Towards VisionZero: Pedestrian Safety on Our Streets

Leon Wasser, MBA, P.Eng.

Toronto has adopted the goal of VisionZero, a policy to reduce the incidence of pedestrian death and injury of pedestrians on our urban streets to zero. The following are a number of practices that I believe would greatly further this objective:

Prohibit Opaque Window Film on All Vehicles

Vehicle drivers should not have thier vision limited by dark window films, and pedestrians need to be able to establish and maintain eye contact with vehicles stopped at intersections before proceeding to cross safely. The desire for identity privacy while driving should not trump the need for clear visibility from all users of our city streets.

Street Lights Should be Changed to Sidewalk Lights

Many jurisdictions use night lighting that is designed to illuminate sidewalks so that pedestrians can seen clearly at night – and similtaneously be easily visible to vehicle drivers. Cars are supposed to be equipped with headlights – but pedestrians don’t have headlights. Pedestrian street lights should be specifically designed for this purpose with many shorter poles, less intense light.

Super-Illuminate Intersections to Facilitate Pedestrian Crossings

By illuminating pedestrian cross walks at street intersections, pedestrians will be encouraged to cross at these interesctions, instead of jaywalking unsafely mid-block. Likewise, providing additional lighting highlights the upcoming intersections to drivers. The additional light will increase the visibility of both drivers and pedestrians and will illuminate any potential factors that may impact the safety of all.

Manage Signage Clutter More Effectively

Busy streets provide many distractions to drivers in particular. It is important that the most important street signage including street names, turning instructions, detours and other critically important information be clear, concise and well displayed. In some cased these signs can be illuminated for easier night time visibility. Cluttered signage, faded signs, signs with tiny fonts or confusing messages should all be remediated asap.

Open Two Way Communications to Improve Safety

Create an easy way to communicate concerns about safety on our streets, most optimally by using our effective 311 minicipal hot line. Reward safety tips financially. Encourage school children, parents and teachers to make recommendation for thier schools. Similarly, encourage elederly residents and thier caretakers at retirement facilities to review the pedestrian safety to create pedstrian safe zones.

Review, Peroprt and Act on All Road Accidents

Have city engineers review the site of all vehicle accidents, especially those that involve pedestrians and cyclists to determine if there were any factors that contributed to the accident that can be remediated including lighting, visibility impedements, road conditions, a lack of a safety ilsand or other easily fixed measures. Detailed statistics should be compiles, published and sgared with the insurance industry and healthcare sector as well as with government policy makers.

Leon Wasser MBA, P.Eng.

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