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'This has to stop:' Why Metro is pushing to fix Toronto's deadly streets

Cars are killing more people in Toronto than guns. It's time for change.

A ghost bike on Bayview Ave just south of the 401.

Torstar News Service

A ghost bike on Bayview Ave just south of the 401.

This has to stop.

Pedestrians and cyclists are dying at an alarming rate in Toronto, plowed down as they brave crosswalks in broad daylight and pinned to curbs as they fight for their fair share of the road.

Fifty-nine have died since January 2015 alone — more than the number of people killed by guns in the last three years combined.

Yet, for these victims, death came quietly. 

Their names went undisclosed, turning them into faceless statistics. There were no flashy news conferences as police celebrated arrests, criminal charges and vowed to clean up “those dangerous streets.” The drivers will likely walk away with fines equal to less than a month’s rent despite being at fault nearly 70 per cent of the time. Calls for meaningful action have been muted if not absent altogether.

It’s time to change the narrative.

Pedestrian and cyclists must be at the forefront of the city’s road safety overhaul, and Queen’s Park must adopt new laws that allow for more than a tap on the wrist for people who turn cars into weapons.

It means reducing speed limits, adding more crosswalks to the car-thick belly of urban sprawl, investing in more separated cycle tracks and tweaking traffic signals to prioritize walkers. It means empowering judges to treat motorists who kill like criminals. It means mustering the political will to admit that safe streets start with good design and that falls squarely on the shoulders of city hall.

Over the next five days, Metro will be dedicated to a special investigation aimed at jumpstarting a discussion about fixing Toronto’s deadly streets.

You’ll meet victims and people like Maisie Le Blanc whose husband was killed by a careless driver while cycling in Scarborough. You’ll learn about cities around the world that have given drivers a back seat to other road users. And, you’ll learn more about why the city’s new road safety plan is such a critical turning point for building a better Toronto.

Safe, well-designed streets are the lifeblood of a vibrant city, but building them takes more than politicians and traffic planners.

Everyone who lives in Toronto has a role to play. Join us in the fight. 

Are you concerned about Toronto’s deadly streets? Click here to contact your councillor and tell them you want a road safety plan that puts pedestrians first and makes our roads safer for everyone. 

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