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New lower speed limits in EY will save lives, councillors say

New signs posting the reduced 40 kmph limit were installed along Danforth Ave. the week of Oct. 18-22. -STAFF

New signs posting the reduced 40 kmph limit were installed along Danforth Ave. the week of Oct. 18-22. -STAFF

\ By Gary Webb-Proctor \

The City of Toronto has installed scores of new signs along most of Danforth Avenue as well as much of Gerrard Street E., Main St. and part of Pape Ave. to let motorists know the speed limit has been reduced from 50 to 40 kilometres per hour.

The new signs were installed on Danforth the week of October 17-22 after City Council in July approved the speed reduction on several heavily travelled roads across the city, including the four East York arterial routes.

Two East York councillors who voted in favour of the motion to curb speed limits, Ward 29’s Mary Fragedakis and Janet Davis of Ward 31, both told East York Chronicle this week that they believe the lower limits will save lives and could improve people’s health and bring other benefits.

Toronto Police Service road fatality statistics

Toronto Police Service road fatality statistics

The new Friends and Families for Safe Streets (FFSS) public action group that staged an October 25 press conference/demonstration against “road violence” at city hall in the wake of a big increase in traffic-related deaths in Toronto this year, also favours reduced speed limits.  The group calls pedestrian and cyclist deaths “road violence” instead of “accidents” because it says it believes they are totally preventable by proper planning and enforcement.

The formation of FFSS and the newly imposed limits come in the wake of release by police this week of traffic statistics showing a dramatic increase in the number of road incident related fatalities this year.  The 65 deaths so far, 39 of which were pedestrians and four cyclists, matches the total of all road fatalities for all of last year and is nearly 23% higher than at the same time last year.

The newly reduced 40 kmph limits affect Danforth between Broadview and Dawes Road, but Ms. Davis has also put a motion to council to extend the reduction to Victoria Park Avenue, she told the Chronicle.

The new limits also apply to Gerrard St. E. between the Don River and Coxwell Ave., and in the section from Main Street to Victoria Park Avenue as well as east of Victoria Park.

On Main Street the same reductions apply between the TTC station north of Danforth south to Gerrard Street.  On Pape the reduction runs from Danforth Ave. north to where it meets Donlands Avenue.

“Slowing down drivers will save lives and reduce serious injuries,” Davis said in response to an email request for comment.

“I believe that reducing the speed limit on Danforth will help make the street safer for everyone, pedestrian[s], cyclists and drivers.  Too often, drivers speed and weave in and out along between lanes and make crossing the Danforth mid-block quite dangerous,” she said.

Ms. Fragedakis noted in an email to the Chronicle that “sadly, the number of traffic fatalities in Toronto has increased over the last 3 years.

“These to me are not just numbers but people – people with families and loved ones devastated by their death.  We have to do better.  The City’s Public Health team have said again and again slower speeds will decrease fatalities and injuries.”

Fragedakis also suggested that since “slower speeds will also foster more walking and cycling” there would be health benefits and a corresponding reduction in health care costs.

Moreover, she added, “on streets like the Danforth, the more pedestrian traffic there is, the more successful our local stores will be.

“A small reduction in speed can pay great dividends in health, community safety and vibrant neighbourhoods,” she said.

 

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