A crash course in traffic injury prevention: Lesson 2

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In our post last month, we reviewed three historical improvements in road safety: Vehicle design and engineering, improved roads and signage, and driver training. Lesson 2 in our crash course on traffic injury prevention looks at today: combating congestion, transit alternatives, and trouble with technology.

Combating congestion

TransLink 10 year transit plan

TransLink 10-year plan for greater Vancouver

Canadian cities are growing. This is generally seen as a good thing economically. But urban intensification comes with more congestion and commute times. Municipal and regional mass transit plans are designed and debated. High costs and long-term time frames delay or derail them.

The ‘RouteAhead’ plan for Calgary Transit looks 30 years into the future, but Calgary is also in need of new LRT cars now. In Toronto, the Metrolinx Eglinton Crosstown line promises to move people sixty percent faster. Construction has been disrupting a main city artery since 2011, but it will be 2021 when this new line opens. Vancouver’s TransLink has a ten year vision for its biggest expansion, including new electric buses built in Canada by New Flyer Industries and Nova Bus.

In the meantime, more people have to find other ways to get around town.

Transit alternatives

In July, Peel Region announced a six month Off-Peak Delivery (OPD) pilot with LCBO, Loblaw, PepsiCo, Walmart Canada, and Weston Foods. It follows a study done last year with the Ontario Trucking Association and private sector trucking companies.  Similar off-peak delivery programs during the Vancouver Olympics and the PanAm Games in Toronto showed measurable results.

The Region of Peel’s pilot is a great way for us to learn more about the potential of Off-Peak Delivery in the Region. –Jonathan Blackham, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Ontario Trucking Association.

Also in Ontario, GCommuter trains and carpool parking encourages alternate transportation to and from workO Transit is expanding services to suburban communities by offering integrated commuter rail, carpool parking and HOV lanes. Inner cities, meanwhile, are dedicating lanes for bikes, adding bus routes and round-trip transit tickets.

Busy intersections restrict turning and parking to keep things moving. Experiments are underway to improve the speed of surface transit routes like Toronto’s King Street dedicated streetcar zone.

Pedestrians, priorities and pedal power

Pedestrians are given priority at all-way crosswalks, advanced walk signals and communities still use human crossing guards in school zones.

Toronto bylaws consider pedelecs (or pedal-assisted) bikes similar to regular bikes and they can be used on all cycling infrastructure, including bike lanes, cycle tracks and multi-use trails. –City of Toronto spokesperson Cheryl San Juan.

Many new alternatives to personal vehicles now exist. Private ride sharing companies have proliferated in cities which allow them. Others are choosing human powered modes of transport by foot and pedal. Everything from e-bikes, e-boards and mobility scooters now compete for space with mass transit and private vehicles on the same roadways.

Adding to all this is a rapid increase in truck and deliveries for groceries and e-commerce packages, and bicycle-powered takeout food services. Its enough to drive anyone to distraction. Congestion is getting worse. This is a major factor why we still see collisions with the most vulnerable on the road. No wonder cities with Vision Zero goals are struggling to achieve results.

Trouble with technology

Food delivery apps are wonderfully convenient, but are adding to congestion. Gridlock from double parked delivery trucks is a common sight. In August, New York City became the first to restrict the number of ride-sharing vehicles which had grown exponentially because they were often vacant.

Drivers fight congestion with the help of all-day traffic reports and apps. That is giving rise to short cuts and speeding through residential areas. Traffic enforcement cannot be everywhere. That is why citizens worried about speeding and pedestrian safety, ask for speed bumps and flashing signs to slow things down, especially in school zones. The issue is making headlines:

Ontario should act to let cities use photo radar in school zones –Toronto Star, editorial board, June 11, 2018.

Pitting people on opposite sides is a philosophical collision course. It’s not the long term solution we need for everyone. Greater road safety for pedestrians and cyclists must still keep everyone moving. Better solutions include fewer cars, more alternative modes of transport, smart use of timing, technology and street space.

Join us

These facts of history and today convince us even more that prevention is the best solution. Follow along our next stop on the journey: Lesson 3 Crash Course in Road Safety looks at the future. Join in to learn how we can all do our part to keep the most vulnerable road users safe. We encourage schools, safety committees, companies and ordinary folks — whether walkers, riders or drivers– take part to make this preventable problem stop.

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