Category Archives: bike lanes

Toronto needs real Vision Zero

Memorial near Kennedy Public School, Scarborough for 11-year-old Duncan Xu, who was fatally struck by a driver as he was walking home on Feb 27, 2018. (Photo : Jaren Kerr / Toronto Star)

What the Swedes call Vision Zero and the Dutch call Sustainable Safety is an evidence-based mobility paradigm that focuses on designing fail-safe streets. It is primarily about infrastructure improvements, but it also entails the regulation of vehicles and the setting of appropriate speed limits.

The Vision Zero paradigm is radically different from the old ‘Education, Enforcement and Engineering’ approach to road safety that still holds sway in North America, including cities like Toronto that are rebranding such programs as “Vision Zero.” A survey of traffic death and serious injury data indicates that a rigorous safe systems approach—real Vision Zero—is the only way to make our streets safe. Compared to Canada, Vision Zero countries like Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands have about half the road violence and many times the rates of active mobility for people of all ages and abilities.

It’s misleading to brand any education measures, and most if not all enforcement measures, as Vision Zero. Research over many decades has proven that educational campaigns—whether watch for cars or watch for kids, wear a helmet or don’t text and drive—rarely result in the desired behavioural change, and they certainly don’t protect us from reckless drivers. The city of Toronto could save money by dispensing with frivolities like ‘suggested speed’ signage, and focusing instead on fail-safe and evidence-based approaches to road safety. Continue reading

A Plea for Vision Zero in Ottawa

crash-collision-fatal-cyclist-dead-scene-laurier-lyon

Today 23-year-old Nusrat Jahan was slain on the streets of Ottawa, where I live. She and her bike went under the wheels of a truck at the intersection of Laurier and Lyon. Both streets have nominally protected bike lanes. These days I cycle four days a week to a building on that same block, but I generally avoid the Laurier bike lanes. They are too narrow, they’re constantly overrun by pedestrians and cars, and the crossings are a free-for-all of motorists and vulnerable users. And downtown they’re about the best we’ve got.

I regularly take the Lyon street lane, “protected” by intermittent floppy plastic bollards, on my way home. Two weeks ago I was knocked from that lane onto the sidewalk by an SUV making a right turn from Lyon to Gladstone. After completing the turn the driver paused a good distance away after hearing me bang against the vehicle, and as I got up with the help of another cyclists the vehicle simply drove off. Why wait around after hitting a cyclist in front of a witness? Continue reading