Mayoral candidate to boost capital investment in road improvements by $33 million to fix the city’s most dangerous intersections and roads
May 2, 2023 – Mayoral candidate Josh Matlow announced today that he will double the city’s investment in road improvements to save lives and accelerate Toronto’s progress towards zero traffic deaths as outlined in Toronto’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan. Matlow will use his recently announced City Works Fund to increase annual traffic safety capital spending to $56 million from $23 million over two years and focus on redesigning Toronto’s most dangerous intersections and stretches of road.
“Toronto’s Vision Zero plan is based on the world’s best evidence, but every day that we wait to fully implement it, we prolong the likelihood that someone in our city is seriously injured or killed,” said Matlow. “I am committed to doubling our annual investment in road improvements over the next two years to fix unsafe street design and improve safety, especially in the inner suburbs.”
The City’s Vision Zero plan draws on world-renowned expertise from Sweden and spells out exactly how to create safer roads for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Toronto has made valuable investments on measures like automated speed enforcement, but the evidence shows that the most important thing we can do to save lives is redesign the roads themselves. (1) Vision Zero will only be successful if we invest in modifying older roads and building any new roads to a higher safety standard.
Already this year, nine Torontonians have died and 37 have been seriously injured on our roads. (2) Injury prevention research shows that Toronto children are struck by vehicles more frequently in lower-income neighbourhoods, and that 98 of our city’s 100 most dangerous intersections are on arterial roads in the city’s inner suburbs, particularly in Scarborough and North York.
With guidance from the City’s traffic engineers, Matlow will:
Increase total investment in Toronto’s fact-based Vision Zero Road Safety Plan by 150 per cent, including a doubling of the capital spending on road improvements within the first two years.
Replace the current request-based system for Vision Zero improvements with an automatic process when there are major civil works occuring. The current system has resulted in inequitable distribution of safety measures and the onus cannot be on racialized, newcomer communities to push for road safety measures in their neighbourhoods.
Shift the budget focus from operating investments in behavioural modification measures like signage, distracted driving and red-light cameras to capital investments in infrastructure and street improvements that make it safer to walk, bike and drive. Our streets must be designed to improve comfort and safety for all users. Well-meaning human beings make mistakes, so we have to design for that.
Create a Safety on the Scene rapid-response team, the SOS Team, responsible for collecting on-site collision data and coordinating interdepartmental communication in the wake of a traffic fatality, so that unsafe locations can be identified and targeted for improvements.
“Healthy, vibrant cities are places where pedestrians, school children, older adults and cyclists share the roads with transit and drivers, people have safe, sustainable travel options and everyone gets where they need to go,” said Matlow. “We can’t expect vulnerable road users to keep themselves safe without support. Traffic deaths are preventable, and it’s our responsibility to follow the facts and invest where they lead us.”
As a city councillor, Matlow has been a vocal advocate for improved road safety for many years. In 2014, he led the charge to have the Toronto and East York community council reduce neighbourhood speed limits to 30 km/h, which led to a 28 per cent decrease in collisions and a 70 per cent reduction in the severity of injuries in the following years. (3) The City subsequently rolled out lower speed limits across Toronto.
To learn more about Josh Matlow’s mayoral campaign to make Toronto a city that works, the safe, affordable, livable city that we all know it can be, please visit VoteMatlow.ca.
1 https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2021/8/6/the-key-to-slowing-traffic-is-street-design-not-speed-limits and “Confessions of a Recovering Engineer, Marohn, C., 2021
The 2023 City of Toronto budget for the Vision Zero Road Safety Plan and Cycling Network Plan is $72.3 million, made up of $23 million in capital expenses and $49.3 million in operating expenses.
Matlow is proposing an annual increase to the capital spend by $33 million over two years. By 2025, the new annual budget would be $108.45 million, made up of $56 million in capital expenses and $52.5 million in operating expenses. This would result in double the capital investments and a 150 per cent budget increase overall.
The $33 million increase will come from Matlow’s recently announced City Works Fund, which is sourced from a modest property tax increase. Vision Zero road improvements would be funded by taking this revenue and shifting it to the capital budget, an established mechanism known as “capital-from-current.” This allows investments to be made on an ongoing annual basis without accruing debt.
The specific infrastructure that the additional $33 million per year would pay for will be determined by recommendations from the City’s traffic engineers.
The costs of various types of road interventions vary, but a ballpark figure can be calculated by accounting for inflation on 2017 numbers from the City of Toronto’s Vision Zero Standards and Interventions. Costs vary depending on the permanence of the intervention:
Diverters ($60,000 - $120,000)
Intersection medians/traffic filters ($60,000 - $120,000)
Directional closures ($18,000 - $60,000)
Speed humps ($6,000 - $18,000)
Raised intersections ($60,000 - $120,000)
For example, a community goes through a neighbourhood street plan program and City staff consult with residents on needs. City traffic engineers recommend a variety of volume interventions, such as 2 diverters, 2 traffic islands, 2 streets with speed humps and 3 raised intersections. When the road is being reconstructed, new interventions would be added. This sample local road safety plan could cost between $350,000 - $750,000 per neighbourhood. The additional $33 million could fund improvements in approximately 45-95 neighbourhoods per year.