A city official is urging councillors to put the brakes on a contentious proposal to reduce the speed limit on residential streets throughout East York and the old City of Toronto.
A group of downtown councillors had asked General Manager of Transportation Services Stephen Buckley to look into the feasibility of lowering speed limits from 40 to 30 km/h but in a report that will be considered by the Toronto and East York community council next Monday, the bureaucrat warned that the blanket reduction of speed limits may not be effective.
The total cost of lowering speed limits on residential streets is believed to be about $1.1 million.
“Research has shown that setting speeds arbitrarily low may not achieve the desired results expected by a community. However, the implementation of 30 km/h using the City's approved 30 km/h Speed Limit Policy would help confirm that all relevant factors were considered and clearly justifies a speed limit reduction to 30 km/h. In doing so, there is a greater certainty that the desired outcome, 'lower motorist speeds', is achievable,” Buckley wrote.
Coun. Josh Matlow first proposed the lowering of speed limits in residential areas in August after a seven--year-old girl was struck and killed by a vehicle in Leaside.
At the time, the Ward 22 Coun. cited a 2012 report from the Chief Medical Officer of Health that suggested that pedestrians have a 20 per cent chance of dying when hit by a vehicle travelling at 50 km/h and only a five per cent chance of death when that vehicle is travelling at 40 km/h.
In the staff report Buckley did point out that over a five-year span (2009-2013) 91 per cent of all pedestrian fatalities occurred on roads with posted speed limits of 50 km/h or more but the report also noted that 88.6 per cent of pedestrian fatalities and 100 per cent of cyclist fatalities occurred on major and minor arterial roads, casting doubt on whether lowering speed limits in residential neighbourhoods will really save that many lives.
The report also suggested that any reduction in speed limits would also have to be accompanied by a enforcement blitz, something Buckely elaborated on in an interview with CP24 on Monday morning.
"We don’t necessarily feel that such a posting would be adhered to by a lot of drivers. Sometimes the design cues from the streets are going to encourage people to go a little faster, so we don’t want to give people a false sense of security," he said.
According to the staff report, there are 387.1 kilometres of local roads in East York and the old City of Toronto that would have to have new signs installed should the city elect to lower speed limits.