Zero Vision: Another Year of Pedestrian and Cyclist Fatalities in Toronto
Pedestrian and cyclist deaths are becoming almost a daily occurrence on the news — so much so that they no longer come as a shock. While cities like Amsterdam and Paris seem to be becoming more and more pedestrian-friendly, Toronto is lagging behind. Since its implementation in June 2016, it seems John Tory’s Vision Zero plan has zero vision.
The Vision Zero plan was expected to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities in traffic to zero within the next five years. Yet, in 2017 there were 45 pedestrian and cyclist deaths, and 2018 saw that number surpass 45 by early winter.
2019 isn’t a good year either so far, as there have been 27 fatalities, excluding cyclists, and that number is expected to rise. The CBC reported that seniors compose nearly 80 percent of all pedestrian fatalities in the city. So, why doesn’t the city do more?
Vision Zero 2.0 was launched in March of this year, focusing on lowering speed limits on arterial roads around the city, and adding mid-block crosswalks and more signals at intersections to give pedestrians an advantage. Yet, with all of these safeties in place, people are still dying. As the city strives to push more people to cycle, walk, and use public transit, it seems like there’s no real incentive for them to do so.
It isn’t just the city’s outdated infrastructure that’s responsible. The anecdote of incredibly stressful city-driving in Toronto is so common almost everyone knows it. Yet it’s drivers’ attitudes that need to change, too. There are so many drivers turning right into crosswalks and nearly clipping someone, or ignoring stop signs just to save themselves that extra minute. Cities like New York and Montreal have banned right turns on red lights.
It’s drivers’ responsibility to keep the roads safe too, but the city is incentivizing these dangers. Cars go down the King St. corridor daily, breaking the law. If caught, they face a measly $110 fine. Meanwhile, the fine for fare evasion on the TTC is almost four times that. Anyone that has taken a streetcar knows how stressful it is getting off, because often times cars just don’t stop.
Even the way these things are reported, “pedestrian struck by vehicle,” is a way to shift blame. A car doesn’t just go and hit someone, it is controlled by the driver. Perhaps if headlines read “driver hits pedestrian with a two-ton car,” then maybe people will begin to care.