; and
    • new public art installations and 5,000 square metres of green roofs at Victoria Park Station.[36]
  • Service improvements announced in the TTC’s 2015 budget (representing an investment that will annualize to $95M once fully implemented) include:
    • restoration of all day, every day bus service (cut in 2011);
    • 10-minute or better bus and streetcar service on key routes from 6am to 1am six days a week;
    • reduced wait times and crowding at off-peak times;
    • reduced wait times and crowding on 21 of the busiest routes during morning and afternoon rush hours;
    • proof-of-payment and all-door boarding on all streetcar routes;
    • 50 new buses and a temporary storage facility in order to add four new routes on the Express Bus network (which serves 34 million riders annually), to reduce wait times and crowding on some peak-period routes, and to provide spare buses during maintenance;
    • 12 new routes on the Blue Night Network, which serves 4 million riders annually;
    • up to two additional trains on Lines 1 and 2 during morning and afternoon rush hours;
    • route management improvements to reduce short-turns, bunching, and gapping of buses and streetcars; and
    • additional resources to focus on subway reliability around signals, track, and communications systems.[37]

 

Rising transit fares are a very visible cost of transit improvements:

  • The cost of tokens rose by 10 cents to $2.80 on March 1, 2015, and fares for seniors (65+) and students (13-19) rose proportionally to $1.95. However, cash fares remained unchanged (at $3.00 for adults, and $2.00 for seniors and students[38]). The cost of a monthly Metropass increased by nearly $8, to $141.50.[39]

Ideas-and-InnovationsAs of March 1, 2015, riding the TTC is free for children 12 and under:

  • The measure helps to provide financial relief for families, many of whom use the TTC to take their kids to and from school and daycare so they can work. It also helps to reduce traffic congestion, pollution and costs for schools and daycares, who need transportation for excursions. Previously, for each child who used the TTC the charge was 75 cents.[40]

 

The TTC is set to begin phasing out tickets and tokens in favour of the Presto smart card:

  • The Presto card will provide access to the TTC system when customers tap the card against a Presto card reader.
    • Earlier this year, 26 subway stations began accepting Presto cards. By the end of 2015 every streetcar will have Presto card readers, and the TTC plans to have them on all of its buses by the end of 2016.
    • Every subway station will have vending machines where customers can use cash, debit cards, and credit cards to top up the balance on a card.
  • Customers will still be able to purchase a Metropass or quantities of trips, although the workings of this have not yet been finalized.
  • The TTC says its “old fare media” will be sold only until the end of 2016, but will be accepted until mid-2017.[41]

 

How are Torontonians doing on the active transportation front?

 

The number of commuters who walk or bike continues to increase:

  • According to the 2011 census, 47.2% of Torontonians were choosing transit or active transportation instead of driving to get to work, an increase from 44.2% in the 2006 census.[42]
  • A Share the Road survey conducted in 2014 found that 5.7% of Torontonians, or 158,000, ride their bikes daily.[43] And Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank has noted dramatic growth in bike ridership since 2009.
    • In 2009, the City’s Transportation Department released its Cycling Study, which showed that 29% of Torontonians were utilitarian cyclists.
    • Analysis of 2011 National Household Surveydata showed “astonishing” cycling mode share levels in some census tracts—nearly 20% in Seaton Village and in Dufferin Grove, with other west-end areas following closely. These data accounted only for trips to work and school, so total cycling mode share would be even higher.
    • In 2013, the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation and Share the Road released survey results showing that 7% of Torontonians cycled daily.
    • And in September 2013, a Cycle Toronto/Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank study showed that (on the two study days) approximately equal numbers of cars and bikes used College Street during the afternoon rush hour—a 74% increase in cycling on the street in just three years.[44]
  • Nonetheless, a September 2014 Smart Commute survey of 1,000 GTHA commuters found that of participants (chosen for having travelled or teleworked at least three times a week for work, school, or volunteering in the last 12 months), only 4% walked and 2% biked.
    • While 30% reported using public transit, the majority of respondents (55%) drove alone. Only 7% carpooled.[45]

 

Toronto was named the second-most walkable city in Canada in Walk Score’s national rankings in 2015:

