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Road Safety & Vision Zero Plan

crs1026

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I feel strongly we ought to address such challenges, I expect most of those fall within the sphere of the province; in the same way the building code does.
Mandating full accessibility in every residence is entirely impractical, it would force much larger unit sizes if all bathrooms/kitchens had to have the requisite space for wheelchair users.
That said; there is an argument in new builds, that at least one powder room should meet the standard for accessibility in every apartment/home; but there would certainly be some pushback from industry on cost.

This is doable for many new dwellings, but presumes that entry from at-grade to the housing unit is at grade and/or made accessible. For a huge amount of existing housing stock there is little prospect of remediation given slopes and steps from sidewalk or driveway to front door. I guess we have to accept that many of these dwellings - which may mean whole streets or even bigger areas - simply won't be an option for a disabled person, and that inequity will be longstanding. (The real pain is where the disability happens after an individual has made a dwelling their home.... the disability is irrevocably life changing).

The City is reasonably on hook for maintenance standards, interruptions of sidewalk/path caused by construction and the program for winter snow-clearing and safety.

We can all agree they ought to be doing better on pretty much all of these; but if you did everyone perfectly, you wouldn't allow a mobility impaired person to access a sidewalk-less street when there are snowbanks on the road.

Equally, I'm not sure such a mobility impaired person should be left in the midst of a road without quality traffic calming and a probably as-driven speed below 30km/ph.

The interesting thing when we did our local canvass was the extent to which the people using mobility devices maintained, rightly or wrongly, that walking on their own street was the better option in terms of ease and safety. The elderly (understandably) fear slips and falls as much or more than being struck by motor vehicles. They may have lived on that street for so long that they remember things as they may have been rather than as they are.

I do agree, such streets need redesign and other measures to really be defensible as "safe". But I would not say we've achieved a momentum or a consensus that will convince every street, and there are better ways of getting to that consensus than imposing the solution (absent some direct data on that location). Culture beats strategy, so good change management may work better - enthusiastic activism can push too hard sometimes.

- Paul
 

W. K. Lis

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Are those curb ramp "bumps" really that useful?

AT-Blog-1.jpg


From link.

As you are crossing the street, many of you may notice the yellow dots on the curb ramps. You may even notice them covering the entire crosswalk from the front of the shopping mall to the parking lot. The yellow dots, also known as truncated domes, are an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirement. After the ADA was enacted in 1990, cities had to put in curb ramps between the street and sidewalk. But the curb ramps were a problem for people with visual impairments because they lost the visual cue to distinguish the boundary between the sidewalk and street. In order to resolve this issue, the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), required detectable warnings on curb cuts since July 2001. It has been required on edges of transit platforms since 1991. And only the truncated domes can be used as detectable warnings. Other tactile warnings and designs that have similar pavement textures as curb ramps are not permitted.

The intent of the truncated domes is to warn people with visual impairments of potential hazard when entering the street. People with visual impairments can feel the dots underneath their feet or cane to detect the crosswalk.

Although I understand the purpose of truncated domes, I find them to be unsafe for people with mobility impairments. Many of my friends who use manual wheelchairs, including myself, secretly complain how truncated domes create barriers for us. Why do we complain secretly? Because if we complained openly, people may think we are insensitive and do not care for the rights of people with visual impairments. But this is not true; we want to maintain unity in the disability community. Nevertheless, every time I approach the yellow dots on the curb ramp in my manual wheelchair, I tremble with fear that I might trip on one of the yellow dots and fall on my face. I know of friends in manual wheelchairs who have tripped on the dots and ended up in hospitals with broken bones. Whenever I cross the street, I need the momentum to push myself up and down the curb ramp but the dots are too bumpy. My front wheels are small so they cannot ride over the bumps easily. Furthermore, the bumps trigger muscle spasms for some people with spinal cord injury.
AT-Blog-7-300x225.jpg

Therefore, should one disability trump another disability? Even though we should accommodate the needs of all people with disabilities, we should also “share the road.” Instead of putting truncated domes all around curb ramps or storefronts, I suggest leaving sections without truncated domes so people in wheelchairs can easily access those areas. This small change can make a huge difference in the safety of people with mobility impairments.

Raise intersection crosswalks are better.

2.3.4.01%20IMG_20190731_090136.jpg

From link.
  • Enhances access for people with ambulatory disabilities by providing level crossing
  • Compels drivers to travel at speeds no higher than the street’s design speed
  • Improves drivers’ awareness of presence of pedestrian crossing, particularly at mid-block crossing locations
  • Can alert drivers that they are entering a slower-speed, pedestrian-oriented street environment
  • Allows convenient pedestrian circulation between high foot traffic destinations on opposite sides of a street
  • Encourages motorists to yield to pedestrians
 

allengeorge

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This is doable for many new dwellings, but presumes that entry from at-grade to the housing unit is at grade and/or made accessible. For a huge amount of existing housing stock there is little prospect of remediation given slopes and steps from sidewalk or driveway to front door. I guess we have to accept that many of these dwellings - which may mean whole streets or even bigger areas - simply won't be an option for a disabled person, and that inequity will be longstanding. (The real pain is where the disability happens after an individual has made a dwelling their home.... the disability is irrevocably life changing).



The interesting thing when we did our local canvass was the extent to which the people using mobility devices maintained, rightly or wrongly, that walking on their own street was the better option in terms of ease and safety. The elderly (understandably) fear slips and falls as much or more than being struck by motor vehicles. They may have lived on that street for so long that they remember things as they may have been rather than as they are.

I do agree, such streets need redesign and other measures to really be defensible as "safe". But I would not say we've achieved a momentum or a consensus that will convince every street, and there are better ways of getting to that consensus than imposing the solution (absent some direct data on that location). Culture beats strategy, so good change management may work better - enthusiastic activism can push too hard sometimes.

- Paul
I am curious as to what exactly you would change that’s in the city’s purview with regard to transportation. I have heard about buildings, and the challenges there, which are very real and unfortunate. I’ve heard that advocating for change may be too extreme, and cause people to push back. And I’ve heard that culture beats strategy, but no concrete steps of how one changes the culture of a region over 6M people.

And, on the last point: I disagree. People are fundamentally change-averse, and sometimes the best way to arrive at a better place is just to do something, regardless of how upset they get. Invariably - unless there’s injustice involved - people adapt and move on. Changes through infrastructure force changes in behavior, which, over time result in changes in culture. Asking for a change in culture first is a questionable strategy.
 

crs1026

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I am curious as to what exactly you would change that’s in the city’s purview with regard to transportation. I have heard about buildings, and the challenges there, which are very real and unfortunate. I’ve heard that advocating for change may be too extreme, and cause people to push back. And I’ve heard that culture beats strategy, but no concrete steps of how one changes the culture of a region over 6M people.

And, on the last point: I disagree. People are fundamentally change-averse, and sometimes the best way to arrive at a better place is just to do something, regardless of how upset they get. Invariably - unless there’s injustice involved - people adapt and move on. Changes through infrastructure force changes in behavior, which, over time result in changes in culture. Asking for a change in culture first is a questionable strategy.

In an earlier post I suggested that new sidewalk construction should be prioritised (using the Missing Sidewalk criteria) and published for a 5-year timeline, identifying the specific factors which push those selected to the top of the list. The point is to achieve "soak time" and wear down the opposition. And enable reasonable consultation rather than triggering a knee-jerk neighbourhood panic response(#AsMetrolinxoftendoes).

A further step would be to initiate a program, with dedicated funding, to plan and execute sidewalks on all streets extending directly for 150-200 meters from all public and secondary schools in the City. (One could add public libraries, community centers, major parks and playgrounds, swimming pools and skating rinks, seniors' facilities). Seek Council consensus that these projects will not be vetoed. Give this the highest priority for whatever funding is available, with metrics estimating how long the program will take given a specified annual spend. This is where the "push and take the upset" that you suggest might work best - these are such no-brainer locations for sidewalk installation. I am astounded when advocates push for sidewalks on the minor lower streets (which create the most incentive for Council to veto) when they could be advocating and generating pressure for the no-brainer locations where public buy-in would be strongest and Councillors would be loathe to apply a veto. (PS - this is very much a “trojan horse/thin edge of the wedge” strategy that would force the initial sidewalks into the most resistant neighbourhoods, leading to acceptance over time and perhaps “breakaway” streets that would demand further extensions for their own benefit.)

Delink sidewalk construction from road construction. I can't imagine the incremental cost is really that high. At least, remove any "low" priority rated locations from the plan (again, guided by the Missing Sidewalk program criteria) unless residents speak up to request sidewalks there.

Bring more focus to reporting and corrective action for sidewalk repairs. A direct parallel is pothole repair - publicise how to report them, maintain the data in a similar manner, develop and communicate metrics on time to inspect and assess, number confirmed as deficient, turnaround time and cost to complete these repairs. Encourage the media to cover sidewalk repairs in the same way and intensity as they cover pothole repair. Maybe a map on the city web site showing known sidewalk problems, similar to the Toronto Hydro outages map. Manage the two programs so they are viewed by city staff as equal priority.

Create a "clean sidewalks" standard for major streets where the encroachments I listed earlier are barriers to mobility. Then enforce in a manner similar to, and with equal priority to, other property standards. Again, have a clear reporting point of contact, publicise it, develop and communicate metrics about the timeliness and effectiveness of response to concerns.

Apply the "clean sidewalks" standard to all construction projects including work performed by utilities, road repairs, and telcos and private construction sites.

Create and publicise a "request a sidewalk" access point and approval criteria independent of individual Councillors' offices, so that requests from residents desiring sidewalks are collected, prioritised, and brought forward by City staff. This should be the second highest recipient of funding

Any or all of the above would give a much better story about what the City is doing and why. That would generate public awareness and divert media interest away from "residents vow to fight City Hall" stories about controversies towards stories about how the City is "walking the talk".

I really don't know what to do about snow and ice. It confounds everything we are trying to achieve for all modes of active transportation. Maybe it's an ocean that has to be boiled later.

- Paul
 
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W. K. Lis

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Near Side Signals: Thinking Outside the Pedestrian Box


From link.

How often do you think about stoplights? Not just to acknowledge that the light is green or red or how many times the “Don’t Walk” hand on the pedestrian crosswalk counter has flashed so you know how long you have to cross, but the design and placement of that signal. (The red hand flashes 17 times at the freeway exit intersection on the Lowry Hill Greenway on Lyndale Avenue, for reference.) I will grant, the readership of this fine blog is more likely to have thought about this than most.

I have had a growing irritation with placement of signals over the past few years, particularly after my most recent trip to visit a former host family in Austria, where I lived off and on for almost three years. Like many others who have commented on differences between European and American street design, I was struck by how much safer I feel as a pedestrian there. A part of that was because the crosswalk was significantly less blocked than the average U.S. intersection. That could relate to cultural norms, more driving training (getting a license in Austria is both time consuming and expensive) or a stronger restriction on right turns on red (generally not allowed anywhere), but another aspect was simply where signals are placed at intersections. Most often, they are on the near side of the intersection. If there is a signal in the middle or on the far side of the intersection, it is supplemental, not primary.

What does that mean for user safety? Vehicles see the light sooner before reaching the intersection, which makes it less likely that cars run red lights. Importantly, though, vehicles need to stop farther back to see the signal, meaning that the crosswalk is kept clear for pedestrian use. In Austria and Switzerland, a stop bar serves as an extra indicator of where cars should stay, but the signal placement itself is doing most of the work. This intentional design choice makes it safer for multiple road users to interact in the same space. Pedestrians have less fear of cars inching forward and encroaching on the crosswalk, and cars are less likely to run red lights because they can see the signal sooner. Keeping cars farther back also allows for a tighter turning radius for a vehicle coming from a perpendicular road, allowing intersections to be smaller, use fewer materials and have shorter crossing distances for pedestrians.
Picture1.png

The signal is placed on the near side of the intersection at the beginning of the crosswalk. There is also still a stop bar set back several feet, which keeps vehicles back far enough to see the light and protects turning radii for vehicles coming from other directions and for larger vehicles. Source: Google Earth in Innsbruck, Austria; photo up top by Chris

Picture2.png

More of a cross view showing the signal behind the crosswalk, with a stop bar behind. Source: Google Earth

Picture3.png

Traffic signal placed on the near side of the intersection, followed by the pedestrian crosswalk and then the bike lane. Source: Google Earth in Innsbruck, Austria

Now let’s look at some infrastructure in Zurich, Switzerland.

5daf6312-9b24-4d50-993d-8b88fe6398c3-767x1024.jpg

Switzerland adds different colors to further differentiate infrastructure types, with crosswalks in yellow, bike lanes painted fully red with yellow symbols and car infrastructure in white. Signals are still on the near side of the intersection. Author photo

15685188-2619-4f3b-a370-bbc74f6069ec-767x1024.jpg

Photo showing multiple user types at an intersection. Bikers are allowed to be slightly farther forward from cars to promote visibility. Both bikes and cars are kept behind the crosswalk by signal placement and stop bars. Author photo

Compare the pictures above with the ones below from Lyndale and Hennepin avenues (and insert your own mental images from pretty much any intersection in the United States).

IMG_8392-1-1024x673.jpg

Cars regularly pull into the crosswalk, particularly when trying to turn on red. Pedestrians are forced to go around and hope that the driver is watching and doesn’t accelerate. Author photo

IMG_8390-768x1024.jpg

Stop bars do little on their own to prevent cars from creeping forward at intersections. Author photo

IMG_8387-1024x530.jpg

Pedestrians often have to navigate six lanes to cross an intersection. Cars blocking their space makes this all the more daunting. Author photo

Notice how much the Lyndale and Hennepin examples are oriented around making it easier for cars to move around at the detriment of any other user. The crosswalk and stop bar paint are faded, and enough cars ignore them to make these crossings dangerous anyway.

The United States has a road traffic death rate (per 100,000) roughly five times higher than that of Austria and Switzerland. Again, many factors could contribute to this, but at least some of it has to do with the intentional design of roads and signals. Other elements could include:
  • Narrower roads leading to slower speeds,
  • Smaller average vehicle sizes,
  • Higher barriers to getting a license,
  • Traffic camera enforcement, and
  • A prohibition on right turns on red.
All of these things could be done here! I couldn’t find any Austrian or Swiss data on pedestrians in a quick search, but the United States is killing more than 6,000 pedestrians annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), a rate that has increased more than 50 percent since 2010 and now represents 17 percent of all traffic deaths — the highest rate in over 35 years.

Picture4-1024x142.png


I also find it telling that the NHTSA reports that intersections are a major driver of accidents and fatalities, advocates that engineering could help change this, and then focuses solely on enforcement and education campaigns. Why not look at the engineering of the intersection? Similarly, the GHSA report points to increased vehicle size with the growth in SUV sales and increased driver distraction from cell phones as major drivers of pedestrian accidents, and then still focuses on pedestrian education opportunities as the main solution being pursued.

An important, albeit obvious, note is that vehicles themselves are becoming much safer for vehicle-vehicle accidents, but pedestrians don’t benefit from those improvements because a pedestrian can’t get improved airbags or better crumple zones. As the height and size of vehicles increases, pedestrians become less visible, even if an onboard camera might help drivers who aren’t distracted by everything else going on within the modern car cabin. Whereas a pedestrian being hit might have been able to roll on top of a vehicle before, now that same pedestrian more likely is getting pushed underneath the vehicle by unnecessary bull bars.

We know that cities in Minnesota aren’t in a position to enforce traffic rules with signal cameras (state preemption plus a bigger equity discussion). But if we aren’t going to enforce traffic rules via camera or street patrols, and pedestrian injuries and deaths are on the rise, how do we change the street design to disincentivize certain dangerous behaviors? How do we implement designs that change the risk/reward metrics for drivers to help them avoid endangering other users? When do cars stop being the focal point in street design?

Train crossings have cross arms come down to physically block cars from obstructing the tracks. So, why do we distrust cars when it comes to trains but we do trust them when it comes to pedestrians? A train-car collision certainly will favor the train, but a car will also certainly win against a pedestrian or cyclist. Maybe we do need a campaign like Montreal’s to demonstrate where crosswalks are. A potentially easier step, though, would be to work on our street design.

