Safe Streets

Safe Streets

Most people want to live in neighbourhoods that are quiet and safe.

But what I’m hearing at the door is that a lot of people don’t like what they’re hearing and seeing on their streets.

When I’m talking to residents on major streets, many say they’re concerned about speeding, traffic violations and vehicle noise.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You have to do several things.

For example, in new subdivisions there will be a spot on the street where the boulevard juts out and narrows the road. Lots of studies show that causes people to slow down.

Speed bumps are another tool and they can be effective, too. But opinions on those vary and you have to be careful how you build them because they can make it difficult for buses and trucks. Another thing I like to see are “Slow down” signs that people put on their lawns.

Installing bike lanes can also help. It’s easy to speed along on a four-way street but when it’s cut down to two lanes plus bike lanes, drivers naturally start to slow down.

We’re also developing some new technology-based programs that other cities have been using for a while.

We’re installing red light cameras at busy intersections. The camera takes a picture of an offending vehicle and a ticket is sent to the owner. There’s a fine, but no demerit points.

We’re also looking at automated speed enforcement. Basically, a camera takes a picture of a speeding car and the owner is fined.

We did tests in May on Colborne Street East and Wayne Gretzky Parkway. The one on Colborne showed thousands of violations. One vehicle even hit a speed of 151 km/h.

Right now, city staff are looking at the best places for the cameras. There are a lot of criteria to consider – school zones, the number of violations, the number of accidents, and so on.

City staff will report in the fall on the best locations and then we’ll install them next year. They can be rotated from one safety zone to the next.

Street noise is harder to deal with. The police are the only people who can enforce it; city bylaw officers can’t issue tickets.

What we’re doing is blitzes. The police pull over vehicles over that are excessively loud, examine them and if they’re found to be in violation of standards, they’re ticketed.

In the past we usually did one each summer but this year we’re doing three. Hopefully, this will help.

In the future, it might be possible to do what California is testing right now: a system that records a vehicle’s noise level so a ticket can be issued automatically, like with the red light and speed cameras.

We want safe streets, not mean streets.

An automated speed enforcement camera keeps an unblinking eye on traffic. PHOTO BY JACK BOLAND /Toronto Sun

For a link to the expositor article talking about speed enforcement, click here.