In the kind of story that reminds how much motordom dominates over pedestrian safety and comfort , The Toronto Star reports that flex-post signs near a public school designed to slow traffic were removed . Why? Because they slowed traffic. Imagine. One week after they were installed, they were removed on the basis of one complaint. As the Toronto Star reports “the complainant, who said he submitted an email to the mayor’s office and included dash cam footage of traffic significantly slowed down in the 40km/h school zone. The dash cam speedometer registered his truck going about 30 km/h leading up to the flex-post sign, with the speed reducing by about half as he approached it.”
The complainant’s speed was reduced to 5 kilometres per hour while he slowed to manoeuvre around the flexi sign. And that is too slow for motordom, kids’ public school area or not. Even the manager of Traffic Safety and Data Collection responded that “Our initial assessment indicated that the road had sufficient clearance around the sign, but when cars parked adjacent to the sign, we observed traffic slowing significantly or moving around the sign into oncoming traffic.”
Of course this can also be seen as slowing traffic down enough that they can manoeuvre slowly around each other with lots of reaction time. But that is not Toronto’s take, and the signs were removed “in the interest of public safety.” In British Columbia 30 kilometres an hour is the speed in posted school zones. Toronto has not acquiesced to this slower, safer speed for their schools. As one local observed “The problem that I think we have in Toronto is we prioritize the convenience of people driving cars over the safety of anybody who’s not driving a car.”
The City of Toronto is having a tough time implementing their 80 million dollar version of Vision Zero, which is supposed to mean that all lives are valuable and no lives are lost due to road violence. The City has controversially suggested merely reducing their death rate from road violence by a percentage instead of completely eliminating deaths as their goal. Around this Davisville school area they are proposing installing zebra markings and school stencils as if that is something novel. It is a soft approach that does not protect vulnerable road users or slow cars down, leaving the impact of collisions still solidly on the pedestrian. The words of the general manager of Transportation Services speaks volumes about the ambiguity of being a pedestrian in Toronto: “It’s a very complex ecosystem, the area around a school, but, from our perspective, student safety is the highest priority. After the pilot is done and we’ve assessed it, my guess is we’ll come forward with it as part of our Vision Zero toolkit.”
There’s nothing complex about slowing traffic and insisting that children and adults have the right to walk safely and comfortably to schools, shops and services. Meanwhile road violence and motordom continues in Toronto~11 pedestrians have been killed in 2018 with an expected 60 pedestrians losing their lives in Toronto by the end of the year.