In 2016, the City of Toronto established a goal of eliminating pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries within five years. The ambitious initiative was lauded by safety advocates and Toronto personal injury lawyers who had witnessed a troubling rise in motor vehicle accidents involving vulnerable road users.
Nearly two years later, little progress has been made. Despite reduced speed limits, rebuilt intersections, and new safety zones for seniors and school children, the first two months of 2018 were among the deadliest in recent memory. As of mid-March, approximately one pedestrian per week had been killed on the streets of Toronto. During a February panel discussion at the University of Toronto, the city’s former chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat said the situation was approaching a crisis point.
“Our streets are unsafe,” Keesmaat told the CBC. “Children and elderly people … are at risk going about their daily lives because of the design of our streets. It’s something we can change. It’s within our power to change it.”
Mayor John Tory echoed Keesmaat’s remarks less than a week later following the death of an 11-year-old boy in Scarborough.
“We cannot have this carnage continue,” Tory told reporters. “I think when you have deaths taking place like this, that’s a crisis.”
Toronto personal injury lawyers are likely to agree with the mayor’s sentiment, but advocates aren’t convinced that he’s serious about change.
“It’s horrendous. So many people are getting killed it’s hard to keep up,” Michael Black, a member of Walk Toronto’s steering committee, told the Globe and Mail. “John Tory keeps talking about congestion and the message that sends to motorists is our No. 1 … problem is motorists can’t go as fast as they want.”
In other words, Black is accusing Tory of being more concerned about avoiding an “anti-car” label than he is about protecting pedestrians. The accusation is at least somewhat warranted; Tory has been careful to qualify support for road safety measures with vocal opposition to the so-called war on the car. Unfortunately, many experts believe that that war may be necessary to effectively protect other road users.
“It may be time for Mr. Tory to face a difficult truth: Drivers have to slow down,” wrote the Globe and Mail’s editorial board on March 1.
“There’s no sugar coating it: We can only make our streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists when road space is taken away from cars,” added Brian Doucet, an associate professor in the School of Planning at the University of Waterloo in a March 11 opinion piece for the Globe.
Toronto personal injury lawyers know that cars moving at lower speeds are significantly less dangerous to pedestrians. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that an individual struck by a vehicle moving at 30 kilometres per hour has a 95 per cent chance of survival, while someone struck by a vehicle moving at 60 kilometres per hour will almost certainly die. The numbers are clear; the challenge for Toronto’s municipal government is to enact common-sense policy that protects vulnerable road users.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, contact the Toronto personal injury lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today. Our team has decades of experience helping injured Ontarians access fair and reasonable compensation for their injuries.
Image credit: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons