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Toronto road safety plan puts schoolchildren first

Image courtesy of Vision Zero Toronto

Children starting the new school year in Toronto are the focus of a comprehensive new road safety initiative designed to protect and educate.

The City of Toronto is working with partners right across Canada’s most populated city to try and cut the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads.

The safety of schoolchildren on the roads around schools is a top priority of City Vision Zero, a five-year project which is costing 109 million Canadian dollars. It also aims to educate road users, particularly car drivers and motorcyclists, about aggressive driving and the danger of being distracted behind the wheel. The safety of children on city roads will also be one of the issued discussed at the forthcoming Child in the City World Conference.


Organisations taking part in the Toronto initiative include Toronto Public Health, Green Communities Canada, Toronto District School Board, Toronto Police Service (TPS), The Hospital for Sick Children and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Partnership for Healthy Cities.

John Tory, City Mayor, said: “Returning to the classroom is an exciting time for many students and families in Toronto. Ensuring the safety of all pedestrians, especially children and students as they travel to and from school, must be everyone’s priority.”

City Vision Zero activities which focus on children include the Active and Safe Routes to School pilot project. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Partnership for Healthy Cities, this includes road markings, sidewalk activity stenciling and installation of signage to encourage children to walk or bike to school and to help reduce vehicular speed and increase safety around schools.

Safety zones

School Safety Zones will see 88 schools marked with safety zones this year, up from the original 20 schools. School safety zones include safety signs, pavement markings and driver feedback signs. Permanent signs will be installed around schools to make drivers aware of their speed, while ‘school zone reviews’ will also gather localised data and feedback aimed at improving children’s routes to school. The municipality and police service have also developed an alternative to cover the absences of regular school crossing guards – normally provided by the police – so that officers can better fulfil their core policing duties

The project also recently ran a competition, the Vision Zero Challenge, which encouraged local teams and individuals to come up with innovative solutions for making the streets safer for all users. These projects form part of Vision Zero’s overall initiative. Vision Zero also has a dedicated website that includes a mapping tool showing safety measures in place and future planned work as well as safety tips for all road users aimed at making streets safer: There is also a YouTube video.

Child in the City Conference

This comprehensive, multidisciplinary scheme, complements much of the planned discussions at this month’s (September 24-26) Child in the City World Conference 2018. One of the four key themes of the conference is mobility and access to the child-friendly city. This will look at what municipalities are doing to tackle the increasing constraints on children’s mobility in urban areas, and how transport and other public infrastructures can help ensure children can live their lives happily and safely.

As part of this, various experts will present examples of road safety initiatives in child-friendly cities. A session on young pedestrians features a talk by Petra Jens, from the Vienna Mobility Agency, The right to walk to school – 3 steps to reduce car trips. She will look at how Vienna – which is hosting the conference – is starting a pilot scheme to ban car driving on a school street during school drop-off and pick-up times.


Several field trips to local projects are also planned, including a visit to a former city centre railway station, Nordbahnviertel, which is being redeveloped into a new urban quarter with parkland and traffic calming measures designed to attract young families with children.

There is still time to book your place at Child in the City World Conference 2018, Visit the website for the full programme and registration details.

Author: Simon Weedy

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