Vision Zero

His Worship
John Tory
Mayor of Toronto
100 Queen St W, Toronto

I am writing you this letter to give you my input on Toronto’s Vision Zero that has the goal of reducing cycling and pedestrian fatalities to zero by 2021. As an avid cyclist, I have a personal stake in the success of Vision Zero. Unfortunately, the number of pedestrian and cyclist killed on Toronto streets remains high and was in fact higher in 2018 than in 2017. You even acknowledged that Vision Zero is failing in a 2018 year-end interview with the CBC.

While cycling fatalities are not unique to Toronto, they are far more common than in Canada’s other large cities. In the Pembina Institute’s 2015 report on cycling in Canada’s five largest cities, the cycling infrastructure was compared in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa. The report found that that Toronto had the highest cyclist crash rate for number of cycling trips of all the cities. In fact, the cyclist crash rate for Toronto was 2.5 times higher than for Montreal and Vancouver and even higher for Calgary and Ottawa! This higher crash rate appears to be related to the cycling infrastructure for each city. Toronto has the least number of kilometers of cycling infrastructure per capita. For example, Montreal and Vancouver have, respectively, 50% and 100% more kilometers of bicycle infrastructure per capita than Toronto.

As the city of Toronto continues to grow, its roads will continue to become more hectic. The failures of Vision Zero will only grow worse unless there is a new found resolve to address these issues. As an avid cyclist, I have three suggestions to improve the cycling infrastructure in Toronto. For starters, more dedicated bike paths are required to separate cyclists from vehicles. A physical barrier between cars and cyclists is the safest way to ensure there are no collisions. Secondly, Toronto’s existing cycling infrastructure needs to be connected to form a more comprehensive cycling network. Toronto has many existing great cycling paths but there are countless stretches where cyclists are forced onto major roadways to go from one bike path to the next.

Finally, the city of Toronto should invest in maintaining its bike paths in the winter. I understand that there are limited resources to clear snow but once the sidewalks are cleared, why not use the existing infrastructure to clear multiuse paths such as the Finch Corridor? This multiuse path gets heavy use by both cyclists and pedestrians throughout the year. Since the major snowstorm in January, the Finch Corridor has not been cleared and remains impassable for cyclists and pedestrians. This forces cyclists and pedestrians along roadways that are more hectic and where there is a higher chance of a fatal collision with a vehicle.

Toronto likes to sell itself as a world class city and in many ways this is entirely true. Unfortunately, when it comes to the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, Toronto lags behind all of Canada’s other large cities. Mr. Tory, you have taken the first step by recognizing that the existing Vision Zero plan is not working. Now Torontonians need you to take this problem seriously and get it addressed once and for all.

Yours sincerely,

André Marchildon

David Birnbaum