Rash of pedestrian and cyclist deaths put spotlight on the 905's deadly streets
Three pedestrians and two cyclists have been killed in Peel Region since June.
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The day after a 17-year-old cyclist was killed in Brampton, politicians and advocates say it’s time for the 905 to get “proactive” about road safety.
While the statistics are not as startling in Toronto, where pedestrian and cyclist fatalities have been trending upward since 2012, a recent spate of deaths in Peel Region has brought the issue to the fore.
Those killed since June include a 71-year-old woman run over Sunday outside a wedding in Brampton, as well as 58-year-old Steve Hancock, a former Olympian struck by a car while cycling in Mississauga.
Mississauga councillor Jim Tovey says his constituents and colleagues feel suburban roadways are becoming less safe for those not ensconced in cars.
“The number one topic for all of us is speeding and pedestrian safety,” he said. “Nothing outstrips it.”
Peel Region, particularly Mississauga, is among the fastest growing population centres in Canada. There’s also a condo boom under way in the 905, leading to increasingly dense neighbourhoods with more pedestrian activity.
In a region consisting of car-centric communities connected by high-speed arterial roads, Tovey is concerned those changes will lead to greater conflict between cars, pedestrians and cyclists. He wants to see the default speed lowered in Mississauga and recently spearheaded an $80,000 traffic calming pilot project in the city.
“The increasing gridlock in the city is turning our residential streets into de facto arterials,” he said. “We need to get more proactive about this.”
Tovey also wants more engineering solutions implemented on dangerous roads. He said a summer patio program on Lake Shore Boulevard that narrowed the roadway led to a speed reduction of at least 10 km/h.
“But as soon as they got past it, they floored it,” he said.
Irwin Nayer, vice-chair of the Mississauga Cycling Advisory Committee, said that if the city wants to be safer for cyclists, it needs to build more on-road bike paths. The vast majority of bike infrastructure in Mississauga consists of off-road paths aimed at recreational cycling, he said.
“We’ve tried to separate cyclists from vehicles and in doing so, we haven’t created the mindset among motorists that we need to be sharing the road,” he said.
Like Tovey, Nayer said growth and density in the 905 will lead to an increase in cycling, and he hopes the region responds accordingly.
“There will be a cycle track as part of the LRT development along Hurontario. There’s no question it will increase mode share,” he said.
“Now the question is do you wait to establish that mode share before you build the infrastructure, or do you build the infrastructure now because it’s the right thing to do?”