Safety signs removed from Davisville school zone in the interests of . . . safety
Traffic-calming signage removed after traffic was observed slowing significantly or moving around the sign into oncoming traffic, city traffic safety manager said.
April 5, 2018
A road safety advocacy group is criticizing the city’s move to take down new “flex-post” signs near a Davisville middle school, which are designed to slow traffic.
The signs are part of a pilot project launched in 10 school zones last week in an effort to reduce traffic speeds.
The group wants the city to eliminate street parking in the Davisville loction, to allow room for the in-street signage.
City staff say they have not rulled out eliminating the parking, but point out that the flex-post advisory signs are being studied and adjusted, based on public feedback.
The signs are unique in that they are bolted on the road in between opposing traffic lanes. The flex posts were installed between March 27 and 29.
One week later, the signs on Davisville Ave., near Mount Pleasant Ave., have been removed following a complaint by a resident in the area and a subsequent investigation, the city confirmed.
The Star contacted the complainant, who said he submitted an email to the mayor’s office and included dash cam footage of traffic significantly slowed down in the 40km/h school zone. The dash cam speedometer registered his truck going about 30 km/h leading up to the flex-post sign, with the speed reducing by about half as he approached it.
His speed dipped again to 5 km/h until he manoeuvred around the sign on the driver’s side and the road parking on the passenger side.
Eastbound traffic appeared to be travelling more smoothly because there were no parked cars on that shoulder.
During the pilot, city staff will be monitoring the sites to collect data on traffic speeds of drivers in order to compare the effectiveness of the new measure, said Roger Browne, manager of Traffic Safety and Data Collection, in an email.
“Our initial assessment indicated that the road had sufficient clearance around the sign, but when cars parked adjacent to the sign, we observed traffic slowing significantly or moving around the sign into oncoming traffic,” said Browne.
“The signs were removed in the interest of public safety.”
Browne said he observed city buses having a hard time navigating around the signs, and, in one case, saw a bus drive in the opposite lane in order to safely move around it.
Jess Spieker, a member of Friends and Family for Safe Streets, said the city’s decision to remove the flex-posts instead of the roadside parking on Davisville Ave. signals that drivers are a greater priority.
“If it’s parking versus pedestrian safety, and the parking is winning, that’s ridiculous. That’s unthinkable,” Spieker said. “The problem that I think we have in Toronto is we prioritize the convenience of people driving cars over the safety of anybody who’s not driving a car.”
Spieker calls herself a victim of road violence. She said she was T-boned while riding her bike on Bathurst St. by a driver in a SUV. After surviving the initial crash, her spine was broken and she suffered a traumatic brain injury among a host of other health complications that could also have been fatal.
“This pilot project is really important to me, because I know, first-hand, how devastating road violence is. And, as bad as my experience is, it’s unimaginably worse, when somebody you love is killed in such a preventable and completely brutal way,” she said.
Barbara Gray, general manager of Transportation Services for the city, maintains that the pilot project does not value parking over safety. City staff will proceed with other road safety “tools” on Davisville Ave. for the time-being, including features such as zebra markings and school stencils on the pavement.
“It’s a very complex ecosystem, the area around a school, but, from our perspective, student safety is the highest priority,” she said. “After the pilot is done and we’ve assessed it, my guess is we’ll come forward with it as part of our Vision Zero toolkit.”
“Vision Zero” is an $80-million road safety plan council passed in 2016 designed to eliminate the deaths of pedestrians in Toronto.
Some observers have suggested traffic-calming in school zones is less of a concern than design of suburban arteries where roads are extremely wide and traffic lights spread far apart, making it difficult for pedeestrians to get from one side to another safely.