City of Toronto introduces new School Safety Zones as part of Vision Zero Road Safety Plan

Mayor John Tory and Councillor Jaye Robinson (Ward 25 Don Valley West), Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, were joined by Superintendent Gord Jones from the Toronto Police Service, Sara Whitehead, a public health physician and road safety expert representing the Partnership for Healthy Cities and Vital Strategies, and Trustee Gerri Gershon (Ward 13) from the Toronto District School Board this morning to unveil one of seven new School Safety Zones.

The safety zones have new features aimed at improving the safety of children walking to school and are part of the City’s $80-million Vision Zero Road Safety Plan and overall traffic safety measures.

“The safety of all pedestrians, but particularly children, must be a priority in this city,” said Mayor Tory. “Through the School Safety Zone program, we have looked at how children travel to school and have added measures to keep them safe on their journey.”

“The safety of Toronto’s streets remains my top priority for 2017. We’re committed to eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries on our streets,” said Councillor Robinson. “The School Safety Zones are just one of the ways we are delivering on our commitment.”

The School Safety Zones feature new school zone safety signs with flashing beacons, school zone pavement stencils, “Watch your speed” driver feedback signs and zebra markings at school crosswalks. In addition, City staff will be extending the coverage of enhanced pavement markings up to 250 metres away from school buildings to help encourage active transportation to school, which includes walking or biking. A prioritized list of schools will be provided to Toronto Police so they can look to increase enforcement in these key school safety zones.

The schools with new School Safety Zones currently in place are:
• Annunciation Catholic Elementary School, 65 Avonwick Gate
• Blessed John XXIII Catholic Elementary School, 175 Grenoble Dr.
• Father Serra Catholic Elementary School, 111 Sun Row Dr.
• Gateway Public School, 55 Gateway Blvd.
• Grenoble Public School, 9 Grenoble Dr.
• Holy Child Catholic Elementary School, 850 Humberwood Blvd.
• Humberwood Downs Jr. Middle Academy, 850 Humberwood Blvd.
• Morrish Public School, 61 Canmore Rd.

Another 15 schools are scheduled to be retrofitted by year’s end and 20 will be completed annually until all schools are retrofitted.

“The City of Toronto has made changes to infrastructure to help reduce the number of collisions in Toronto but the City can’t do it alone,” said Superintendent Jones.  “All road users must observe, support and obey the rules so their commute to work or home is a safe one.”

Also beginning in the 2017/18 school year, the Toronto District School Board in partnership with Green Communities Canada will provide traffic management support to up to 15 schools. Participating schools will receive support from a dedicated School Traffic Management Facilitator who will investigate and respond to traffic-related concerns on school sites and facilitate workable solutions in collaboration with students, school staff, parent councils, board administration and City staff.

The introduction of School Safety Zones will also support the ongoing collaborative efforts between Toronto Public Health and school boards to promote active school transportation across the city. More information is available at http://ow.ly/7xnf30eQhik.

Supporting active school transportation initiatives is one of the objectives of Toronto’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan.

Schools are being prioritized based on recommendations by the City’s Transportation Services in consultation with the Toronto Police Service, the Toronto District School Board, the Toronto Catholic District School Board and local councillors, and took into consideration the number of collisions in the area and the potential for kids to walk to school.

The School Safety Zones initiative is scheduled to receive $100,000 in funding from the Partnership for Healthy Cities, a prestigious global network of cities committed to saving lives by preventing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries. Led by World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ambassador for NCDs Michael Bloomberg, and supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with WHO, and implementing partner Vital Strategies, this funding program enables cities around the world to deliver a high-impact policy or programmatic intervention to reduce NCD risk factors in their communities.

Funding from the Partnership for Healthy Cities will help accelerate the new Safe School Zone program in Toronto and fund the development of a road safety educational awareness campaign for school children and parents, encouraging active and safe routes to school. You can learn more at https://partnershipforhealthycities.bloomberg.org.

“By joining the Partnership for Healthy Cities, the City of Toronto joins a prestigious global coalition of forward-thinking cities who know that local action on vital issues such as safe routes to school can really make a difference,” said Dr. Whitehead. “We congratulate the City of Toronto for taking this important step to protect its citizens.”

The City’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan, approved by Toronto City Council in 2016, contains a series of measures and strategies aimed at eliminating deaths and serious injuries on Toronto streets as well as improving safety for all road users.

Since Vision Zero began, Transportation Services staff have accelerated safety changes including:
• installation of 837 speed-limit signs along 39 corridors where speed limits have been reduced by 10 kilometres per hour
• installation of zebra markings in School Safety Zones, Senior Safety Zones and pedestrian safety corridors to enhance pedestrian safety
• activation of 104 accessible pedestrian signals to assist  people with disabilities to cross at signalized intersections
• equipping 95 signalized intersections with longer pedestrian crossing times to allow more time for pedestrians to safely cross the street
• physical changes at 28 intersections, including curb radius reductions and intersection re-alignments, to reduce pedestrian crossing distances and help reduce aggressive driving, and
• red light cameras at 65 new locations, with plans to add 10 more by the end of 2017.

The City’s Vision Zero website 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: http://www.toronto.ca/VisionZeroTO.

At this time last year, there were 27 pedestrian fatalities. This year the number is at 19. The goal is zero pedestrian fatalities.

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