In 23 weeks this year, 21 cyclists and pedestrians have died in Toronto, killed in collisions with vehicles. The latest deaths came in a sharp, horrifying cluster: a woman left for dead in a hit-and-run on Monday; another woman killed on her bicycle on Tuesday; and an announcement from Toronto Police Services the same day that a cyclist who was hit by a car in May had died in hospital from his injuries.
As disturbing as this is, there is an even more troubling truth at play: that the carnage to date in 2018 is not an aberration but is, in fact, the new normal in Canada’s largest city.
In four of the past five years, cyclists and pedestrians have been killed in vehicle collisions at a rate of never less than one every 10 days. This year will be no different, based on the current pace.
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Perhaps worst of all, this has occurred even as Mayor John Tory, working with the police, has taken steps to try to make Toronto roads safer.
Two years ago, he launched a plan to eliminate all road fatalities by 2021. Vision Zero, as it is called, includes targeted reductions in speed limits, more traffic-calming measures, and multiple awareness programs.
Based on the statistics, Vision Zero is a failure. This is especially true where pedestrians are concerned. People on foot have been struck and killed roughly 10 times as often as cyclists since 2013; in 2017, more than 1,600 pedestrians were struck by vehicles, a pace of more than four a day.
Not that cyclists have it easy: About 50 are killed or seriously injured every year, according to Toronto Police statistics. And there, too, the numbers haven’t budged since the launch of Vision Zero; in fact, they were higher in 2017 than 2016.
The mayor’s goal of reducing annual road fatalities to zero is nowhere in sight. These days, if Toronto gets through a week without the death of a cyclist or pedestrian, it counts as a small miracle.
The prescriptions in Vision Zero are simply not working. Mr. Tory needs to admit that fact and start over with a program that effectively reduces the speeds of cars and trucks, better protects cyclists, and above all makes more room on Toronto’s streets for those who don’t drive.