  • Walk Score rates the walkability of various cities (selective sections of cities, not cities as a whole). Among 22 Canadian cities, Toronto finished behind Vancouver again this year.
    • Toronto received a score of 71.4 out of a possible 100, while Vancouver scored 78 and Montréal 70.4, making all of these cities “very walkable.”
  • Of 141 cities across the US, Canada, and Australia with populations of 200,000+, Toronto ranked 11th (New York was first).

snapshot

 

Of Toronto’s neighbourhoods, the Bay Street Corridor, the Church-Yonge Corridor, and Kensington-Chinatown were singled out as tops in walkability.[46]

 


 

Toronto tied with Saskatoon as the fourth most dangerous city in Canada out of 10 to ride a bike:

  • The Seattle-based team that created the Walk Score methodology partnered with a team at the University of British Columbia to develop a “Bike Score” for 10 Canadian cities in 2012.
    • Factors used to calculate a city’s Bike Score include cycling infrastructure, topography, desirable amenities, and road connectivity.
  • Along with Saskatoon, Toronto placed 4th, while Victoria, Vancouver, and Montréal placed first, second, and third respectively.[47]

 

While fatalities have declined over the last decade, pedestrians and cyclists are still at greater risk of injury or death in collisions with motor vehicles than people travelling in cars or using transit—and youth, young adults, and seniors are especially vulnerable:

  • A new Toronto Public Health report (based on Toronto Police Services’ collision reports from 2008-2012) examines how safe active transportation is in the city.
  • Rates of injuries and fatalities declined from 20 per million walking trips in 2003 to 16 per million in 2012, and from 51 per million cycling trips in 2003 to 33 in 2012. The report notes that given the population increase in the city over this period, the declines are particularly encouraging.[48]

 

gettingaround-Pedestrian-Collision-Injuries-and-Fatalities

Pedestrian Collision Injuries and Fatalities per 1 Million Trips, Toronto, 2003-2012[49]

 

gettingaround-Cyclist-Collision-Injuries-and-Fatalities
Cyclist Collision Injuries and Fatalities per 1 Million Trips, Toronto, 2003-2012[50]

 

 

  • Between 2008 and 2012, an average of 2,074 Toronto pedestrians and 1,097 cyclists per year were involved in a collision with a vehicle that resulted in injury or death, and most accidents were not the result of pedestrian or cyclist behaviours.
    • 9% of those pedestrian collisions (921 of 10,288) resulted in hospitalization, and 1.2% (120 of 10,288) in a fatality. The numbers for cyclists are slightly better at 4% hospitalizations (222 of 5,384 collisions) and 0.2% fatalities (10 of 5,384).
    • In most (67%) of the pedestrian-vehicle collisions, the pedestrian had the right of way. In only 19% of incidents they did not have the right of way, and in 14% the right of way was unknown.
    • Approximately 3% of pedestrian collision injuries and 1.5% of cyclist injuries involved a transit vehicle. Pedestrians involved in transit-related collisions are 70% more likely to suffer a severe or fatal injury than if they were involved in a collision with a car. Cyclists are 2.16 times more likely to suffer a severe or fatal injury in a transit collision than in a collision with a regular vehicle.
    • Only about 13% of pedestrians and 12% of cyclists were deemed inattentive (e.g., texting or listening to a device with earbuds) at the time of a collision with a motor vehicle. Pedestrians aged 19 and under and cyclists aged 5-19 and 65+ were the most likely to be inattentive.
    • Only about 5% of pedestrians and 3% of cyclists involved in a collision were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Young adults and seniors are the most vulnerable to pedestrian injuries and fatalities, with those aged 15-24 and 75+ experiencing the highest total injuries and fatalities and those 20-24 and 65+ having the highest rates of major injuries and fatalities.
    • Among cyclists, youth are particularly at risk, with 11- to 24-year-olds seeing the highest rates of injuries and fatalities. Seniors also have one of the highest rates of major injuries and fatalities.
    • While most bike-related injuries in children are caused by other factors such as falling or colliding with another bicycle or pedestrian, collisions with vehicles are the next most common cause of injury. The high rates of injuries and fatalities of youth cyclists may be due to their riding bikes for entertainment as well as for transport.
    • For seniors, age-related changes such as those in perceptual and cognitive functions may have an impact on the rate and severity of their involvement in pedestrian and cyclist collisions.[51]

