News / Toronto

Toronto Police releases most extensive pedestrian fatality data yet

It's part of a wider release of data sets by Toronto Police Service.

Pedestrians cross at Yonge and Dundas.

Nick Perry / Torstar News Service Order this photo

Pedestrians cross at Yonge and Dundas.

New data released by Toronto Police Services provides the most extensive publicly available information about local pedestrian and cyclist fatalities yet.

TPS released the information within the past week or so on its data portal, as well as other data sets that were previously unavailable.

The change elevates the importance of traffic fatality data amid Toronto's ongoing push to decrease pedestrian fatalities, which totalled 43 last year.

Police spokesperson Clint Stibbe says that the newly released data, which is accompanied by additional maps and metrics, are meant to meet the Transformational Task Force's recommendation on sharing additional information.

"We're trying to be transparent," Stibbe told Metro.

TPS collaborated with the City of Toronto to provide stats on pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, although Roger Browne, a traffic safety manager at Transportation Services, told Metro that the data is ultimately owned by the police.

But he sees it, along with the city's recently released street safety improvement website, as a core part of the city's pedestrian safety plan.

"This is a critical piece of the Vision Zero strategy," he said.

"We want the public to see what we're seeing."

Public Works chair Jaye Robinson also praised the initiative.

"The City of Toronto and Toronto Police are working together like never before," adding that "without Vision Zero this would never have happened."

Open data advocate Mark Richardson characterized the newly released data as "a step forward," and urged other city agencies like Toronto Fire Service and Toronto Community Housing to do the same.

But he also said there was no need for the data sets to exist on a different data portal from the City of Toronto, and that he would like to see the data updated on an ongoing basis.

While data for pedestrian and cyclist fatalities is available for 2006 to 2016, the current year's data is not included.

Clint Stibbe said TPS intends to update the data annually in addition to quarterly reports at board meetings. He added that reporting traffic fatalities on an ongoing basis comes with challenges.

"For someone to create this map 77 times a year doesn't make sense," he said, referring to the number of 2016 traffic fatalities.

Over the past four years, journalists from Metro, the Toronto Star, Torontoist and the Globe and Mail have each tracked and published data to fill in informational gaps on an issue that has increasingly become a concern at city hall.

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Toronto's Vision Zero plan only kicked off on January 1, but in 2016 New York City had the fewest traffic deaths in its history. It marks a 23 per cent decline since 2013, down significantly from 183 deaths in 2013. Earlier this year New York mayor Bill De Blasio announced $1.6 billion in Vision Zero-related spending over the next five years. Toronto's plan includes $80 million over the same time frame.

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Metro took a look at the newly available traffic fatality data from 2006 to 2016. Here's what we learned.

71.5 per cent of pedestrian fatalities occurred on major arterial roads, like Eglinton, Finch and Steeles.

With 19 fatalities, Scarborough Southwest was the deadliest ward in the city for pedestrians.

81 per cent of pedestrian fatalities happened in clear weather.

63 per cent of pedestrian fatalities were aged 55+. Only 26 per cent of Toronto's population falls into that age bracket, according to the 2011 census.

8.2 per cent of pedestrian fatalities involved cars speeding

With 11, Clairlea-Birchmount in southwest Scarborough was the neighbourhood with the most pedestrian fatalities. West Humber-Clairville in northwest Etobicoke had the second-most with 10.

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