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May 01, 2012


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John B

"Want pedestrians and cyclists to be safer?

The obvious answer: Get them into cars."

Now that's the dumbest thing I've heard you ever say! However, in a weird way, it would be true. With the increase in vehicles, there would be gridlock. Nobody would get run over. But how many would get killed by road rage?


'You don't - you never will - see many bicycles at the bottom of the Avenue Road hill heading up to St. Clair in February'

Were you out of town for all of February? Cycling rates continue to rise. Yes, winter is the least popular season for biking and most cyclists don't enjoy going uphill, but cherry-picking a scenario like that is disingenuous.

If you really wanted pedestrians and cyclists to be safer and not have to deal with an increase in car traffic (now, slower and with more less-experienced drivers!) you would be advocating for transit.

Given the margin by which drivers on non-residential streets routinely exceed the posted limit, lowering that limit would have the effect of making them drive at approximately the previous posted limit.

Speeds definitely need to be reduced on most residential streets, in part because drivers are cutting through neighbourhoods at speeds of 50 or more just to get to the next 60 km/h road slightly faster.


I hope whatever panel heard Dr. McK's thoughts also gets to hear critiques like this one.

Interesting to hear about the Dutch traffic experiment. I get the sense that it might not mesh quite as well with the temperament of our culture here, but whether that's true or not, I'm always in favour of testing the conventional wisdom, in this case the idea that safety is positively correlated with the amount of rules and restrictions. My worry on the Holland-type system would be less about safety and more about effectiveness; although you mention throughput was higher, I can see how it might foster a selfish system, where there would be no requirement to say, let people in to the flow of traffic at any point, and someone might be left waiting to turn onto a street for a ridiculously long time.

Sure, going down a major street where all kinds of traffic lights need to change just to let a couple of cars at a time turn off side streets, throughput would be higher if those lights didn't exist... but those few cars would be stuck with very few chances to escape the side streets. That's based on the expectation that the majority of drivers would drive selfishly though, which perhaps is too cynical.

Anthony van Osch

About the Dutch experiment: the Netherlands, as with the rest of the European Union, has far stricter vehicle third-party safety regulations, that is, how safe a vehicle is vis-a-vis pedestrians, cyclists, other vehicles, than does Canada. By comparison, ours are practically non-existent, especially for large trucks. Canada should adopt the same third-party safety standards for vehicles as the EU, but this would be fought tooth and nail by the trucking industry and possibly those who for some reason feel the need to drive lifted 4x4s and other vehicles with dangerous modifications. Canadian vehicle safety standards are shamefully out-of-date and by their nature are not capable of being brought into the modern world. They should be jettisoned in favour of better, international ECE standards that take third-party safety seriously.


Out here on the left coast our Canucks had 31 more points this season than the Leafs and this used to be a rain forest (we still have the rain) when pedestrians are hard to see. My dad the engineer said that Force = Mass x Acceleration. The impact on a pedestrian should be equal to the weight of the vehicle times its speed. The force of the impact should be half as much at half the speed but bad fast driving is what really kills. My old dad also had a ring he said was made of metal from the failed second narrows bridge as a safety reminder. We have fences on the #7 highway to keep suicidal pedestrians from J walking and walk lights with count downs to the red light. Please walk safely no matter where you are.

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