 

gettingaround-Pedestrian-Injuries-and-Fatalities

Pedestrian Injuries and Fatalities per 100,000 Population, by Age Cohort, Toronto, 2008-2012[52]

gettingaround-Cyclist-Injuries-and-Fatalities

Cyclist Injuries and Fatalities per 1 Million Trips, by Age Cohort, Toronto, 2008-2012[53]

 

  • Most pedestrians and cyclists involved in a motor vehicle collision (69%) are struck in an intersection (versus 22% struck at mid-block locations), likely because their numbers increase at intersections and because the turning of motor vehicles here creates particularly close interactions.
    • The least likely place for a pedestrian to be struck is at a pedestrian crossover. Cyclists are least likely to be struck at a traffic signal.
    • Data also show the effectiveness of different types of bikeways in improving cyclist safety, with off-road pathways being the safest option.[54]

 

 

Cyclist Collisions per Length of Bikeway Lanes, Toronto, Five-Year Average (2008-2012)[55]

 

  • By mid-June 2015, three cyclists had been killed so far in the year in Toronto (compared to no deaths by mid-June 2014).
    • A Toronto Star analysis of Toronto Police Service statistics show that the worst month for traffic accidents involving cyclists is July. Thursday is the worst day of the week, and rush hour, specifically 5-6 pm, is the worst time of day.[56]

 

Preliminary research indicates that cycling volumes have tripled, cyclists feel safer, and motor vehicle travel times have been largely positively impacted since the installation of bike lanes on Richmond, Adelaide, and Simcoe Streets in 2014:

  • 9,866 people participated in an online “Cycle Track” feedback survey offered by the City between December 2014 and May 2015. Of the participants, 8,442 said they were cyclists and 1,424 said they were not.
  • The results show that overall cycling volumes on the three streets have tripled since the cycle tracks were installed.
    • Richmond and Adelaide Streets average over 4,200 cyclist trips per weekday, while Simcoe averages 1,100 trips.
  • Of those who bike, 94% strongly agreed that the cycle tracks should be made permanent, with 4% just agreeing, 1% feeling neutral, and 1% strongly disagreeing.
  • Cyclists’ feeling of safety on these streets increased from 3.6 out of 10 before the cycle tracks were installed to 8.3 out of 10 after, although they reported abuses of the tracks, with construction work and cars blocking them being reported as more serious problems.
  • Although the results are very different among those who do not bike, a majority (52%) still strongly agreed and that the tracks should be made permanent. A quarter (25%), however, strongly disagreed, while 6% disagreed, 12% agreed, and 5% felt neutral.
    • A majority of drivers noted some level of concern related to the cyclist tracks, including crossing them while doing a right turn, dropping off and picking up passengers or deliveries, and cyclists still (legally) using the traffic lanes, either to make a left turn or to avoid stopped vehicles or construction.
  • A majority of both drivers and cyclists agreed that some form of physical separation is needed between the cycle tracks and traffic lanes.
    • Over 90% of cyclists voiced this need, with 39% saying flexi-posts are an effective form of separation and 36% proposing something more concrete, such as a curb. 60% of drivers agreed there is need for a physical separation, with roughly half feeling the flexi-posts were effective enough.[57]
  • A City evaluation shows mostly positive impacts on vehicular travel times on either Richmond or Adelaide (vehicular travel times were not assessed on Simcoe).[58]

 

Comparison of Average Motor Vehicle Travel Times (Minutes: Seconds), 2014-2015, Richmond Street, from York to Bathurst[59]

 

 

Comparison of Average Motor Vehicle Travel Times (Minutes: Seconds), 2014-2015, Adelaide Street, from York to Simcoe[60]

 

 

Six pedestrian-vehicle collisions within 24 hours in November 2014 prompted the City to propose actions to keep pedestrians safer, including giving them more time to cross intersections:

  • The accidents came days after the Toronto Police Service launched a safety campaign to remind drivers and pedestrians of the increased dangers typical of November—traditionally the deadliest month for pedestrians as drivers adjust to increasingly dark and wet conditions.
  • The City’s transportation services department responded by promising improved road markings and signs at problem intersections.
  • Pedestrians will also be given more time to make it through intersections, as the City has dropped its assumed speed of a pedestrian from 1.3 metres per second to 1.0.[61]

 

Since 2013, the worst year for traffic fatalities in nearly a decade, Toronto City Council has slowly moved towards implementing policies to reduce the speed of vehicles to improve safety:

  • A 2015 Toronto Public Health report documents the role that speed plays in both the occurrence of, and the risk of fatality in, pedestrian and cyclist collisions with motor vehicles.
    • Collisions that result in pedestrian and cyclist injury or death most frequently occur on roads with higher posted speed limits such as major and minor arterial roads.
    • Pedestrians struck mid-block by motor vehicles are 1.42 times more likely to suffer a major injury or fatality than those struck in intersections, likely due to the higher speeds travelled mid-block.
    • The risk of pedestrian fatality is estimated to be twice as high at 50 km/h as it is at 40 km/h and more than five times as high than at 30 km/h.[62]
  • Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has previously recommended reducing speed limits on Toronto streets to a maximum of 40 km/h.[63]
  • City Council is weighing the merits of different approaches to limiting vehicle speeds:
    • With universal speed limit reductions, an entire city’s speed limit is lowered.
    • Another option, “slow zones,” designates lower speed limits in specific neighbourhoods, and typically some changes to infrastructure to support the transition. In Toronto, streets needed to get speed bumps to have their speeds reduced to 30 km/h.
  • In May 2015, Council adopted a 30 km/h Speed Limit Policy that outlines conditions for having a street’s speed limit lowered without requiring any infrastructure changes. The conditions require first a local petition in favour of reducing the limit, and then that the street meets three of four criteria:
    • that it has no sidewalks,
    • that cars are parked on both sides of the street (or one side if the street is extremely narrow),
    • that it has two curves that are unmanageable at more than 30 km/h within 200 metres of each other, and
    • that there is a lack of safe stopping distance at two locations.[64]
  • The Toronto and East York Community Council (TEYCC) requested that the City reduce the posted speed limits on all local roads in the district from 40 km/h to 30 km/h.
    • A City staff report estimated the move would need $1.1M in funding that would have to be secured in the 2016 budget process (to install approximately 4,450 road signs at $225 each and re-time approximately 310 traffic signals at $200 each).
    • Analysis of Toronto Police Services’ accident reports for the Community Council area for 2009-2013 showed, however, that roads in the 50–60 km/h speed limit range had much higher rates of pedestrian and cyclist collisions and fatalities than did those in the 30–40 km/h range.[65]

 




gettingaround-Number-of-Pedestrian-Collisions-by-Posted-Speed-Limit

Number of Pedestrian Collisions by Posted Speed Limit, Toronto, 2009-2013[66]
** Grand Total

gettingaround-Number-of-Cyclist-Collisions-by-Posted-Speed-Limit

Number of Cyclist Collisions by Posted Speed Limit, Toronto, 2009-2013[67]

 

gettingaround-Outcome-of-Pedestrian-Collisions-by-Posted-Speed-Limit

Outcome of Pedestrian Collisions by Posted Speed Limit, Toronto, 2009-2013[68]

gettingaround-Outcome-of-Cyclist-Collisions-by-Posted-Speed-Limit

Outcome of Cyclist Collisions by Posted Speed Limit, Toronto, 2009-2013[69]

 

  • In addition to improved safety and reduced severity of injury for pedestrians and cyclists, the report noted many possible benefits to the idea, including:
    • less motorist confusion (one speed limit on all local streets),
    • less noise,
    • more active transportation use,
    • less fuel consumption, and
    • fewer polluting emissions.
  • However, in addition to the significant implementation cost, the report acknowledged some possible limitations, including:
    • the reality that a 30 km/h limit might not be suitable for every local road (which could cause motorist frustration and non-compliance),
    • resistance from some residents,
    • increased travel times for motorists and transit vehicles,
    • need for increased police services for enforcement, and
    • need for significant public awareness and education campaigns.
  • The report concluded that while reducing speed limits is “the most elementary” way of reducing risks to pedestrians, cyclists, and even motorists, widespread and “arbitrary” reductions would likely not have the desired effect. The report instead recommended using the 30 km/h Speed Limit Policy.[70]
  • In June 2015, TEYCC established a universal 30 km/h speed limit within its boundaries[71], although as of August 2015, it had yet to be implemented.

 

The Province is also making some strides in tackling road safety for cyclists and pedestrians:

  • In June 2015, the Highway Traffic Act was amended, and among the changes were:
    • increased fines and demerit points for drivers who “door” cyclists, and requirements that all drivers maintain a minimum distance of one metre when passing cyclists; and
    • a requirement for drivers to wait until pedestrians have completely crossed school and other pedestrian crossings before proceeding.[72]
  • The Province is also considering giving cities the ability to reduce speed limits on arterial roads from 50 km/h to 40 km/h.[73]

 

How are Torontonians doing on the Active Transportation Front?

 

Air pollution still poses a significant burden of illness in Toronto—and the biggest local source of air pollutants is motor vehicle traffic:

  • Pollution still causes 1,300 premature deaths and 3,550 hospitalizations each year in the city. 42% (or 280) of those premature deaths and over half (55%) of the hospitalizations (1,090) can be blamed on motor vehicle emissions.
  • One way to reduce emissions from traffic, Toronto Public Health notes in an update to its 2004 Burden of Illness report, is to reduce the number of cars on the road by getting people to use alternate modes of transportation.
    • Compared to other major North American cities, Toronto has the lowest proportions of people who commute by walking or cycling.
    • A shift to more active transportation is feasible, though, as about 55% of all trips in Toronto are less than 7 km and over 20% are under 2 km. Residents have expressed strong support for cycling and walking infrastructure in Toronto.[74]


gettingaround-walkingmodeshares

gettingaround-cyclingmodeshares

Active Commuting Mode Shares of North American Cities, 2012[75]

 

  • For longer trips, transit must be improved so it becomes a viable alternative to driving. Counts of vehicles travelling between Toronto and Durham, for example, show that the volume of commuters has grown tremendously between 1985 and 2009.

gettingaround-morningpeakperiod


Total Vehicles Crossing the Toronto-Durham Border, Morning and Afternoon, 1985-2009[76]

 

  • Toronto City Council has adopted a number of Board of Health recommendations to further reduce emissions including encouraging urgent provincial funding of transit and active transportation infrastructure.[77]

 

 

 

The following groups are addressing issues relating to getting around through their innovative community-based programs.

 

Click on the name of the group to be directed to their profile on the Community Knowledge Centre to learn more about how.

 

Canadian Urban Institute – Building wisdom and inspiring leadership for healthy urban development

Charlie’s FreeWheels – Teaching bicycle mechanics, safety and leadership skills to youth

Community Bicycle Network – Providing access, training, and support for all cyclists

Community Matters Toronto – Supporting newcomers living in St. James Town

CultureLink Settlement Services – Developing and delivering settlement services to meet the needs of diverse communities

Cycle Toronto – Advocating for a healthy, safe, cycling-friendly city for all

Dixon Hall – Creating opportunities for people of all ages to dream

Evergreen – Solving the most pressing urban environmental issues

Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance – Bringing people together to tackle our region’s toughest challenges

Jane’s Walk – Creating walkable neighbourhoods and cities planned for and by people

Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto – Delivering educational and employment opportunities for immigrant women and their children

The Pollution Probe Foundation – Improving the well-being of Canadians by advancing environmental change

Springboard – Helping people develop the skills they need to overcome barriers and achieve their full potential

Toronto Atmospheric Fund – Helping the City achieve the targets set out in the Council-approved climate plan

Toronto Environmental Alliance – Promoting a greener Toronto

Toronto Public Library Foundation – Providing essential resources for the enhancement of the Toronto Public Library

WoodGreen – Enhancing self-sufficiency, promoting well-being and reducing poverty

 

 


 

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