Moving Towards Vision Zero

On June 27, City Council unanimously approved new funding for road safety, including more red-light cameras, expedited traffic-calming measures, and improved design of intersections. HVRA’s recent traffic study helped shape public discussions leading to this commitment. The Toronto Star and BlogTO both picked up our June 20 web story and our June 24 letter to City Council and asked us for further comments.

Here’s how Tamar Harris of the Toronto Star used the HVRA study in an article that focussed mainly on bad design at the Bay-Richmond intersection:

Other groups are taking it upon themselves to review the effectiveness of city intersections.
In a recent road safety audit, the Harbord Village Residents’ Association reviewed several intersections in the neighbourhood, finding 45 per cent of drivers did not stop at stop signs; 35 per cent of vehicles did not stop at the crosswalk at Harbord and Robert Sts. while it was occupied; and vehicles were observed going the wrong way down one-way streets more than 50 times.
“We wanted to convert our complaining into action and arm ourselves with some data that we could then take to our councillor and to city council to address what appears to be a growing issue of safety on a roads,” said Andrea Poptsis, secretary of the association. “Not just for pedestrians, but all users.”
HVRA board member at Robert-Harbord intersection
Andrea Poptsis, board member of the Harbord Village Residents’ Association (Rick Madonik/Toronto Star)

Read the full Toronto Star story at

BlogTO also ran a story focussed on our study, citing both Andrea Poptsis and Carolee Orme. It included a selection of other tweets and blogs on the topic of neighbourhood safety, and brought a lively set of responses. Excerpts below:

A Toronto residents’ association has conducted a safety audit of the intersections in their neighbourhood — an idea born out of a decision to turn talking and lived experiences into tangible data.
They found an alarming number of traffic violations committed by motorists.
Last week, the Harbord Village Residents’ Association sent a letter to Mayor John Tory and the Toronto City Council with their findings.
The HVRA gathers members together twice a year to speak about neighbourhood issues and members say that road safety is always something that’s coming up.
Andrea Poptsis, HVRA Secretary, spoke to us by phone on Tuesday June 26.
“This year we decided we would do something different about it, we would just not sit and talk about the problem but we would actually organize ourselves and sit down and try to collect some data,” she said, “[and] arm ourselves with some information that we could then take to our councillor and City Hall and hopefully press for change.”
Poptsis said that, while it’s not shocking to anyone from the neighbourhood that drivers drive the wrong way down one-way streets, it is shocking how often they do it.
She said on Tuesday that there were a “shocking” number of instances and of drivers’ failure to come to “even a rolling stop” or stop for pedestrians crossing a cross walk.
“No one doubts the seriousness of the situation. No one doubts the commitment of politicians to keep us safe,” the association wrote in its report.
“But good intentions leave us short. Act immediately to lower the tempers that are now a daily feature of conflict between people trying simply to make their way around the City and to limit the casualties of life in this great City.”
Going forward the HVRA is calling on city council to expand current motions that address Vision Zero financing and safety improvements around school safety zones to include neighbourhood streets because “they are the place where children play.”
They’re also hoping other neighbourhoods will follow suit and conduct safety audits of their own.
The letter also asks council to bring their concerns to the police department, who the HVRA hopes will “make obedience to traffic laws a critical priority.”

Read the complete BlogTO piece at