Vision Zero in Ontario: Is Momentum Picking Up?

Death and serious injuries are an unacceptable price to pay for speed on city streets. Humans make mistakes. Streets can be redesigned for safety and compensate for human imperfection. Those are the key premises of Vision Zero, which we wrote about last February. A year later, we are encouraged to see that Vision Zero is gaining momentum in Ontario.

Over the past year, several more municipalities have joined Toronto  — where pedestrian deaths have reached crisis levels in recent months — in exploring or committing to the Vision Zero approach.

  • London‘s city council adopted several principles of Vision Zero in May 2017
  • Mississauga‘s city council unanimously voted in February 2018 to endorse the framework for Vision Zero
  • Kingston is seeking public feedback on how their city can “get to zero”, through surveys and open houses
  • Hamilton is seeking public feedback as well

Given its stated goals, it is hard to comprehend why anyone would oppose the adoption of Vision Zero. Yet despite growing interest in the approach by citizens of Ontario, it is met with surprising resistance from some, who deem any attempt to calm traffic a “war on cars“. Even Hamilton’s own website wonders “whether it’s feasible” to bring Vision Zero to their city.

On the flipside, Vision Zero advocates question whether recent cities’ commitments to the approach are little more that false promises that seem palatable to drivers, and prioritize ineffective educational measures over true system change.

Any measures taken to improve safety on city streets should be commended. But is Ontario truly moving towards Vision Zero?  The tragic reality is that many more citizens will die or be seriously injured before we know.

Learn more about Vision Zero on this recent episode of The Agenda with Steve Paikin on TVO: