Toronto: To Adjust Timing of Traffic Lights at 350 Intersections to Fight Gridlock

Update:

Vehicle traffic gridlock is a huge problem in Toronto. Any motorist who has driven in the city understands the excessive delays and frustration navigating the streets through constant gridlock. There are two seasons in Toronto, winter and construction. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Vehicle traffic gridlock is a huge problem in Toronto. Any motorist who has driven in the city understands the excessive delays and frustration navigating the streets through constant gridlock. There are two seasons in Toronto, winter and construction. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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In an effort to get traffic moving, Mayor John Tory says Toronto will re-time more than 350 traffic signals on 17 key routes throughout the city.

Tory made the latest gridlock-fighting announcement Thursday morning, adding that the expansion of the existing program will see 1,500 traffic signals re-timed by the end of 2017. The mayor says once that’s done it will mean that 60 per cent of the city’s traffic signals will have been re-timed.

The Yonge St and Dundas Street intersection. This is one of the most vehicle/pedestrian travelled intersections in Canada. photo by fightyourtickets
The Yonge St and Dundas Street intersection. This is one of the busiest intersections in Canada. photo by fightyourtickets.

The city says that signal re-timing reduced travel times on 11 of Toronto’s busiest roads last year.

“We’re taking action to keep Toronto moving by targeting some of our most congested routes in the city,” Tory said, adding that it is a low-cost, high-impact initiative.

Signal re-timing is part of Tory’s six-point congestion management plan.

 

Toronto: TTC to Permanently Eliminate All Sunday-Only Bus/Streetcar Stops

Update:

TTC streetcars. Last year, the TTC removed all 41 Sunday-only streetcar stops in the city. TTC is removing all remaining 28 Sunday-only bus stops by June 19.
TTC streetcars. Last year, the TTC removed all 41 Sunday-only streetcar stops in the city. TTC is removing all remaining 28 Sunday-only bus stops by June 19. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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By Father’s Day, All Sunday-Only Bus/Streetcar Stops will be permanently eliminated.

TTC Bus. By Father's Day, all Sunday-only bus stops will be gone. Sunday stops, which were established in the 1920’s to reduce walking distance to nearby churches, are, at an average of about 125 metres away, too close to existing adjacent regular stops. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
TTC Bus. By Father’s Day, all Sunday-only bus stops will be gone. Sunday stops, which were established in the 1920’s to reduce walking distance to nearby churches, are, at an average of about 125 metres away, too close to existing adjacent regular stops. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

TTC service improvements and changes

As of June 19, 2016, several services changes will take effect and include: new or improved services, permanent service changes, discontinuation of routes, removal of Sunday-only bus stops, and removal of streetcar stops. View all Service Changes.

Often streetcars bunch up and passengers enter and exit both the front and rear doors of streetcars.
Often streetcars bunch up and passengers enter and exit both the front and rear doors of streetcars. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

New/Improved service

Permanent Service Changes

  • 24D Victoria Park – Branch discontinued
  • 35 Jane – Routing change
  • 172 Cherry Street – Route discontinued
  • 224 Victoria Park North – Route discontinued

Removal of Sunday-only bus stops

TTC is removing all remaining 28 Sunday-only bus stops by June 19. Last year, the TTC removed all 41 Sunday-only streetcar stops in the city. Sunday stops, which were established in the 1920’s to reduce walking distance to nearby churches, are, at an average of about 125 metres away, too close to existing adjacent regular stops — transportation best practices state that bus stops should be 300 to 400 metres apart. The TTC is removing the stops for safety reasons as well, as none are located at signalized intersections or crosswalks.

Removal/relocation of streetcar stops

To improve pedestrian safety and customer journey times, the TTC is also removing 13 streetcar stops by June 19 and relocating another 28 stops along Broadview Avenue, Dundas Street West, Gerrard Street East, Kingston Road, King Street East, King Street West, McCaul Street, Queen Street East and Queen Street West this year.

