Immediate action needed after spate of fatal pedestrian collisions, Toronto‘s former chief planner says

The city‘s former chief planner is calling for action following a number of fatalities involving pedestrians and cyclists on Toronto streets.

In a tweet published late Tuesday night, Jennifer Keesmaat, a well-known urban planner and former chief planner for the City of Toronto, called the recent deaths “unbearable.”

“It‘s time to declare a State of Emergency, and immediately begin with the basics. First step is to lower speed limits and enforce them. The game playing – pretending we don‘t know what to do – must stop,” Keesmaat wrote.

The post comes after a recent spate of fatalities involving cyclists and pedestrians in Toronto.

A 58-year-old woman was struck and killed by a truck while riding her bike in the area of Bloor and St. George streets on Tuesday afternoon.

On Monday, 50-year-old Isabel Soria was killed when she was struck by the driver of a pickup truck in the city’s Briar Hill neighbourhood.

The driver involved fled the scene of the collision and while police have released video surveillance footage and photos of the suspect vehicle, no arrests have been made.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Mayor John Tory acknowledged that more needs to be done to make the roads safe for pedestrians and cyclists.

“I am devastated personally and it is something that is deeply troubling to me that we’ve had the number of fatalities involving both pedestrians and cyclists this year and it is obvious that we are not yet doing enough,” Tory said.

“We have a lot more plan to be done and a lot more that is actively being done in terms of making streets safer but we haven’t done enough.”

Tory said he has been speaking to his staff about improving road safety in the last few days.

“I continue to be very dissatisfied with the fact that there must be more that we can do,” he said.

He noted that the “onus for changing behaviour” rests with car drivers.

“When you are sitting in a car surrounded by two tons of steel and you are on the roads where we are seeing changed use of those roads and increased numbers of cyclists and increasing numbers of pedestrians, which are a good thing for our city, then there is an onus on drivers to be more careful, and to slow down, and to follow all the rules,” he said.

In an interview with CP24 Wednesday, Toronto police Const. Clint Stibbe echoed the mayor’s comments about the need for drivers to be more aware of their surroundings.

“Traffic collisions as a whole are not a planned event. A person doesn’t go out planning on being in a collision on a daily basis. However, it is mistakes that are being made,” Stibbe said.

“In most cases it is a driver that is more aware of a threat of another vehicle but don’t realize that they are a threat to a cyclist or a pedestrian. And this is unfortunately where the majority of our fatalities occur.”