In an effort to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe, Toronto’s top doctor is calling for speed limits to be reduced by 10 or 20 km/h on the streets of Canada’s largest city.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. David McKeown wants drivers limited to speeds of 30 km/h on residential streets and 40 km/h on all of Toronto’s roads, down from current limits of 40 km/h on neighbourhood streets and 40 km/h to 60 km/h elsewhere.
Dr. McKeown’s report, “Road to Health: A Healthy Toronto By Design,” recommends a host of measures the municipal government could take to encourage Torontonians to trade their cars for bikes or sneakers, including improving the city’s cycling infrastructure.
The introduction to the report suggests lowering speed limits would be inexpensive place to start.
“While priority attention needs to be directed to enhancing and expanding pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, there are many lower cost measures that the City can implement such as lowering speed limits and implementing traffic signal systems that provide advance crossing to pedestrians and cyclists,” it reads.
Collision rates for pedestrians and cyclists have declined over the last decade in Toronto, according to the report.
However, the rates are still higher than in other Canadian cities.
The report goes before Toronto’s Board of Health Monday. Council, which has the final say on speed limits, will consider the recommendations at the monthly meeting that begins May 8.
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the public works committee, rejected the proposal, calling it "problematic."
"One of the biggest problems with this is enforcement. We don't have enough police officers now to enforce the existing speed limits. I think you might actually create a problem if you suggest a speed limit and no one pays attention to it. You're creating an expectation for drivers, for pedestrians and cyclists that isn't being met and that in and of itself could create a safety risk."
As for Dr. McKeown, the councillor urged him not to meddle in the public works portfolio.
"He should stick to his knitting," Mr. Minnan-Wong said.