TTC is constantly making changes in an effort to make this public transit system safer and more efficient. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
TTC is constantly making changes in an effort to make this public transit system safer and more efficient. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Paralyzed man testifies in P.E.I. bike crash trial

Update: see previous post – June 14, 2016 Driver on trial for P.E.I. crash involving cyclist

Accused Jordan Arsenault-Loeman and cyclist Alan Stanley attended provincial court in Charlottetown Tuesday.
Accused Jordan Arsenault-Loeman and cyclist Alan Stanley attended provincial court in Charlottetown Tuesday. (CBC)

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Cyclist Alan Stanley said it was a ‘beautiful day’ before accident happened

Alan Stanley was seated in his wheelchair in the witness stand Wednesday as he testified in Charlottetown Provincial Court about the crash involving his bicycle and a car last August.

“It was a beautiful summer day,” he said as testimony began.  “We were near the end of the ride when it happened. We’d gone about 90 kilometres.”

Stanley was headed south on Brackley Point Road in Charlottetown with a group of about 20 or 30 cyclists on Aug. 1, 2015, when his bike collided with an on-coming car that was making a left turn.

Bicycle accident
The scene Aug. 1, 2015, on Brackley Point Road where cyclist Alan Stanley collided with a vehicle. (Charlottetown Police)

Jordan Arsenault-Loeman, 26, of Saint John, N.B., has pleaded not guilty to making an unsafe turn, under the Highway Traffic Act.

Often led the pack

Wednesday morning, a fellow cyclist testified Stanley was one of the fastest riders in their group, and often led the pack.

She also testified Stanley “broke the rules of the road” once in a while, such as exceeding the speed limit or going through stop signs.

Bicycle
Alan Stanley’s bicycle, foreground, after the crash on Aug. 1, 2015, that left him paralyzed. (Charlottetown Police)

“But only when there were no cars in sight and it was safe,” she testified.

The court also examined speed data downloaded from a GPS one of the cyclists had on his bike.

40 km per hour

That data shows the cyclists were coasting downhill at about 40 kilometres per hour just before the crash took place.

The speed limit was 50.

Drivers have testified traffic was heavy and moving slowly.

The cyclists were using the south-bound bike lane on Brackley Point Road.

Stanley has filed a civil suit against the driver.

The driver has filed a statement of defence claiming he is not at fault.

Driver on trial for P.E.I. crash involving cyclist

Update:

Accused Jordan Arsenault-Loeman, of N.B., and former cyclist Alan Stanley attended provincial court in Charlottetown Tuesday.
Accused Jordan Arsenault-Loeman, of N.B., and former cyclist Alan Stanley attended provincial court in Charlottetown Tuesday. (CBC)

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Paralyzed cyclist to testify at trial

A cyclist who was paralyzed after his bike and a car collided last year will testify at a two-day trial that started today in P.E.I. provincial court in Charlottetown.

Alan Stanley, 60, has been paralyzed since the crash on August 1, 2015 on Brackley Point Road in Charlottetown.

Stanley is among seven prosecution witnesses slated to testify at the trial of the car driver involved in the crash.

The driver, Jordan Arsenault-Loeman, of Saint John, N.B., has pleaded not guilty to making an unsafe turn, an infraction under the Highway Traffic Act.

The defence contends Arsenault-Loeman did no wrong — traffic was heavy and cars were moving slowly.

Stanley was with a group of 20 or 30 cyclists coming down a hill in the bike lane on Brackley Point Road, by the Sherwood Business Centre.

Arsenault-Loeman’s lawyer argues the bicycles were simply going too fast so his client can’t be at fault.

Witnesses testify

Two witnesses to the crash testified Tuesday morning, describing a scene of busy traffic that sunny Saturday afternoon.

Both testified the driver was in the northbound lane, and was making a left turn when the crash took place.

They testified the car was moving slowly.

“Nothing out of the ordinary,” one of them testified.

The cyclist was heading south in the bike lane on Brackley Point Road.

He was with several riders who were travelling next to the curb spread out at varying intervals, as one witness described it.

‘Knew it wasn’t good’

Under cross examination, the witnesses testified the bicycles were moving fast.

“I thought it must be a race,” one witness testified, “judging by their speed and how many there was.”

The other witness testified the bicycles were moving faster than the cars on the road.

“As the car made the left, I heard a crash,” one witness testified. “Then I saw the cyclist lying on his back. I knew it wasn’t good.”

