A new report from the Toronto Board of Health recommends lowering speed limits to improve cycling and walking conditions in the city.
A new report released by the Toronto Board of Health extolls the virtues of walking and cycling in the city as effective ways to boost your health and (win-win!) their revenue. What it doesn’t recommend is driving the current speed limit.
In their recently released report, “Road to Health: Improving Walking and Cycling in Toronto,” the Toronto Board of Health examined both the health benefits and risks of walking and cycling. (As you can imagine, there weren’t many downsides.) Conducted with the help of the city’s Transportation Services division and a team of unnamed experts, the 98-page study recommends the implementation of several strategic measures to promote the use and safety of these types of “active transportation” in the city—a key recommendation being “reducing vehicle speed limits to 30 kilometres per hour on residential streets, and imposing a city-wide limit of 40 kilometres per hour on all other streets, unless marked otherwise.”
While this may appear to downtown commuters as the latest incarnation of the “war on the car,” the report cites reduced mortality rates from vascular diseases like strokes and heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, and mitigating effects on mental illness as overwhelmingly favourable consequences that would result from investing in traffic signals with advanced crossings for pedestrians and more markings (like bicycle boxes) for cyclists navigating the urban core.
The report also naturally touched on economics of activity: It is estimated that a more active populace would offset about $110‑160 million in direct health care costs and about $62 million in current expenditures related to vehicle-pedestrian collisions. (When the indirect costs of “lost productivity” and “the economic value of a life” are factored in, we’re looking at a total windfall of any between $130-478 million.)
Should the infrastructural changes find some vocal proponents at City Hall, the report is poised to change the way Toronto’s foot-and-pedal fans get from place to place. The report will be under consideration at a meeting of the Board of Health on April 30 and mulled over at a city council meeting on May 8.