NEWS July 18th, 2011

By Omar Mosleh

Speed limit increase nixed

Community council decides to keep Gerrard Street East stretch at 40 km/h

Residents are asking the city to slow down on a proposal to raise the speed limit on Gerrard Street East by 10 km/h to 50 km/h.

Toronto and East York Community Council seems to agree and has recommended the city keep the speed limit at 40 km/h despite a suggestion from city staff to increase it.

The issue arose when a resident asked Councillor Paula Fletcher to look into raising the speed limit on Gerrard Street East between River Street and Broadview Avenue. The stretch of road includes the Gerrard Street bridge that crosses over the Don Valley Parkway.

A Transportation Services study of vehicle operating speeds, collision history and the streetscape came to the conclusion that the majority of drivers along the stretch of road drive faster than 40 km/h, and that no speed-related collisions have occurred there in the past three years.

The department’s report said a 50 km/h limit would better represent the speeds at which motorists currently drive.

But residents said not so fast.

Community council received more than 20 letters expressing opposition to the proposed speed limit increase and only a handful in support.

Paul Young, health promoter at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre, cited safety concerns in his opposition to the change.

“From a health standpoint, we know that as speeds go up the likelihood of someone getting hurt goes up,” he said.

Young, a frequent cyclist, said the intersections at Gerrard and River streets and Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street have made him feel vulnerable due to heavy traffic.

“I think both those intersections are pretty dangerous,” he said. “I don’t feel super safe and there’s not a lot of sidewalk space.”

St. Michael’s Hospital physician Chris Cavacuiti wrote to community council about a patient he had who was hit by a car while biking on Gerrard Street between River Street and Broadview Avenue.

“One of the major reasons my patient likely survived was the lower speed limit on this road,” he said in an email to the city.

At community council Fletcher amended the recommendation to keep the speed limit at 40 km/h and called on city council to authorize an additional 40 km/h sign closer to the entrance from River Street and add a radar patrolled sign on or near all 40 km/h signs on the Gerrard Street bridge.

Residents like Young applauded the decision.

“I think common sense prevailed,” he said.

Toronto city council will vote on the item on July 12. The results were not known at press time.