October 22, 2021

Stepping Up Action on Parkside Drive

Since the Sunnyside Community Association held their meeting in May 2021 and the Safe Parkside Facebook group was created, there was little activity aside from City Council rescinding the afternoon rush hour parking restrictions on Parkside Drive . However, last week’s deaths of Valdemar and Fatima Avila at Parkside and Spring Road – which I use every day to walk Mozzie in High Park – prompted neighbours to organize and renew calls to make Parkside Drive safer for everyone. Lots of “Slow Down” signs were put up along Parkside and 50 to 60 people attended a vigil at the crash site on Tuesday afternoon including Councillor Gord Perks, MPP Bhutila Karpoche, and MP Arif Virani. It’s time to recap some of the upcoming actions, as well as clarify some facts regarding arterial roads.

Members of the Bike Brigade helped marshall the intersection closure during Tuesday's vigil

Peaceful Protest on October 26

As a way to keep building the momentum, the vigil will be followed by a peaceful protest the following Tuesday to demand action from our elected leaders. Neighbours are invited to gather 4:00 PM at Parkside and Bloor Street and then march towards the crash site. A Facebook event page has been created, which I encourage you to share widely.

To better promote this event and further actions, Safe Parkside has recently launched their own Twitter and Instagram accounts which I encourage you to follow. For those who haven’t already, please join the over 300 people who are part of the Facebook group.

Petition for a Safe Parkside

Lots of "Slow Down" signs were put up on Parkside recently, though some did get removed

Safe Parkside has prepared a petition which was put up on the Facebook group this morning 
 thanks Faraz  and volunteers are in the process of collecting signatures in person. The petition calls for the following safety improvements to be made as soon as possible: 

  1. Reduce the speed limit of Parkside Drive from 50 km/h to 40 km/h, and enforce it with speed cameras.
  2. Install protected bike lanes on Parkside Drive.
  3. Widen the east sidewalk on Parkside Dr to the city minimum of 2.1 metres.
  4. Add missing crossovers at Geoffrey Street and The Queensway to ensure pedestrian safety at TTC stops and connect the walkway east and west of Parkside Drive at The Queensway.
  5. Through community consultation and feedback, complete a full review of the Parkside Drive and Lake Shore intersection with primary focus on providing safe pedestrian and cyclist access to the Waterfront.

Please don’t hesitate to e-mail safeparkside@gmail.com if you live in the neighbourhood and would either like to sign the petition, help collect signatures, or both.

Major Arterial Road Classification

In Gord Perks’ statement about the crash – please use crash instead of accident – he mentioned “efforts to get speeds reduced on Parkside have run up against the City’s antiquated road classification system which says that ‘major arterial’ roads cannot be reduced below 50 kph.” With all due respect to the councillor, this statement is misleading given other major arterials such as Bloor Street had their speed limits reduced to 40 km/h back in July 2016 when Vision Zero 1.0 was approved by City Council.

Speed limits on Parkside Drive were kept at 50 km/h despite other arterials having the reduced to 40 km/h

Per some information provided by MPP Bhutila Karpoche’s office – thanks Jun N for forwarding this – Parkside Drive was designated as a Community Safety Zone on December 17, 1998 while the Province of Ontario legalized automated speed enforcement in all community safety zones (including Parkside) on December 1, 2019. Factor in the fact Section 128(2) of the 1990 Highway Traffic Act allows City Council to set speed limits within its own jurisdiction – mainly except 400-series highways – and there is no excuse why Toronto cannot act on the five petition asks on their own. The only thing that is holding back is the lack of political will.

More Traffic Deaths

Sadly, this is not the only recent fatal collision in this city. The day of the Parkside vigil saw two more pedestrians get killed. An 81-year-old man was hit by drivers of two vehicles at Pape and O’Connor – one of whom fled the scene at the time – while 17-year-old Nadia Mozumder was killed by a driver at Danforth and Birchmount in Scarborough . I sincerely hope residents in East York and Scarborough call for similar actions to make their respective neighbourhoods safer. Especially in Scarborough where almost half of this year’s pedestrian fatalities took place per Ben Spurr of the Toronto Star.

Next Steps

Next week’s Infrastructure and Environment Committee (IEC) meeting will see the Scarborough Cycling Report being tabled which Scarborough advocates are encouraged to e-mail the committee in support, as well as keep up the pressure to ensure the recommendations get implemented. The rest of Toronto can look forward to a decision on ActiveTO bike lanes such as Danforth and the bike plan update; both of which are expected at IEC soon. The bike plan update will be a good opportunity to demand protected bike lanes on Parkside as soon as possible, though the remaining asks for the Safe Parkside campaign may require separate motions to implement. Until then, let’s keep City Council’s feet to the fire.

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