Motorist Convenience Trumps Safety [The Urban Country]

“Driving the Volvo” – Photo by Thomas Anderson
Toronto’s chief medical officer made headlines in the Toronto media for recommending that the city reduce its speed limits to 30km/h on residential streets, and 40km/h on other city streets to “support the increased use and safety of walking and cycling”.
The Doctor’s recommendations were mocked by the media, and seemingly dismissed by the general public.
Dr. David McKeown, the chief medical officer who made the recommendations also suggested that the city adopt “leading pedestrian signal intervals" and markings for cyclists (including bicycle boxes).
The recommendations are a result of a comprehensive study that Toronto Public Health undertook which examined the health benefits and risks of walking and cycling in the city.
From a staff report released by Dr. McKeown’s office on April 16th:
This study provides clear evidence that physical activity from active transportation generates important health benefits such as reduced mortality from chronic diseases, and reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, obesity, diabetes and several types of cancer, particularly colon and breast cancer. In Toronto, 2006 levels of walking and cycling to work were estimated to prevent about 120 deaths each year.
Savings in direct health care costs arising from current levels of Toronto residents staying active by walking or cycling and averting chronic illness are estimated to result in reduced health care spending of $110 to $160 million. In Toronto, costs associated with pedestrian vehicle collisions cost over $53 million and cyclist-vehicle collisions are over $9 million. By improving safety for pedestrian and cyclists in Toronto the direct costs associated with vehicle collisions with pedestrians and cyclists could be reduced by over $62 million.
In terms of indirect costs, if estimates of lost productivity or the economic value of a life are included, the total economic benefits of active transportation in Toronto range from $130 million to $478 million.

[Keep reading at The Urban Country]