The trial is scheduled to run two days.

Riskiest spots for pedestrians and cyclists get new rules in road-safety plan

Update: see previous post – June 11, 2016 Toronto: Pedestrians Dying at an Alarming Rate

One of the busiest intersections in Canada. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Yonge and Dundas St., one of the busiest intersections in Canada. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Critic wishes strategy aimed at protecting pedestrians, cyclists were implemented citywide

A highly anticipated road safety plan to be unveiled by the city on Monday will take a targeted approach by reducing speed limits and reconfiguring intersections on dangerous streets in a bid to lower pedestrian and cyclist injuries.

The strategy, in the works for over a year, aims to reduce the number of vulnerable road users killed and hurt on the city’s roads.

“I think the stats speak for themselves. We can no longer ignore this . . . We need to have a plan and we need to execute it,” said Councillor Jaye Robinson (Ward 25, Don Valley West), who chairs the public works committee. “There’s no level of fatalities that are acceptable and my vision is to try to get to zero.”

According to the city, 168 pedestrians and cyclists died in traffic collisions between 2011 and 2015, and 1,029 were seriously injured.

Mayor John Tory is expected to join Robinson at the launch on Monday to highlight the benefits of the plan.

“The mayor knows people of Toronto care about each other and want to do their part to prevent accidents and the tragic loss of life. There are concrete steps the City can take to do our part,” Tory’s spokeswoman wrote in an email.

Robinson said she couldn’t discuss specifics of the strategy before it was unveiled, but it will present 40 safety measures under five key areas — pedestrians, cyclists, school zones, aggressive and distracted driving, and seniors — to be rolled out over several years, according to Robinson, and will include education, enforcement, and engineering initiatives.

Robinson and others familiar with the report told the Star that through an extensive analysis of collision data, transportation staff have identified about 15 “pedestrian safety corridors” they consider particularly dangerous for vulnerable road users. Most of the corridors are downtown, where collisions with pedestrians and cyclists are concentrated.

These hot spots will be targeted for safety upgrades like reduced speed limits, physical alterations to the roadway, and signal changes that favour pedestrians.

About 14 additional streets or intersections have been identified to undergo safety audits that will determine future safety improvements at those locations.

“It’s not one-size-fits-all, it’s a very tailored strategy,” said Robinson.

photo by fightyourtickets
Pedestrians, vehicles and bicycles don’t mix well when there is severe congestion and everyone is rushing around together to make up time. photo by fightyourtickets

But Maureen Coyle, a member of the steering committee for pedestrian-advocacy group Walk Toronto, said that focusing on areas where injuries have already occurred is “too reactive.”

“If you’re only looking behind you then you’re only looking at a part of the picture,” said Coyle, who was one of the stakeholders the city consulted while drafting the plan. She noted that other cities that have implemented strategies modelled on Sweden’s lauded Vision Zero campaign have made their policies citywide.

Coyle also took issue with the level of funding staff is expected to recommend be put toward the plan: $68 million over five years, or roughly $40 million more than currently dedicated to road safety initiatives.

“If you’re looking at real culture change, which we have to look at here, both in terms of space and in terms of behaviours, then we need to start looking in the hundreds of millions (of dollars),” she said.

Stephen Buckley, the city’s general manager of transportation, defended the targeted approach, arguing that it makes sense to focus resources on areas that where vulnerable road users are most often killed or injured.

“When you look in the downtown core, you have consistently, year over year, the same types of numbers and the same types of locations,” he said.

“This gives us a little bit more of a laser focus.”

The public works and infrastructure committee will debate the strategy at its June 20 meeting.

Cyclists should be able to move around the City and arrive home without incident.  photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Cyclists should be able to move around the City and arrive home without incident. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

By the numbers

2,142: average number of annual pedestrian collisions, 2005-2014

27.3: average number of annual pedestrian fatalities

16: average number of pedestrian fatalities involving people 55 and older

1,235: average number of annual cyclist collisions

6 p.m.: time of day when highest portion of injuries and fatalities occurred

31: pedestrians killed by distracted drivers between 2011 and 2014

Source: City of Toronto

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