Too Fast. Too Furious.
The Avenue Road Safety Coalition has a solution.
85 per cent of drivers speed down the stretch between Bloor and St. Clair
Karen Stintz: “According to a traffic study that was conducted before the pandemic, the 2.1-kilometre stretch of Avenue Road carries 30,000 vehicles per day, and 85 per cent of drivers exceed the 50 km/h speed limit. Compounding the problem is that the sidewalks are less than two metres wide.”
Residents must now tread carefully along narrow sidewalks on the hilly, high-speed stretch between St. Clair West and Bloor.
Avenue Road says a lot about our city, even if it’s no longer what we want to hear.
The hilly, six-lane stretch between St. Clair West and Bloor literally roars with speeding motor traffic. In some spots, pedestrians tread cautiously along narrow sidewalks separated from the road by one-metre high corrugated steel guardrails.
By all accounts Toronto’s 50 photo-radar cameras are doing their job — issuing 22,000 tickets in just one month this summer. But the city says there are currently no plans to acquire more, and that has road safety advocates wondering why.
“Cars go fast, governments go slow,” said Albert Koehl, coordinator with the Avenue Road Safety Coalition. He points out that 50 cameras for the entire city is just one camera for approximately every 100 kilometres of road.
“When it comes to making roads safe, governments take an extremely cautious approach to ensure that speeders have a generous amount of time to adjust, and yet the roads are dangerous today, people are dying and being seriously injured today,” said Koehl.
Interview with Albert Koehl, a Co-organizer, Avenue Road Safety Coalition Safety Awareness Day.
A community group is calling on the city to make a stretch of Avenue Road immediately safer for pedestrians.
The Avenue Road Safety Coalition, made up of residents’ associations and school parent councils, wants the city to set up a pilot project by the end of the year that would widen sidewalks on Avenue Road between St. Clair Avenue West and Bloor Street West.
According to the coalition, a 2.1-kilometre stretch of Avenue Road is a six-lane street that is hostile to pedestrians and cyclists. The coalition wants the speed limit lowered to 40 kilometres per hour.
The sidewalks on this stretch are “dangerously narrow,” the coalition says.
“Avenue Road, a six-lane, high-speed motorway running through the heart of Toronto, no longer fits with contemporary ideas about road safety or with the schools, parks, residential towers and seniors’ residences in its path.
The 2.1-kilometre stretch between Bloor Street West and St. Clair Avenue West was widened in 1959 by the old Metro government by chopping down trees and pilfering space from sidewalks….”
Residents will demonstrate Tuesday morning to urge slower speeds and wider sidewalks for the high-speed stretch of Avenue Road between St. Clair Ave. and Bloor Street. It sees some 30,000 vehicles a day and anyone who has walked the slivery sidewalks knows the meaning of fear. Five associations are allied as the Avenue Road Safety Coalition (ARSC). They are urging the City to establish an immediate pilot project to widen sidewalks and to lower the speed limit to 40 kilometres per hour between Bloor and St. Clair. Eighteen large banners will line Avenue Road calling for “Wider Sidewalks and Slower Speeds”.
The car wins on Avenue Road. It always does.
The pattern of valuing the convenience of drivers over everything else has been fixed since 1959, when the city chopped down trees and dramatically narrowed sidewalks to create six traffic lanes from St. Clair Avenue West to Bloor Street West so as to funnel cars quickly to the downtown.
Sixty years later, that’s the Avenue Road we still have on that 2.1-kilometre stretch between St. Clair and Bloor. It operates as a virtual expressway – a de facto Spadina Expressway. Pre-pandemic, it carried 30,000 vehicles a day – 85 per cent of them travelling above the posted speed limit – and it makes life deeply unpleasant for pedestrians and cyclists brave enough to try to use it.