As the Provincial Government grapples with a new cycling strategy, anyone engaged in the debate understands that there are no simple solutions or quick fixes. An old infrastructure designed for cars, clogged roadways with users competing for space, and a limited amount of funding make meaningful change at all levels seem next to impossible. Where do we begin? A one meter passing rule. That’s a good start, but not a long term solution. Riding paths that circle the City, although valuable do not get you safely to the store to buy bread, work or go to the local café. The implementation of bike lanes seems to be like trench warfare. Gains and losses are determined street by street, ward by ward, city by city. Exhausting, slow and for the most part disjointed.
However there is hope! It emerges from the forward thinking of our Chief Coroners’ Office. It is not based on specifics, but on how decision makers are to look at things. A new culture perhaps. Its called “Complete Streets”. Words, that to date, are not mentioned in any provincial policy statement, legislation, or standard. An approach that is growing in US. One that has been advocated for the last few years by active transportation advocates like TCAT and Cycle Toronto.
One that now has some wheels. In 2012 the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario released the Cycling Death Review. During the course of the review, various stakeholders including the Coroner’s Office, medical professionals, law enforcement, Toronto Transit Commission, Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO), Ontario Medical Association, City of Toronto, and various cycling and road associations participated.
Following the review the Dr. Dan Cass, Deputy Chief Coroner made his number one recommendation to be “Complete Streets”. The words were clear. “To the Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing a complete streets approach should be adopted to guide the redevelopment of existing communities and the creation of new communities throughout Ontario.”
Shortly after that, the Coroners office released the Pedestrian Death Review. Again, the very first recommendation was “Complete Streets”. “The complete streets approach should be adopted to guide the development of new communities and the redevelopment of existing communities in Ontario. Complete streets should be designed to be safe, convenient and comfortable for every user, regardless of transportation mode, physical ability, or age.”