City council’s decision to cut speeds on a major commuter route doesn’t sit well with some councillors worried about traffic snarls.
A city council decision to reduce the speed limit to 40 km/h on stretches of Bay St. and Davenport Rd. doesn’t go far enough to keep pedestrians safe, the local councillor says.
But the public works committee chair says it goes too far — by slowing traffic on a major commuter artery.
Council voted 28-8 on Thursday to lower the speed limit from the standard 50 km/h on Bay from Bloor to Davenport. In a 31-5 vote, it approved similarly reducing the limit on Davenport between Bay and Yonge Sts.
The move will needlessly slow traffic, said Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong.
“My job at city council is to reduce congestion and gridlock, not to add to it,” he said. “This adds to congestion and gridlock and makes traffic worse.”
While agreeing to reduce the speed limit, council didn’t go along with Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam’s suggestion to also ban right turns on red during rush hour at the intersection of Bay and Davenport.
A staff report said 500 eastbound vehicles turn right from Davenport to southbound Bay in the morning rush, and 300 during the evening rush.
Traffic engineers acknowledged that a few drivers don’t bother to stop before turning right on Bay, “resulting in a potential for conflict with pedestrians crossing.” But disallowing right turns on red could cause eastbound traffic backups, potentially increasing driver aggression and putting pedestrians at risk, the report from transportation staff said.
Wong-Tam said something must be done at the intersection, which is used by children walking to Jesse Ketchum school and by residents of three seniors’ homes in the neighbourhood.
“My biggest fear is that a child will be struck trying to get to school or trying to get to the day care, or perhaps a senior citizen trying to get home,” said Wong-Tam, who represents the area.
“We have to figure out, as an amalgamated city, how to make the rules work for everyone and not just people driving vehicles,” added the councillor for Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale.
“I think it’s really important that we prioritize road safety for pedestrians, because when a car hits a pedestrian, there’s a very good chance the pedestrian will not survive.”