When a new large building is proposed in Toronto, the City conducts a “traffic survey” to make sure that the building won’t cause transportation problems. But by “traffic”, they really mean “cars”. In Toronto, and I suspect other cities, the effect of a new building on the safety of kids getting to school is ignored:
- Does the proposed parking lot exit cross a sidewalk used by students?
- Will a crossing guard be needed to protect children at intersections that will likely be used by cars going to or from the building?
- Will a new sidewalk be needed to keep kids and cars separated?
The focus here is on children and schools, but the same issue faces all cyclists, walkers, wheel-chair users, and long-boarders.
Cities around the world say that they are committed to encouraging people get out of their cars. Public health experts repeatedly call for children to be more active, including getting to school on their own steam. Federal, Provincial, and State governments make the right noises. Even chief city planners and Councils call for “active transportation” initiatives. And yet traffic planning in many places continues to ignore anyone not inside a car.
All it takes to improve things is a small amount of political will to expand the studies done and conditions imposed to consider active transportation when a new building is proposed. Unfortunately, political will in many places seems to be geared towards the convenience of developers and drivers.
- Toronto Planning Traffic Study of 1100 Briar Hill Ave.- No mention of students or schools, and no data on walking or biking volumes
- Toronto Planning Review of 60 McCaul Ave.