On the evening of January 11, 2019 an OC Transpo bus crashed into a shelter. An overhang tore through the upper deck of the bus, killing three passengers and maiming many more. This tragic incident had troubling similarities with the September 2013 incident, when a train tore off the front of an OC Transpo double decker. In both cases passengers were flung from the vehicle to the ground below.
Three days after the crash a number of us, including many families affected by the Humboldt Broncos bus catastrophe, penned this letter urging Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson to invite the Transportation Safety Board of Canada to aid local police with the investigations, and urging Transport Canada to take a serious interest in road safety. Continue reading
Chris and Melissa Bruntlett promoting their book “Building the Cycling City” at the Vimy Brewing Company, Ottawa, 29 August 2018. (Photo: Cécile Lecoq.)
When Vancouver-based urban cycling advocates Chris and Melissa Bruntlett dropped by the Vision Zero Canada World Headquaters in Ottawa they were wrapping up the Canadian leg of the tour promoting their brand-new book Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality (Island Press, 2018). I wanted to record a talk with them, but after all the media attention, including many podcasts, I figured they needed a break from paraphrasing their book. The result is a casual, free-wheeling conversation about the changing state of urban cycling in Canada, and what we can learn from the Dutch in everything from engineering to municipal politics. Continue reading
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
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
A New Vision for Canada
Vision Zero in a Nutshell
Vision Zero vs. ‘Towards Zero’
Success to Date
Help Me to Help You
A New Vision for Canada
Welcome to the web site of Vision Zero Canada, a registered nonprofit devoted to the elimination of death and serious injury on Canada’s roads. At time of writing (11 July 2016) this campaign is being run entirely by Graham Larkin, as announced in a December 2015 post on my Slow Ottawa web site. Before today its public face was a Twitter feed with 1350 followers, along with the safe speeds campaign Love 30 Canada that I launched in June 2016. This post provides a run-down of the Vision Zero Canada activity to date.
Vision Zero in a Nutshell
Vision Zero combines ethically-rigorous traffic safety principles, including a commitment to the timely achievement of zero traffic deaths and serious injuries, with a holistic “Safe Systems” approach dedicated to achieving that goal. When safe systems are in place, serious injury and fatal crashes have a hard time penetrating the multiple shields of safe vehicles, safe roads, safe speeds, and safe drivers. While there are educational and enforcement components to these systems, the focus us largely on design that protects road users, including cyclists and pedestrians. Safe speeds are also crucial, as you can see from the information at our sister site Love 30 Canada.
A superb video from the Swedish government claims that Vision Zero boils down to the following principle. Continue reading