Whether removing right turns on red; adding chicanes (a curve in a road) or diverters such as islands; keeping cars away from pedestrians by using stop lines that are farther back; adding more bump outs or designing roads with near-side intersections: A multitude of options could help improve pedestrian safety. Let’s hope that more of them start becoming the norm in our country one day soon.
 

lenaitch

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Well, if they were far side, once the railway crossing is occupied, the signal would be blocked and, if there are barrier gates, they tend to be more useful before the crossing.

I get that we could do things different or better, but I'm not sure a parade of photos showing 'Europe good - North America bad' solves much. I'm sure someone could find an image of a European vehicle over the stop line.
 

Northern Light

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And I get to Ripley......and this is what I find:

View attachment 392081

No sidewalk on either side of the street, cars parked here/there and everywhere, so there is no clear walking path except in the middle of the road.....and w/cars positioned the way they are, sightlines are poor for drivers and pedestrians too ( car stuck out a bit further than another blocks your view of reverse lights/headlights, while it blocks the driver's view of any oncoming traffic pedestrian or otherwise.

Hmmmm, do the owners of Cheese Boutique read my posts here? LOL

From the Lobbyist Registry:

1652103903978.png
 

crs1026

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Hmmmm, do the owners of Cheese Boutique read my posts here? LOL

Funny - we were just discussing needing some cheese - maybe I can leave our order here with you and save us a trip? ;-)

From the Lobbyist Registry:

View attachment 399072

One-way would certainly add some room for sidewalk and on-street parking....but I wonder where the TPA will find space for a parking lot.?

The zoning for this street is not easy to find on line, I am guessing it's employment lands. Really, with the condos going in on Lakeshore the area is in need of more amenities, and it's ripe for more infill. Perhaps one needs to figure out the zoning (mixed use with both residential and retail ?) and redesign the street to match future use.

But I agree, at present it's not friendly.

- Paul
 

Northern Light

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The City has a survey up on potential changes to Avenue Road.

Its open til May 29


They are looking for what you prioritize (wider sidewalks, bike lanes, beautification, travel time etc etc.)

Which specific changes you would prioritize; as well as proving a single spot for commenting.

I advocated that the removal of 2 vehicles lanes is non-negotiable, that sidewalks must be widened at key locations, that physically separated bike lanes should be provided.

I also noted that beautification was also important, so as to induce more people to walk and cycle the route.
 

crs1026

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A fairly comprehensive proposal on local roads in Wards 1 and 3 is going to Etobicoke York Community Council.


I'm not sure how many roads actually have speeds lowered, versus simply declaring a "district" approach so that there is no need to specifically sign each one, but it will put this push on record as the "default" being 30 km/h on many local roads and 40 km/h on collectors. Better than a street by street debate.

One wonders where Ward 2 is on this.

- Paul

PS - the link to the main report seems to crash my browser, but the one to the attachment works fine, and that's where the data is.
 

afransen

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Seems to me it wouldn't be that expensive to add some traffic calming obstacles:

TF4122WestburyNY_1024x.jpg


or the even lower maintenance big rock:

5b2c1182f17a8d1159b6fe29_Vail_USA_autorestricted2%20(1).jpg


That combined with some painted chicanes would slow down traffic if you are willing to sacrifice some parking. Or keep it straight with some narrow points with the obstacles as shown above. It's a good stop gap until the street can be reconstructed.

Even better when said pinch-point is coupled with a flexi centre lane divider.

Capture.PNG

 
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crs1026

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and less like this


Yeah. This is where reality meets vision.

Considering how much of the GTA's built form looks exactly like this photo, and is too newly-built to have an economic case to justify ripping it down, there is little hope of a short term transformation. However, if each of those big houses were changed into a triplex - which is mostly doable - then we would meet our need for affordable housing... and each of the three occupants of a house would share some pretty nice trees and yard space. Edmonton has been doing just that, creating some very nice neighbourhoods that look suburban but have greater density.

Maybe then there would be appetite to move all those people out of the back streets and on their way in something other than single user autos.

- Paul
 

JasonParis

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Even better when said pinch-point is coupled with a flexi centre lane divider.

View attachment 400772
I wonder if these could work on King Street to better demarcate for drivers that they need to turn right (because of the transitway).
 

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